Monday, July 28, 2014

Why we homeschool - home educators? or glorified housewives.

Well here's a charge I haven't heard before.  The blogger at Meditatio  writes: 

As I’m “homeschooling” right now, I’m kind of looking suspiciously at some homeschooling moms who talk about how they don’t want to send their kids to public school because they’ll miss out on all the stuff like reading Beatrix Potter with them and reading all the great literary classics in high school. Guess what? My mom worked full-time, sent us to private school (K-5) and public school (6-college)… and still did all of that with us. It’s called “being an involved parent”. Seriously, if you want to be a housewife, be a housewife and own that decision. Just please don’t try to rationalize your life decisions by using your kids as a pawn.
. Believe me, I know a pretty decent spectrum of homeschoolers and homeschooling parents; but there are some parents who I just don’t respect because they’re living vicariously through their kids.

I'm starting my 19th year of homeschooling this fall.  19 years. Did I start this all those years ago because I somehow wanted to disguise my desire to be a housewife?

Not that there's anything wrong with being a housewife.  My grandmother was one and she did a damn fine job of it - cleaning, cooking, mending, paying the bills, doing the shopping, and taking care of me and my sister while mom worked. On top of all that, she was also a farmer's wife so to my mind that made the cleaning, cooking and mending more challenging. Keeping the books for the farm added some difficulty too.

Daniel Leckrone, Lawerta Leckrone, Calvin photo 6027702738_152496b13f_z_zps2712b9aa.jpg

But I don't really see myself as a housewife.  Grandma never liked that term and neither do I.  I've never been married to a house (as much as I love mine - uh no - not married to it!)  In fact, I'm sure Mr. Pete and kids will tell you that when we're doing school, the poor house is the one thing that suffers!  No, I see myself as a home maker and a home educator.  I think about planning lessons, making sure kids are meeting their goals and objectives, and trying to fit home making in between that. I want my home to be hospitable and comfortable but also realizing it's going to have that "lived in look" since five of us still live here and four of us are here daily all day as we go through our school day. 

The Catholic Church teaches that parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.  Parents fulfill this responsibility by creating a home "where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule.

When you're living with teens, tweens and little kids you are constantly grinding on those sharp points of your personality that don't want to be tender, or forgiving or respectful.  It's so much easier to lash out with harshness and anger and even disappointment. But for the good of our children we must develop those things - there is no bigger grinder than to do that 24/7/365 in a homeschooling household.

And if grinding connotes visions of pain and discomfort - oh yes! There will be plenty of both!!  The catechism also says that children contribute to the growth of their children.  This is how. And growth, though lovely and necessary, almost always requires a bit of pain and discomfort.

I had to look that last term up.  Disinterested in this case means without selfish motive.  The blogger above charges that some homeschoolers (OK, she probably means me) are homeschooling because

  • It gives us an excuse to stay home and out of the work place and
  • We get to live vicariously through our children.

I worked for ten years before my first child was born.  Parts of that time were very difficult but none of it was as challenging or as life altering consequential as staying home with my kids and then homeschooling them. When I was a medical records supervisor I wrote budgets and made sure medical records were up to date and available to doctors and patients.  As a mom I have raised three boys to manhood  - guess which set of responsibilities will follow my every thought and have consequences until the day I die and beyond?

Lastly, I always considered passing on what I knew about the faith, about literature, science, home living and education in general as a chance to share! a chance to re-learn and a chance to see enthusiasm in the eyes of my children.  It's a lot like watching the walk for the first time or talk, only it's over lots of things every day all year round.  It's not vicarious  - living through them, but instead living and learning with them - which is something else completely.

Which is not to say that moms who choose to partially homeschool, or use public schools or private schools are somehow inferior. My mom worked while we grew up and she totally gave herself to us on nights and weekends.  I miss her terribly!  Can we get away from comparing each other and judging one another on the hows of educating our kids and just encourage each other on our paths as Christian moms? All paths have their own pitfalls, trials and crosses. I think we just need to be open and honest about what those are for every option.

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For reference- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones."31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:
He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33
2224 The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.
2225 Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the "first heralds" for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.34 A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one's life.
2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.35 The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.
2227 Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.36 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.37
2228 Parents' respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.
2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

7-Quick Takes

  Join Jen and the other Quicktakers over at the Conversion Diary.

1.  I was the wedding facilitator for my very first ever wedding  in the extraordinary form.  I spent a good part of last week watching Youtube videos of weddings in the extraordinary form, and writing and re-reading the notes I got from Father P!  But to tell you the truth, when you get right down to it - weddings in the extraordinary form are EASIER for the wedding facilitator than weddings in the Novus Ordo form.  Once I got the wedding procession under way and got them to the first place where they sit down, the rest of it was a piece of cake!

The couple does a tremendous amount of kneeling, there are no readers, no one does the prayers of the faithful (not even sure if there were any) and the couple visited the Marian altar AFTER Father processed out. And then they processed out.  It was easy!

The hardest part for me, was getting those kneelers moved into place for the rehearsal (I had lots of help on the wedding day) and getting rid of 200 Gather books to replace them with the Saint Edmund Campion Missals, and then of course changing them all back after the wedding.

2.   Yesterday was also  the 56th anniversary of my parents wedding.  I sort of liked that I was in attendance at a wedding that was probably very much like their wedding mass all those years ago.

wedding program for mom and daddy

What I know of my mom's wedding is that they did get married in the morning, and afterwards their reception was in the hall and everyone got a "boxed" luncheon - as in the guests went through ad picked up a pretty white box that had all of their food in it, courtesy of Whitey's Restaurant - which is still in business!

3.  Can we talk wedding etiquette?  Yesterday's couple was so reverent and thorough in their preparations.  For their payment envelopes they had written everyone's name on individual envelopes and included a thank you note along with cash!  I especially appreciated this.

It wasn't all that long ago that I had to remind the couple that they needed to pay the church and their helpers and the groom asked me how much for everything and then handed me, (I'm not exaggerating) a wad of cash and told me to take care of it! So I had to go to the bank the next day and get smaller bills to pay the altar servers and the sacristan etc.

The difference was night and day.

4. Unfortunately, the ghost of past Facebook exchanges were present at yesterday's function.

Back when everyone changed their Facebook sign to
 Image result for marriage equality symbol
one of my young Facebook friends started arguing against church doctrines and sided for this new wave of public opinion. Going under the doctrine of, if you post something controversial, you should expect controversy, I protested.  My posts were removed and I was then unfriended.  This was a person I had literally watched grow up. A child who had dined in my home, played with my kids, held my hand once during a field trip and whom I once helped after an embarrassing missed trip to the bathroom. This person was homeschooled and part of our support group up until the eight grade and then attended one of our local Catholic high schools.

So how do you react when you come face to face for the first time since then?  after all of that history?

"Well hello former Facebook friend.   Are you still a heretic?"

Somehow that didn't seem appropriate or necessary. As I was the wedding facilitator at my parish church yesterday, I just kept that hat on.  I tried to be friendly and helpful to all and I assisted everyone that needed assistance.

But when we first saw each other  - for an instant - it was there. We both knew.

Kind of sad.  And to think we wouldn't even know each other's views if there was no Facebook in the first place. That's something to ponder as well.

4.  While I'm still in wedding mode, this is kind of interesting.  In the past couple of years I have received three group e-mails that have gone something like this:

You are our friends and we value our friendship, and we'd love for you to come to our children's wedding, but we can't afford to have you come to the reception. 

It's a "You didn't make the cut" kind of letter.

I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  I like the idea that at least I know where I stand and I don't have to keep watching for an invitation or wonder if one got lost.

And I totally understand about the costs.  I'm also keeping in mind how it will be if and when any of my sons decide to get married and I know we will have a strict budget then too. (That boxed dinner from 1958 that my parents served sounds pretty good now!  Maybe we should bring that back in style!)

Mr. Pete is quick to point out that at least I don't have to get a wedding gift (although I did send a little something to one bride a few years ago because I wanted to and she was registered for it).  So I guess there's that.

But on the other hand, I can't help but wonder who did get invitations?  and for that reason I don't go to these weddings.  I think it would be awkward.  I wish them all the best though.

5. I've been dealing very successfully with my ulcerative colitis for over 10 months now.  I have almost no symptoms and I would say my days are from 98 to 100% normal. I don't eat anything with gluten in it and in fact don't eat any grains at all except for corn sometimes and I do eat potatoes.  Along with really curing my symptoms, I also lost 30 pounds and cleared up my eczema.  I've been very pleased with it and now that I've been doing it a while, it's easier and easier to prepare food for this lifestyle.

Mr. Pete has been so impressed with this that he shared this with one of his acquaintances who was also suffering with ulcerative colitis.  This person's symptoms were so bad that they were hospitalized twice and had to have blood transfusions.

Interestingly though, at least to me, they rebuffed Mr. Pete for even bringing it up!  Because they were Italian - and Italian people eat pasta. And even though someday, probably sooner than later, there was a colostomy in the future, this person was going to eat pasta and take expensive medications to try to control this as long as possible.

It's so frustrating to have such good results with a relatively easy solution and not be able to convince others to give it a try.

6.  Started my college "success" course that they require before you can be an online student - and I hate it.  Busy. work.

Maybe an actual course will be better but,

  • I hate jumping through hoops and doing inane assignments
  • I already know my learning style and it can't be pigeon holed into the three main types
  • I dislike participating on a discussion board about silly topics. 
  • And I really dislike having to do all of it to achieve "points" of which I need 400 to put this all behind me. 
One more week.

7.  A friend reminded me that 44 years ago this week, The Carpenters hit #1 with the hit Close to You!   I am a big Carpenter's fan and have most of their albums, but Close to You, Rainy Days and Mondays and We've only Just Begun are my favorites!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim - Catholic Grandparents Day!

Remember your grandparents on the Feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne! The REAL Grandparents DAY!

From Mary Reed Newland's "The Year and Our Children"

St. Anne is the patroness of old clothes dealers, seamstresses, laceworkes, housekeepers, carpenters, turners, cabinetmakers, stablemen, and broommakers, and she is invoked against poverty and to find lost objects. Although the martyrology doesn't say so, she must be the patronness of Grandmothers, and we love her for that because she we could never get along without our grandmothers. The children love to recall that if she was still there when the Christ Child learned to talk, He called her Grandmother. The nicest of her symbols we think is a cradle with the infant Virgin Mary in it.
From the Saint of the Day!
This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.

We think the best way to honor the feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne is to do something lovely for grandparents. Little girls might dress their best dolls as the tiny Mary this day and lay them in flower bedecked cradles.

My mom was awesome at passing on the faith to us. A Christian all of her life, but a convert to Catholicism in her late teens.

This feast day was always very special for Mom - she even got married on St. Anne's Feast Day!
wedding program for mom and daddy

She was made sure to pass these things to us. And even though the Catholic High School she sacrificed to send us to did little to nurture or grow that faith (and in some ways was really an occasion for sin) both my sister and I found our way back to the faith as adults.

When mom passed on, one of the first purchases I made with some of the money mom left me was this statue of St. Anne and her daughter Mary.
Aday in July 2011 073

Aday in July 2011 075

I love it for a number of reasons - it is a good reminder that even Mary needed some loving guidance from her mother, it reminds me to provide loving guidance to my own children especially my daughters, and it is a nice reminder of what my mother did all her life for me and my sister and then later as a grandmother to all of her grandchildren.


St. Anne Links on Diigo.
Via Catholic Cuisine   - Green and red are the colors for St. Anne - Red for love and green for new life and comfort.

Follow Elena LaVictoire's board st. anne on Pinterest.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Catholic Vaccination dilemma

The debate rears its ugly head even in the safest of places.

A mom posts in my local homeschool group that her family is going through pertussis - all of them - including her vaccinated husband and vaccinated public school child. First there are posts back showing support and advice on how to soldier through with a household of sick children. Then the accusation, "Weren't your children vaccinated?"

My finger hovers over my mouse, strategically positioned between the delete and the moderation button.  This is the type of discussion that can get heated quickly, and the relationships and camaraderie of this group of woman could be broken with one harsh word or a misinterpretation of intentions.

What breaks the camels back and causes me to hit delete and then quickly put us into moderation mode was a comment like this. "The Pope says that everyone should vaccinate their kids for the common good and it's a sin not to vaccinate."

Nothing is going to kill off a Catholic support group faster than a decree from the pope!

The thing is - it wasn't the pope.

But let me start back at the beginning.

In 2001, Arkansas mother, Shannon Law, was faced with making a decision - have her kids vaccinated with vaccines from aborted fetal cell lines, or get kicked out of school.  She opted to call the Vatican!

As the deadline for getting the vaccinations approached, Shannon knew she could wait no longer.  She picked up the phone and called the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican and spoke to Msgr. Charles Brown who assured her he would look into the matter at once. As she awaited a response that would surely take more time than the school would allow, she then contacted American Life League and Children of God for Life.  Within hours, Children of God for Life contacted Msgr. Brown, who upon learning the problem was not confined to only Mrs. Law, requested a package of information to be sent to His Eminence Josef Cardinal Ratzinger.  Meanwhile Msgr. Brown's instruction was clear: all Catholics should be instructed to use the Church teaching on Moral Conscience while the Vatican reviewed the issue.  Further, he warned that, "To turn away from one's conscience would be a grave error."

In 2005 Mrs. Debra Vinnedge wrote a letter to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI).  She asked for the church to make a strong statement against vaccinations made from the cell lines of aborted fetuses so that Catholic parents could exempt their children from mandatory vaccinations when attending school.

Her letter was passed on to The Pontifical Academy for Life and she received a reply from Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

OK so just to be clear, there was no such statement from Benedict XVI or Francis I.  The pope isn't saying your kids need to be vaccinated or that they shouldn't be vaccinated!  You can read the entire response here.

Later that year, Msr. Jacques Suaudeau of the Pontifical Academy for the Family clarified the Vatican statement.
“1) The document as such supports the position of Children of God [for Life]. It denounces the use of “tainted” vaccines, it asks for alternative vaccines; it invites (the document speak about a “duty”, which is a pretty strong word) parents (and others) to put pressure on government and companies to offer alternative vaccines. The document speaks clearly about “conscientious objection”(p.7). This was the main point of the document.  As such I do think that Children of God [for Life] have there a useful instrument to put pressure on local authorities in order to get exemption of vaccination for their children, in schools. But more important is the lobbying to get the alternative vaccines free entrance in the U.S.”
“2) The restriction formula about the possible use of tainted vaccines in conditions “of considerable dangers”(p.7) was needed: in fact we had problems with local (Italian) journals using titles like that: “Vatican forbid vaccinations”.

It seems to me that the vatican encourages drug makers to manufacture licit vaccines and I think you could even take it to mean that they think that drug makers are headed in that direction.

But are they?
Apparently not.  The chicken pox vaccine came out in 2006 and some flu shots comes from aborted fetal cell lines. Clearly big pharma isn't that anxious to get out of the profitable fetal cell line business.

But what does this mean to the average Catholic parent?  How can we protect our children and keep the faith?

Well no one said it would be easy.  The Vatican documents were clear that parents were to follow their consciences but also that their consciences should be well formed.  When it comes to vaccines it's important to know

  • Why is this vaccine being given to my child?
  • Is there a morally licit alternative? 
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • What are the long-range consequences? 
  • How effective is the vaccine? 
  • How long will the immunity last?
  • If my child got the disease instead can it be treated effectively? 
After getting that information and prayerfully considering the information, it may be morally licit to get the vaccinations.  But a parent who forms his conscience otherwise would also be making a morally licit decision. 

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

St.Mary Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene
Originally uploaded by clarkvr

your Son first entrusted to Mary Magdalene
the joyful news of his resurrection.
By her prayers and example
may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord
and one day see him in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Mary Magdalene

Please see my library of links for St. Mary Madalene, full of informative articles here.

Follow Elena LaVictoire's board St. Mary Magdalen on Pinterest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Simple Woman

Outside my window...

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Two tow path turtles that I was lucky to catch last week on my walk while Noah was running.

I am thinking...
about how much I really like my walks during cross country season. I can listen to talks on my phone or MP3 player and accomplish two tasks at once!  I'm getting faster too!  I can easily do three miles in an hour - probably closer to 3 1/2 miles now.

I am also grateful that I can get up at least two hours before my household does.  I find that I really enjoy that time to pray and think before the busy day begins.

I am thankful...

that I have as many credits as I do - because seriously, if I had to start from scratch on this degree program I wouldn't do it at all!

In the kitchen...
easy does it!   Mr. Pete is getting lots of stuff together for grilling this week.  On Tuesday we celebrate Gabe's birthday!  Cheese cake and buffalo chicken dip are on the menu!

For Calvin's Birthday on Friday, Izzy made this delicious and beautiful upside down cake.

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I got adventurous in the kitchen too - this is butternut squash with sausage, apples and pecans with a little bit of butter and brown sugar - very good and even Mr. Pete ate two servings!

I am wearing...
Black skirt I wore to church and a green shirt from the Jaclyn Smith collection at K-mart that I know I must have purchased at least 20 years ago - but it still fits and I like it!

I am wondering...
if it's even worth trying to sell on ebay any more.  I bought five really pretty girls' dresses at a yard sale for $1 each.  So I had $5 into them altogether.  It was free listing on e-bay and I started the bidding at $10 thinking that would entice bidders. The buy-it-now price was $30 which I still thought was a great deal for five very detailed dresses.  I also offered free shipping.

Well there was no bidding and the dress sold for only $12. With shipping and the fees I actually lost money.  sigh... it will be a while before I try children's clothing again.

I am going...
  • to walk Monday - Thursday and try get some arm workouts in too.  
  • Let Noah have some big driving time!
  • Take Rosie and Noah to their cross country practices.
  • Pray for my math tutor and his family who will welcome twins this fall.
  • Really double down on my prayer time this summer - making morning prayer with divine office. com a habit!
  • Make it to confession this week hopefully!

I have the app on my Kindle and my cell phone.
I am pondering...

I am thinking of making my prayer corner a place in my room - but I need to clean a space for it first!

I am reading...
Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace

 From the Learning Rooms...
  • Noah working on Instacert to get ready for the American History II CLEP test. 
  • Noah Finishing Geometry
  • Noah doing  Expository Writing with Bravewriter.
  • Izzy starts working for the arts project with the city.
  • She is reading Lord of the Flies.
  • Rosie is going to work on her spelling and reading and math. 
  • Rosie also has cross country.  She moved into level 3 for swimming. 
  • Izzy and Noah starting the Dave Ramsey course to meet their finance requirement for high school.  

One of my favorite things...

Michael Medved history talks!  I highly recommend his talk on World War I, World War II and Kennedy.

I am hoping to ...
  • Get some flute practice done.
  • That Noah will be ready for the CLEP in American History 2 within the next few weeks. 
  • Finish getting the classroom cleaned up and then work on the entire second floor - starting with my office! 

I am looking forward to...

Reunions with family members this summer.

 A video to share...

Mr. Pete cantoring, and my flute in the background. - you can hear Izzy singing too!  She was holding the camera.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

7- Quick Takes

  Join Jen and the other Quicktakers over at the Conversion Diary.

1.  I have had no transcription work for two weeks because my client has been on vacation.   It has been weird. Really weird not to have that work hanging over my head all the time.  I have really missed it!  Instead I've been driving kids all over the place to their activities and jobs, and trying to get the parts of my house that the general company sees, pretty clean.  Next week it all starts again.  I wonder if I can adjust!

2. One of the things I've been doing instead of working is taking Rosie and Miss C to the local library show.  I've been taking my kids to those shows for over 10 years and it's nice to have an excuse to still go!  Last week they had a magic show which was lots of fun and Rosie even had a chance to be a participant.

Miss C. did pretty well for a 9 month old baby.  She doesn't mind loud noises and in fact, she likes to be around a lot of people with a lot of action because it interests her.

But last week they had a cartoonist in and I thought that might be too much for the baby.  So while Miss C and I sat in the library playing with toys and games, Rosie watched the cartoonist draw cartoons and even had a chance to draw some herself!!

3.  Today is Calvin's 25th birthday.  Izzy made a beautiful pineapple upside down cake and we all sat around the fire in the fire pit outside for a couple of hours talking.  It was really a nice birthday.

Calvin's birth was my rocky road to motherhood. I shared that on this week. Can't believe that was 25 years ago. After all this time, it still makes me a little angry.

Glad to have Calvin though - really proud of that kid.
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4.  I was specifically asked to play for mass tomorrow.   The pianist will not be there so they wanted me to help fill in the sound.  Turns out, I have all of the responsibilities for the musical introductions and it's making me just a tad on the nervous side.

On the positive side, Mr. Pete is cantoring and I hope to catch some of that on video.  He has such a nice voice.

5.  I was also asked to be the wedding facilitator for a Latin mass next week.  I haven't been to a Latin mass for decades, so I am a little apprehensive about it.  Turns out though that it is easier than a regular mass!!  The priest does just about everything and once the couple gets up to the front, they pretty much stay there!

I'm watching a lot of these videos to get ready though!

6.  So as if I didn't have enough to do, on a whim I contacted my old college because I saw that they now had several online degree programs.  I graduated from that school a few months before I got married to Mr. Pete. So... about 35 years ago.  The admissions person I talked to was very friendly and helpful and before I knew it, I was getting all of the credits from all of the different programs and colleges I have gone to off and on over the decades  all gathered up and sent into the school.  And to my delight, I am 66% of the way through to a Bachelor's degree.

So I started on their orientation class, which is 3 weeks long, is a pass/fail and doesn't give any credit - and I now remember how tedious college work can be.  For example, for 30 points, I had to produce a time management plan so that they can be sure that I know how to manage my time.

After 34 years of marriage, raising six kids while working from home, I think I might know a thing or two about it!  In fact, it was a waste of time to do the assignment.  I'll have to think long and hard about whether this is the right time to pursue this or not.

7. A look back at Calvin and mom - when he was probably around 2.
Photo: Happy Birthday!
Note the death grip I have on his arm.  I love Calvin to bits, but he was one of those little boys that was impulsive and fast!  Despite the smile on my face, I'm sure that I'm trying to get him to stand still for something!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

From the Seton Newsletter.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th, the date of Our Lady's appearance to St. Simon Stock. The celebration of this feast seems particularly appropriate in light of the current conflict between Muslims and Christians. This feast gives us and our children an opportunity to learn about how the Church has suffered from those who oppose us. Our children can be prayer "crusaders" in their own home.

Mount Carmel was the location in Palestine where, in the Old Testament times, the Prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven, once to destroy an enemy pagan captain and his fifty soldiers, and once to prove to the pagan priests that the true God of the Israelites was in control.

The prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel; the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice

 The Prophet Elijah lived on Mount Carmel most of his life as a monk; it was because he lived there with other monks living a life of prayer and sacrifice, that Mount Carmel was considered a sacred mountain.

Mt. Carmel

Later during the Old Testament time of Judith, King Nabuchodonosor sent his general to "bring all the earth under his empire." One of the places that resisted this invasion was Carmel. Although Judith did not live in Carmel, she was an Israelite widow who prayed for God to give her the strength to defeat the king and his general, General Holofernes. Judith was given a strategy by God, and she killed the general in his own camp.

In New Testament times, chapels, including one to the Blessed Mother, were built on Mount Carmel, and an order of monks called Carmelites lived there. Throughout the centuries when the followers of Islam, the Mohammedans or the Saracens, were destroying Christian cities and churches, Carmel was destroyed but rebuilt again by the Christians. The Crusaders fought valiantly during the holy wars trying to save Carmel and the other holy lands.

However, because of the devastation, the Carmelite Order moved to Europe. Later, St. Simon Stock, born in England in the mid 1100's, joined the Carmelite Order in England, where there was great devotion to the Blessed Mother. He became the general of the Carmelite Order, and spent several years in the monastery on Mount Carmel. The Order spread through Europe, and in 1252 the pope gave official recognition to the Carmelite Order.

The Blessed Mother appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, in Kent, England, and gave him a scapular for the monks to wear day and night. She told the saint, "Those wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."
Aylesford, England (1251) - Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Since then, the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has become a favorite with Catholics all over the world, many popes and saints wearing it daily. Scapulars, official sacramentals of the Church, with their prayers and devotions, have become second in popularity only to the Rosary. The Church has granted many spiritual benefits to the wearing of the Brown Scapular.

St. Terese of Lisieux, the Little Flower and Doctor of the Church who joined the Carmelite Order, wrote about Mary as our Mother and a model for us to imitate. Mary cares for us as a mother, and we should love her as our heavenly mother. We need to look to her as the perfect disciple of Jesus, and try to imitate her way of life, especially her instant and complete obedience to His holy will.

Those who wear the scapular show their devotion to the Mother of God by frequent prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments. The scapular is a sign, a symbol of our willingness to commit ourselves to a higher spiritual life of prayer and devotion, as well as the practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

For us homeschooling parents, Our Lady of Mount Carmel should remind us of the attacks against the church, whether they are from across the seas or right in our own country. We and our children need to re-dedicate ourselves to praying for the Church, and to ask the Blessed Mother in prayer to help our Church at this time in our country when it is under attack from the pagan society, from the media, and even from those supposedly within the Church who want the laws of God abandoned.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we know you are our heavenly mother and are dedicated to protecting us. Please intercede for us with your Son to protect our Church from the enemies of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to learn through teaching our children that our holy Catholic Faith is the most precious treasure we have, and that we must be willing to make great sacrifices for the Church which your Son founded for our eternal salvation. Amen.

Another prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the Flos Carmeli (Flower of Carmel) composed by Saint Simon Stock.

O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine,splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel from Aquinas and
Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Also called simply the Brown Scapular, this small scapular is the most well known and likely the earliest form of the devotional scapular. It may even be referred to merely as “the scapular,” where all other scapulae are referred to in the full name or by some distinguishing characteristic. Along the same line, the phrase “The Feast of the Scapular” refers to the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Pious tradition holds that the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251 in England, with a scapular in her hand and said to him, "Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant." According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, these precise words of Our Lady only appeared in written form in 1642, in a document that said these words had been dictated by Simon to his secretary and confessor. Historical documents cannot support the exact details or words, but the content is held to be reliable. That is to say, it is credible that Our Lady assured St. Simon Stock in a supernatural manner of her special protection over his whole order and all who would wear the Carmelite habit, indirectly extending to all Christian faithful who should wear the scapular as a badge of devotion, even if we cannot place the exact words.

Conditions for Receiving the Graces of the Scapular

The promise and the following conditions are typically associated with a vision and Bull of Pope John XXII. The Bull that has been handed down since the 1400's was never mentioned for over 100 years after its supposed promulgation in 1322 and no record of such a document exists in the writings of Pope John XXII. It has been generally assumed that the extant text of the Bull is not an authentic document but the promises and conditions are valid and several popes have given the Carmelites permission to preach them.

Here are the conditions:

1) Wear the Brown Scapular continuously -
(Catechesis of the Brown Scapular)

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

2) Observe chastity according to one's state in life.

3) Recite daily the "Little Office of the Blessed Virgin."
Little Office Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

available also on Kindle


3a) Observe the required fast of the Church as well as abstaining for meat on Wednesday and Saturday


3b) Recite the Rosary daily


3c) With permission, substitute some other good work.

Obviously, the Scapular is not a get out of Hell or Purgatory Free Card.

Other Links for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on Delicious

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel desert

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Feast of Kateri Tekakwitha

The young woman now honored with such beautiful titles as "the Lily of the Mohawks" and "the Wonderworker of the New World" was born in 1656 at Ossernenon, a village of longhouses which stood on a high hill overlooking the Mohawk River. The daughter of a Turtle Clan chief and a Christian Algonquin captive, she was orphaned at the age of four when a smallpox epidemic decimated Ossernenon. With a pockmarked face and damaged eyesight from her own struggle with the dreaded disease, Tekakwitha was raised in the longhouse of her father's brother and successor.

When Tekakwitha was in her late teens, French Jesuits established a mission in her uncle's village. The Mohawk chief distrusted and disliked the Christian Blackrobes, but grudgingly allowed their presence as a party of a treaty with the French.

Despite her uncle's stern objection to the Blackrobes and their faith, Tekakwitha was deeply impressed by their words — perhaps they brought back childhood memories of her mother's whispered prayers — and gladly risked her family's disapproval to be baptized. With a joyful heart, she became a follower of Christ and took the name Catherine, in her language, Kateri. Subjected to persecution in her village, she fled over 300 miles to the safety of Caughnawaga, a mission village near the French settlement of Montreal. In this place, often called the Praying Castle, her already deep faith flourished. She died there several years later at the age of 24. Devotion to the holy girl began almost immediately. She was beatified on June 20, 1980 and is now one miracle away from sainthood.

In the familiar prayer for her canonization, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is referred to as "this young lover of Jesus and of His Cross." Her great devotion to Our Lord is one of the most profound aspects of her story and one that is occasionally overlooked these days when her life is simplified and sentimentalized. Yet it was Kateri herself who said, "I have given my soul to Jesus in the Eucharist and my body to Jesus on the Cross."
From the Lily and the Cross.

Little Kateri Costume I made for Rosie when she was a baby.

Bob and Pennie Lord Movie about the Saint on Amazon Streaming here.

Follow Elena LaVictoire's board St. Kateri on Pinterest.

My links for this saint.
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