A most blessed feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to you all! How special that, this year, it was moved to just after the Easter Octave, when we are all still filled with the joy of Paschaltide.
O God, Who didst will that Thy Word should take flesh, at the message of an Angel, in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, grant to Thy suppliant people, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.
-Collect from today’s Mass
When God turned back eternity and was young, Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth (As under the low arch the land is bright) Peered through you, gate of heaven—and saw the earth.
Or shutting out his shining skies awhile Built you about him for a house of gold To see in pictured walls his storied world Return upon him as a tale is told.
Or found his mirror there; the only glass That would not break with that unbearable light Till in a corner of the high dark house God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.
Star of his morning; that unfallen star In that strange starry overturn of space When earth and sky changed places for an hour And heaven looked upwards in a human face.
Or young on your strong knees and lifted up Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street, And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.
Or risen from play at your pale raiment’s hem God, grown adventurous from all time’s repose, Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.
“A Little Litany” – G. K. Chesterton
It’s been months since I’ve done one of these posts! Since January, actually . . .
The day is cool and overcast (though the sun and some blue are poking through now!), in contrast to the lovely warm spring weather we were enjoying only a week ago. I’ve just finished (mostly) planning for tutoring tomorrow; it will be my third-to-last class for the school year. (Time has truly flown!) My laundry is in the washer. The bathroom begs to be cleaned. A workout awaits this afternoon. I’m drained from the busyness of the weekend. In the predawn dark, I hit snooze this morning for ten minutes when my alarm went off at 6, although I had jerked awake at 5:50 and at that moment began contemplating how, precisely, I was going to get up. Not an heroic minute by any means. So yes . . . it’s a Monday . . . but there is beauty to be found, especially in the mundane, and that is a gift!
Saturday afternoon, I listened to four out of eight talks, given by Fr. Ripperger, on the virtue of modesty; which, as you might guess, expands far outside the realm of dress and instead encompasses your entire comportment, speech, and behavior as a person. Scary? Yes. Completely necessary? Yes.
It already has made me rethink, so very much, my daily behavior. And as with any virtue, it will be a long road towards making all those thousand small and large improvements that must be made . . . but with God and Our Lady, all things are possible! 🙂
You can find all the talks on modesty here, towards the end of the “Sermons” section.
Ah, yes, the workout. I was going to run a 5K this Saturday (with The Dash) . . . and now, I am walking it. A teensy story of some ongoing medical symptoms and a gentle Divine demand for humility on the part of yours truly. Fortunately The Dash is totally awesome and doesn’t mind walking with me instead, and has gallantly made it all seem like it’s all better this way, anyway. I don’t know if I will ever be a runner, except for running after my own future children (God-willing), but Saturday should still be fun 🙂
The Dash and I’s families spent the day together yesterday after Mass, celebrating the Feast of Divine Mercy. It was a beautiful afternoon in so many different aspects, and it was complete with a pinata (to the euphoria of all the kids 🙂 )!
During the afternoon, The Dash and I and a pile of kids were all sitting on one of the couches. Two of the Dash’s little nephews were busy guessing my age. I shall type down the ensuing dialogue for posterity:
Nephew 1(around 5 years old): Are you seventeen?
Nephew 1: Sixteen!
Me: No . . . older! (:D)
Nephew 2 (around 7 years old): Are you eighteen?
Me: Even older!
Nephew 1: Twenty?
Nephew 2: TWENTY-ONE!
Me: Yes! I’m twenty-one!
Nephew 2: You’re in your twenties! (He pauses, then smiles as if in investigation🙂 ) Are you married with anybody?
Me: Not yet . . .
Nephew 2: But you’re in your twenties! (turning to The Dash): Are you going to marry with her?
The Dash: I wouldn’t mind that . . .
Nephew 2: (Grinning and rolling his eyes) Ohhhh, no . . . .
The Dash: And then I’ll have kids, and my kids can play with you.
Nephew 2: (Eyes still lifted to heaven) This is going to be one big family!
Later on, our family was leaving. The Dash and I were talking beside one of the cars. Nephew #2 saunters up to us.
Nephew 2: (Big, coy grin) What are you two doing?
The Dash: Talking.
Nephew 2: (Batting his eyelashes) What kind of talk?
The Dash and I: (laugh)
Nephew 2:(Eyebrows raised knowingly, hands clasped behind his back) Is it love talk?
Me: What, (Nephew #2)? Do you think that we love each other?
Nephew 2: Ohhhh . . . (and runs off.)
And how appropriate it is to mention under #7 that yesterday marked 7 months of courtship for The Dash and me 🙂 May God continue showering us with graces through the hands of Our Blessed Mother as we continue into a new month of our journey!
God bless you all! Be sure to shower Our Lady with love today 🙂
For a very long time now, thanks to the efforts of my wonderful mother, our family has had a symbolic, prayerful meal on Holy Thursday (almost always before Mass), one that evokes some of the old basic elements of a Jewish Seder, but most certainly Christianized (for lack of a better term). I would say we’ve been having one for nearly ten years; it is very much a part of my mind when I think of Holy Thursday, and something I hope to continue whenever I’m blessed with a home of my own.
Originally sourced from a Catholic Culture article, our Holy Thursday meal has morphed and been modified several times over the years, but this year–our second Holy Week after beginning to attend Latin Mass–, Mom felt it called for another more considered overhaul in light of the traditions of our Faith that we are continually learning of. Today was the day for that “tweaking” and I thought I would post it here for anyone interested in catching a glimpse of what we do. I really do hope to take pictures of it, as well, although I can’t promise . . .
The elements of our meal include pita bread (heated and wrapped in a clean cloth), horseradish, parsley sprigs, salt water, applesauce, roasted meat (lamb this year, for the first time ever!), wine and juice, another starch (usually mashed potatoes), a vegetable (usually green beans), and a white cake (or cupcakes, as it will be this year).
The table is set with a white tablecloth, candles, and our best dishware. There is an aura of solemnity, reverence, and yet excitement, since it’s our most singular family meal of the entire year.
The questions and answers are arranged for the number of people at our meal this year, but this can easily be changed depending on the size of the family. Also, if the children are younger (my baby sister is almost 13!), the reflections could, and should, certainly be simplified to make it more accessible to the family!
And while it’s a reverent meal, talking between the reflections isn’t disallowed by any means 😉
A Holy Thursday Meal
All stand quietly around the table. The mother of the family, who supervised the making of the meal and the beautifying of the kitchen, now lights the candles, which symbolize the Light of Christ.
All make the Sign of the Cross as the father of the family, standing at the head of the table, begins the Introit for the evening’s Mass:
Father: “But it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by Whom we are saved and delivered. May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us; and may He have mercy on us. But it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by Whom we are saved and delivered.”
Then he leads his family in the Blessing Before Meals:
All: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
All sit. The father unwraps the pita bread from the cloth and passes a piece to each family member.
Father:Why do we eat unleavened bread tonight?
Mother:We eat unleavened bread to recall the Passover, in which the Israelite slaves ate unleavened bread before their flight from Egypt. We eat it to recall Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the Passover through His Passion and Death, and through His institution of the most Holy Eucharist: the Bread of Heaven which gives life to our souls.
We see the absence of leaven, and we contemplate Christ’s meekness and humility. We look at the stripes on the unleavened bread, and we contemplate Christ’s bloody scourging. “He was wounded for our transgressions: He was bruised for our sins, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.”
All taste a small bite of the pita.
Father:Why do we eat horseradish tonight?
Child/Person # 1: We eat horseradish to recall the bitterness of the Israelites’ slavery to Pharaoh, and of mankind’s slavery to sin, out of which Christ redeemed us by His Precious Blood. He took the bitterness of our sins upon Himself during His Agony, Passion and Death.
We taste the bitterness of the horseradish and renew our desire for a pure life. We resolve to go frequently to Confession, that we may always be free from sin.
All taste the horseradish.
Father: Why do we eat bitter herbs tonight, and why do we dip them twice?
Child/Person #2:We eat bitter herbs to recall how the Israelites, on Passover, used hyssop branches to mark the lintels of their doorposts with the blood of the lamb. We recall how Christ, on the Cross, took His bitter last drink on a hyssop branch. We are reminded of how hyssop represents, to us, new life. “Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.”
We dip the herbs once in salt water to recall the tears shed by the Israelites in slavery, by mankind in sin, and by Our Lord and His Blessed Mother during His sorrowful Passion.
All dip the herbs in salt water and taste.
Child/Person #3: We dip the herbs in sweet applesauce to recall the sweetness of Christ’s ransom for us. Mankind fell by the fruit of a tree; and yet mankind was redeemed by Christ, the Fruit of Mary’s womb, Who hung upon the Tree.
As we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, we hope in Christ’s infinite goodness and promises.
All dip the herbs in applesauce and taste.
Father:Why do we eat lamb tonight?
Child/Person #4: We eat lamb to recall that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Through His Passion and Death, He perfectly fulfilled the prefigurement of the unblemished Passover Lamb.
“He was offered because it was His own will, and He opened not His mouth. He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter and shall be dumb as a lamb before His shearer, and He shall not open His mouth.”
“Blessing and honor, glory, and power unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, Who hath redeemed us to God by His blood, for ever and ever. Amen.”
All taste a small bite of the lamb. Then the other foods are served.
Mother: We eat these remaining foods to also remember Christ’s Passion. The potatoes are bruised and mashed, just as Christ was crushed and bruised for our sins; and yet they are hearty and give us strength, just as Christ’s Passion gives us strength for our spiritual warfare. We drink wine and juice to recall the shedding of Christ’s Precious Blood, and to remind us that He is the Vine, and we must bear fruit in Him. These vegetables give us nourishment and strength, just as Christ’s Passion teaches us to strive for virtues with perseverance and courage.
Everyone eats and enjoys the full meal. Finally, the father asks:
Father: Why do we eat round, white cakes tonight?
Child/Person #5: We eat round, white cakes to recall the marvelous gift of Christ’s institution of the Holy Priesthood at the Last Supper. The cakes are small, because Christ humbled Himself in washing His disciple’s feet, giving us an example of meekness and servitude.
Our holy priests impart to us the sweetness of Eternal Life through the Holy Mass, through the Sacraments, and through a life of heroic virtue, sacrifice and purity.
“He shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old and in the ancient years: saith the Lord almighty.”
Father: Let us pray for our holy priests.
A moment of silence. Then, the father prays aloud the Collect from the morning’s Chrism Mass:
Father: Lord God, Who dost use the ministry of priests in regenerating Thy people: grant us persevering subjection to Thy will, so that Thy people who have been consecrated to Thee may by the gift of Thy grace increase in our day in merits and in number. Through Our Lord.
All: Amen. O Lord, grant us priests. O Lord, grant us holy priests. O Lord, grant us many holy priests.
All enjoy the cakes. Afterwards, the father leads his family in the final prayer:
All: We give thee thanks, Almighty God, for all Thy benefits, Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Father: Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
All: May they rest in peace. Amen.
Father: A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, saith the Lord. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord.
All: May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us. Amen.
What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of earth’s sweet being in the beginning, in Eden Garden. Have, get, before it cloy, before it cloud, Christ, Lord, and sour with sinning; Innocent mind, and Mayday in girl and boy, most, O Maid’s child, Thy choice, and worthy the winning.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring”
This morning, we drove Lena and our dad to the airport, dropped them off, and drove home under a glorious blue-skied start to a beautiful, chilly March morning. Her visit to Our Lady’s House begins!
Upon returning, I cleaned up a few rooms, made some beds, switched some laundry . . . and then, quite spontaneously, snatched my camera and dove outside to capture some of the “juice and joy.” It was cold and windy, belying all the early-budding trees and flowers. Shivering in my bulky green coat, I only stayed out for a few minutes. But it was so very refreshing. There is intoxicating fun and a strange peace to be found in getting down on your stomach and viewing the world like a baby does.
I am eighty or so pages into reading aloud The Fellowship of the Ring to my youngest sister, who is still recovering from her cold. This morning, we trekked with the irrepressible hobbits towards Woodhall, evaded the ominous Black Rider, and met Gildor Inglorion together in the quiet sunshine while other family members recuperated with naps from the morning that started in the 5 o’clock hour.
It is a delight: both the story, and reading it aloud to her. Nostalgic in that it brings me back to that time when I was her age (nine years ago!) . . . and new in that the story grows ever stronger and more potent in its images, its themes, its applicability (to use Tolkien’s word) the longer I leave it, like good wine. The Old Winyards, to be precise.
The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began; now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can, pursuing it with eager feet until it joins some larger way, where many paths and errands meet, and whither then? I cannot say . . .
-J. R. R. Tolkien
Today is First Friday, and Friday of the Second Week of Lent. It’s strange to be praying my devotions and the Mass by myself, without Lena . . . but at the same time, it has its own beauty and stillness.
In fact, the above verse from Tolkien seems incredibly appropriate for today, the more I ponder it. Our paths are branching, little by little. My road is unfolding in one direction; in hers, another. This brings so much joy and excitement, mixed with the natural bittersweetness. All good things come from God, and to be nearing one’s vocation, one’s path of sanctity, to be able to smell it like salt in the air as one approaches the ocean, is such a very, very good thing. To Him be all the glory! We pursue our paths with eager feet!
Look down, O Lord, to help me: let them be confounded and ashamed together that seek after my soul to take it away: look down, O Lord, to help me.
-Offertory, Friday of the Second Week in Lent
As I continue to pray for the one-day gift of daily Latin Mass nearby, earlier, I was reading this from Dom Prosper Guéranger, “An Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass” and thought it particularly beautiful:
Having made the sign of the Cross, the Priest says the Antiphon: “Introibo ad altare Dei,” as an introduction to the 42nd Psalm. This Antiphon is always said, both before and after the Psalm, which he at once begins: “Judica me Deus.” He says the whole of it, alternately with the Ministers. This Psalm was selected on account of the verse “Introibo ad altare Dei: I will go unto the altar of God.” It is most appropriate as a beginning to the Holy Sacrifice. We may remark here, that the Church always selects the Psalms she uses, because of some special verse which is appropriate to what she does, or to what she wishes to express. The Psalm, of which we are now speaking, was not in the more ancient Missals: its usage was established by Pope Pius the Fifth, in 1568. When we hear the Priest saying this Psalm, we understand to whom it refers:- it refers to our Lord, and it is in his name, that the Priest recites it. We are told this by the very first verse: “Ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.”
The verse here used as an Antiphon, shows us, that David was still young when he composed this Psalm; for, after saying, that he is going to the Altar of God, he says: “Ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam: To God, who giveth joy to my youth.” He expresses astonishment at his soul being sad; and, at once, cheers himself, by rousing his hope in God; hence, his song is full of gladness. It is on account of the joy which is the characteristic of this Psalm, that holy Church would have it be omitted in Masses for the Dead, in which we are about to pray for the repose of a soul, whose departure from this life leaves us in uncertainty and grief. It is omitted, also, during Passiontide, in which season, the Church is all absorbed in the sufferings of her divine Spouse; and these preclude all joy.
This 42nd Psalm is an appropriate introduction to the Mass, inasmuch as it in our Lord whom it will bring among us. Who is He that is to be sent to the Gentiles, but He that is Light and Truth? David foresaw all this; and, therefore, he uttered the prayer: “Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam.” We take his prayer and make it ours; and we say to our heavenly Father: “send forth Him, who is thy Light and thy Truth!”
Small things are beautiful; folding a stack of laundry, brewing a pitcher of tea, wiping off a counter, sitting across the table from my mother, faking (very bad) English country accents for hobbit’s voices, kissing a sibling’s hair, praying the Rosary while driving, taking the time to capture moss growing on a log in a certain transformative slant of morning sunlight.
There is a stillness that, eventually, comes with simplicity. I don’t always have it, because I often go about things the complicated and absorbed way. When I have the brains to seek out the simplicity, that disconnecting from noise, and when I begin to hear in my heart a stirring of hope for a future family, a future life, a future culture built around the Holy Faith, around books and conversations and the old-fashioned, simple, homey things–then stillness comes.
The further I travel into this Lent, the more deeply I am drawn towards my future wifehood and motherhood being built upon simplicity and quiet of heart. I am at the very beginning . . . I don’t exactly know what all it entails yet. I’m sure I’ll be constantly learning as the years elapse. For now, I do know it means openness to life and radical unselfishness; it means the family table; it means cooking and singing together; it means reading aloud books together in the evening, discussing all of life’s aspects with enthusiasm and a desire for truth, engaging and building up one another in the warmth of the family heart as our means of recreation and leisure. It means daily Mass (God-willing!) and the daily family Rosary; it means a healthy and wholesome lifestyle of homeschooling and tradition and solid work and pure playfulness, of living in community while protecting the integrity of our family; it means service and sacrifice; it means steadfastness, fidelity, and prayer; it means wanting to be saints and believing that is very the purpose of our lives. A perfect quote from Mary Reed Newland’s We and Our Children made it into my Commonplace Book the other week:
Simplicity of soul is one of the prerequisites of sanctity, and it is one of the things our children already possess. We must be very careful not to contribute to the great cluttering-up. We must make a heroic effort to rid our lives of all but one motive, that “impractical” spirituality of the saints, a life in union with God. If this is the undercurrent of our existence, then we can expect the spiritual training of our children to bear fruit.
Next week, The Dash and I arrive at half a year of courtship! That seems unbelievable! Half a year since I sat in the pew with him, the first Sunday of our relationship, and was greeted by the words of the Offertory:
The Angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them: O taste and see that the Lord is sweet!
How overwhelming is God’s goodness! St. Raphael, ora pro nobis.
Ordinarily, love begins for a young girl when she becomes well enough acquainted with a young man to develop a spiritual affinity with him. She admired his qualities and abilities. She likes his attitude toward life in general. She begins to feel at ease, at home in his presence. Then other things begin to happen. A simple phone call brings a flutter to her heart. Her pulse quickens when he calls at her home. She has eyes for no one but him.
With reason she wonders whether she is in love. Her doubts will vanish when she reaches the point of growth in love where all her being reaches out for him in the effort to bring him happiness. Her own whims and desires fade into the background. His happiness is her only real concern.
What a beautiful and brilliantly wise description of the God-given journey I am still undertaking! Half a year is a grossly insignificant amount of time when it comes to even beginning to get used to how much God has blessed me with The Dash, and how wonderful, steady and virtuous a man he is.
The rest of today . . . well, for me, it’s quiet and full of sunshine, carrying the diffused scent of eucalyptus essential oil; I’ve got some tutoring planning to sort through, although that may spill over into tomorrow . . . then there’s the Daily Full Meal (should I trademark that Lenten expression?) and the evening with the family (hopefully Stations of the Cross will be part of it). May the rest of your day be very blessed! Please do pray for Lena as she visits Our Lady’s House 🙂
I am an energetic person by nature, a happy person by temperament (and God’s grace!) . . . but sometimes (like today), I am just tired. Tired and grouchy-feeling. How tempting it is to be discouraged by these feelings of tiredness and grouchiness, to be frustrated when I give into them and consequently don’t have that same I’m-so-happy-to-be-around-my-family shine as I usually do.
What am I doing?! I groan inwardly. I just went to Mass this morning!
And I did. In a little chapel with Lena and three friends and a marvelous priest. Everything was soft and still. Hoc est enim Corpus Meum. What a gift. For a little while now, I’ve been praying hard for the eventual gift of daily Latin Mass nearby, that I can attend every morning. But for now, once a week has been amazing!
I drove Lena and myself home through a light drizzle, the two of us chattering happily. I came in and had my fasting breakfast. I went upstairs and took a shower. And . . . I came out tired.
I’m sure it has something to do with being human. With early mornings, less food, family members being gone, teaching a classroom of girls, running up and down our lane until I can’t breathe (i.e., training for a 5K) and, because of my lack of virtue, so often failing to accept these feelings of tiredness and grumpiness as Crosses, and to embrace them with a joy that radiates to where no one can tell that I’m feeling grumpy at all. I’m working on the joy. Do you know how it is when the smallest acts of simple decent human kindness seem almost impossible to achieve? (I know . . . it’s the signal that I need a nap 😉 I think I will lie down shortly . . . )
My youngest sister has a cold. Lemon and melaleuca are being diffused in the living room. I gave her a mini-concert and played on the guitar, singing songs I’d written, for half an hour earlier. Things are gray outside. Lena is leaving on Friday. A whole week without her is a strange prospect; quite possibly a very light foretaste of the future in which she might be in her house at Ephesus and I’m in my house surrounded by a future beautiful brood of children. Does God intend for the majority of our earthly sisterhood, our close earthly companionship that has been particularly close ever since our early teen years, to be spent apart, joined together by letters and prayers, but by only the barest human contact?
Of course, the thought brings both spiritual joy and human tears. Joy for vocation and for becoming saints. This is what Lena and I want more than anything! But tears for the little daily things that will pass away and leave a void capable of being filled only by God; the countless conversations, the little jokes, the giggles, the hugs, the knowing of what the other is thinking and feeling in a way only sisters can, the shared daily prayers and devotions, Mass together, two white mantillas side-by-side. To some degree, it would still pass away even if we were both married . . . but not as radically as this. The little things will pass for a time, but the love will remain. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. And I am already rejoicing with excitement and gratitude at what God may have in store for my dear sister, and for me, and for our sisterhood.
This Lent has been unlike any other. The fasting is a great challenge; not just the absence of food, but using the absence of food to gain mastery over oneself and grow in virtue. That is the hardest part. It has been exactly two weeks now since Lent began. Three weeks to corrupt a vice, three weeks to instill a virtue. At this rate, I’m 2/3 of the way through corrupting the vice of intemperance . . . and then, after another week or so, I’ll begin to instill the virtue of fasting.
Fr. Ripperger’s talks at Sensus Traditionis have been one of my mainstays. It is unspeakably consoling to receive truth and guidance in the form of masculine, priestly, fatherly direction. I can’t seem to get enough. I also just finished his “The Spirituality of the Ancient Liturgy” from Latin Mass Magazine, and this paragraph struck me particularly (no wonder, after having just attended Mass!):
The ancient ritual also gives one a taste of heaven, so to speak. Since the altar marks the dividing line between the profane and sacred, between the heavenly and the earthly, and the priest ascends to the altar to offer Sacrifice, the traditional rite leaves one with a sense of being drawn into heaven with the priest. This feature naturally draws us into prayer and gives the sense of the transcendent and supernatural that are key in the spiritual life. The numerous references to the saints foster devotion rather than minimizing it. The Latin provides a sense of mystery. The beauty of the ritual, the surroundings that naturally flow from the ritual itself (such as the churches that are designed for the ritual), the chant – all of these things lead to contemplation, the seeking after that which is above.
Life is beautiful, because God is Supreme Beauty and He provides so many channels of grace for us through the Sacraments, through prayer, through pursuing the virtues. We can all be saints if only we continuously trust and try. Perhaps the tired days are the most beautiful days of all; or they can be, if only I ask for His grace and participate in it with joy 😉 Always and everywhere, Deo Gratias!
This is a potential series, based off more serious thoughts I’m typing up on a semi-regular basis as I contemplate what my future homeschool and its curriculum might look like once I’m a wife and mother 🙂 It may be subject to change as my thoughts fluctuate and I learn more!
This morning, I was reading Mrs. Berquist (Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum) in the quiet before anyone else was up, and as I pondered, agreed or good-naturedly debated with her thoughts, it came to me quite clearly that I needed to start setting down my current goals and guiding principles for my future home and children, especially how it relates to the extension of my future motherhood that would be homeschooling.
My greatest desire is that everything in my future husband and I’s home will be properly ordered and oriented towards our final end: the glory of God, and our sanctification—a secondary result of which would be the restoration of an authentically Catholic culture.
The world can’t be a guide for us. Recently, I read an article that stated something to the effect of, The world is obsessed with orienting the constant around the transient, when the transient must be ordered around the constant. One of the most important guiding principles, when I consider my future homeschool, would be that of ordering the transient around the constant in our home.
My greatest hope for my future children is that they will look upon their lives as gifts from God to be given back to Him, in the way He asks, and that they will waste no time in seeking out His Will for their lives. My hope is that they will give Him their youth (Ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam!), and be intent upon not deciding their career, but in preparing themselves for, and discerning, their vocation–and letting everything else be ordered around it.
I want everything that I teach them and help them to discover to, collectively, aid them in self-abandonment to God’s Will, and assist them in the critical period of vocational discernment they’ll come to in early adulthood: priesthood, consecrated life, or holy marriage.
This will require diligent spiritual, mental and physical education in our homeschool curriculum, with great care and attention given to cultivating authentic masculinity and femininity in the hearts and intellects of my sons and daughters, respectively.
With this having been laid out, the foundation of my homeschool curriculum would have to be a continual growth in understanding and love for the Holy Mass, specifically in the Extraordinary Form: the Mass of the saints. I want my children to be drawn into these most beautiful mysteries from their youngest years; and, as they grow older, to let the Holy Mass mold their intellect and their understanding of life and its meaning, of the Faith, of their final end. I want it to be the fertile soil in which they will plant the seeds of every subject and thought of their heart, and reap a hundredfold from it.
I want it to be available to them on a daily basis (if not physically, then through internet stream), frequently pondered and deeply discussed as they grow older. In a special way, I want to expose my sons, early on, to the life of the traditional priest and the wondrous calling to the priestly life, through exposing them to the beauty of this Mass which, with strength and clarity, reveals the true nature and station of the priestly role.
Similarly, I want to expose my daughters to religious orders that are oriented around the traditional liturgy. And I want all of my children to see and grow up amid the generous family life that so often teems around the Traditional Mass.
Like orphans who have discovered a rich inheritance, I want my children to delight in this traditional liturgy that is visibly ordered and oriented towards God alone, and in every aspect of it, all of which can immeasurably enrich and strengthen their physical, spiritual and intellectual lives. I want it to shape them intimately and definitively, because more than any other tool, Holy Mass will equip them for discerning and embracing their specific vocation.
If our homeschool is grounded in the Mass and specifically the traditional liturgy, then traditional theology and a proper understanding of Church teaching will naturally spring from it. In this arena of study, my homeschool curriculum will be made up of books such as:
The Catechism of the Council of Trent
The Baltimore Catechism
Butler’s Lives of the Saints and many beautifully illustrated saint books
The Douay Rheims and Revised Standard Version of Holy Scripture
The 1962 Missal
True Devotion to Mary
many, many writings of the Saints, especially St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. John Vianney, St. Louis de Montfort, St. John Bosco, St. Therese, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, St. Teresa of Avila . . .
books about the Traditional Mass such as Treasure and Tradition
A Map of Life and other works by Frank Sheed
Catholic Morality; Mass and the Sacraments; Catholic Apologetics etc.by Fr. Laux
2,000 Years of Church History by Fr. Fox
The Young Man’s Guide
The Catholic Girl’s Guide
These and other books written with an authentic, traditional adherence to the Faith will be the treasures of our homeschool, because they will form our souls and intellects firmly around the good, the true and the beautiful.
Masculinity, Femininity, and Vocational Discernment
From their earliest years, I want to instill in my sons and daughters knowledge and appreciation of their God-given masculinity and femininity. With prudence and wisdom, I would want to try and keep a healthy and reasonable level of distinction between girl’s work/dress and boy’s work/dress (while taking care to not be overzealous about it, which would only push them away from the very thing I desire them to make their foundation).
I would want to encourage chivalry and a spirit of virtuous protectiveness and provision in my young sons, and nurturing tendencies and domestic love in my young daughters, so that they won’t look down upon one another’s differences, but instead deeply respect and admire them.
As they grow older and as part of daily living, I want to keep up a reasonable resolution to require the boys to do “tougher/dirtier/heavier jobs” and be solicitous and kind towards their sisters and mother (though this must really be something set down and maintained by their father, with me merely reinforcing it), while encouraging the girls to take care of the things that are more appropriate to their girlhood, such as to care for their brothers and father through keeping things clean and pleasant and beautiful, making/baking/crafting things to please others and beautify the home . . . but all of this, without letting either boys or girls be afraid of hard work, of helping one another in necessity, or of joining in the others’ tasks. Reasonableness and prudence in all things!
As they grow older, I want to expose them to books such those by Fr. Lasance, which will begin to give them words to articulate the beauty of their sex and the virtues than need developing in relation to it.
These things will be cultivated and encouraged from the time they are very young, and throughout the years when they are both applying themselves to their education and studies. In high school, however, I see an even more purposeful shift: I would want my sons to be guided towards preparing themselves to discern their vocation and to evaluate what academic requirements or work skills that might entail, whether to go into religion or to support a family. My daughters would similarly be guided into subjects that develop their femininity and love of the home, and that stir their hearts into contemplating the religious and married states. The central aspect of my high school curriculum would be one of discussion, contemplation, and initial vocational discernment.
During their younger years, but most especially by high school, I would want to encourage them to maintain a private devotion to St. Raphael, for his guidance in regards to their vocation, and, if marriage, for the protection and hastened appearance of their future spouse in their lives.
By the time of their graduation from high school, my hope is that my sons will have at least the beginnings of clarity of heart and a strong desire to do God’s Will, and be equipped to make a prudent initial choice towards continuing to discern their vocation, whether it’s to explore the priestly or monastic life, or to begin learning a trade or study for a degree that will enable them to support a family. This very possibly could entail the collegiate path, but if so, the preference would be for a community college and for them to not leave home right away as they continue to gain their bearings, deal with a fresh onslaught of the world in college, and grow into men of God, for God.
And as for my daughters, by the time of their graduation, it’s my sincerest hope that they will feel inspired and enabled to pursue their interests, dreams, and their joyful feminine creativity, but always carefully subjecting these things to the priority of their vocational discernment.
If they feel called to marriage, how can they prepare themselves to be good, holy wives and mothers? I would love to read The Wife Desired with them and discuss it. What skills do they need to learn? What hobbies or jobs can they engage in in the meantime that would cultivate their feminine genius, but not hinder or delay marriage once their future spouse appears? Are there healthy ways they can meet like-minded young men and women? And if they are interested in the religious life, what orders are they drawn to? Help them seek out a spiritual director. Enable them to correspond and visit with these communities. Give them time for prayer, frequent Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and encourage them to using their time to serve others and build detachment from their possessions.
But either way, I will not encourage college for my daughters. There is so much they can learn and do that will not accrue debt, potentially delay marriage and waste childbearing years, or delay a possible entrance into the religious life—in other words, hinder them from giving God their youth in marriage or consecrated life, and draw their hearts away from the home and towards a career mindset that only mocks their femininity, or (if they see themselves doing it only until they’re married) takes advantage of it.
This doesn’t mean they can’t study, work, and expand themselves after high school—rather, there is a far more beautiful and enriching way to do all of these things, one that fully enables them to grow, unhindered, into virtuous and feminine women of God.
It would be fruitless and foolish of me to try and build the argument that this is the only way for young women to be happy and become saints, and that if they attend college and marry somewhat later in life, they are destined to be less happy and less successful in their femininity. I know there are many wonderful Catholic girls, or wives and mothers who are devoted to their children and the home, all of whom are simultaneously convinced of the worth of the collegiate path as based on their own experience. So no, I can’t say that this is the only way—but I can say this is, objectively, a more perfect way.
God works for good all things for those who love Him. Undeniably, there are many women who love Him and are trying to please Him, but who have left home and are in college or a career life. Our Lord will certainly work much good out of these circumstances for their sanctification and the fulfillment of their vocation, in relation to His Will and the purity of their intentions.
However, this doesn’t diminish the fact that there is a Divinely established order to things, an order that is obscured, forgotten, and so often perverted in today’s society. There is an intrinsic distinction and complementarity between manhood and womanhood, and an order that follows from it; it spills into the Divinely created order meant to exist in the family, the home, and most of all in the proper roles of marriage. The woman is intended, by God, to be the heart of the home through wifehood and motherhood—or to be “love in the heart of the Church,” through the consecrated life. Objectively speaking, there is very little in college and career life that specifically and necessarily prepares a woman to be the heart of the home, or of the Church—certainly nothing that she can’t easily obtain elsewhere, more clearly and wisely and with less hindrance, for these same ends.
A woman who refrains from college and a career, does so not merely because of these things themselves, but also because of the inescapable contextour fallen culture has placed them in, especially in regards to women being established outside of the home. By doing so, she is preparing herself to live out her proper and justly ordered role of womanhood, of helpmate, of nurturer and beautifier in the home or convent; she does it with an ease, clarity, and conviction that’s inevitably unavailable to a woman who is immersed in the demanding and divided lifestyle that results from intensive collegiate studies, in a desk job, or in a career.
So, while God can, and will, work good for women who are in these situations—how much more good will He work for a woman who strives to harmonize herself with the natural order He has set in place since the beginning?
And it is precisely because of this that my post-high school hopes for my future daughters are what they are!