religion, Unschooling

Is Catholic Unschooling Worth it?

Catholic Unschooling Learning and living together as a family. Children. adults, we are all natural learners. We unschoolers acknowledge that learning can happen at any age and that a person will be most motivated to learn when he needs to know or use what he is learning.

In Catholic unschooling, we avoid fear and over use of coercion….fear is a bad incentive for learning…while Love is the best incentive of all.

In St Anthony’s teaching on prayer we perceive one of the specific traits of the Franciscan theology that he founded: namely the role assigned to divine love which enters into the sphere of the affections, of the will and of the heart, and which is also the source from which flows a spiritual knowledge that surpasses all other knowledge. In fact, it is in loving that we come to know.

Anthony writes further: “Charity is the soul of faith, it gives it life; without love, faith dies” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi II, Messagero, Padua 1979, p. 37).Pope Benedict XVI General Audience,10 February 2010, on Saint Anthony of Padua

We have seen the role of Love in Catholic philosophy and theology. We see the role of Love in nature and in nurture. Since grace builds on nature, what is true in nature provides a firm foundation for our life as Catholics.

Unschooling can be as simple as not doing school. It can be as complex as treating each family member with respect, and respecting personal choices, choices in relation to education and food and TV, for example.

While the term unschooling can seem rather nebulous, there is a common thread in all the lives of Catholic unschoolers. Trust.

Trust in God and His Church. Trust in the family.Trusting that the child is born with a desire to learn. And that he will learn. Trust that learning is everywhere, all the time, that one never stops learning.

So, after years of Catholic unschooling, can I answer the question is it worth it? Worth the being different, the concerns about academics or lack thereof, worth the time and discussion and worth the mental arguing with one self, worth having to defend the different educational choice to others ( family, friends, Education Dept, priests, acquaintances, that man at the doctor’s surgery, the woman at the morning tea, other more traditional homeschoolers..), worth the daily effort, the mess, the noise, the cluttered house and mum’s cluttered mind, worth spending nearly all your time with your kids, worth the self control required of parents, the sharing, the living your life as an open book for your kids to read?

Catholic unschooling is very worth it.


Because of relationship.

That list above, the list of is it worth it, means time has been spent. Spent together. Not always qualtity time, in the nice mummy-and-daddy-sit-together-and-read-stories-to-children in our twenty minutes before bed quality time. Not fairy book family time. Not Brady Bunch quality time . But quantity time, messy, real life, every day, day in and day out quantity and quality time . Spent together doing chores, working, reading, arguing, praying….

Especially praying. Prayer really is the foundation of Catholic Unschooling. Our Faith is one of relationship, relationship with the Triune God. As a priest pointed out to me yesterday, on Trinity Sunday, we worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We see the relationship between the three persons in one God. As Fr said, relationship between God, with God, with our neighbour, with ourselves.

The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance.” Indeed “everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship.” “Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 255

As we live our Faith, as we pray at mass together, we share Love and thus we are formed by our Faith and our Love..and we share this with our families (For, as another priest pointed out in his homily yesterday morning, the mass is not a feel good exercise; we adore God, we receive Him and then we take His Love to others..)..and so relationship becomes the key to Catholic unschooling.

Therefore, Catholic unschooling is definitely worth it, simply because of relationship.

Our family has experienced some less than pleasant stuff recently ( hassles never come in dribs or drabs do they??) but I see that, as things happen to us, our family pulls together and is stronger rather than being a family that falls apart.

We might yell ( and swear) at each other but then we laugh and unite against the common problem!

That is the fruit, I think, of years of living and learning together, spending time together, respecting each other as people, not setting up adversarial relationships over chores or school but, in our imperfections and disagreements, keeping the lines of communication open. And always hanging together and praying at Mass together

Catholic unschooling is SO worth it, so worth the being different, the criticism from others, the worries about lack of academics, the worries about too much screen time…keep up the prayers and the talking and the simply seeking joy together and the rest follows. Over years. Over time.

It is not easy. But it is also not hard. We have the sacraments to help us. We have faith and love and time. And that prayer.

It is significant that precisely in and through prayer, man comes to discover in a very simple and yet profound way his own unique subjectivity: in prayer the human “I” more easily perceives the depth of what it means to be a person. This is also true of the family, which is not only the basic “cell” of society, but also possesses a particular subjectivity of its own. This subjectivity finds its first and fundamental confirmation, and is strengthened, precisely when the members of the family meet in the common invocation: “Our Father”. Prayer increases the strength and spiritual unity of the family, helping the family to partake of God’s own “strength”. In the solemn nuptial blessing during the Rite of Marriage, the celebrant calls upon the Lord in these words: “Pour out upon them the grace of the Holy Spirit so that by your love poured into their hearts they will remain faithful in the marriage covenant”. This “visitation” of the Holy Spirit gives rise to the inner strength of families, as well as the power capable of uniting them in love and truth. Pope John Paul II Letter to Families, Gratissimum Sane

What works in Catholic unschooling is this relationship with God and with family..and that unschooling is not a school at all. Unschooling is education in homes, in parks at the library. on the computer, with friends, in groups, on your own , on the trampoline, with video games and movies, via volunteer work and service..with mass and prayer and talking…and crying..and laughing.

There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. Mother Teresa
Catholic unschoolers have this time, by the sheer fact that days are not eaten up by school. Even busy, working, ADD mothers like me have time, via Catholic unschooling, time to be there for the family.

It is worth it.


The Visitation

And here is a table blessing, for the feast of the Visitation, today, May 31.

Praying this with the family before a (typically late, after work, typically thrown together, maybe macaroni cheese or Pasta Alfredo) dinner tonight…

We remember today the visiting of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth and the wonderful prayer of the Magnificat.

Reading Having begotten God in her womb, the Virgin hastened to Elizabeth, whose child understood the greeting and rejoiced with leapings as with songs, crying to the Mother of God:
Rejoice, O flower of unwithering stem! Rejoice, O gift of an incorruptible fruit! Rejoice, O fountain of the source of life, the lover of humanity! Rejoice, O Mother of the Son of God the Father! Rejoice, O field, a harvest of mercy! Rejoice, O banquet, a feast of purity! Rejoice, O flower, a meadow of delights! Rejoice, O guide, the harbor of souls! Rejoice, O acceptable incense of prayers! Rejoice, O purification of the universe! Rejoice, O goodness of God toward the dead! Rejoice, O boldness of dead toward God! Rejoice, O unwedded bride!
(Akathist Hymn)

Responsory Verse: When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, she said: Response: “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

The Lord’s Prayer

Blessing Blessed be you, God of mercy and compassion, for you inspired Mary, the humble maiden of Nazareth, to visit her cousin Elizabeth and to assist her in her earthly needs. Help us, that following Mary’s example we may remain always open to the needs and sufferings of others. Strengthen us with the nourishment of this meal, and bring us one day to love’s eternal feast in your kingdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer Source: Table Blessings: Mealtime Prayers Throughout the Year by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette, Ave Maria Press, 1994

On Community

On community within our parishes…

Christ is truly present among us in the Eucharist. His presence is not static. It is a dynamic presence that grasps us, to make us his own, to make us assimilate him. Christ draws us to himself, he makes us come out of ourselves to make us all one with him. In this way, he also integrates us in the communities of brothers and sisters, and communion with the Lord is always also communion with our brothers and sisters. And we see the beauty of this communion that the Blessed Eucharist gives us….Pope Benedict XVI , Heart of the Christian Life


On Pornography

A great article from First Things

Recently, National Review Online ran an anonymous and widely discussed essay called “Getting Serious About Pornography.” Its author, a mother of five, detailed and deplored pornography’s role as she saw it in the destruction of her marriage. The result was an outpouring of impassioned e-mail—including from some people exploring their own use of pornography and its impact on their own lives. As one military man put it with unusual candor in a particularly poignant (also anonymous) e-mail to the editor:

I absolutely agree it is damaging. It damages my respect for my wife, and she has done nothing to deserve that damage. It damages my self-esteem and respect for myself, because I know it is not helpful to our life, to our marriage, to our love. . . . It reduces my satisfaction in a wonderful woman. It makes me yearn for things that I should not want. It is disruptive to my inner peace. I don’t like myself when I’m looking at porn. I don’t like the way I feel about myself when I’m looking at porn. . . . But I can only do without it about six months. . . . It has been an endless cycle.


Our Lady Help of Christians, Pray for Us!

Today’s solemnity is of Our Lady Help of Christians, patroness of Australia.

Some of us prayed this morning at a solemn, reverent Mass, one inspiring us to remember that awe , the awe, the fear of the Lord, the awe of being in God’s presence.

Helping me to remember to pray for those I love, for those I am upset with, for those who are angry with me, for those I disappoint with my behaviour.

For, in life, a problem or a situation is rarely always the fault of others. Experience, my past, my childhood, my adulthood, has taught me that. In my life, in three different situations that are boiling over, concurrently, well, I can see where I have made things worse. Where I have failed. Particularly in my vocation.

And so I have prayed this CONSECRATION OF ONESELF TO JESUS CHRIST,WISDOM INCARNATE,THROUGH THE HANDS OF MARY by St. Louis De Montfort – True Devotion to Mary.

We need the prayers of Our Lady. We need the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we need to pray at mass as we did this morning. We need to remember the sacred in the mass, sacredness in word, in deed, in prayer, in liturgy.

As this article states, when quoting Cardinal Pell… In praying to the omnipotent God at mass, George Pell contends, it is not appropriate to “talk in the same way we do at a barbecue”. Fresh Embrace of Everlasting Salvation, The Australian

No, it is not appropriate. Neither is it appropriate to have jokes within our worship, within our Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Or liturgical dancers. Or people parading around, doing this, doing that, helping here in the liturgy, dancing in a Gospel procession, showing off our national costumes and flags, talking about did you see I was asked to do xdidn’t she read well, weren’t those kids lovely, me, me all about me and men and not about God.

How do we lift our hearts to the Lord, how do we revere and worship Him, with colloquial terms? With jokes? Or, within noisy masses, with half dressed dancers, celebrating Pentecost.

Pentecost, as we were reminded at a dignified celebration of the Mass last night, is not about people and cultures and the talking in tongues. It is not about creating a false community for show, …. as Fr said, Community cannot be built by ourselves but comes first from communion with God.

And Pentecost is not about outlandish liturgies with watered down doctrine. To describe one of the masses I heard about, a mass where people laughed and enjoyed the “entertainment”, but where people looked blank, when asked, what was the homily about, what did you learn, what did you come away with? And said oh it was just beautiful. No mention of God, of worship.

Just beautiful to celebrate each other?? Yet to create cultural rifts where there were none – so this is my table for the Pentecost lunch, why do the Sri Lankans have more tables than us? ( You have to ask??) , Can’t we be near the Portugese not the Indonesians? And so on…

Is this how we celebrate the universality of the Church? With farcical liturgies and masses and farcical, showy community lunches afterwards – lunches more concerned about me and my culture than about mixing as a parish, as a community, a community rich in prayer and then in fellowship ?

Pentecost , as Fr said, in our solemn celebration last night, not during the circus show of an earlier celebration, Pentecost is a feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ,.

On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance ( Catechism of the Catholic Church, 731).

The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ’s faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may “bear much fruit.” ( CCC 237)

It is only when we are drawn into communion with God that we can then bear much fruit in the Church, in our parish, in our community.

And, oh, God, I fail here many times. I sit at Mass and find it hard to pray right now. I look at a situation, at someone sitting close to me who is angry, who won’t look at me during the sign of peace, and I know my sins, my failings. I lose my temper and am short woth someone. I bear little fruit because I fail to draw near to God.

Therefore, on this day, Our Lady Help of Christians, I ask Our Lady to pray for those I love, for the Church I love, for those in the Church, in our parishes. For priests and for religious. For my family and friends.

I (attempt) to draw close to God.

Because this need to draw close to God, to be drawn close to Him by the Holy Spirit, is why we need solemn, sacred, set apart liturgy.

We need masses that reassert the doctrines, the teachings of the Church with the celebration of the Eucharist according to rubrics. We experience the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist. We come away, full of God’s love and with Jesus with us. Our hearts, minds, souls are filled…to describe how I felt as my spirits were lifted at last night’s and this morning’s celebration of Holy Mass.

It is not about our feelings, what you like or I like in liturgy. It is about Christ and His Church.

We need the prayers of Our Lady. I need the prayers of Our Lady. Our Church, our parish, our priests and religious , our families need the prayer of Our Lady.

Sub tuum praesidium We fly to thy patronage
An ancient prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest known version of which is found on an Egyptian papyrus from the 3rd century. And I have taken it from my missal, where it is included as a closing prayer after the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Re St Matthias

We remembered St Matthias on Friday. At two Masses.

In two homilies, we were reminded that St Matthias was called to serve . As we are all called to serve . The priesthood of all believers.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that all people, lay and clergy and religious, have vocations. Have a role to play in the Church, in showing the world the love of Christ.

Bishop Elliott, the main celebrant of Friday night’s Mass for Priests in the Year for Priests, reminded us that priests need us, the laity, the faithful . Priests and religious need our prayers.

But we need our priests and religious. We need their example, their teaching, their guidance, their prayers, their masses.

In encouraging us in our vocations in the world, as Christian laypeople, in our roles in the Church, it is also helpful to remember the distinctions between laity and the clergy and religious.

Both masses on Friday were masses that were set apart Set apart? By this I mean there was a sense of the sacred. Yes, the laity had a role to play , for want of a better term, but in each instance, the role was not contrived. There was no sense of someone orchestrating parts of the mass, fiddling with rubrics, to add a bit here and a bit there, a layperson here and a layperson there. (Does this sound a bit like Old MacDonald?)

These were no “circuses”, no man centered masses. But masses where the Eucharist, the worship of God, the reception of Our Lord in the Eucharist, was central, was paramount.

As it should be. For receiving and adoring are part of our main focus of Mass, not doing , not everyone playing a role, not jokes, not people. Not “look at my daugher serving”; nor ” weren’t those Prep kids so cute with their song and liturgical movement.”

As cute as they may be, as well ( or as poorly!!) as my sons may serve mass, my sons , and others, are not the central focus. It is not about us. It’s about God.

When we are drawn closer to God, when we know our Faith and know God’s love, then we live our Faith. We worship as a community and thus community is built. We receive God’s Graces in the sacraments, we hear His voice in the silence, the white spaces of our Mass. And hopefully there is time for this silence, this reflection. Hopefully the masses we attend are not filled with words. Words. Words. People entertaining us. Extraneous actions or jokes.

When we worship as a community, with a sense of awe of being in His presence and receiving Him and His Graces, then we can go out and share. Share our love, our smiles, our compassion, our empathy, our listening ear, our friendliness, our cultures, our Faith, over cups of tea and lunches and suppers . Within our parish communities. In our workplace. With our families. In our every day lives.

As St Matthias was called, so are we, too, called. And we need to pray for those who are called in an extra way, to be priests and religious.

We are called to worship and then to share Christ’s love. We are called as God’s people.

We remember that we are not to clericalize the laity, to paraphrase the Holy Father.

We are not to make the mass about us but about God.

Particularly as we come close to Pentecost, and reflect on the Holy Spirit leading the Church, through the hierarchy and then through you and me.


With Persuasion

Tonight we watched the BBC version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

I have never really warmed to Anne, the main character. She is niceness personified, almost to the point of being sickly sweet and colourless and bland; yet when Anne decides to throw caution to the wind, she is guilty of that heinous , to me, sin, of letting-the-man-know-what-you-think, know of your love, too readily.

And wth a PDA to boot!

What would you do, upon receiving a letter, such a letter as Anne received from Captain Wentworth, “Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from. . . . Every moment rather brought fresh agitation. It was an overpowering happiness.”

When meeting with the Captain by chance, unlike Anne, who proclains her love by word and deed, I would have covered my emotions with too many, wild and woolly words. Wow, fancy seeing you. Sooo glad to see you, can’t tell you how much that letter made me smile, hey nice hair, isn’t it a great day, let’s walk.

And then, without the expression of emotion( or the PDA!) we would proceed to the gravel walk, as did Anne and her Captain.

To what end, I do not know!

While we Austen fans know that Anne and the Captain walked to love and marriage .

“There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had once before seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement. There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment; more equal to act, more justified in acting.”

You just have to love Austen!

And this blog, Austen Quote of the day .


The Winner Takes It All

Yes, that song from Abba! But don’t worry, this is more of a musing, laughing at self post than a sad, poor me post.

Laughing at self?
Yes, because just as one rocks along, posts happy thoughts… then…

The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice

..and things change…just a bit. Suddenly you are not as carefree as you thought you were the day before!

It’s simple and it’s plain
Why should I complain.

So, no complaining. Laughing at myself. Remembering it is good to have these little things to offer up, to pray for others,. for special intentions.

Tonight, after St Anthony mass and many prayers, I tried to snatch and capture that carefree I capture the castle feeling ( great book and movie by Dodie Smith)…and made Pasta With Garlic Sauce and Vienna bread for dinner-with-Dr-Who (and the kids ).

Nice! And yum!

The game is on again

Feelin’ happy

Sitting at the hairdresser and feeling good. Feeling happy


Not wanting to analyze too much but I feel well.
Back to normal-for-me after a lingering bout of sickness .

The absence of sickness is what makes me feel good. I’m eating better. I’m trying to get to bed at a more reasonable hour . I’m doing tough workouts again….okay, I only have time for those short HIIT workouts but they are high impact, advanced , puke in a bucket, endorphin producing workouts!

I’m not giving in. I’m not giving up. I’m taking my vitamins . I’m praying the psalms . I’m feeling good about stuff.

I had my nails painted red on Wed. I thought I was going to die in one short workout circuit yesterday bur I pushed and felt great .My endurance is improving . I loved my kickboxing today . I’m at the hairdresser; haven’t been here since last year ; having some foils (streaks) done.

And it was first Thursday yesterday . Prayed for priests and religious. First Friday today. Mass and devotions.

Had a good laugh yesterday , at Women’s Group and through texting.
I am getting more Jillian Michaels workouts for Mother’s Day. Woo hoo!

I am shallow. I know.

And the hairdresser just came to me and said my foils are turning out really light, do I mind? No, who cares a change is as good as a holiday! And I lost a kg this week in my never ending weight loss adventure!

To quote James Brown ,”I feel good.”


Daybook Autumn 2010

I haven’t done a Daybook for a long while, but have enjoyed reading the Daybooks of others, on their blogs, so here goes….

One of my favourite things. . . my workouts. I am feeling back to eating healthy and to tougher workouts to lose 5kg. What workouts? Jillian Michaels’ …especially her ones that are high impact, strength, interval, good for time crunched people. I love feeling better and pushing myself with puke-in-a-bucket workouts! What healthy eating? Rules (Secrets of a Former Fat Girl) and a “normal” eating plan ( The Ten Commandments of Losing Weight)

Outside my window. . .A sunny autumn day. Washing on the line. I can see the small green capsicums on the bush near the dining room window. On the weekend, I made home made pizza, with fresh herbs and capsicum picked from our little, little garden!

I am reading. . . Breath by Tim Winton, on loan..and The Associate by John Grisham. In my reading pile I also have The Cardinal, Lessons From Blackberry Inn, another book on loan from a friend ( the title currently eludes me), and the diet books above ( re-reading).

I am thinking. . .about this article by Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, on the dangers of pornography. Excellent article. “The claim that pornography “enriches” relationships mocks those whose marriages and families it has destroyed.”

I am thankful for. . . really nice weather. Cold mornings and evenings but pleasant, sunny days. Made our weekend, with my father in law visiting, a success. We didn’t have to stand at the Welcome Wall in Darling Harbour , with umbrellas, in rain…

From the learning rooms. . . it is Harry Potter week! So, Anthony is writing a mini Harry Potter inspired essay… And I got my essay back, the one on Christian Leadership, the one I felt unsure about because I did it At The Last Minute and Late At Night. I received full marks. Woo hoo!

From the kitchen. . .Thomas is making cupcakes for Harry Potter week – we are decorating them with jelly in Bertie Bott’s All Flavour Beans. I am going to put a split pea and vegetable soup in the crockpot for dinner, to have after work tonight. While watching last night’s Dr Who.

I am wearing. . . well, I am still in the workout clothes I wore to 7am mass. After mass, I cleaned up my bedroom, re-organised a cupboard there, got breakfast for my father in law and, finally did a workout. Then went straight into my day ( yes, I ate breakfast at 9.30 am but I am really trying to get back into the habit of breakfast, no matter how late!). So, haven’t got around to changing yet!

I am creating. . . our May bulletin board. Pics of Luke ( birthday May 21), an icon of Mary, Our Lady, for the month of May, and a Harry Potter poster. Of course.

I am going. . .to Melbourne for two days, in two weeks. Dh is in Melbourne for work; I am joining him for the last two days of his trip.

I am hearing. . .actually, the house is pretty quiet. Thomas is talking. Greg, Anthony and I are typing away at the computer. It is a quiet house and quiet morning today.

Around the house. . .I hope to find time on the weekend to clean exhaust fans and air conditioning vents. And to start tackling some of the re-organisation projects I have in mind. But time is precious and I get very few big bursts of we will see!

I am praying for… priests, religious and for vocations. It was the first Sunday of the month yesterday and we have the first Thursday this week. Aiming to imitate the mothers of Lu and continue to dedicate prayers .

A few plans for the rest of the week. . . . Spanish class tomorrow..need to find a good resource! Work and more work. Helping a friend pack while kids play games. Watching Dr Who and Numbers and Harry Potter. Doctors’ appointments. Maybe the hairdresser. First Friday mass and devotions. Eggs for dinner tomorrow night; Thai Vegetable Soup Wednesday night; who knows the rest of the week??

Here are some pictures that I am sharing..