Archive for the ‘education’ Category

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Ah, finally In Our Time is back – my favorite BBC Radio 4 podcast.  They take a summer break, but have been back for three weeks now. The first topic –  perpetual motion – was not my favorite, and I’m not sure it was a great choice. The discussion seemed as if it would be about historical efforts to construct perpetual motion machines, but that petered out fairly quickly, and as I recall, attention turned to more general questions of physics. Meh.

But the following week – Alexander the Great – was better, and I’m looking forward to next week’s episode on Holbein and the Tudor Court.  It is invariably such a balanced, informative, non-PC, mostly unconcerned with modern pieties presentation. It’s refreshing and unlike anything you’d hear on American radio.

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As an addendum to yesterday’s education post:

Made it to the Botanical Gardens (one of our great treasures here – free, as in no admission, just like our excellent art museum)  on Wednesday afternoon, then collected leaves in our own yard this morning.  We looked at diagrams of cross-sections of leaf structure, compared, contrasted, drew, and finally looked at our own samples under the microscope, as well as our prepared plant-related slides.

Our long-term experiments were not super-successful, though. A couple of weeks ago, we had performed two operations on a house plant. In the first, you were supposed to slather the tops of some leaves with Vaseline, and then do the same to the underside of some leaves on the same plant.  The second set was supposed to die, since the stomata would be blocked.  I guess we didn’t put enough Vaseline on, since all the leaves are still alive, although some in the second group do have brown patches, so maybe it did work, in a way.

In the other demonstration, we tightly covered a leaf with black construction paper. After a couple of weeks, it was supposed to have lost its color as photosynthesis was blocked. Well, it was still green, but definitely a little lighter shade than all the others.

So they kind of worked?

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Not to live in the past, but as I went through a mega-Instagram fit on Sunday, posting photos of our 2012 trip to Assisi, it occurred to me that it would be fun to finish up the trip. So from now until the end of November, I’ll be posting daily on Instagram with photos I took on that day three years ago, wherever we were in Europe at the time.

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Follow me on Instagram.

(In case you are wondering, there are no big trips planned for the near future. My daughter is back from her year + in Europe, so that excuse is no more, and everyone has announced they are converging in this direction for Thanksgiving.  I hate travelling on planes at Christmas time, especially with a crew and with time constraints.  So probably no big travel until the spring. But that’s fine – there’s plenty to see around here!)

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Finished a project! It’s not due until January 1! That truly is a record for me. Now on to the next one..which is due..er…December 15.

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Reminder: I’ve mentioned this site before, but it bears a repeat.  If you are ever in need of seasonal or month-related quotes or poetry, this is a great site. I use it for copywork and just general reading breaks all the time.

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I have been off on my days all week for some reason.  So last night, I thought today was the 9th, so I went all St. Denis on this blog…but..I was off a day.  Well, so you got a sneak peak? 

Today (really – the 9th. I’m sure of it)  is also the (optional) memorial of Blessed John Henry Newman.  Here’s a link to B16’s homily at his beatification:

The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing “subjects of the day”. His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world. I would like to pay particular tribute to his vision for education, which has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today. Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together. The project to found a Catholic University in Ireland provided him with an opportunity to develop his ideas on the subject, and the collection of discourses that he published as The Idea of a University holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can continue to learn. And indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity: “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it” (The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390). On this day when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us.

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here. One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls. What better way to express the joy of this moment than by turning to our heavenly Father in heartfelt thanksgiving, praying in the words that Blessed John Henry Newman placed on the lips of the choirs of angels in heaven:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise;
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius).

More of B16 on Newman from that visit.

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The book Be Saints! was inspired by that 2010  visit – here’s the page which references Newman:

"amy welborn"

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

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There are people out there who homeschool loads of kids. I don’t know how you do it! I could barely do two at once, so…bow down to you all.

(I know someone who has, I think 12 or 13 kids she homeschools and they wear uniforms. When I first learned this, I thought it was a leetle over the top now. But when I actually contemplated the possibility of educating 12 children in my own one-room schoolhouse, I thought, well, yes, of course. Uniforms. It sends a message: “This is school time.” It’s cheaper. It makes for less morning chaos. Smart, in other words.)

But my almost-11 year old and I are (I think) enjoying our year, so I thought I’d do a quick “learning notes” kind of thing to catch you up – and help myself stay on top of things, as well.

(I usually do all sorts of links with these posts, but tonight, I don’t have time. Sorry!)

(Oh, and I started this last night (Tuesday) but now it’s Wednesday night. So I’ve updated a bit.)

  • Prayer: Our day begins with prayer based on some mash-up of the daily Mass readings and Morning Prayer. We use this book and this one to talk about the saint of the day – so, for example, yesterday, we talked about St. Bruno, which led to a little refresher on religious orders, monasteries and what reform of the Church means and how authentic reform happens and where it’s rooted.
  • This week’s first readings are from Jonah, so he just went ahead and read the WHOLE BOOK yesterday, and I encouraged him to be proud that he’d read an entire BOOK OF THE BIBLE in one sitting.  We talked about what the book meant, what it reveals to us about God and his mercy. We pulled out the atlas and talked about where these places were: Ninevah, Tarshish, and so on.
  • Since the Gospel yesterday was Mary/Martha, we also looked at some art related to that narrative.
  • Today (10/7), we talked about the Battle of Lepanto, read Chesterton’s poem, and prayed a decade of the rosary.
  • Copywork: The schedule, from M-Thursday is: Scripture, Literature quote, poetry, Saying/Aphorism/Proverb. Friday, he illustrates his copywork from that week in whatever way he chooses.  Monday’s copywork was the first couple of verses of Jonah, and yesterday’s was:  He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. From The Call of the Wild, which we read last year as a family. Today, the copywork was a few lines from Chesterton’s poem on Lepanto. 
  • Cursive practice. Now he prints most everything, but the goal is by early spring to be writing most of his work in cursive.
  • Language review. I use pages from Evan-Moor “Language Review” books, grades 5 and 7 – error correction, editing, etc. He does one “day” per day.
  • One “day” of math review, also from an Evan-Moor book, this one is grade 6, I believe.
  • All of that (from copywork through math review) takes about 15 minutes at most. Maybe ten.
  • Math: We have been hanging loose with Beast Academy, waiting for word that 5A was coming.  I saw on their FB page that they are finally sending it to the printers, so we are going to be starting up the last chapter of 4D (probability) this week. Up to this point we have been using the Pearson enVision program, grade 5, which I’m familiar with because it was used at their former school – I have some issues with some of it , which I’ll detail in another post – I think that as much as they trumpet being all about “number sense” (a good thing), they actually end up depending way too much on “number tricks.”  But it’s useful for just starting grade 5 math. We’ll be through chapter 5 this week. Then start back on BA, and have that done by the time the new book arrives.
  • Also working on Khan Academy Grade 5 at the same time. I like it, but I’m not sure how anyone could really use it as a complete curriculum, although I know some do. It’s a great supplement, though.
  • Working casually through Latin for Children I. Emphasis on vocabulary. Finished up chapter 9 today.
  • Poetry: We do random readings throughout the day from various poetry books. I have him read them aloud to me, as practice in, well, reading aloud.  He does great.  He also always has a memory poem in the works, and right now, he’s decided to go ahead and memorize all of Marc Antony’s speech from Act 2 of Julius Caesar  –  I had him memorize the first 6 or 7 lines or so, but he decided that he would go ahead over the next couple of weeks and try to memorize the whole thing.  (We’ve seen a production in Atlanta, watched the Brando version, a big chunks of the fantabulous RSC version set in a modern African nation.)
  • Adam of the Road.  This year, we will be doing a lot of novel reading  – aside from his already voluminous personally-driven reading. I want to do a bunch of novels that we can knock out in a week or ten days, max. We read this, as I mentioned before, and he has been doing comprehension/writing/reflection exercises from this study. We’ll finish that tomorrow.  Had a slight delay because somehow, the book got…lost ( hmmmm) and we couldn’t go on until we’d checked another out of the library.  As I mentioned before, it’s a very good book, and great for some interesting history and Catholic-y stuff. A glimpse into a time in which life was lived, not only be the earthly seasons, but the sacred seasons as well.  Not sure what we will do next – maybe The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. 
  • In addition, we’re doing this – Fable and Narrative from the Writing and Rhetoric program from Classical Academic Press.  At this point, I still like it quite a bit. The emphasis is on teaching how to both condense/summarize and then expand, and I think the approach is quite helpful. One chapter a week.  Today, he finished up lesson 2, which focused on the Parable of the Prodigal Son – the last exercise (he’s working on it as we speak) is to rewrite the end of the parable in the first person, from the perspective of the older son.
  • We’re up to New France in history.  We use the Catholic Textbook Project book From Sea to Shining Sea along with select chapters from Hakim’s History of US, as well as loads of supplemental library books. There’s just a lot of conversation and looking at maps and him telling me things he knows from other reading, which, when we were on the Spanish, was a lot.
  • History update:  Today he read the short sections on Henry Hudson from the Catholic history book, Hakim and from the Explorers book noted below. Tomorrow he’ll write a paragraph on Hudson based on all that. Writing Across the Curriculum! Sometimes.
  • Two books that we checked out of the library are these:

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They are very good, and I particularly like the second. (Click on covers for links)   If you have a chance, see if your library has it.  The maps are different, the information is good and it would be a great book for any home, homeschooling or not. I like it so much, I might actually purchase it.

  • Science is botany. We’re pulling from this and this, as well as loads of library books and wandering outside and indoor experiments.  More on that later in the week in a dedicated post. There. If I say I’m going to write a post on it, that means it’s going to get done!
  • Keyboarding: He’s starting doing that – using some program we had around here.  Whenever he wants, he can go back there and work through the lessons.
  • Various videos from places like The Kids Should See This and Brain Scoop. We watch a few of those every day.
  • The first disc of Bernstein’s Concerts for Young People came this week, so we’ll be watching that over the next few weeks.
  • Boxing class on Tuesdays
  • Birmingham Zoo class on being a “Junior Zoo Vet.”  It’s a six-week class, and he’s enjoying it, although there’s not quite as much direct interaction with animals as he had hoped. They did see a blood draw from a goat today, though, so there’s that! (This class isn’t a homeschool class – it’s in the late afternoon.)
  • Piano. Here.
  • Thursday morning homeschool co-op class at the Cathedral – the two classes are drama and History of Science – he loves them both. So far, the science classes have covered Marie Curie and Newton, with Galileo and others unknown to come.
  • The missing piece, in my mind, is art.  He’s not taking any outside art classes at this point, and with the weather so great, once the school-ish stuff is over, it tends to be outside time. However, I realized just as I was typing that, he does go into the front room and draw every night – he is drawing these big landscapes of a fantasy world that he then spends ten minutes explaining to me.  He’s also started making a shield for his Halloween costume, which is going to be a Mayan something.
  • There are things coming up in the next few weeks at the various museums around town that I need to figure out and get organized for. I think there is camping this weekend. Maybe.
  • Teachable moments of the week:  The Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry and medicine – no, I don’t understand much of the research, but we dip in anyway and get a taste of what real research is all about and how it helps people.  Also the line-up of planets – will try to get up before dawn (HAHAHAHA) and catch it, and have been given orders to wake him up if I do accomplish this.
  • Why do I do this? Because I have a curious, open-minded kid who can get the basics in two seconds and flourishes when he’s challenged to discover more, talk about it, and write about it. And I’m at a place in my life at which I can do this. I would not mind more time to myself – not just to recharge, but also because I have work to do – but honestly – I’m 55, he’s my youngest, I have the means to give him this space to learn outside of a classroom, so no excuses.  Next year (6th grade) things might change. It’s up to him. If he wants to go to school, he can. If he wants to keep doing this crazy thing we’re doing, he can. It will be interesting to see what he decides. I’m fine either way.

So…what’s my assignment for the rest of the week? Get to the Botanical Gardens, at least once, maybe twice and be all intentional about the nature observation.

Update: We did it!  Got to the Gardens, wandered, talked about trees. Learned some things. 

Oh, here’s a pro tip: If you do a watch-beans-germinate-while-ensconced-in-damp-paper-towels thing, be sure you do your observation before the beans have started turning brown and, when cut open, have maggots wriggling in them. Or not. There’s value in that, too, I guess.

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My kids know all about St. Jerome because we frequent art museums, and St. Jerome is a very popular subject. I don’t think you can hit a museum with even the most meager medieval or renaissance collection and not encounter him. And since the way I have engaged my kids in museums since forever  – besides pointing out gory things – is to do “guess the saint” and “guess the Bible story” games -yes, they can recognize a wizened half-naked skull-and-lion accompanied St. Jerome from two galleries away.

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Good children’s books on St. Jerome:

Oh my gosh!

Margaret Hodge’s version with paintings by Barry Moser is..OUT OF PRINT?!

Well, thank goodness we have a copy, and hey, publishers…somebody pick this up and bring it back into print. Free advice, no charge.

Not surprisingly, Rumer Godden’s version is also out of print. 

Oh well…maybe you can find them at the library? Again…Catholic publishers..get on this!

I have St. Jerome in The Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints under “Saints are people who help us understand God.”

And now…from 2007. Two GA talks devoted to Jerome. From the first:

What can we learn from St Jerome? It seems to me, this above all; to love the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. St Jerome said: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”. It is therefore important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialogue with the Word of God given to us in Sacred Scripture. This dialogue with Scripture must always have two dimensions: on the one hand, it must be a truly personal dialogue because God speaks with each one of us through Sacred Scripture and it has a message for each one. We must not read Sacred Scripture as a word of the past but as the Word of God that is also addressed to us, and we must try to understand what it is that the Lord wants to tell us. However, to avoid falling into individualism, we must bear in mind that the Word of God has been given to us precisely in order to build communion and to join forces in the truth on our journey towards God. Thus, although it is always a personal Word, it is also a Word that builds community, that builds the Church. We must therefore read it in communion with the living Church. The privileged place for reading and listening to the Word of God is the liturgy, in which, celebrating the Word and making Christ’s Body present in the Sacrament, we actualize the Word in our lives and make it present among us. We must never forget that the Word of God transcends time. Human opinions come andgo. What is very modern today will be very antiquated tomorrow. On the other hand, the Word of God is the Word of eternal life, it bears within it eternity and is valid for ever. By carrying the Word of God within us, we therefore carry within us eternity, eternal life.

And from the second

Truly “in love” with the Word of God, he asked himself: “How could one live without the knowledge of Scripture, through which one learns to know Christ himself, who is the life of believers?” (Ep. 30, 7). The Bible, an instrument “by which God speaks every day to the faithful” (Ep. 133, 13), thus becomes a stimulus and source of Christian life for all situations and for each person. To read Scripture is to converse with God: “If you pray”, he writes to a young Roman noblewoman, “you speak with the Spouse; if you read, it is he who speaks to you” (Ep. 22, 25). The study of and meditation on Scripture renders man wise and serene (cf. In Eph.,Prol.). Certainly, to penetrate the Word of God ever more profoundly, a constant and progressive application is needed. Hence, Jerome recommends to the priest Nepotian: “Read the divine Scriptures frequently; rather, may your hands never set the Holy Book down. Learn here what you must teach” (Ep. 52, 7). To the Roman matron Leta he gave this counsel for the Christian education of her daughter: “Ensure that each day she studies some Scripture passage…. After prayer, reading should follow, and after reading, prayer…. Instead of jewels and silk clothing, may she love the divine Books” (Ep. 107, 9, 12). Through meditation on and knowledge of the Scriptures, one “maintains the equilibrium of the soul” (Ad Eph., Prol.). Only a profound spirit of prayer and the Holy Spirit’s help can introduce us to understanding the Bible: “In the interpretation of Sacred Scripture we always need the help of the Holy Spirit” (In Mich. 1, 1, 10, 15).

A passionate love for Scripture therefore pervaded Jerome’s whole life, a love that he always sought to deepen in the faithful, too. He recommends to one of his spiritual daughters: “Love Sacred Scripture and wisdom will love you; love it tenderly, and it will protect you; honour it and you will receive its caresses. May it be for you as your necklaces and your earrings” (Ep. 130, 20). And again: “Love the science of Scripture, and you will not love the vices of the flesh” (Ep. 125, 11).

For Jerome, a fundamental criterion of the method for interpreting the Scriptures was harmony with the Church’s Magisterium. We should never read Scripture alone because we meet too many closed doors and could easily slip into error. The Bible has been written by the People of God and for the People of God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Only in this communion with the People of God do we truly enter into the “we”, into the nucleus of the truth that God himself wants to tell us. For him, an authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmonious accord with the faith of the Catholic Church. It is not a question of an exegesis imposed on this Book from without; the Book is really the voice of the pilgrim People of God and only in the faith of this People are we “correctly attuned” to understand Sacred Scripture.

Finally, Pope Benedict XV wrote an encyclical about St. Jerome on the 1500th anniversary of his death, and in it declared him the patron of all who study Sacred Scripture. You can read it here. 

Immense, then, was the profit Jerome derived from reading Scripture; hence came those interior illuminations whereby he was ever more and more drawn to knowledge and love of Christ; hence, too, that love of prayer of which he has written so well; hence his wonderful familiarity with Christ, Whose sweetness drew him so that he ran unfalteringly along the arduous way of the Cross to the palm of victory. Hence, too, his ardent love for the Holy Eucharist: “Who is wealthier than he who carries the Lord’s Body in his wicker basket, the Lord’s Blood in his crystal vessel?”[128] Hence, too, his love for Christ’s Mother, whose perpetual virginity he had so keenly defended, whose title as God’s Mother and as the greatest example of all the virtues he constantly set before Christ’s spouses for their imitation.[129] No one, then, can wonder that Jerome should have been so powerfully drawn to those spots in Palestine which had been consecrated by the presence of our Redeemer and His Mother. It is easy to recognize the hand of Jerome in the words written from Bethlehem to Marcella by his disciples, Paula and Eustochium:
What words can serve to describe to you the Savior’s cave? As for the manger in which He lay – well, our silence does it more honor than any poor words of ours. . . Will the day ever dawn where we can enter His cave to weep at His tomb with the sister (of Lazarus) and mourn with His Mother; when we can kiss the wood of His Cross and, with the ascending Lord on Olivet, be uplifted in mind and spirit?[130]

Filled with memories such as these, Jerome could, while far away from Rome and leading a life hard for the body but inexpressibly sweet to the soul, cry out: “Would that Rome had what tiny Bethlehem possesses!”[131]

68. But we rejoice – and Rome with us – that the Saint’s desire has been fulfilled, though far otherwise than he hoped for. For whereas David’s royal city once gloried in the possession of the relics of “the Greatest Doctor” reposing in the cave where he dwelt so long, Rome now possesses them, for they lie in St. Mary Major’s beside the Lord’s Crib. His voice is now still, though at one time the whole Catholic world listened to it when it echoed from the desert; yet Jerome still speaks in his writings, which “shine like lamps throughout the world.”[132] Jerome still calls to us. His voice rings out, telling us of the super-excellence of Holy Scripture, of its integral character and historical trustworthiness, telling us, too, of the pleasant fruits resulting from reading and meditating upon it. His voice summons all the Church’s children to return to a truly Christian standard of life, to shake themselves free from a pagan type of morality which seems to have sprung to life again in these days. His voice calls upon us, and especially on Italian piety and zeal, to restore to the See of Peter divinely established here that honor and liberty which its Apostolic dignity and duty demand. The voice of Jerome summons those Christian nations which have unhappily fallen away from Mother Church to turn once more to her in whom lies all hope of eternal salvation. Would, too, that the Eastern Churches, so long in opposition to the See of Peter, would listen to Jerome’s voice. When he lived in the East and sat at the feet of Gregory and Didymus, he said only what the Christians of the East thought in his time when he declared that “If anyone is outside the Ark of Noe he will perish in the over-whelming flood.”[133] Today this flood seems on the verge of sweeping away all human institutions – unless God steps in to prevent it. And surely this calamity must come if men persist in sweeping on one side God the Creator and Conserver of all things! Surely whatever cuts itself off from Christ must perish! Yet He Who at His disciples’ prayer calmed the raging sea can restore peace to the tottering fabric of society. May Jerome, who so loved God’s Church and so strenuously defended it against its enemies, win for us the removal of every element of discord, in accordance with Christ’s prayer, so that there may be “one fold and one shepherd.”

And finally, Fr. Steve Grunow:

There is another quality of St. Jerome’s character that will console many of us who struggle to be virtuous and holy, a quality which surprises many whose image of sanctity lacks a sense of how Christ’s holiness transforms human character. Jerome was known for being a cantankerous fellow. He struggled at times with the virtue of patience, could be overbearing with those who disagreed with him, and had a reputation for being cranky. One commentator on Saint Jerome’s life noted that perhaps Jerome chose to be a hermit, not so much as a heroic act of sacrifice, but because had he not lived alone, he most assuredly would not have been a saint! 

The spiritual lesson for us in this might be to remember that saints are not born with perfect characters and that even the holiest among us has become that way over time. This means that saints have shared with us all the qualities and weaknesses that vex us. However, flaws in character did not assuage them from seeking to know Christ and to live in such a way that their relationship with him was evident in their way of life. 

Therefore we should never believe that our weaknesses be justified as an excuse that exempts us from living as disciples of the Lord Jesus. The saints know their weaknesses and can readily admit them, but they also accept them as opportunities to for conversion and humility. 

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I have a long-overdue blog post about a certain book I read  while back. I had read it on the Kindle app, and highlighted quite a bit. What I wanted was a way to copy and paste those highlights – I found some instructions here, if you are interested. (Basically, go to Kindle.Amazon.com, sign in, and find, er, “Your Highlights.”)

I thought it might be fun to share some of these highlights from a couple of years worth of reading on Kindle, randomly.  So without cheating and planning brilliant and ironic choices, I’m going to share the…let’s see …third…highlight from every book’s list that’s stored. Let’s see what we’ve got:

(I think they go in reverse chronological order, most recently read first. These are from the last couple of years.)

  • People were nice if you found the right ones. The trouble was there were so many of the wrong ones.  The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
  • And suppose that you have nothing in you except your egoism and a dexterity that goes no higher than the elbow: suppose that your real gift is for a detailed, academic, representational style of drawing, your real métier to be an illustrator of scientific textbooks. How then do you become Napoleon? “Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali” – George Orwell
  • It is accomplished by unflagging assiduity in the system of puffing. To puff and to get one’s self puffed have become different branches of a new profession. – The Way We Live Now. Anthony Trollope
  • Two further steps result naturally from this second remark. To begin with, we must take note of the fact that the community of Jesus’ disciples is not an amorphous mob. At its center are the Twelve, who form a compactly knit core.  Called to Communon  – Joseph Ratzinger
  • I felt for quite a while as though four inches had been clipped from my shoulders, three inches from my height, and for good measure, someone had removed my ribs and my chest had settled meekly in towards my back. Good-bye Columbus by Philip Roth
  • Captain Wawn is crystal-clear on one point: He does not approve of missionaries. They obstruct his business. They make “Recruiting,” as he calls it (“Slave-Catching,” as they call it in their frank way) a trouble when it ought to be just a picnic and a pleasure excursion. Following the Equator  by Mark Twain
  • “Which of the extremes of human temperature does your courage start from—the dead cold or the white hot?”  No Name by Wilkie Collins
  • Almost home, stuck in traffic, I gazed south toward the Art Deco tower of the Wiltern Theater and thought: Well, one part’s over. I will never have to go through the first day after finding out I have cancer again.  Stripped by Heather King.
  • I confess I could not follow him clearly. He seems deeply interested in Church matters. Are you quite sure he is right in the head? I have noticed again and again since I have been in the Church that lay interest in ecclesiastical matters is often a prelude to insanity.  Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
  • Old Suarez was there waiting in the cambio line, the exchange line, a revolutionary in coat and tie and black felt hat. He was all in black, watchful, on the lookout for little signs of disrespect to his person. A big American woman had sat down on him once. She hadn’t seen him on the park bench. Today he was lecturing. The leathery woman in front of him was from Winnipeg. She painted big brown landscapes. Suarez didn’t think much of Canadians either and he was setting her straight on a few things. Their nation was illegitimate. Their sovereignty had been handed to them on a platter, an outright gift, instead of having been properly won through force of arms. The birth throes had to be violent. There had to be blood. Gringos by Charles Portis
  • Through the entire body of the church not a man was to be seen. Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan. John L. Stephens
  • She chose a tall, glassy, urban-looking building of the kind that made conservationist groups send round-robin letters, accompanied by incriminating photographs, to newspapers in Lausanne. “From the Fifteenth District” in “Paris Stories” by Mavis Gallant
  • He’s looking for one image that will connect or combine or embody two points; one is a point in the concrete, and the "amy welborn"other is a point not visible to the naked eye, but believed in by him firmly, just as real to him, really, as the one that everybody sees.  Mysteries and Manners by Flannery O’Connor
  • ‘Just a minute, gentlemen,’ Shivlochan, BA (Professor), said, rising. ‘You are rejecting the doctrine of non-violence. Do you realize that?’ ‘Rejecting it just for a short time,’ Misir said impatiently. ‘Short short time.’  A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipul (never finished that one)
  • What was Camille doing right now? She was home, Judith knew that much, but your daughter being home was a consolation of yesteryear. With the Internet, Camille might as well be leaning against a lamppost in New Orleans or São Paulo. To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
  • Whole paragraphs were maddeningly free of both mistakes and meaning. Nate in Venice by Richard Russo
  • And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

…well, that was entertaining.

And also Exhibit A in “Why I didn’t even try to get a doctorate” – can’t focus. Too scatterbrained.

But then I realized that the book I needed the highlights from was not a Kindle book after all, but a book downloaded onto the app from archive.org…oh well…..

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..is today’s memorial.

From Word on Fire:

In his time as archbishop he dedicated himself to bringing his people into closer union with God by instructing them in the faith. One biographer reports that, at a time when sermons were common in Capua only during Advent and Lent, St. Robert dutifully preached every Sunday and feast day in Capua and went to great trouble to get to the remote portions of his diocese during the week in order to catechize his congregation. Though he was recalled to Rome for service to the universal Church after only a short period of ministry in Capua, he never ceased to be mindful of the education of the faithful.

In the last years of his life he wrote several spiritual books that became immensely popular among the laity. Reportedly the most famous of these was The Mind’s Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things. He notes in this work how easy it is for man to forget God since he “can neither see nor easily think about him nor cleave to him in affection…” Therefore, following such masters as St. Paul, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas, he offers a series of meditations on the works of God to help bring men to greater knowledge and love of the Creator. He demonstrates that we can come to know just how close God is to us by pondering created reality, for it is a true (though by no means comprehensive) reflection of his majesty and perfection.

From B16, back in 2011:

His preaching and his catechesis have that same character of essentiality which he had learned from his Ignatian education, entirely directed to concentrating the soul’s energies on the Lord Jesus intensely known, loved and imitated. In the writings of this man of governance one is clearly aware, despite the reserve behind which he conceals his sentiments, of the primacy he gives to Christ’s teaching.

St Bellarmine thus offers a model of prayer, the soul of every activity: a prayer that listens to the word of God, that is satisfied in contemplating his grandeur, that does not withdraw into self but is pleased to abandon itself to God.

A hallmark of Bellarmine’s spirituality is his vivid personal perception of God’s immense goodness. This is why our Saint truly felt he wasa beloved son of God. It was a source of great joy to him to pause in recollection, with serenity RobertBellarmineand simplicity, in prayer and in contemplation of God.

In his book De ascensione mentis in Deum — Elevation of the mind to God — composed in accordance with the plan of theItinerarium [Journey of the mind into God] of St Bonaventure, he exclaims: “O soul, your example is God, infinite beauty, light without shadow, splendour that exceeds that of the moon and the sun. He raised his eyes to God in whom is found the archetypes of all things, and of whom, as from a source of infinite fertility, derives this almost infinite variety of things. For this reason you must conclude: whoever finds God finds everything, whoever loses God loses everything”.

In this text an echo of the famous contemplatio ad amorem obtineundum — contemplation in order to obtain love — of theSpiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola can be heard. Bellarmine, who lived in the lavish and often unhealthy society of the end of late 16th and early 17th centuries, drew from this contemplation practical applications and applied them to the situation of the Church of his time with a lively pastoral inspiration.

In his book De arte bene moriendi — the art of dying a good death — for example, he points out as a reliable norm for a good life and also for a good death regular and serious meditation that should account to God for one’s actions and one’s way of life, and seek not to accumulate riches on this earth but rather to live simply and charitably in such a way as to lay up treasure in Heaven.

In his book De gemitu columbae — the lament of the dove — in which the dove represents the Church, is a forceful appeal to all the clergy and faithful to undertake a personal and concrete reform of their own life in accordance with the teachings of Scripture and of the saints, among whom he mentions in particular St Gregory Nazianzus, St John Crysostom, St Jerome and St Augustine, as well as the great founders of religious orders, such as St Benedict, St Dominic and St Francis.

Bellarmine teaches with great clarity and with the example of his own life that there can be no true reform of the Church unless there is first our own personal reform and the conversion of our own heart.

Bellarmine found in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius recommendations for communicating the profound beauty of the mysteries of faith, even to the simplest of people. He wrote: “If you have wisdom, may you understand that you have been created for the glory of God and for your eternal salvation. This is your goal, this is the centre of your soul, this the treasure of your heart. Therefore consider as truly good for you what leads you to your goal, and truly evil what causes you to miss it. The wise person must not seek felicitous or adverse events, wealth or poverty, health or sickness, honours or offences, life or death. They are good and desirable only if they contribute to the glory of God and to your eternal happiness, they are evil and to be avoided if they hinder it” (De ascensione mentis in Deum, grad. 1).

These are obviously not words that have gone out of fashion but words on which we should meditate at length today, to direct our journey on this earth. They remind us that the aim of our life is the Lord, God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ, in whom he continues to call us and to promise us communion with him. They remind us of the importance of trusting in the Lord, of expending ourselves in a life faithful to the Gospel, of accepting and illuminating every circumstance and every action of our life with faith and with prayer, ever reaching for union with him. Many thanks.

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I can’t go day-by-day like Melanie does, but, I do want to talk a bit about the school week.

(Reminder: kid would be in 5th grade in school, will be 11 later this fall. For context.)

This was a week filled with outside-the-home stuff.  Homeschool boxing class on Tuesday, rock climbing Wednesday morning, museum art class Thursday morning and usual piano on Thursday afternoon.

The rock climbing, was at this park about an hour away. M and I had visited the park before, about a year ago, on a weekday on which we also found some of the covered bridges in the area.

I didn’t go down to where the class was being conducted – I stayed on top of the ridge, walked the trails a couple of times, read, and saw things:

The class on Thursday was at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The first hour was a lesson on Sumi-e, the second a guided tour of some of the Asian holdings.

The lesson was very well done, and included some remarks on concentration and mindfulness that are good for young people to hear.

The tour of the galleries was not what I had expected – I had thought it would be about fleshing out the lesson and focusing on pieces utilizing the technique, but it was just a general tour, and we had been to these rooms many times before (although, as always, new things were discovered!). I will say the the very nice docent’s account of Buddhism prompted a great internal struggle, because.it was just so wrong, I caught my breath. She said, in effect, This young prince was really bothered by how people treated each other and when he was meditating, he decided he should go back into society to teach others to treat each other with more care and concern. 

Not kidding.

I was thinking…Four Noble Truths? Eightfold Path….not to speak of the diversity of Buddhism. I mean, she introduced it by talking about panels expressive of Pure Land Buddhism, which, when introducing Buddhism, is not the right place to start…

I thought about saying something afterwards, simply because..well, if a docent said of the Renaissance art, “These show how Catholics worship Mary,” he or she should be politely corrected, right?  As it turned out, we were in a rush at the end,  I didn’t. Probably should have. Still might.


Just a word on some science, rabbit holes and education.

Last week, after studying classification and fungi, we made a mold terrarium: pita bread, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, a small dish of white unbleached flour, a peach section, slice of zucchini, slice of cucumber and piece of store-bought bread. Spritzed it with water, covered it with plastic wrap, formulated a hypothesis, stuck it in a dark cupboard and checked it daily. By this past Thursday, ten days, in, we declared the experiment done (and hypothesis proven correct – peach did start to go first).  Lots of good mold, plus…maggots!

The maggots led to research on the life cycle of the fruit fly.

Which led to research on larvae and pupae in general.

Which led to etymology research on “larva” and “pupa” (which means, girl or doll…who knew? I would assume the sense of “girl” is of a “little tiny girl” since “girl” is puella more generally), and discussion of pluralization.

Larvae, pupae, and mold were put under the microscope.

Larvae and pupae were sketched.

Science with a dash of Latin and art. Giving in to the curiosity bug and letting it roll. It’s why people homeschool – or at least why we do.

(Didn’t photograph the mold terrarium – you should be grateful…)

Oh..and in all that time, trapped under wraps with molding rotting stuff, the store-bought bread (some sort of oatmeal flour) didn’t grow a wisp of mold.

That’s either reassuring or frightening, right? Perhaps a little of both?

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