Monday, February 26, 2007

The Catholic Passion and Charlotte Mason

I am reading David Scott's wonderfully written book, The Catholic Passion. Also, I cannot get over how close the Protestant, British educator, Charlotte Mason, is to the thinking and writings of Pope John Paul II. I am really enjoying this book by Karen Andreola:

I wish I had learned the teaching technique of narrating years ago. I read Jay and Joy-Beth each a different tale from Aesop's Fables. Each then dictated to me. Each child told me the story in her/his own words, and I wrote it down. Jay was very proud of this, as was Joy-Beth. After I wrote Joy-Beth's narration down, she copied it. Her spoken grammar is well beyond her grade level, so this is a way to get that good grammar down in writing. As was recommended in the Andreola book above, I chose very short stories to begin with. It is very challenging for them to put the stories into their own words. Joy-Beth was so proud of her copywork because she dictated it. Months ago, my friend Lisa got me interested in this after I saw her daughter's nature and Bible notebooks, which were illustrated as well. We did not illustrate today's stories, but I hope they will do so in the future. I had a day of wonder and blessings. The weather here was heavenly!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

St. Paul to the Corinthians and to us

Yesterday, these two verses from Chapter 10 of St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians lightened my load. They are the famous verses 12 and 13:

12: Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

13: No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

One of my favorite saints is Padre Pio, now known as St. Pio. EWTN's website has the following, and it is so inspiring:

When I was really ill after Jay was born, I fought hard to live. As it ought to be, my prayers and those of some of my family and many of our friends, were weapons. Lent is an opportunity to look at Jesus on His Holy Cross and realize that our God suffers as we suffer. Compassion means "to suffer with". Clearly, there are many ways to go about suffering with someone in need. I have been as needy as they come, and I marvelled at the compassion of my God and my fellow man.

As the first Sunday of Lent quickly approaches, I want to encourage anyone reading this to suffer with someone during this Lent 2007. It is not about "tit for tat," meaning to give for the sake of reward. True compassion gives without counting the cost. Christ demonstrates to us what our interior disposition ought to look like. It, at times, looks like Jesus on His bloody Cross. We must not shy away from the Cross. Read the conversion story of Edith Stein. She was murdered by the Nazis. She embraced her suffering for the salvation of her own soul and the salvation of others. This is an utterly counter-cultural way of approaching life, as things stand today.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

George Washington's Breakfast

We read the Jean Fritz book yesterday to kick off a mini George Washington/American colonial history study this week. Today is Jay's birthday -- praise be to God! We are de-cluttering our basement and selling a bunch of toys at our parish's indoor "yard" sale this weekend. We will read this inspiring book, George Washington, today. I want to learn a bit more about this award-winning married couple who created such beautiful books for children. I'll link it later. Gotta run 'cause the kids are really excited for Jay's birthday festivities! At least I do not have to cross a freezing river. I only have to wake up my stiff body.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Quiet Moment

Our son, Jay, turns six years old this coming Tuesday. He wants to be crowned "King of Mardi Gras," and, thanks to his kindergarten coop teacher, Mrs. Doyle, he is the one person in the family ready and willing to sacrifice for Lent. He made a cross, and, on one side, his teacher wrote his vow to stop hitting his sisters (who often hit him first, I might add). On the other side of this cross, he said that he wants to tuck himself into bed at night. Jay has a talent for drawing that is so beautiful. Jay is a gift!

I need to get busy typing up the bios for our "Hobbit" playbill. Maggie is working very well on her own. She is a math whiz. She and I want to find time to do more together, especially with literature and writing. Maggie is a gift!

Joy-Beth and I are reading the original Black Beauty, with Jay listening in. Joy-Beth has such a good balance between working with me and doing work independently. Joy-Beth is a gift!

I re-discovered a favorite artist, Mary Engelbreit, and put a free snowman backdrop on my computer. Her artwork is inspiring and delightful.

I want to learn how to post photos on this blog and use flicker, or something like that, to have a slideshow. As I prayed this morning, I realized that I am heavy with worry about many things, as is my temperament. God gave me the primary melancholic temperament, with a secondary dose of phlegmatic. This works out for the good in my marriage as my husband is a choleric. I think he might be primary and secondary choleric <: !!! just kidding, Jerry...Seriously, the Lord guided me at times in my life when I had little thought of Him. He cared so much for my salvation that He really performed some marvelous deeds to keep me from straying too far. He used my willing and good-hearted husband to bring me back in the fold. As Easter approaches, I ought to be more grateful to Christ Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He truly wishes that none should perish. He wants us to cooperate and help Him bring salvation to all. My "worries" are a mixed bag. Feelings of anxiety and worry often accompany persons who "have their fingers in many pies". Faith leads us to prayer, and prayer will help order these feelings and direct this "storm of worries" to God's will for our lives. His will for us needs to be discerned daily, and this cannot be done if the Christian is too busy for prayer. This is a very long-winded admission that I have not been giving myself to the Lord in prayer enough. Well, as always, Mother Church hands out the most potent medicine via her sacred liturgy; Lent is upon us -- praise be to God! I pray now to help myself and my family to live out Lent in imitation of our Savior who wants so much for us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. We carry our burdens lightly because of His saving act on the Cross. He does not ask us to heap pressure on pressure -- we often discern poorly what it is He wants us to carry. I will offer my Mass today for a good and fruitful Lent for the Sullivan family. I am not praying enough for my family. Lord, forgive me my many distractions. Mary, mother of sinners, bring us so very close to your Son. Thank you, sweet Virgin, for bearing all of Jesus's sorrows with Him. I ask the intercession of our most Blessed Mother to carry all our worries to Jesus. Please, Holy Mother of God, take them to Him and beseech Him to show us what He wills for our lives, both in big things and small. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Abe Lincoln and his mother

Yesterday was a glorious day; the weather here in Georgia was sunny and warm. We took Jaybird to play at the "castle park". It really took some of us a while to get going on "academics," but, by the end of the day, we settled in and, of all sources, plucked the "L" book from our set of World Book Encyclopedias (purchased last winter at a library sale for $10 for the whole set, including a huge atlas), and I read much of the entry on Abe Lincoln. The entry mentioned that, as a youth, Lincoln rescued a dog from a freezing cold stream, that his ax was his best friend, and that he lost his first mother at an early age due to "milk sickness." Jay was especially intrigued by this. According to the piece, cows who ate of the poisonous snakeroot plant gave, in turn, poisonous milk. Nancy Lincoln died when Abraham was 9. His father would marry again the next year to Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow with three children. Lincoln was probably referring to his stepmother when he said:
God bless my mother; all that I am or ever hope to be I owe to her.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saints Against Totalitarianism

St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Edmund Campion are the perfect intercessors against such potential horrors as outlined in the following link about forced vaccines. My father-in-law has been a member of this physician's association for years and they are a voice of reason and good conscious that is currently lacking in the public sphere. Read and pray; pray hard that we do not go down this path in America:

I am trying to put a positive spin on this, and keep my blog as close to G-rated as I can, by drawing a parallel between these times and those times under Queen Elizabeth. She may have won the battle, but Campion and Clitherow won the war. Wondering what I am talking about?
Ignatius Press just put out a new edition of Evelyn Waugh's book on Campion, which is a tale all the more exciting because it is true. The best book on Margaret Clitherow that I have found is a slender tome by TAN publishers.

When I see pictures of Prince Charles embracing Islam, I feel a mixture of sadness and anger. Sad because he is a spiritually poor man, so world-weary and confused. Angry because I am stunned by his ignorance of the history of his country.

Sts. Margaret Clitherow and Edmund Campion, please pray for us! Pray for those ignorant of history. Pray for our media. Pray for our youth!

Please pray for Therese Fox and her beautiful family

Girded with a faith, and the performance of good works, let us follow in Christ's path by the guidance of the Gospel; then we shall deserve to see him "who has called us into his kingdom." If we wish to attain a dwelling place in his kingdom, we shall not reach it unless we hasten there by our good deeds.
– St. Benedict

Please see the link below to participate in a spiritual bouquet for this devout woman:

Friday, February 9, 2007

They lived well; they wrote well.

This has been a Tolkien/Lewis week. I am tired and on my way to bed, but I thought, after finishing our first "lunch and literature" on Prince Caspian and our rehearsal for The Hobbit at our homeschool coop meeting today (We are members of TORCH, which stands for "Traditions Of Roman Catholic Homes".), that these two good friends had it right. They wrote well because they lived well. Please see Joseph Pearce's book on C.S. Lewis.

Here is a description of this book from the Ignatius Press website:

C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church
ISBN 0898709792
Joseph Pearce
There are many Protestants and Catholics who have
been deeply affected and spirituality changed by the writings of C.S. Lewis,
including many converts to Catholicism who credit C.S. Lewis for playing a
significant role in their conversion. But the ironic and perplexing fact is that
Lewis himself, while “Catholic” in may aspects of his faith and devotion, never
became a Roman Catholic. Many have wondered why.Joseph Pearce, highly regarded
literary biographer and great admirer of Lewis, is the ideal writer to try to
answer that question. The relationship of Lewis to the Roman Catholic Church is
an important and intriguing topic of interest to both Catholics and Protestants.
Pearce delves into all the issues, questions, and factors regarding this
puzzling question. He gives a broad and detailed analysis of the historical,
biographical, theological, and literary pieces of this puzzle. His findings set
forth the objective shape of Lewis’s theological and spiritual works in their
relation to the Catholic Church. This well-written book brings new insights into
a great Christian writer, and it should spark lively discussion among Lewis
readers and bring about a better understanding of the spiritual beliefs of C.S.
Lewis. “Joseph Pearce has tackled the great Unasked Question and produced an
answer with both muscle and heart. How good an answer? Daring, authoritative,
discriminating; intellectually daunting and vastly suggestive. This book is a
banquet of argument so provocative, important and inviting that the master
himself would find it irresistible. What wouldn’t I give to watch Lewis dig
in!”—James Como, Author, Branches to Heaven: The Geniuses of C.S. Lewis Press

Monday, February 5, 2007

As Many As Touched It Were Healed

Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in
the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his
cloak; and as many as touched it were healed. --St. Mark 6: 53-56.

3 pm: I just received the February issue of NOR, which stands for the New Oxford Review. It is really something, this magazine. At any rate, there is an article by Alice von Hildebrand. I am falling asleep in my cup of tea. When I wake up, I'll have read the article by Dr. Alice von Hildrebrand, one of my heroes...

after 8pm: O.K., I did not take a nap, and I did not read, but I cooked up a storm. I am too worn out to read. I loved today's Gospel, as it is our Lord who heals. I went to a healing Mass last spring with Sister Briege McKenna, and she made sure everyone present that day knew that only Jesus heals. We are all in need of healing, and just when we are healed of one thing, something else crops up. Healing and being saved are connected; I'll try to think about that one some more.

We had a big day today. The children learned alot, and so did I. I am really enjoying doing the K-12 language arts (Maggie is doing 7th grade and JB is doing 4th). They had to test to find their appropriate grade level. My intuition was correct, yet I was glad for these tests. Before signing off for prayers and bed, I want to mention Maggie's excellent science text. It is Exploring Creation with General Science by Dr. Jay L. Wile, copyright 2000 by Apologia Educational Ministries. We also love CHC (Catholic Heritage Curriculum) and Seton for science, as well as a few things I found on the Adoremus Books website. We started using Seton's excellent history texts/worktexts on American history for all three children (1, 3 and 8) in January, and these would be wonderful for any Catholic family, homeschooling or not. Here is Seton media link:

I hope I did not bury my Magnificat in one of my piles. I also hope I do not seem prideful in writing this. It is my intention, as I see with many "bloggers," to inform and edify, and, at times, amuse and delight. May the Peace of the Lord be with you!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Superbowl Sunday and Why We Need a Savior...

I shall do everything for heaven, my true home. --Saint Bernadette

God sent us our Savior because we do not need solving, we need saving. Catholics, like St. Paul says, work out their salvation in "fear and trembling"; we are not a "once saved, always saved," people. I think it very misguided to think that the human person can be solved, whether this solving come from secularists or professed religious persons. When I was studying at Brown, I fell into reading a lot of intellectual Marxism: feminist Marxists, literary Marxists, all manner of Marxists. Among my contemporary students were a very small portion of "limousine liberals," alot of well-meaning middle class "bleeding hearts" (myself in this category) and, because of Brown's admirable effort to give lots of financial aid, a good portion of Dorothy Day-type socialists (before she converted, that is), the best sort, really. The common denominator among us all was the fallacy of all social engineering, which is that the human person can be solved. The human person is in need of her God, not of her raising herself to the place of the Godhead. (I am slowly reading Dorothy Day's The Long Loneliness, the recounting of an awesome journey. Here is Amazon link:

Ideas matter. A few months back, I read Raymond Arroyo's authorized biography of Mother Angelica, the foundress of a religious order and the marvelous broadcast network, EWTN. My children and I want to get our hands on a bumper sticker that she had printed in the 1970's that said, "Fight Mind Pollution." Mother Angelica is a prophet, which is not to say that she reads tea leaves, but rather, that she is as close as a human can get to knowing God's will. Over and over, in her words and deeds, she has warned us that American society is falling down the slippery slope -- and if hearts do not change, our American culture will lead the globe into utter moral degradation. The consequence of this immorality is slavery, both political and personal.

I was so heartened to pick up the current edition of the National Catholic Register. Here is their website: There is an article about the priest who celebrates Mass for the Chicago Bears. We are off to a Superbowl party this afternoon, even though we do not normally watch football games. Jerry and I both were competitive swimmers. When we were first married, we hiked alot: Kennesaw Mountain, the Smokies....Now, my husband has to put up with a cripple (which he handles better than I do). I have severe arthritis in my neck, back and hips. I was diagnosed in 2003 with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD) which is similar to Lupus. I live with chronic pain and disability, as do the rest of my family. Faith is stronger than fear (see today's Gospel, Luke 5: 1-11) and, it is my experience, that faith gives a purpose to our sufferings, both emotional and physical. Flannery O'Conner said that illness before dying is a gift, and I wholeheartedly agree with this. I have twice been on my deathbed, so I do not take for granted that I will live a long life. What freedom there is in enjoying the small and simple pleasures in life like watching the sun set, drinking your tea really hot and relishing a buttery, toasted English muffin with that yummy Dickenson's blackberry jam<:! This is not a popular idea, but I believe it to be true: the media often tell us to chill out and not "sweat the small stuff," so we will not pay attention to our sin. If our purpose is to get ourselves and our family members to heaven, then everything matters. We Catholics actually believe in "sweating the small stuff"; we call this venial sin. Our view toward life is utterly countercultural. We look to love as Jesus loved which means seeing the weak, the small, and the quotidian as all being significant. Look at the spiritual exercises of the great Spanish saint, Ignatius of Loyola. He teaches us how to examine our consciences everyday. We can help God whittle us down, trim our pride and banish our vanity. Our Heavenly Father is the perfect father. He would do anything for us, including taking on human flesh. We converts tend to truly appreciate the Eucharist as the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior. We believe that we "are what we eat". God does not mind this. He freely gives Himself to us as food. Wow! We are so in need of our Savior! We ought to approach that altar in holy fear (awe) and trembling. Praise be to God.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Watching children percolate

Saturday, February 3, 2007

My version of "2nd Cup"...

Before I proceed on with this, I want to make clear that parents do not have to homeschool their children to be interested in the following ideas.

Take a minute to look at this definition of percolate: I have been watching my children percolate since 1996, and it is my favorite part of being a mom. I was born in 1966 and consider myself an "old mom". I wish I had not been so caught up in "me" and "my plan" for so many years. I wish I had stopped and considered my vocation. Well, enough of that....I've found my calling and, while God loves a penitent, He does not want us mired down in our remorse. Back to percolating. I love coffee and I love watching children learn. I love observing how they learn and why. I have spent many hours just allowing them to be. I am not the first to observe that children, like ivy, "creep and leap," that is to say that they percolate. They look like they are doing nothing that is academic or intellectual: picking grass, scootering up and down the driveway, laying on the coach, petting the dog, drawing pictures, pinching clay, all these activities they are processing what you have talked to them about, what they have watched in life and on video/film, what they have read or you have read to them. A little formal learning needs lots of informal processing time and, if they are pushed and not allowed to percolate, they will "make" yucky, watery coffee. Having lived in Spain and tasted expresso that is like wine and cappucino that will "knock your socks off," as my dad used to say so often, American coffee is similar to much of conventional American education. (Although, this is a good place to mention that the "times they are a changing," and American coffee and American ideas are showing a turn for the better.)

Last winter, when all my percolating was done and my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our three children for a time, my friend, Rachel, a veteran homeschooler, came to my aid with some important literature by such education luminaries as Drs. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. The Moores are known for their common sense approach to raising children. They are Christians who believe in walking the walk, as well as talking it, simply and beautifully. Holt and Gatto are provocative and need to be read prayerfully. The good Lord knows that we Amercian parents need to be provoked. Our ideas need to change or our grandchildren will not inherit the "land of the free" envisioned by our founding fathers. I like the writings and thinking of St. John Bosco, Edith Stein, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Liseaux.

All parents are involved in the duty of home education. I have known this intuitively since our first child, Maggie, was in the womb. I had had a miscarriage several months earlier, and was indescribibly grateful for the free gift of this child. I read Don Quixote to her when she was en utero. It was a great big, picture-book edition, and I began, at that point, to rethink my life. I began to examine where I had been, where I was and where I wanted to go as a wife and mother. I'll pick this up later.

The main point is that children have so much to teach us. When given proper nutrition, lots of time outdoors, plenty of rest and edifying learning materials, they tend toward the good, the true, and the delightful. Our Savior told us to be like them. Children are quick to forgive each other. One minute they can be quarelling and, the next minute, all is well. Each of my three are utterly unique persons, but they all share in common an innocence that is worth preserving.

Last fall, this book changed my thinking at a time when I needed some help being a better "heart of my home". I firmly believe that God puts people and books (books are "people" too <:) in our lives to change us. If we love as God would have us love, then we are in a constant mode of transformation. We are never a "done deal".

The Temperament God Gave You

Unlock the secret of your personality and learn how to be a better spouse, parent,
friend, and Christian!
All of us are born with distinct personality traits.
Some of us live for crowds and parties; others seek solitude and time for quiet
reflection. Some of us are naturally pushy, while others are content just to get
along. We don’t pick and choose these traits; they’re just part of the way we’re

For in the womb God doesn’t merely mold our body; He also gives us the
temperament that, all our days, colors our understanding, guides our
choices, and serves as the foundation of our moral and spiritual

Ancient philosophers identified four basic temperaments, and over the
centuries, countless wise souls have used these four to understand human nature.
Now comes The Temperament God Gave You, the first Catholic book on the subject
in 70 years. Here veteran Catholic counselor Art Bennett and his wife Laraine
provide an accessible synthesis of classical wisdom, modern counseling science,
and Catholic spirituality: a rich understanding of the temperaments and what
they mean for you and for your family.

Drawing on decades of study, prayer,
and practical experience, Art and Laraine show you how to identify your own
temperament and use it to become what God is calling you to be: a loving spouse,
an effective parent, and a good friend. Best of all, they give you a Catholic
understanding of the four temperaments that will bring you closer to God and
help you discover the path to holiness that’s right for you.

Happiness. Holiness.
You’ll find yourself growing in each of these qualities
as you come to understand — and learn to use as you should — the temperament God
gave you.

The Temperament God Gave YouThe Classic Key to Knowing Yourself,
Getting Along with Others, and Growing Closer to the Lord
by Art & Laraine Bennett288 pp

Art Bennett is a licensed marriage and family therapist and
director of the Alpha Omega Clinic and Consultation Centers, Catholic mental
health clinics currently established in Maryland and Virginia. He is also the
host and co-producer of Healthy Minds/Healthy Souls, a Catholic radio show in
the Washington,D.C., area. He has more than twenty years’ experience in the
mental-health field and is a frequent speaker on marriage and family issues. He
writes a monthly column for the National Catholic Register, on the topic of
families and work.
Laraine Bennett has a master’s degree in philosophy and is
a freelance writer with articles published in Faith & Family, Nazareth
Journal, the New Oxford Review, and the National Catholic Register.Currently
residing in Northern Virginia, the Bennetts have been married for twenty-eight
years and have four children — one of each temperament type!
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Thursday, February 1, 2007

What I cherish most...

February 1, 2007

What I cherish most, to this day, about my childhood was the utter lack of noise. I had so much time to be outside, to read and to talk with family and friends. My godfather, Norman Lewis, owned a music store on the town square a block away from the lovely limestone Methodist church where I was baptized. He and my godmother, Betty, owned a home in town and a rustic cabin on a farm about twenty minutes outside of town. There was a piano and a record player in the cabin, a big screened-in porch in the front, a pond and land to roam and explore. I developed a taste for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and long evenings of good food, singing, talking, and just BEING.

Back to The Habit of Being....People these days are so distracted, distraught and, frankly, unpleasant. It is as if with all of our striving for security and comfort we have forgone the real pleasures in life that come from a moderately-paced daily life. I am easing in to a post regarding our schedule as homeschoolers. I say "easing in" because I am a newbie with only 6 months of homeschooling under my belt, and I do not want to get puffy.

I do want to read this book, Noise: