Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wait. Why am I Catholic again?

“Oh! You have a blog? What’s it called?”

I think I had trouble answering this question even before last week. You know... you start a blog and come up with what you think is a really clever name, and then the longer it’s around the more you wonder, “Why in the world did I think *that* was a good name??”

Then the news breaks from Pennsylvania of the truly horrific crimes perpetrated by members, nay LEADERS, of your very church and it gets me thinking again: Wait. Why am I “Catholic Again”?

Is it because of a priest? Is it because of the Church? The Pope?

Well, yes… and No.

My experience and encounters with God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - can’t easily be separated from the people who were “there when it happened.” I was baptized by a priest, received first Holy Communion from a priest, was sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit by a bishop. A priest hears my confession. These are all big things!

However.

No one else was there when I heard God ask me: “Will you give this up for love of Me?”

No one else felt the joy in my soul when I realized, and accepted for myself, the Jesus died to save me - a sinner - and that He loves me!

No one (or maybe very few people) look at a hot air balloon and see an answer to prayer. But I will always be reminded of how God answered a special (but by no means, unique) prayer of mine.

The Catholic Church may have been a mediator in the big events of my faith life - but it has not ever been the determinator of my faith life. Which is to say, I am not Catholic because of the church. I am a Catholic because I love Jesus and I do my best to follow Him.

But some would say, “How can you stomach even being a part of an organization that harbored such predators?” And to be honest, I can’t. I’ve been feeling nauseous, losing sleep… and trying to live a normal life taking care of my family and myself. (This is *nothing* compared to what the victims have endured). But something a fellow blogger wrote really resonated with me: she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “When someone breaks into your home, you don’t just abandon your home forever. You get the police and you clean out the burglars. You fix the damage. You make it a safe place again.” That’s the only response that makes sense to me. Yes, I’m angry and want nothing better than to flip some tables or call down some Holy-Spirit-purifying-fire -- but if I do it only out of anger, I’m in danger of falling into sin myself. (A brilliant little Twitter thread about this is here: Secondary battles)

It’s funny. When the scandal broke last week, quite a few bloggers talked about how relieved/comforted they were to hear their priest address the issue publicly. So thinking I might be similarly relieved/comforted, I anxiously awaited going to mass today to hear what Father would say. But, not only was Fire baby completely out of sorts, the little dude and the wee girl were having a hard time keeping it together as well. For the first time in a long time, I actually spent near all of Mass outside with the baby. I missed the homily completely and most all the announcements as well. Figures, right? I *did* just say that I’m not a Catholic because of a priest, but because of Jesus. So, who do I really want comfort and encouragement from anyway?

-----

A while ago, Sarah Bessey wrote about how she became disillusioned - gratefully disillusioned - with the leadership of her church. In it there were some lines that have stuck with me over the years:
I no longer look to you as my shepherd. What a relief to you, I imagine!
No, I look to Jesus as my Shepherd. You can be my pastor, you can be my teacher, you can be my friend.
And this is freedom.
For both of us, do you see?
We need that kind of freedom in our Church - the kind where consecrated Religious aren’t held up on a pedestal or held to impossible standards, the kind where lay people are free in their relationship with God, not feeling like they should have an intermediary or some sort. This is a bit of a digression, I admit. But when you recognize that these scandals were born out of the sin of clericalism, predatory lust, power, and addiction to money… then I have to ask, “If this kind of freedom lived in the Church, would this scandal have ever been possible?”

I don't have an answer to that question... nor much of an ending to this post. I'm still trying to figure out my actual response to the events that have happened (beyond these words, cause as we all know, words without action mean little). All I can offer right now is my prayer:

O Lord, Send out your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth!

Lord, hear! Lord, pardon! Lord, be attentive and act without delay, for your own sake, my God, because your name is invoked upon your city and your people! (Daniel 9:19)

Jesus, please bring justice and healing to those hurt; and protect the innocent.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

Monday, August 6, 2018

What the what? (a.k.a. Life's little interruptions)

Last week I posted a picture of my cat on Instagram...



Turns out people don't mind their IG feed being interrupted by my cat as much as *I* mind my sleep being interrupted by my cat. Funny how that works.

So anyway, I was just going to go to sleep (notice the theme here?) when I got an email from my lovely internet friend, Alicia, saying that voting for the SHEENAZING Awards was up, and she was nominated! (Not just once, mind you, but 4 times!!) (She is that great, btw. Check her out and do vote for her)

Of course, you may be wondering what the Sheenaze is a Sheenazing Award - and that is ok, dear reader - for this person will tell you exactly what it is. And why should I steal their thunder?

But the point here is that I, too, was also nominated - and holy schmoly - look who I got sandwiched between!

Well, that's it. Sleep is not going to happen here tonight, y'all!!! I'm far too excited! The folks on this list are the REAL DEAL. And I'm not quite sure how I got to be counted in their company (actually, I do know, and all four of my votes are going to her.)

So here's the real point - and I'll try not to be too sappy - but it's not too much of a stretch to say that this blog wouldn't exist if it weren't for the Sheenazing Awards. It was 2015 and I was happily reading my from my handful of totally Christian (but not Catholic blogs) when one of them was nominated for a Sheenazing Award. And of course, like you, I wondered what in the world that was, so I clicked on the link and found Bonnie... and then Kendra... then Haley... then Mary... then Kelly... then Rosie... then Alicia... then Shannon... then Laura... and on and on and on. I had no idea that Catholic blogs existed! Which of course also meant that I had no idea that Catholic *bloggers* existed - and therein lies the rub. The Sheenazing Award is a huge touchstone on my path to why I'm "Catholic Again" because prior to finding these lovely women, I didn't know that one could be Catholic AND in love with Jesus AND younger than 45 (gosh I hesitate to write that last part, but shoot there it is). My experience with Catholics who truly loved Jesus was *very* limited - and whenever I contemplated returning to the Church all I could think of was how lonely I would be, what with age difference and all. But these awards showed me that there were women, Catholic women, my age, who loved Christ! Far more than I ever realized - and that gave me hope. It was just one more way of God reaching out to me and saying, "I see you. You will never be alone."

So be encouraged! And be uplifted! If God sees me, then most assuredly God sees you too. And hey, maybe all it takes is a little Sheenazing for us to become convinced of that truth.

Do learn more about the Sheenazing Awards here - and if you feel so inclined - cast your vote, too!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Putting the Rest in "Restful Learning" (SES #04)

One of the definitions of scholé is that it is "restful learning." As happens often (so I've been told) this Greek word has no English equivalent. When it is translated, "leisure" is the term used most often, though its connotations are "being at leisure to pursue philosophy" rather than our first association with "being at leisure to take a cruise."
So, I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a guess that taking an afternoon nap is NOT scholé... however, dear reader, that is what I did today. Thus, there are no written narrations of what I read to offer you.
Pretend that remote control is actually a book, mmmkay?

I know it's hard, but I'm sure you all understand.

In the meantime, you may want to head on over to the Scholé Sisters website and make a plan to join them on September 15th for their online retreat (or if you know me IRL - come join me!). It will be  a day to scholé at its finest - no naps necessary.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

I Finished a Book! For Myself! (SES #03)

You guys! I finished reading a book! It's been forever since I could say that!

Me finishing a book is about as mythical as me sitting on a toadstool reading a book.
It's not for lack of trying... Goodreads says I have 8 books that I'm "Currently Reading" (and the funny thing, is only two of them are ones that I'm actually making progress on... the other ones that I'm making progress on aren't even on my Goodreads list!)  (Maybe I should update that.)  (Or not.)

The point is - it's been ages since I could have the satisfaction of closing a book with a sense of accomplishment - and today that award goes to me and the book "Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home" by Elizabeth Foss.

But first, a scholé stor-ray:

Today is the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - ordinary time in the Church is devoted to sharing the stories of the regular days of Jesus' life. Of course, a regular day with Jesus would never be considered such by us - how many of us can say, "Oh, it was just a normal day... cleansed a few lepers, gave a blind guy sight, fed 5000 people with a can sardines and a loaf of bread."?  I can't. But Jesus can!  Every Sacred Sunday writes, "These are ordinary days filled with extraordinary stories that encourage us to echo this radical love in our every moment."

Today's radical love moment showed Jesus caring for his disciples' physical, mental and emotional health. "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while," He says. Father picked up on this theme and spoke about the great need we have in our life for quiet. Why? It is in the quiet that we are reminded of our purpose; we are reminded of who we are. Who are we? We are children of God, and our souls have a great desire to see Jesus and be seen by Him.

I spent a great deal of Mass trying to tell my children, "Shh! Listen to Father! He's saying that Quiet Time is good for you! AND for Mommy!" (Something I've been trying to tell them myself for a while.) Jury's out on how well that message was received... let's just say that their collective behavior did not earn them chocolate milk from the coffee shop afterwards.

Quiet!!!

Sigh. It made me grateful for the alone time I knew I would be getting in the afternoon.

And then I got to the coffee shop, pulled out Real Learning, and read this:

"Burnout occurs when we are out of sync with God.... Set aside fifteen minutes at the beginning of each day to be alone to meditate."

and then this:

"Your emotional goal absolutely should be to find time to be alone."

Hmm... I began to think. "Is God trying to say something to me today?" This last chapter of the book was written to homeschooling moms who may be experiencing burnout, but even Foss wrote that it would have "preventative value for women who are not burnt out" (a category I currently place myself in).  And now the coffee shop is playing this over the speakers.

Apparently I need to listen up!

But it's true right? If we aren't right with God, all of our relationships are going to be out of whack and most of what we do will feel futile as well. To that end, I'm grateful for this Sunday Scholé time (thanks, Honey!!) but I'm hearing that I need this daily. So how to make that happen? I'm open to all tips and tricks here... though I suspect it will really just need to be me with a Nike attitude:



What are we waiting for?? Let's do this!

How are you going to scholé this week?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

In Which I Scholé In My Coupé

Usually when my DH gives me the afternoon to go read (or just drink a cup of something in peace) I go and visit the nearest chain caffeine-providing establishment... you know, the green one... with the coffee. But I'm sorry to say it's been getting more and more sketch at these places - at least the ones around me. So today, I took my reading to the car:


It's more comfortable than it seems... warm seats, quiet environment. I won't necessarily say that it's cleaner (as my picture clearly attests - *ahem*), but at least it's *my* dirt.

On the docket today was Every Sacred Sunday and Know and Tell

Every Sacred Sunday
Today was the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time and because we had a party to go to later, we went to an earlier Mass at a different church. My children love this church because the walls are huge, floor to near-ceiling stained glass:
Photo by Juan Tamayo
I barely heard a word from the service (some days are just like that) but that's why I appreciate this journal. It has all the readings printed for me, with a place to write down notes (should I hear anything from the homily). The words I heard today focused on God's action: God calls us, God loves us - and we respond! Hopefully in the affirmative.

Know and Tell - Chapter 3: Principles of Narration
Principle #1 - Use high quality literature. Serving our students the literary equivalent of dry oatmeal benefits no one.
Principle #2 - Read it once. Don't interrupt. You may ask a question when the child is finished, but it is better to leave the student in a place where they know they have forgotten something than to "help" them fill in those details.
Principle #3 - Review previous narrated material regularly. Ask "What did we read/learn about last time?" Also do end-of-term assessments (approx every 12 weeks).
Principle #4  - The narration must be the child's (see Principle #2). When you ask questions, you disrupt the child's thought process and they become dependent on *you* to supply the questions again and again.

I also started Chapter 4: Building Fluency
Narration as an educational practice should begin at age 6, and not before. You can welcome them as they come naturally (and make sure to let the student know what they are doing, "What a great narration! I can see just what you're talking about!") but do not make them a requirement before age 6. Also, do not expect too much for the first year or two (!). The best lines about this came here:
"With a new narrator, almost anything can happen... In fact, the average six-year-old on the couch can dash an educational theory to pieces in a matter of moments, or so it would seem." 
Or this gem...
"If you think of narration as a child's oral "picture" of what she has heard, you can compare her progress with that of a budding artist. The enthusiastic two-year-old gripping a crayon in her fist is happy to be getting color or lines on paper. In the same vein, beginning narrators should simply be encouraged to use words--their own words--to "tell." If the result is as impressive as a two-year-old's scribble, that is what you should expect." (emaphasis mine)
Cheers to scribbles and babble! How did you scholé this week?

PS - I don't really have a coupé... but did you know that the word coupé comes from the French couper, "to cut (in half)" and was used in the 19th century to describe a shortened carriage that had no backseat? It was first applied to a closed 2-door automobile in 1908.


via GIPHY

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Scholé Every Sunday (numero uno)

Hello! What's new out there internet-land? I've thought of you often and wished I could come on here and bang out a few thoughts but whenever I've actually made time to do so, it seems that my thoughts have languished in a few (tired) categories:
  1. Those of the navelgazing type (only interesting if your navel is pierced or free of lint)
  2. Those of the ranting type (not good for a conflict avoiding personality like myself)
So, alas, the blog has remained a bit dormant. (Plus I've been wondering how accurate my blog title is anymore, but maybe that's a discussion for another time.)

In any case, this evening while nursing the fire baby down for the 3rd time in an hour I came up with *something* I could write about: my scholé!

A post shared by Sara Rooney (@rooney.sara) on

If the word "scholé" looks a little fancy-pants, it's probably because of the accent on the e. Just remove it in your mind and then it looks like a pretty bad misspelling of "school" ...and that's OK because that's kinda what scholé is: it's a type of restful learning that seeks out Truth, Goodness and Beauty. The Scholé Sisters (over there on Instagram) have their own little hashtag #scholeeveryday but I have yet to actually use that tag, because the idea behind it is that you Should be scholé-ing every day. At best, I scholé on a weekly basis - and usually on Sunday. Therefore: Scholé Every Sunday

The idea is this: every Sunday, I will come on here and share what I did for my scholé that day/week. It will most likely be what I read, but the beauty of scholé is that it can be anything that provides life-giving learning opportunities: nature walks, a concert, even church! I'm not promising that it will be very interesting to anyone besides myself - but to be fair, I'll try not to make it boring. (How's that for a promise? I might as well just say, "I promise not to make you claw your eyes out.")

Sound good? If so, read on dear friend...

This week: Teaching From Rest and Know and Tell: The Art of Narration

Teaching From Rest is a re-read for me - and exactly what I need at this stage in the game. Sarah's words are life-giving and they are helping me to re-prioritize what's important in my burgeoning homeschool. Today I was reminded that when I give my day to God then when something comes that looks like a derailment (a child who doesn't get the day's lesson, for instance) then that is actually God showing me my "marching orders" for the day. The "derailment" is where God wants me to be, not the accomplishing of my checklist of things.  Of course, this implies that I'm giving my day to God (i.e. praying), and to that end she offered up some of her favorite aspirations and a prayer from St Thomas Aquinas to say before studies.

Know and Tell - chapter 2
Narration is the educational use of something that we do naturally every day: retelling information to another person so that they can share in it too. This practice has been recommended since ancient times by St. Augustine and Erasmus (and many more). More recently it has been promoted by Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the early 1900's. Narration, when used consistently over many years, will produce students with strong synthetic thinking skills, able to communicate skillfully through oral or written word. The author cites some academic research in this chapter to support this argument, but what struck me were the samples of both oral and written narrations that she included from 6-year olds and up. Many of them were of a quality that some of my high schoolers (back in the day) would have been hard pressed to produce. I'm excited to see how this might work in my homeschool with the wee girl.

(If you just guessed that these last 2 paragraphs were written narrations of what I read today, you would be right. There's no better way to test an educational method then on yourself!)

So there you have it. My scholé for the day. What was yours?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Forgiveness, Grace, Frogs and Library Love


Happy Eastertide! It's been a long while with little Library Lovin'. Time to remedy that. There's really only one book that I wanted to come on here and share, but first a confession...

We have become "those people".  You know, the ones who say that they have to limit their children to only checking out one laundry basket full of books. The ones who are actually considering buying this bag (in dark navy, please) because they've had book bags break on them once too often and the metal grommets are looking like they just might do the job they're advertised to do. The ones who interrupt writing their blog post to go renew books online, so as to stop accumulating more overdue fees.

Yeah. That's now us.

I don't know how it happened. It's like one day I was priding myself on "only bringing home books that we'll read over and over again" and then the next day, I was like, "Whatever. Throw it in the basket. Let's go." Maybe trying to go the library with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old is what caused it.

In any case, here we are with our laundry basket of books. It's a good thing I'm actually caught up on the laundry, otherwise we might be in trouble. Also to all you who are in the we-haul-our-books-in-baskets club, I hope you will forgive my arrogance! I get it now! Carry on, warriors.

Where was I again?  Oh yes, a really fun book with a message so appropriate for this Easter season!


Yes, Mo Willems of Pigeon, and Elephant and Piggie fame. At first his characters in this book threw me... what were they supposed to be? Not quite human... somewhat green like amphibians... oh! Frogs! Of course! Because baguettes are French and French people love (to eat) frogs (and baguettes). You gotta love Mo.

The story is all about Nanette's first trip to get the baguette, an errand of great responsibility given to her by her mother. But (spoiler alert) she ultimately fails because she can't resist the baguette's alluring smells. I don't blame her. Who can resist freshly baked bread? I have a friend who is borderline celiac, but didn't learn it until her 20's. Once she did and she gave up all gluten, she would still, from time to time, ask to smell my bread roll or other freshly baked item. Gluten cravings die hard, people.

And for Nanette, they proved too much. Poor girl-frog ate the whole thing before realizing her mistake. What would she do now? I love how the book depicts all the angst she experiences before telling her mom the truth, but what I love more is how her mother forgives her. It's such a perfect picture of grace, told in a way that I think kids can really get. Little Dude loves to read this book and then ask for a baguette afterwards. So I think that means he gets it... right? We're three baguettes in and I'm hoping yes! Though if his understanding of grace and forgiveness is predicated on us buying baguettes then maybe not. However, you gotta admit, it's a pretty yummy way to go about it.


What's been your favorite book lately? (Children's or otherwise?)