religion, Unschooling

Are they all at home reading Tolstoy before these parties?

So asks David Gilmour, in his book The Film Club, a book I have discussed here.

Writing about his son and his son’s ex-girlfriend…They had spoken for only moments when she whispered “If you keep looking at me like that, I’m going to have to kiss you” (My God, where do they learn this stuff? Are they all at home reading Tolstoy before these parties?)

Are they? Do language, thoughts, vocabulary come from life and books and movies, and from experiences? In our case, from our family’s unschooling lifestyle ( no school! lots of books and talking!) and our life as Catholics in the Church.

A typcal unschooling day here involves prayer and the liturgical year and resources and experiences and discussion. It makes no difference whether it is a weekend or a weekday, in terms of educational outcomes and learning.

Non scholae, sed vitae discimus..We do not learn for the school, but for life…the Roman philosopher Seneca

Yesterday, waiting for a friend at Darling Harbour, I read a blog post about liturgy. I followed the link, to read more of “liturgical disobedience”.

In the encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” Pope John Paul II manifested his displeasure over the liturgical abuses that have often taken place, particularly in the celebration of Holy Mass, in as much as “the Eucharist is too great a gift to endure ambiguities and diminutions.”And he added: “Unfortunately, it is to be lamented that, above all beginning with the years of the post-conciliar liturgical reform, because of a misunderstood sense of creativity and adaptation, there has been no lack of abuses, which for many have been the cause of uneasiness. A certain reaction to ‘formalism’ has led some, especially in certain regions, to consider the ‘forms’ adopted by the great liturgical tradition of the Church and her magisterium as not obligatory and to introduce unauthorized innovations often all together unsuitable. “Hence, I feel it my duty to make an urgent call to attention so that liturgical norms are observed with great fidelity in the Eucharistic celebration. They are concrete expressions of the authentic ecclesiality of the Eucharist; this is its most profound meaning. The liturgy is never someone’s private property, either of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated.OBSERVANCE OF LITURGICAL NORMS AND “ARS CELEBRANDI”
Having (sadly) experienced our fair share of the results of liturgical disobedience, it was natural for me to discuss the linked article with some of my sons, when we met up again , for a quick meal, before a Holy Hour of adoration.

We talked about how a seemingly novel and new and pleasing-to-some innovation to the liturgy, a Praise the Lord greeting at the beginning and close of Mass, at the beginning and close of the homily, with a resounding PTL expected to be said by the congregation, how this phrase soons becomes old. Banal. Meaningless. The greeting is now uttered out of force of habit; the response is called out mindlessly and without thought, as we might say “Hi, how are you” in passing, not a real enquiry but a social response. Not a real praising and adoration of Our Lord but a phrase we mutter because it is expected.

And so, as my sons as I discussed, we ending up talking about how adding to sacred liturgy, to the sacred language of the Mass, becomes nothingness, that grey, dull nothingness that creeps over the land in the book and movie The Never Ending Story, how we lose sight of God and of real worship when step away from the rituals and language set by the Church for the good of souls…and how someone must cry out against this, as Bastien cries out his mother’s name in The Never Ending story, to name the Princess and stop the nothingness.

We may not read Tolstoy today but all our experiences, of faith and liturgy, of books and movies, come together in our discussions. Students understand that language has an important effect on the ways in which they view themselves and the world in which they live…
Students understand that peoples’ actions and values are shaped by their understanding
and interpretation
of the past. (The Curriculum Framework).

A typical unschooling day involes this kind of learning, meeting educational outcomes via language and thought. A typical unschooling day takes our shared history of books and movies, of learning activities, of formal work, of classes this week in Old Norse at Macquarie University, and weaves it into an educational life. A typical unschooling day involves prayer and often mass, the public worship of the Church. And celebrating the liturgical year..Ordinary Time, Lent, Advent, Ember Days, the calendar of Saints.

And my reading can become fodder for discussion and for the reading of my sons.

Even our experiences of liturgical disobedience can become part of our educational process, as we explore and discuss exactly what it is that the Church teaches and why. And then we stand for what is right.
Or, in our case, we kneel. Kneel for Communuon, to receive Our Lord.

Last week, we heard in Mass, that the hand with which we reach out to others is the hand with which we receive the Eucharist. What an honour it is , the priest said, to receive Jesus in our hands.

We took this fallacious argument away and inadvertantly began a discussion on logic and fallacies. Another learning outcome approached…Students investigate to answer questions and with reflection and analysis prepare a plan; to collect, process and interpret data; tocommunicate conclusions; and to evaluate their plan, procedures and findings.

Yesterday, we read..
The mystery of the Eucharist is too great ‘for someone to allow himself to treat it with his own personal choice, which would not respect either its sacred character or its universal dimension.’ Arbitrary acts do not benefit true renewal, but harm the true right of the faithful to liturgical action, which is expression of the life of the Church, according to her tradition and discipline…Derived from these arbitrary acts are uncertainty in doctrine, doubt and scandal for the People of God and, almost inevitably, a violent repugnance that confuses and afflicts forcefully many faithful in our times, in which frequently Christian life suffers the very difficult environment of ‘secularization.’ (From the article cited above)
Cardinal Newman wrote of the need for an educated laity; he also warned that we not have an arrogant educated laity but an educated laity that is pious and thus humble. In our discussions, on books and movies, on our formal text work, on the Faith, we need also to question ourselves. To remember that awe, that fear of the Lord.

It is here again that the Church draws us close. As we celebrate the liturgical year, as we unschoolers today turn the page of the calendar of saints, to July 11, to St Benedict, I share St Benedict’s Eight Steps to Humilty and we read that The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (Ps 35 [36]:2) and never forgets it.

Our discussion has ranged from what is fear of the Lord , to the definition of a Father, to awe in liturgy, to that which is sacred..and how, we can be guilty of the sin of pride but the Sacraments, a reverent liturgy, celebrated according to the rubrics of the Church, bring us to our knees in adoration. Bring us to that fear of Lord, for without Him and His Love we are abandoned , we are secularized.

It is expressed thus, for example, by the Holy Father Benedict XVI: “The first way with which the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is fostered is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ‘ars celebrandi’ is the best premise for the ‘actuosa participatio.’ The ‘ars celebrandi’ stems from faithful obedience to the liturgical norms in their plenitude, as it is precisely this way of celebrating which has ensured for two thousand years the life of faith of all believers, who are called to live the celebration as People of God, royal priesthood, holy nation. (Ibid)

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