One of the dads of my son’s 8th grade class writes icons. So for the class school auction contribution, over a period of several weeks, the class worked with this dad to write an icon.
They worked in small groups, and on the day it was your turn, you were prepare beforehand by fasting and praying.
The completed icon was blessed at the liturgy at the local Melkite Rite Catholic Church.
(We couldn’t go because the boys were committed to serve elsewhere that morning. I was sorry to have missed it!)
Then it was purchased at the auction and donated back to the school, where it will hang.
We had an 8th grade appreciation dinner the other night, at which the icon was displayed, each 8th grader received a lovely copy of it, and a video about the writing of the icon was shown. The soundtrack was haunting, fantastic Greek Catholic chant.
The thing is, when you talk about Birmingham, Alabama and Catholics, people don’t realize that along with the Italians, it was Eastern Catholics – Melkite and Maronite – who were the earliest Catholics inhabitants here, along with Russian (the first Russian Orthodox church in the South was founded in Brookside, a tiny community just north of Birmingham) and Eastern European Orthodox. They came as miners, ironworkes, railroad workers, and shopkeepers. Add the early, vibrant Jewish presence in Birmingham, and you have a community that has a surprisingly strong Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean historical subculture. There’s great Mediterranean food here, both in local (but growing) chains like Taziki’s and Zoe’s Kitchen, both of which originated here, as well as in independent restaurants, including one of the newcomers, Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, where we ate last weekend, and which served the best falafel I’ve had here, and delicious shawarma.
What this means (back to the religious conversation) is that because the Catholic population as a whole is relatively small, but also with historical roots that are deep and diverse – for example, my son’s former Catholic school celebrated a Maronite Catholic liturgy twice every school year – Birmingham Catholics tend to have a good, healthy understanding of the cultural breadth of “Catholic.”
(By the way, Fr. Mitch Pacwa is bi-ritual and often celebrates the liturgy at the local Maronite parish)
Speaking of Catholic schools….how about an end-of-the year gift for…
May crowning at the convent. I never have good Mass photos because I really don’t like to take photos during Mass. This is about as good as it gets. My ten-year old is holding the crown of flowers over there. The older one was camping, so he went to Mass somewhere in Georgia….
What is better than my photos is the quality of preaching we hear at the convent – which along with the sound, simple, reverent Catholic sacred music – is a primary motive for our attendance there. Since it is retreat house, when there is a retreat, the Sunday liturgy is celebrated by the priest offering the weekend, so you know the preaching is going to be good. Over the past weeks, we’ve heard homilies from Fr. Paul Check, director of the Courage apostolate, and Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, national director of the Apostleship of Prayer. And when there’s no retreat, the celebrant is generally one of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, so that’s pretty good, too!
School proceeds apace. The older son will be done with his school in a week, so the sort-of-formal homeschool will wind down then as well, although both will continue with math in some form all summer, and we’ll do a little bit of Latin every day (or close to it) as well. Plus all of the other TEACHABLE MOMENTS, you know. That never stops. Poor kids.
(I judge the quality of our homeschool day by two things: Did Math get done and were the rabbit holes interesting and plentiful?)
- Latin vocabulary word was scutum, which means shield. He knew he had heard something related before, so he pulled out the big Oxford dictionary (for things like this, we use the print dictionary instead of the internet – you get a better sense of the breadth and depth of word roots and derivations with a dictionary).
Well, of course – a scute is a kind of/part of a reptile scale….so yes, he’d heard of it. And learned some more as we poured over various related words.
- Next up was lignum – wood. That, too, was familiar, but for a different reason. I pulled out the coal samples we’d studied a few weeks ago, and we remembered that yes, one of them was lignite, so called because of all the forms of coal, on it, the outline of the original wood can often be most clearly seen.
- Today’s saint was Flavia Domitilla, from Ponza…an island off the coast of Italy, which neither of us knew existed, so we looked that up and learned about it. Archipelagos came up for some reason, so that was pursued, and various animals native to various islands were followed…and on it went.
- I’d checked out a fun, cartoonish book on animals in history. He’d read through most of it the other day, but we poked around it a bit more before returning it to the library, talking about Magellan, Napoleon, Newton, Mozart, and spending some time on Seaman, the Newfoundland who accompanied Lewis and Clark, and who is around in most of the statues commemorating the exploration, including this one – I’d remembered the statue, of course, but completely forgotten about the dog – from Saint Charles, MO, which was the starting point of the journey.
And earlier in the week, there’s been, after the piano lesson, time spent at the botanical garden (one of our city’s treasures…and, like the other treasure, the art museum….free) and the zoo, with old friends.
I have mentioned this on Twitter, but I’m not sure if I have mentioned it here or not – this great site that has loads and loads of quotes and poems related to every month and season of the year. It’s just a lot of fun to peruse, period, but especially so if you want seasonally-related quotations and poetry to share with kids – say, for copywork or memory work.
As I look beyond Getting Started With Latin, I’m poking around various other Latin curricula, and considering an unhurried journey through Cambridge. While on that site, I discovered this really astonishing section on “Classical Tales” – complete with beautifully done audio retellings, printables, links….wow.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!