Cindy Montanaro is a Secular Carmelite and former homeschooler. She is also the mother of Tim, a boy she and her husband adopted as an infant. Tim had Tourette Syndrome, phobias, and other mental health issues. In 2005 he died tragically. Their story was published recently by Roman Catholic Books. Dairy of a Country Mother–so named by Tim when no one dreamed he was soon to pass away–is a gem to share with any mother this May.
“Five years ago today I picked up my pen and started a year-long journey of prayer, meditation, and writing. I envisioned an extended period of time in which to record, before memory failed me, all the little humorous and profound incidents that made up my son Tim’s short life. ” So begins this beautiful memoir of a boy who loved people. It is a story of the joy he brought to everyone he met. It is a record of his mother’s faith and acceptance. It is an exploration of the meaning of Tim’s life, which Cindy generously shares with us. She would probably say her generosity is one lesson she learned from Tim.
A tale of joy, not grief Diary of a Country Mother: a Year RememberingTim is not A Grief Observed. It is not a book about how Cindy and her husband and remaining sons struggled to accept Tim’s death. Instead, it is the celebration of his life.
For the last 62 years, the first Thursday in May has marked the National Day of Prayer Observance designated by Congress when people are asked to turn to God in prayer and Meditation. With the help of 30,000 volunteers, there are tens of thousands of events held across the country to turn our attention to the eternal.
The theme for the 2013 National Day of Prayer is “Praying for America”. The organizers for the National Day of Prayer have suggested several techniques to raise our prayers to heaven. Keeping with the Praying for America theme, it is suggested that prayerful people follow a 7×7 prayer for Americas seven centers of power seven times a week. Namely, Americans are encouraged to pray for: 1) the government; 2) the military; 3) the media; 4) business; 5) education; 6) church and 7) the family.
Father, we come to You to pray for our nation, the United States of America. How You have blessed us through the years, Lord! We rightly sing, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.” Yet we see trouble in our culture today. We see the breakdown of the family, crippling addictions, and random acts of horrific violence. Lord, we need Your help in America. In recent days, we have done our best to remove Your Word and Your counsel from our courtrooms, classrooms and culture. It seems, as President Lincoln once said, that we have “forgotten God.” But Lord, You have not forgotten us! You can bless and help and revive our country again. Scripture tells us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs14:34). Lord, in Your mercy, we ask that You would exalt our country again. We have had a number of great awakenings in America. We have experienced times of refreshing, and revivals that changed not only the spiritual but also the moral landscape. As the psalmist said, “Will You not revive us again, so that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6) That is our prayer for America today, Lord. Send a mighty spiritual awakening that will turn the hearts of men and women, boys and girls back to you. You have told us if we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, that You will forgive our sins and heal our land. (2 Chronicles7:14) Forgive us today, Lord, and heal this troubled land that we love so much. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ.
But May 2nd is only the beginning of the ministry to Pray for America. During Memorial Day weekend, the organizers will launch the first Pray for America Rally Tour, with a specially decked out bus to promote fervent prayer in the communities where they will visit.
As an outreach to social media, the organizers of the National Day of Prayer are highlighting a video by Santus Real “Pray”.
In trying times like this, we need all the prayer that we can get.
Father Michael White and Tom Corcoran have written a book that at first glance would seem to be the answer to every parishes prayers. They have successfully taken their parish, the Church of Nativity in Timonium, MD and turned it from a struggling parish to a booming one. During that process and in this book are some good points and some bad points. In this review I will give some highlights of each.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote briefly about my faith-based method of homeschooling. To recap: I see methods such as Catholic Heritage Curricula, which bring the faith to individual subjects, as using a sermon format. In contrast, our Contemplative Homeschool starts with a Bible passage. I look for the themes in that passage, and add as many subjects as I can into the discussion of those themes. As my kids get older, I hope to make writings of the Church Fathers and official documents and creeds a starting place for our curriculum as well.
Here are some advantages to using the homily format.
1. Homilies promote meditation on Sacred Scripture.The Contemplative Homeschool is all about teaching our children to put prayer at the top of their priorities. It encourages a prayerful attitude and teaches methods of prayer, especially Christian meditation. As one blog commenter said, meditating on Scripture is like preaching a homily to oneself. My boys are forming the habit of looking for ways to connect Bible passages with their lives. I believe this will make it easier for them to create their own meditations as they grow older.
Prayer takes energy. When you are stressed, you may find you can’t use your imagination to meditate. You may be too worn out to converse with God. This was the case with me last year, when homeschooling three kids with a baby overwhelmed me.
Several times when I went to pray, I had too little strength to picture a scene from the Gospels. I could barely muster the energy to think the words, “Jesus, I love you.”
But I knew I had to pray. And I knew Jesus was there. I knew His love was constant. That meant He was loving me at that moment. So I decided just to soak in God’s love, like I might soak in the sunlight. I sat silent, reminding myself briefly every few minutes that God’s love was surrounding me. I let Him love me, and that was my prayer for half an hour.
I’ll never forget one trip to the confessional at this period of my life. I don’t remember what I said to the priest–certainly no specifics about my prayer method–but his advice astonished me. He said I should just sit and let God love me–the very thing I had felt inspired to do.
If you are too emotionally drained to pray, try this method.
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Micaela at California to Korea is hosting a link-up called “3 Reasons I love Catholicism.” You can submit your link all month. There are lots of good submissions, so check them out and join up. My reasons (in this post, anyway) are the triumvirate of truth, goodness, and beauty. I will show you how truth, goodness, and beauty are essential to the Contemplative Homeschool and to seeking God.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, in Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development “for those who seek”, uses the categories of truth, beauty, goodness, and oneness in a similar way to learning styles or temperaments. They signify to him four ways of relating to God. We can use these categories to help ourselves and our students/children grow spiritually.
Truth satisfies the intellect The Catholic Church speaks the truth, no matter how few listen. She does not shy away from controversy. Countless Catholics have been martyrs for the truth. Unlike our relativistic culture, and some other religions and philosophies, Catholics believe the truth is objective and knowable. Humans have minds that desire satisfaction. By upholding objective truth, the Church upholds man’s dignity.
I recently finished reading and posted my review of Christopher West’s recent book Fill These Hearts. That review can be found here. This was the first book of Christopher’s I have read, but I have known about his work for some time now and was very excited when he agreed to an interview on the book and his ministry on the Theology of the Body. Thanks Christopher for taking time out of your certainly busy schedule and sharing some answers with my readers! Continue Reading
I always wear mu crucifix on my outer garment, trolling for those who might want to discuss issues about their faith. Last week at the gym Mike commented on the crucifix and them informed me he was a Baptized Catholic, had received a Catholic education and the Sacraments. He recently began reading Darwin’s theories and other books on evolutioon and was now an atheist.
The gym is not the best setting for evangelizing. We exchanged some viewpoints and beliefs, the only thing we agreed on was that he could not prove there was no God and I could not scientifically prove there was. I left him with this thought. Believing Makes this life better. You believe you are nothing more than a very intelligent animal, there are no eternal rewards for doing good or punishment for evil. After some perhaps ninety years you will slip into an eternity of nothingness. I believe I am created in the image and likeness of my creator, there is an aspect of my being that will never die. My struggle for holiness can merit an eternity of joy in the presence of a loving God. Whether that is true or not it makes this life so much better believing it.
I’ve read at least a dozen books on homeschool philosophy and gleaned something from every one. But none exactly met my vision of what I wanted our homeschool to be. Some were literature-based (Charlotte Mason/Real Learning). Others were history-based (Neo-Classical/The Well-Trained Mind). Others were classics-based (The Latin-Centered Curriculum). The faith-based methods fell into two general categories of Protestant, Bible-based (Ruth Beechick) and either Protestant or Catholic textbooks that incorporated the faith into each subject (Seton Homeschool and Catholic Heritage Curricula). I decided to create a Catholic Bible-based homeschool method.
Teaching with homilies, not sermons
One way in which the Contemplative Homeschool is different from other faith-based methods is that I spread religion across the curriculum in a homily, not sermon, format. A sermon, common in Protestant churches, starts with an idea. The preacher finds Bible passages to support his idea. A homily, on the other hand, begins with the Church’s Scripture readings for the day, and pulls ideas out of them. Both can teach the same subject, but from the opposite direction. A homily, ideally, should give a greater insight into a particular Bible passage, while a sermon might show how a particular idea is taught throughout the Bible.
Catholic Heritage Curricula (and those like it) takes a subject and brings the faith into it. For example, The Catholic Speller includes words such as “Mass” in the appropriate units. This method is common, even used in some Catholic schools. I see this as a sermon approach. The faith is added on to a subject, but the subject is central.
In contrast, I am going through the Bible with my boys from start to finish. I take a Bible story–Jacob and Esau, for example–and create a union to connect as many subjects as I can to the themes found in the story. The central focus is the Bible, not the subject. I see this as a homily approach.
I see many advantages to the homily approach, which I will detail in a future post.