God, Mr. Darcy, and St. Therese

 

Are you afraid of standing before God on Judgment Day? Does the thought of facing Him make you fear death? Even if you’ve committed mortal sin in your lifetime, you only have to fear God in one circumstance–if you die unrepentant, or with no intention of confessing your sin as soon as possible. Here’s how my husband, St. Therese, and Mr. Darcy taught me to think of the Final Judgment with peace.

My husband and I met through Single Catholics Online (now Ave Maria Singles). After emailing and talking on the phone for several weeks, we decided to meet in person. As I was preparing for our first date, my hands shook from nervousness. I told myself, “There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just Dan.” We had gotten along great in our conversations. We already knew a lot about each other. We were friends. We were old enough to have been completely genuine with each other, rather than acting a part. What did I have to fear? If it wasn’t God’s will for our relationship to deepen, it wouldn’t happen, but I knew Dan would not reject me as a person. Most (I’ll admit–not all) of my nervousness disappeared at these thoughts.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Catholic Homeschool Support Groups on Facebook

Get connected to other Catholic homeschoolers on Facebook. There are a variety of groups.

I am seeing much more activity in the Catholic homeschool Facebook groups than I am seeing in the yahoogroup emails. If you are looking for support and Catholic homeschool info please consider these links to active groups. These communities are helpful and connect us to others like us across the map. 

+ Catholic Homeschool Moms https://www.facebook.com/groups/24164460379/ over 1,000 members

+ Catholic Homeschoolers of NorthEast (PA, NJ,DE,MD) https://www.facebook.com/groups/115513477358/ over 70

+ MODG Moms https://www.facebook.com/groups/29412108736/ almost 200

+ Mater Amabalis(for Catholic Charlotte Mason approach) https://www.facebook.com/groups/materamabilis/ almost 200

+ Catholic Homeschooling Resources https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catholic-Homeschooling-Resources/137231707453 almost 700

+ Totus Tuus Family & Catholic Homeschool FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Totus-Tuus-Family-Catholic-Homeschool/285307812834?fref=ts over 700

Did I miss any? Please add to comments.

Do You Love Me?

  A reflection on John 21:  15-19

Picture by Heidi Knofczynski, taken during a lesson on John 21:1-19

Do you pray with the Scriptures?  When you read them, do you allow a word or an scene from the passage to speak to you in your heart and draw out from you a prayer?  It is essential for each of us enter into prayer in this way.  Yet, it is a direction that many “voices” –  from the world, and from your own ego – will dissuade you from; because it will reveal your idols, your weaknesses.  The Lord seeks to lead us out of those “Egypts” in each one of our souls.  To do so demands much; it demands a love that endures all things, hopes all things and to be completely truthful, I do not have that love yet.  That is important for me to understand, not for me to despair but so that I can live in His truth, endure in His light and be drawn up into a more perfect love by following His voice.  


When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.  And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”  John 21: 15-19

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

I need to live in His truth, I need to know who I am and who I am called to be in His truth.  I need it  desperately, and our whole culture is dying for lack of this truth.  In this Gospel, through the questions of Jesus, Peter is taken back into the bitter memory of his betrayal of the Lord, in order to receive the profound, unfathomable mercy of Jesus, and to be drawn up into His perfect love. What courage this takes!  We, who are so easily offended, we, who so often confess our failings in a self-justifying context, are also taken through the drama of the Lord’s threefold questioning of Peter.  Three times he questions Peter’s love for Him, mirroring the three times that Peter denied Him. The anguish of Peter by the third round is palpable. I can understand this, it can be agonizing to allow Christ to plumb the depths of our own individual depravity.  Especially in this hyper-sentimentalized culture, where there is no incentive to grow in a deeper more perfect love, to have cowardice and unwillingness to suffer in order to grow in love revealed in the unflinching light of His gaze is terrifying.  Who really wants to face their own spiritual impotency?  Yet, to grow in His perfect love is to drive out fear (1 Jn, 4:18), because above all we are afraid of our own ultimate futility – our own spiritual impotency.  Christ is the only possible answer to that fear.  Moreover, when Peter submitted to Our Lord’s probing and tending to the wounds of his darkest failure, we are shown that his little love was enough for Jesus, who would transform that little love into perfect love.  And then we see how much potency in the Spirit is released!  
We must obey God rather than men!

Perfect love does drive out fear!  Look at how Peter and the apostles rejoice at the sufferings and worldly dishonor they receive on account of the Lord! (Acts 5:41)  How can I be released from the bonds of my spiritual impotency?  How can I be freed the dark hidden wounds in my soul?  These wounds may not always be obvious, but they have a subtle control over my love, they keep me in bondage.  Again, I am not speaking of the sentimental love of our time, but the passionate, agape love of God.  The love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:7)  This is the love that our fears would block us from entering into.  This is the love that Christ will so gently draw you into, if you, like Peter, allow His Spirit to enter into your darkest wounds and heal them.  And not just heal them, but as we see in Peter, transform them!  His cowardice, in the power of this love, is lifted up to courage.  The Fisherman from Galilee will endure humiliation and martyrdom for Christ and His Church.  “I will praise you Lord…You changed my mourning into dancing!” Psalm 30 2;12

Worthy is the Lamb!

It seems a little unbelievable.  In this age of stunted, materialistic love, we may be a bit jaded in our hope that we could encounter Christ so intimately from reading the words of Scripture.  We may be afraid to enter into the contemplative prayer that will bring us to Christ in this profound and personal way.  Do it anyway.  Put aside your fears, suspend you disbelief.   When you read the Gospel, when you hear it proclaimed at Mass, place yourself in the readings in your imagination.  Yes, there may be detracting voices -inner voices, worldly voices- that will hurl all sorts of accusations and distractions at you.  Yes, it may take time to build up an ability to endure in this type of prayer.  Yes, you may have to let go of the insipid, sentimentalized one-dimensional Jesus that is too often presented to us;  this Jesus inoculates us against the One who is the worthy Lamb of God, in whose presence all creation trembles and cries out to in adoration. (Rev 5: 11-14)  Persist!  And be ready, because He will surprise you.  Like He did for Peter, Jesus will ever so gently direct you to true repentance and deep healing. He will take your breath away and you will begin to let the Spirit breath through you.  
You brought my soul up from Sheol

My own experience in this type of prayer is an example of how important it is to persist through those false  voices.  For many years in prayer I have entered into the scene of the sinful woman we read of in Luke’s gospel.  In this prayer I am that women attempting to approach the Lord, but the Pharisees are standing in my way.  They present every objection imaginable to discourage me from persisting to see the Lord.  They accuse me of my own unworthiness and some of their accusations are devastatingly accurate.  The worst one is:  “Just who do you think you are!”  And they go on:  “You do not belong here, you never will.”  “You do not need Him as much as others do, how presumptuous of you!”   “He will just send you away.”   It has really taken me years to get through that gauntlet.  Even when I did persist and I fell at His feet, I could not look at Him, I was too afraid.  And in my day to day life as well, I can tell you that this fear, fundamentally a fear of rejection, has stopped me from doing many, many things that I ought to have done.   But, one day I did look up at Him.  And He looked at me with eyes that were strong and serious, and said “ Well, who do you think you are?”  Wow! Those words from Him seemed to be my worst fear coming true, but the Lord’s eyes never wavered, and drew from me the answer “I am yours.”   And He responds, “ You did not choose Me, I choose you:  Follow me.”

Alleluia!

Take a moment to enter into this Gospel (or whatever scene you are drawn to). What would He ask you?  In moments of prayer, much like Saint Peter’s encounter with the Lord , Jesus will gently draw you to look at yourself with unflinching honesty, but bathed in His light you begin to receive the courage, the power to be so much more than forgiven:  to be transformed, to be potent and fruitful in His Spirit.  Follow Him!
Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!
Heidi@Journey to Wisdom

Book Review: Anselm Academic Study Bible

In my 17 years as a converted Catholic, I have used a number of Catholic Bibles. I can honestly say that the newly published Anselm Academic Study Bible has become my go to Bible for research and study. I have already used it often to look up scripture referenced in the books I review.

This Bible comes in at a hefty 2143 pages plus an additional 16 pages of study aids. The scripture itself is the New American Bible Revised Edition. Before even getting to the scripture itself you get 97 pages of essays/articles. The Formation of the Bible; Geography, Archaeology and the Scriptures; and Sacred Scripture in the Catholic Tradition are just a few of the titles you will find in this section.

Continue reading here.

If God is willing…

” Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain’; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that'” (James 4:13-15).

This passage from James the Apostle can almost seem silly. Should we really preface every statement of intent with “God willing?” I used to ask myself this question. That changed in the summer of 2002.

 I was a new mom, struggling to adjust to sleepless nights and no time to myself, when it became clear that I would have to return to work. Never in my life had I considered being a working mother. In fact, I’d had many discussions in which I had said, “There is absolutely no way I would work when I had small kids.” But circumstances were against me. I had no other choice, if my family were not to starve or otherwise fall apart.

 Eating my words 
Going back to work was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done. What would people think? Would they call me a hypocrite? Would they think I was a closet feminist?

As I read Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, I had to face the fact that God’s will–at least His permissive will–could be different from mine on such a major issue. I had to let go of my will. When I did, I found a measure of peace.

Continue reading.

Jacob and Esau contemplative homeschool unit

File:Matthias Stom - Esau and Jacob - WGA21805.jpg

I have been blogging lately about my method of contemplative homeschooling. Here is an example of a unit I did a few years ago with my boys on Jacob and Esau.

The best way to start these units is for you (the parent) to meditate on the Scripture passage you will study with your kids. In this case, prayerfully read Genesis 25:29-24, 27:1-40. Since this passage is long, you could spread your meditation over 2-3 days or choose a smaller portion of the text to meditate on.  Identify the main elements or themes of the story that speak to you and use them as part of your studies.

The themes I chose for this unit were twins, telling the truth, and comparing and contrasting. (I created this before I began starting each unit with my prayer time.)

Narration: Read “Esau and Jacob” from The Golden Children’s Bible aloud. If you have a different Bible, use only the parts of the story that correspond to the sections of Genesis noted above. Have your kids narrate it back and you write their narrations. Children 10 and up can write their own.

Copywork/memorization: “The Truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

Full Time: Working For My Father

    
Welcome, friends, to another Memoir Monday!
 as well as some info on the blog hop.
I hope you’ll consider linking!
And please visit the bloggers who have joined in!
They’ve made this blog hop successful and inspirational!
With Mother’s Day on the horizon,  
I began thinking about this very special vocation 
with which many of us are abundantly blessed…….
and reflected:
Life is lived around here between slicing apples into turtle sized bites, one just rescued from certain death crossing a busy road bordering our development. And the supplying of a desperately needed Tupperware for grubby, muddy little boy hands to house a beetle, cricket or worm. 

            And generally coasting through our brimming and busy days around  ratios, circumference, the Pythagorean theorem,  Earth science reference tables, test tubes, microscopes, assorted, strewn-about art supplies, Paul Revere’s midnight ride, half written essays on the causes of World War I, vocabulary lists, scattered violin and piano sheet music, baseball game schedules, self imposed writing deadlines, cleats, mitts, a bottomless laundry basket, always-dueling John Wayne impressions, homeschooling paperwork, tests, workbooks and inexplicably multiplying piles of legos and tech equipment. Oh yeah. And lots of noise.


Despite all this though, and the fact that I never, ever get five uninterrupted minutes ( as all homeschooling Moms can also attest) and the fact that it’s taken me four hours off and on to type to this point in the post due to life’s demands ( demands which I loooove, yet wipe me out)  and that as I  type this, I’m mediating some sort of dispute over who’s music stand is in who’s bedroom and not in the den where he swears he left it and who’s turn it really is to unload the dishwasher and really how could you possibly think that the turning of the plot in’ The Impossible Astronaut’ is the scene in which The Doctor says, …….okay,  well, you get it. When they start arguing over Stephen Moffat’s true intent in season 5, you know it’s time to throw in the towel for the day …… Yup, here’s the thing: 

I don’t miss it. You know, working.  

For pay. Outside my home. I don’t want it back. Not anymore. I’m not looking to be fulfilled by looking beyond my home and my family. 

Is this too provincial?  Too June Cleaver-backwards? Well, June Cleaver sans pearls and heels. Because I’m not a  pearls and heels person. 

 That I choose to stay home and not only like, I love, revel in, am passionate about, feel blessed by what I do?

 That I am called to tend my home, keep the hearth, teach the children.

 And not part time.

 That I maintain the best living and learning happens in the heart of my home?

That despite feminine strides for “equality,” I say, “Take THAT, twenty-first century. You can keep the norms and expectations of our times. I’m not buying into this.”

Because I know, I truly know, without a doubt as do many, many Moms, growing legions of mothers, that the feminist agenda is harmful to women. It’s harmful to children and families. It’s harmful to the future of our country.

 I choose to work for Him. This is my calling.  
            
Is my homeschool brimming with charity, energy and momentum? Waves of productivity and swells of creativity? How about Thoreau-like jaunts into the woods to immerse in our art? Picture perfect? No way. 

And that’s not really the point, is it?

            No, my life is real. And unkempt and disorganized, disheveled, sometimes undone, burnt, unvacuumed, tardy, unmet, unwashed, wounded and just plain, lacking something, sometimes. 

But what it doesn’t lack is the love. and the purpose and the certainty that this is where I prefer to be. 

Now it’s your turn:
Please link your memoir posts~
I am not opening a new linky this week
 because  I really would like the links to stay here all in one spot. 
This way, readers can conveniently scroll down there
 and click to my blogger friends who’ve linked!
Please enjoy their stories.
If you decide to link your blog post, I’d be most honored and grateful.
I’d only ask that you grab the Memoir Monday button
 for your sidebar or your post.
Or  that you  mention my blog in your post
 so that your readers can come back to the home of the hop if they’d like. 
Thank you!
I am also gratefully linking this with Catholic Bloggers’ Network.
Have a  lovely day, friends and thank you for visiting!
 Until next time,
~Chris

Understanding the Ascension Through Art

Ascension Thursday is the close of the forty day celebration of Easter.  Some dioceses have moved marking this Solemnity of this feast to Sunday.   To better celebrate the wonder and mystery of this event of salvific history, we can turn to art.

The Seventeenth Century poet John Donne tended to take an intellectual approach to spirituality in La Coruna. (1618).  The section dedicated to the Ascension offers conceits which prepares the person for acting in faith:

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash’d, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter’d heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark’d the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
While Donne was raised as a Catholic, he converted to Anglicanism in his adulthood.  The verses reflect this sentiment as it uses quitessential Catholic symbols,such as light and dark, as well as the sacrifice of the innocent lamb.  But the final verse emphasizes the personal rather than communal aspect of faith.

Another distinctive feature of Donne’s literary style are his metaphysical conceits. which uses imagery in an extended metaphor to combine vastly different ideas into a single notion.  Hence, the ascension is likened to both a strong Ram to break down the door of faith to heaven and as a mild lamb in a blood sacrifice to show the path.

Three hundred and fifty years later, Salvador Dali painted “The Ascension of Christ” (1958) as Jesus is rising toward an energized and electrified heaven.

Dali’s surreal style of juxtaposing images one would not ordinarily associate in order to create a deeper meaning requires going beyond a rational exposition of faith.  But Dali’s depiction is not devoid of reality, as the prominent feet would have been the last thing that the Apostles who witness the Ascension would have seen.

Dali attributes the inspiration for “The Ascension of Christ” to a cosmic dream that he had in 1950 full of vivid color where he saw the nucleus of an atom.  Dali was an ardent atheist but he later re-embraced his Catholic faith (perhaps after an exorcism) but Dali often fused his conceptions of Christianity  with science. Dali realized that the nucleus was the true representation of the unifying spirit of Christ.  This nuclear mysticism is meant to connect everyone.

Dali’s “Ascension of Christ” does have some incongruities.  Dali was inspired by the atom but it looks like a sunflower or perhaps a stylized depictions of the sun.  Dali was often intrigued with continuous circular patterns like a sunflower floret as it followed the law of logarithmic spiral, which Dali explained to  Mike Wallace in 1958 was associated with the force of spirit in chastity.

While the dove ready to descend from the clouds seems like an allusion to the Pentecost liturgically celebrated in 10 days.  But why is Gala (Dali’s wife and artistic muse) peering out from the clouds?  In other Dalian religiously inspired paintings, Gala represented the Virgin Mary. Historically, the dormition of the Theotokis happened long after Christ’s ascension into heaven.  However,  Mary is often considered the Queen Mother of Heaven and as the resurrection transcended time and space, it could show the Mother of God weeping at her son’s departure from the Earth from her prospective place in heaven.

Other  aspects to appreciate in Dali’s depiction of Christ’s glorified body ascending to heaven is his hands and feet.  Aside from the positioning of the foot, notice how the soles of his foot were soiled, as reminders that our Messiah walked among us.  Also the Jesus’ fingers are curled, which lends some visual drama to the painting but combined with with electrified heavens hints at power.

Whether we are spoken to by Donne’s metaphysical conceits or dazzled by Dali’s depictions of nuclear mysticism, the Ascension of Christ into heaven is a foretaste of what the faithful may expect in our eventual heavenly home.

h/t:  Salvador Dali Society

Book Review: Totally Catholic!

Totally Catholic!: A Catechism for Kids and Their Parents and TeachersAre you looking for a comprehensive resource for teaching the Catholic Faith to your children or students?  Or a quick reference guide to help explain Catholic doctrine?  Or have a tenet of the faith broken down to better understand yourself?  Then this soft cover book titled Totally Catholic! a Catechism for Kids and Their Parents and Teachers by Sister Mary Kathleen Glavich is ideal!  It parallels the Catechism yet does so in a kid friendly way.  Each chapter starts with a question such as “What is Faith?” or “What is God like?” All the chapters are chock full of information that is broken down into sections so as not to overwhelm the reader or be a monotonous read.  Kind of like a text book format yet interesting.

Here is the basic set up:
Question that gives the reader a clue as to it’s topic,
References the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
Answers the question which is relatable to children, a
Brainstorm section that challenges the reader to think how this question affects their lives, a
BTW (by the way) section that gives a concise definition of the theme of the chapter, a
Catholic VIP that is a short biography of a saint, a
Scripture Link that connects the chapter to where it’s found in the bible, a
Did You Know? box that offers an interesting fact, a
From My Heart connection that offers either a prayer to recite or a prayer intention, a
Now Act! section that gives the reader an assignment and ends with a
Recap that highlights the main points of the chapter.

This format is perfect for intermediate readers!  Or for any lay person who would like additional information to why Catholics believe what they do and where the belief originated.   My only critique would be the black and white illustrations they used throughout the book.  They’re done well yet I wished they had some color illustrations too.  Either it wasn’t well thought out or was purposely done due to budget constraints, either way, I think it lacks a bit of a visual impact.  Especially for children who are visual learners.

Overall, I enjoyed it and will have it available for my son to use and also plan to use it when preparing my lesson plans.  (In fact I already have with my lesson plans for the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost.) My first graders are too young to be able to read it but the child friendly content will be helpful.   It’s relevant to teach the faith and won’t be used just once and placed on your bookshelf.  It will be perused over and over again when working with children.  I would highly recommend it to any parent or teacher who is looking for a faith formation resource.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Company Book Reviewer Program. Visit the Catholic Company for more information on Totally Catholic! A Catechism for Kids and Their Parents and Teachers.  The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion Gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.  A complimentary copy of this book was given for my honest review.

Blessings,
Noreen