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

Book Review: Catholic Mom's Cafe!

Prayer life getting a bit dry?  Maybe you would like something new to read and get ideas to ponder about faith.  I know that there have times when I’ve searched for a new resource to help me along a dry and just plain boring time in my prayer life.

 Five years ago, I was invited to participate in my first blog Book tour and it was one of  Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s books, a few years later I got to meet her in person at a Catholic Media Network/Catholic Writer’s Guild conference in Philly, what a very genuine and kind spirit she is!  Reading her other books were a joy, so this time when Donna-Marie asked me to participate for her newest book, how could I refuse!

Each book Mrs. O’Boyle writes is a true spiritual journey into a mother’s heart.  She, as a mother, knows just what we go through and need to sustain us through thick and thin times in the raising and nurturing of a family.  In her new book, Catholic Mom’s Cafe, Donna-Marie provides moms with a daily 5-minute retreat, and in just 5 minutes she packs in words of wisdom, a prayer, and something to think about.

When I received “Catholic Mom’s Cafe” I began my preliminary scan; the table of contents, acknowledgements, and I usually flip through the contents of the book to get the feel and guesstimate how long it should take me to read the book for my review.  What I discovered at the first scan is that this book is one I will take with me during the day and read it during violin lessons and piano lessons, during a 15 minute break at work and possibly during a boring school meeting, shhhh!!

The book is a retreat book for the entire year with each month a concentration of one of the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Love.  Each day is divided up into four sections: Ponder is a scripture verse or a quote, Offer is Donna-Marie’s thoughts on the Ponder, then we Pray prayers that are provided in the front of the book, such as: Act of Faith, or Act of Love, and other prayers that she lists for easy reference and then a final thought to Savor throughout the day.

 This book is a real treat and I know that I am going to enjoy taking a daily break and be inspired, pray, and ponder my motherhood and my life in light of Holy Scripture and our Holy Mother….and I know you will too!

Please look for autographed copies of the book are to  purchase at Donna Marie’s website: www.donnacooperoboyle.com. Also, you can purchase Mom’s Cafe through the publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and their local Catholic bookstore.

Big Click Winners: Joy of Nine9, The Cloistered Heart, Hand-Maid with Love, All the Saints and Peter and Paul AND 8 Kids and A Business!

Welcome to the
2013 Catholic Blogger Link-Up Blitz.
Announcing the Big Clicks Catholic Bloggers
for April 2013!
In the category of…

Readings and Reflections,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is:
Joy of Nine9 for the post
It’s True! It Is Really True!

Catechism and Apologetics,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is
The Cloistered Heart for the post
All
 
Liturgical Calendar Crafts and Homeschooling,
the Big Clicks Catholic Bloggers are:
Hand-Maid with Love for the post
Triduum Sacrum
and
All The Saints and Peter and Paul for the post
Holy Simplicity Planner

Catholic Family Journal and Random Ramblings,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is
8 Kids and A Business for the post
About Washing Women’s Feet

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Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centered crafts!

Jericho March

Today is an interdenominational Jericho March at a local abortion clinic in our city.
This “medical facility” has been closed for about a month now for remodeling.
Photo Credit

Please join us in prayer that the doctors, nurses and staff have a change of heart.
That the scales are removed from their eyes.
That they have a conviction of what they’re doing brings death
 to an innocent unborn baby and great harm to the mother.
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28
Blessings,
Noreen