Teach your kids the one thing necessary

Are you teaching your kids to do mental prayer? I’ve written about this in the past with a few examples  of kids’ meditations. Today I’m sharing with you a meditation for kids about… mental prayer.

You may want to print this out.

File:Georg Friedrich Stettner (attr) Christus im Hause der Martha.jpg
1. Read aloud to your children Luke 10:38-42, using your favorite children’s Bible. This is the Gospel from last Sunday, so they should recognize it.
2. Study the painting above. (It’s Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, attributed to Georg Friedrich Stettner). Ask them to identify the people in the painting. Discuss the painting in this manner: “Martha and Mary are both holding something. What do you think those objects are? What does each represent? (Mary is reading the Bible. This represents meditating on Sacred Scripture. Martha is holding a duck, symbolizing being busy with household tasks.) Who are the other people in the picture? What are they doing? How many people appear to have been listening to Jesus? (Only Mary does.) Does Mary look disturbed by what Martha is saying? (No, she looks peaceful.)
3. Discuss: Why do you think the artist filled the foreground of the picture with food? (To show how much work Martha had to do or had been doing.) Do you think Martha was doing something important? (Yes, Jesus and His disciples needed to eat.) What could she have done differently so she could sit and listen to Jesus too? (She could have made a simpler meal.)
4. Remind your children of the Feeding of the 5000. How much food did Jesus need to feed all those people? (5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.) Do you think Martha needed to work all day to cook for Jesus? (Probably not, because He could have fed them miraculously, as He had done before.) Why do you think Martha was working so hard? (She was probably trying to show Jesus how much she loved Him by making Him a great meal.)

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool.

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.

Is your homeschool faith-based?

D goes back to school. (Just kidding! We took this photo to sell as stock.) 
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.

Read More: Here’s a pared-down example of a unit on Manna in the Wilderness
Share with us: How do you incorporate the faith into your homeschool?

Yertle in Babylon

This post is part of an occasional series called Finding God in Children’s Literature, in which I look at children’s books in light of the Bible and Sacred Tradition. All correlations between these books and the Christian faith are my own insights, unless otherwise noted. You may quote me or link to these posts, but please do not re-blog them or use these ideas as though they were your own. Thank you.

Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss is the story of a proud and power-hungry reptile. He starts out as king of a pond of turtles. Unsatisfied with that, he commands his subjects to stand on one another’s’ shells in a stack, while he climbs to the top. The stack of turtles keeps growing, despite the protests of the turtle on the bottom, named Mack. Yertle believes he is king of all he can see, so the higher his throne of turtles goes, the more powerful he becomes. Eventually, he over steps and the stack of turtles collapses. At last, Yertle is only King of the Mud.

Theodore Geisel, who is better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, was a political cartoonist before he began writing children’s books. He later said he meant Yertle the Turtle as a condemnation of Hitler. But there is a much more ancient culture than Nazi Germany that had striking similarities to Yertle’s kingdom–Babylon.

Continue reading.

Joseph, the dreamer by Clyde Robert BullaIn past posts, I have written on Peter Rabbit and the Fall of Man, Benjamin Bunny and the narrow gate, and the Epiphany in My Side of the Mountain. I am making this into a series called Finding God in children’s literature. Before posting more on fiction, I want to examine how to find Jesus in the Old Testament. Let’s look at typology with the story of Joseph in Genesis.

Typology finds the things, people, or events in the Bible that prefigure more significant things, people, or events in salvation history. Most types are in the Old Testament. Most anti-types (what the types prefigure) are in the New Testament. Fisheaters.com has a fuller explanation of typology.

Learn more about Joseph and Jesus.

10 Ways to keep your kids Catholic

Watching TV


Watching the events of the last few weeks unfold, I have been struck anew by how many former Catholics there are in the news media. None of them have a clue about what it means to be Catholic. That, coupled with this post at 8 Kids and a Business, got me thinking about how to keep our kids Catholic. I decided to create a list.

Please note: my children are still preteens, so I cannot say, “It worked for us.” But I have done some research on the matter, and observed other Catholic families. I’ve often wondered how my husband and his siblings all remained good Catholics, while some of my siblings did not. I almost left the Church myself in my 20s. I also know that a parent can do everything right, and his children can still choose to leave the Church. We have freewill. This list is not meant for pointing fingers or accusing other parents of failing. It’s meant to help those who are raising their kids now and want to do the best they can.

View the list.