April 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
Years ago I read George Elliot’s Middlemarch and though the book itself will never make my list of most beloved novels, I was changed in a lasting way by the final line:
“… the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
A life of quiet virtue lived out doing good for those we know adds to the general good of the world. The ocean does not exist without every drop of water in it and even accepting that if this drop were missing or that one was gone there would not be a material difference in the ocean’s depth and breath each drop contributes to the greater whole. Each star adds its own unique sparkle to the night sky. I can not make the world good, but I can improve my little corner of it and by doing so add to the general good of humanity.
July 4, 2017 § 1 Comment
I somewhat hesitated sharing this video. Watch it first, if you are interested and want to avoid “spoilers”.
So you watched it?
Are you sure you don’t care about spoilers?
Ok – you have only yourself to blame at this point.
I loved this video. From the lady using confession to gossip about her snotty neighbor the the anguish of the priest when he realized that the penitent before him was the man who killed his father. And I get that he was lifting a burden by lying. But he was lying. I don’t think it was necessary for the story and there were other ways that it could have been dealt with.
When I considered sharing the video I hesitated. Do I really want to share this with such a problematic bit in the ending? It is human nature to pick these sorts of things apart and blow them up far past what the deserve. But in the end this video has several qualities that I think make it worthwhile.
First: the priest is just a guy — who at that moment is acting as God’s active conduit of mercy and love. It is a struggle for him, he does it (arguably) badly, but he does it. I think it is valuable for us to keep in mind that our priests are men, men who love and hate and weep and laugh. Media has a tendency to often either idolize priests or debase them. This video does neither.
Second: the penitent really needs confession and illustrates the need for confession. It is one of those common “Ask a Catholic Questions”: “Why do I need to confess to a priest, I can just confess to God.” Sure you can, but when you are heart torn and painfully aware of the magnitude of your sin, when you question the very possibility of redemption then you need to hear in the physical world the comfort of absolution. The penitent could have prayed for forgiveness a thousand times, but until he heard the words he would never be able to start letting go of the sin and the despair that accompanies it. One of Satan’s most successful lies is the idea that you don’t need to speak your sin to anyone but God. I chains us in despair and prevents us from acting forward in mercy and forgiveness.
Now for the problematic part.
We can look at the idea of lying to the penitent in a few ways. One rather artistic idea from the comments on the video was that our sins are washed away in confession to the point that in the eyes of God they never happen – so in a certain sense the priest’s father wasn’t killed by the penitent. But that is really an Obi Wan “certain point of view” moment and not really satisfactory.
We could also attempt to view it as just an act of Mercy. The priest lied to comfort a dying man There is no denying that the man who is relieved of this burden feels immense joy, but the joy was based on a lie. At the very end the priest even postulates that it might be worse that he lied as a priest. In the end if the priest had maintained honesty, forgiven the penitent both in the sacramental and in his own heart and had communicated that to the penitent we could have had a very powerful ending. Not the joy that the penitent shows, but a something based on reality and truth.
So in the end I decided to share this, not because it is perfect, but because its imperfections make me think and make for a good conversation. Is a lie ever worthwhile? If this is not such a case what would have been better and what would have looked like? How would Christ have approached this differently?
January 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church
Born August 21, 1567
Died December 28, 1622
Feast Day January 24
Author of: Introduction to the Devout Life among others.
Learn more at:
Image :Français : Saint François de Sales donnant à sainte Jeanne de Chantal la règle de l’ordre de la Visitation.
January 13, 2017 § Leave a comment
September 2, 2016 § Leave a comment
August 31, 2016 § Leave a comment
There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. G.K. Chesterton
May 24, 2016 § 1 Comment
That time has come again – Homeschool planning for next year. Normally I take several weeks to do thing…. but this year do to circumstances that have been sideways I am starting late. So yea, I am recycling from last year. But that is sort of the joy of having done this homeschool thing for a while now. I can build off the years before. This year again, the general plan is to assess where we are, plan our goals for next year, think about the methods we are using and if they are still working for each child, decide what subjects and activities are important for next year, plan the budget and select books and resources, setup next year’s calendar, lay out the scope and sequence and then start creating lesson plans.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should start out by saying I am a pirate. I have no problem boarding a random homeschooling methodology on the high seas and pillaging whatever I like from it and leaving the rest behind. I am also pretty ruthless when it comes to raiding book lists, curricula and pretty much anything I find without feeling obligated to take it all or “buy in” to anyone’s vision. Our homeschooling ship is a jolly mix of what appeals to me from a variety of programs and methods.
If I had to be pegged on our preferred route I would say it looks something like Montessori until the end of first grade, a lot like Charlotte Mason until fourth grade and more or less Classical after fifth. My basic goals are to transition my children to independence as early and smoothly as possible, to give them the basic tools of education and to instill a love of their faith. The theory is a gentle continuing acquisition of skills that entails as little stress for me and them as possible. We want our children to able to learn and think independently while still having a deep sense of honor, faith, family and community. I don’t claim to be expert in teaching or planning and I don’t think my particular methods are the best for anyone but myself and family. We all end up working through a good bit of trial and error before we find what works and then often enough the seasons change and what worked before no longer does. Flexibility is critical. Since I know people are often wanting to peek inside what is working for other families I am documenting our process here over the next several weeks. Please feel free to check in again – or like me on Facebook or follow the nascent Twitter feed (both on the sidebar). I hope what I post will be useful to you.
May 10, 2016 § Leave a comment
Born – 3 January 1840
Died – 15 April 1889
Feast Day May 10
Image credited to Sacred Hearts Archives, Rome [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
April 8, 2016 § Leave a comment
I managed to hurt myself. Random back spasm has turned into four whole days of barely being able to move.
February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
A friend once asked me why I “do Lent” when it isn’t in the Bible. Sailing right by the fact that there are many things that Christians do that really aren’t in the Bible, a bunch of things we don’t do that are in the Bible and Catholics don’t really hold to the idea that the Bible spells out all we need to do. (Note that Christ specifically commissions Peter to build his Church, but there is no where in the Bible where he mentions collecting the letters of his followers and using this scripture in addition to the Old Testament scriptures that He himself had) But the question about Lent still left me scratching my head. This friend celebrated Christmas and Easter as “Bible based” but missed that Jesus is often described as drawing away for a time for prayer and specifically in Mathew 4:1-11 his journey into the desert for 40 days is described. I am pretty sure if you are following the Magi and giving gifts on Christmas and marking that Biblical you will have a hard time chiding me as non-biblical for making small sacrifices in immitation of Jesus’ great fast.
As Catholics much of what we do is the living action of liturgy to keep us ever immersed in liturgy. Most of us aren’t going to drop everything and follow Christ into the desert like the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers or take on the rigorous Asceticism of some of out Saints, but we can follow them in small ways within our own gardens.
So Lent brings us to our own desert. This year for me I am starting out rather badly as I have spent the last day and a half in bed and my car is in the shop. As a family we have given up TV and the children were remarkably on board with that. We are doing our 40 bags.