Home School Our Way: So we begin!

Starting to do daily home schooling. I am taking advantage of the ipad and some apps that build skills that will translate to handwriting. I can see that the younger set want a turn with the fun educational programs. That is good, will give them a turn later.

The main goal at the moment is to gently build a habit of schoolwork in the mornings. I will be pulling out the curriculum bit by bit and we will be using the workbooks in the various subjects. Right now, the preliminaries are being honed so that the math and language arts will not overwhelm.

Today we played Bugs and Buttons 2 (I forget the company, but their games are wonderfully fun), and Fish School by Duck Duck Moose. Basic, but also fun.  These hold the attention of the 4 yr old, and are challenging enough to gently push skills to develop.

Some children are ready for workbooks sooner than others. Mine are very much movement and action based learners. This has been a challenge for me because I love workbooks. I also like the wide open exploration. The workbooks provide structure and a clearly understandable record of material covered. Grade level is good enough.

The real learning, or deeper learning, is in the free exploration of the world, reading fun books about interesting parts of the world, and plenty of time to play and discuss discoveries. All this is much more difficult to record, so I think I shall merely blog on it and let the traditional workbooks sit as my written record that we are indeed covering the required subjects. My goal is self motivated learners who whip through their grade level work books and jump into their own chosen studies.

Later I will use the need to record the more open learning to teach them various forms of writing.  They will create their own unit studies as a means of recording their explorations of subjects.  That is a ways off right now.  Right now, colors, shapes, basic numbers, fine motor skills, pattern recognition, and many other basics are needed.

So the adventure begins. Wheee!

Dear Lord, please bless our home school. Please give me wisdom as I plan and provide my children’s educations. Please give them patience and diligence in their work. Thank You for this amazing journey. +Amen.

Blog Tour: Trusting God With Saint Therese

Welcome!  Today on my blog I am sharing a slide show as part of a book blog tour for Connie Rossini Author of Trusting God with St. Therese, the free ebook Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life, and blogger on Carmelite spirituality and raising prayerful kids at Contemplative Homeschool.


I hope everyone enjoyed seeing this and go buy the book!

Dear Lord, Thank You for the many new Catholic writers publishing. Please bless the readers and help both author and reader grow in grace and virtue. +Amen.

NFP–Some Thoughts

Sex talk really has no place on a Catholic NFP list.  Recently I wandered into an NFP discussion and found it to be one long complaint about all the physical sex acts that were not allowed during fertile periods.   All I thought was FIRST, not one of those people had a clue about real intimacy and SECOND the discussion was almost pornographic.

The world is full of sex sex sex.  Love is equated with the reproductive act, rendered sterile, and promoted as a right and this mentality has followed young couples right into the Church. So much so that young women have no modesty about discussing their sex lives on the internet with people they never met.

First, know this, no matter how long he holds his erection, how good he is with his hands, or how many orgasms he can give the girl– this is a MINOR good in the grand scheme of things and IS NOT WHERE REAL INTIMACY IS FOUND. Sex is a very very MINOR good. God wants better for every married couple. NFP isn’t unfair at all, NFP is a gift to help you learn something special.

NFP is an opportunity for unchaste couples to break out of a slavery to their hormones and discover REAL love and an intimacy so deep one need not touch nor talk dirty to blush with it. NFP is a GIFT to the couple so they can build the kind of deep intimacy that requires no touch and when it is mastered turns touch into something sublime.

These young persons, struggling with the discipline of NFP, didn’t even know what books to read! Near as I could tell they wanted a how to manual of physical positions and acts that were allowed while refraining from intercourse.  WRONGO!

LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY by our beloved Saint John Paul II is THE best book ever written on true intimacy between human beings.  There is so much more to intimacy that what two people do when having sex that it makes the best multiple-orgasm look like so much dross.  Real intimacy is so good that one could happily give up sex forever to get it.

Another recommendation I have for these young persons struggling with NFP is to buy the great big heavy book by Saint John Paul II, THEOLOGY OF THE BODY, and read it together.  SKIP the books about the book–read the real thing.

Go review the Bible and read about Adam’s response to meeting Eve. Read about Rebecca’s modesty when meeting Issac. Look at the admonition of Proverbs 31, and the romance of Song of Songs– it is about great marriages and has nothing to do with the reproductive act we so glorify in this culture. Or drop in on this link to the John Paul II Institute.

If you are trying to follow Church teaching and use NFP to space your children, then get your brains out of the secular model of relationship and into God’s plan for real intimacy.

Dear Lord, thank you for the teaching and writings of Saint John Paul II. Please help young persons to take the time and put in the effort to gain the gift of true intimacy. +Amen.



Review of Magnificat magazine: Depth of devotionals in a practical package.

Magnificat  is a monthly magazine of daily devotionals for Catholics published Yonkers, NY. The issue I have in my hand is the April issue with a special supplement included for Holy Week. My first impression is positive, the paper cool and smooth in my hand, the pages easy to flip, the text easy on the eyes, and the size just right to keep handy.

There is a richness to the material that feeds the soul. The cover art is lovely and a commentary on that art is found near the back of each issue. A brief greeting from the editor and an Editorial begin each issue, setting the tone.   The prayers include blessings for the month. There is a Hymn of the month.

I could see a family using this magazine each month and sharing simple portions with the smallest members and more complex material as they grow ready for it. There is material to feed the mature Catholic who knows the faith well, and the Catholic only just beginning to learn about the faith and prayer. This would make a great gift for a newly Confirmed Catholic, adult or teen.

The pattern of each day’s prayers relate to the Liturgy of the Hours and night prayer is included so that an individual or whole family might pray that short part of the daily office together.

Each issue includes a breadth of materials including: prayers, psalms, antiphons, readings, meditations, stories of Saints, the Order of the Mass, Adoration, and other material appropriate for anyone following the Liturgical Calendar. This gives the subscriber the beauty without having to carry a heavy book. Depth of devotionals in a practical package.

Magnificat is easy to use. Easy to put in a purse, back pocket, briefcase, book or computer bag. The feel of each issue is substantial and sturdy. The paper has a nice quality to it, the text is clear and legible, and the instructions and headings are clearly set apart from the prayers in red text. The combination of colors, and the use of italics, makes it easier to find what you are seeking.  Included are all the prayers and they are EASY to find.

The only downside is they are a monthly and eventually will need to be recycled and that pains me when each issue is so very good.

I VERY highly recommend.

I wrote this review of Magnificat Magazine 1 Year Subscription (US) for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstore.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Vatican Website Dreadful

I have to agree with the Curt Jester. The web site for the Vatican was bad before and now it is even worse. The vatican needs to contact someone like James Shields (Dallas TX area) who is a professional and GOOD at web design. Tell him what they need their site to do, then get out of the way and let him design it for them. It would then work, look good, and be respectful of the dignity of the material it is expected to convey!

Dear Lord, please help the Vatican staff figure out that they do not have a good web designer among them and send them someone like James. Thank You that they are trying to keep an internet presence to serve the people better.  +Amen.

Strep Throat

Well, Robert Burn’s Poem Ode to a Mouse once more is shown true in my life! I planned and planned to attend a wonderful Society for Creative Anachronism event this Saturday and now there is Strep Throat making the rounds of our family. Color me disappointed.

“The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray”

yeah, Burns nailed it.

Have a Blessed Easter Weekend everyone.

Dear Lord, thank you for the general good health of this family and for medication that makes illness not as bad as it could be. Please help us not to spread it anywhere and soon to be well! +Amen.

Why I Am Pro-Life

I am Pro-Life because I hold firmly the principle of non-aggression. Abortion is an act of aggression against a living person in a womb. Two reasons given for this act of aggression being allowed are “it is my body” and “it is an act of aggression against me that this person co-opted my womb.”  I disagree. An act of aggression can only be committed by a person free to choose to do otherwise and the embryo has no choice in the matter of where he or she ends up. In this, the embryo in your womb is more victim than aggressor.

In my mind, “it is my body” is like saying “it is my apartment” and the whole embryo as aggressor thing simply fails logic. Here is why:

Pregnancy is the result of the reproductive act. The reproductive act is like kidnapping in that the person in your womb is there because you did the act that put him there. Abortion is like you and a partner kidnapping a man off the street, tying him up in your apartment, then you shoot him for being there. Even rape is no excuse where you are forced at gun-point to kidnap a man and tie him up in your apartment and then you shoot the kidnaping victim for being in your apartment when the rapist is the criminal.

Might as well let you know up front that even if I was not already pro-life because I hold to the principle of non-aggression, I would be pro-life because I am Catholic. I hold all the points in Humanae vitae  and Evangelium vitae to be true. Go read them, then look at the date on Humanae vitae and get goose bumps because it is prophetic!

Dear Lord, thank You for the secular principle of non-aggression and the teachings of the Catholic Church, both of which are pro-life. Help all persons to think it though and be saved. +Amen.

Same Data, Different Conclusion

Two women were studying the dispute between the Orthodox and the Catholic on the proper role of the Bishop of Rome.  They read the same history, often from the same books. They read the arguments for both rejection of Papal authority and the arguments in favor of Papal authority. They agreed that the extreme authoritarianism practiced by some Popes was not an essential component of the Primacy of Rome. They agreed that the early Church exhibited an attitude honoring Rome in a special way. Both found Pope Francis’s approach to the Papacy refreshing and much more the way it appeared to have been in the early Church.

Taking it all, the writings of the Early Church Fathers, history, arguments from both sides, and all the rest.

Praying diligently to understand and follow the will of God rather than her own will.

Loving Jesus above all else.

One became Orthodox, convinced that to accept the Papacy was wrong.

One became Catholic, convinced that to reject the Papacy was wrong.

So it is with people a good bit of the time and so it is why a saint like Saint Josemaria Escriva refused to discuss politics.  His focus was on the formation of the Catholic. Teaching on faith and morals and urging every Catholic to seek holiness in their everyday lives. This meant that the individual needed to apply Catholic teaching to his own life. Each individual needed to seek to do her daily work in such a way that she sanctified it and it sanctified her.

This meant that between Catholics there might be very different opinions on how best to live out the teachings of Catholicism.  St. Josemaria insisted that everyone respect the freedom of conscience of everyone else.  Focus in Opus Dei had to be on the specific teachings, the precepts, and on internalizing them, allowing Church teaching, daily prayer, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and Mass (daily if possible) form your conscience according to the plan of God and then going out into the world and applying all to your specific life and career.

Dear Lord, please help all Christians to understand that forming our consciences according to Church teaching is very important, and that even when two people agree on all points, they may very well conclude differently.  Please help each person seek to become holy. +Amen.


Dogma vs the merely political

I recently had a conversation with a fellow Catholic whose understanding of the teachings of the Church was in error on a very important point. Catholics do not have to treat opinions as dogmas. Nor do we have to adhere to the political positions of the Vatican STATE which has secular functions. Catholics are obliged to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic church on issues of Faith and Morals. Dogmas and doctrines deal with these issues. Personal opinions and political agreements do not.

For example, even if I did not already oppose abortion based on the principle of non-aggression, I would oppose it on the basis of the Catholic teaching that it is morally wrong.

So back to yesterday’s discussion.

It was a political discussion. My conversational companion insisted that her political positions were a matter of faith and that if I did not agree with her that I was against Catholic teaching, and she posted a link to a vatican document.

Her argument was that because the Vatican, a sovereign nation in its own right, and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) had talked and agreed on certain points that all Catholics are obligated to support the creation of a Palestinian state. This is simply not true.

In the interest of fairness, I went and read the document again and noted several things:

    • This is a political document.
    • This was not a dogmatic or doctrinal document. Dogmas are teachings Catholics are obliged to accept.
    • This paper is merely a statement of talking points to which both parties agreed. I am not one of those parties.
    • I can agree with the Catholic ideals found in the statements without finding the same conclusion as my co-conversationalist.
    • Nothing in this document would make un-Catholic my conviction that a Palestinian home state would result in the people in the region being worse off than before.

For me, it would be immoral to support a separate Palestinian state when I am convinced by my reading of current events and historical precedent, that this would lead to more violence and suffering, more oppression of Christians and other minorities, and fail utterly to provide the peaceful existence proponents desire.

Further, political statements by patriarchs and bishops are not binding on the laity.  A patriarch choosing to walk everywhere and not own a car does not make my decision to own and use a car morally illicit.

We had other parts to our discussion and I am sure I will get to them eventually.

Dear Lord, please bring peace to the country of Israel. Remove the terrorists that disrupt the lives of all the peoples in that land, end the atrocities committed by all sides, and bring about peace that is just. Help all sides to forgive and work together in humility. +Amen.

Starter Book For Byzantine Studies

DAILY LIFE IN THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE by Marcus Rautman is a good starting place for anyone interested in the Byzantine Empire. Sections on every imaginable aspect of daily living can be found in this book and the author gives references for further reading by way of chapter endnotes and a Bibliography. The book includes nice clear maps, a glossary of terms, index, list of rulers and their years in power, timeline, and illustrations. Chapter titles and headings are bold and informational to make finding a specific bit of information easier for the reader.

As an over-view of life in Byzantium the book is limited in how deeply it can delve into each topic. For topics I have read about more extensively, I found this author to have given a good balanced over-view of what is known.

I highly recommend this book both for home school use (middle school or higher) and for the purposes of developing a persona to play in the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

Dear Lord, thank You for authors who write useful books for the rest of us to enjoy. +Amen.