Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Free Bible Study Series from St. Paul Center--"The Bible and the Virgin Mary"  

The St. Paul Center, which was founded by Dr. Scott Hahn, is offering a free Bible Study Series on the Bible and the Virgin Mary.  The series of 12 videos will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 10th.  Each week a new video will be released which explores the truths about the Blessed Virgin Mary from Scripture.

The St. Paul Center was founded in order increase the love of Christ through the increase of Biblical knowledge.  The video series is sure to be a great addition to their materials.

In order to participate, you must register.  Registration and more information, can be found here.

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Monday, January 11, 2016
New Calendar Cards: Angels in the Bible and the Apostles  

I am excited to announce that two new sets of Calendar Cards have recently been completed, and they are now available on Etsy and Teacher's Pay Teachers.  The two sets are Angels in the Bible and the Apostles.

Both are sets of 31 flash cards with a piece of artwork on one side and interesting information on the reverse side.  They are available in a PDF format and can be printed out in order to make the flash cards.  They can also simply be used in the PDF format.

Angels in the Bible Calendar Cards

The Angels in the Bible Calendar Cards are a fun way to learn about the important role of angels in the Bible. There are several introductory cards for the first several days which answer the questions of who are the angels, where are the angels, how many angels are there, and what is their role. The remaining cards in the set of 31 cards go through selected stories in the Bible in which angels appear.

Some of the stories over the 31 days include passages from the Bible where Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Elijah, Mary, Joseph, and Peter encounter angels.  The Bible reference for each story is included in a separate table.  Also, a prayer to your Guardian Angel is provided which is suitable for print out and display.


Angels in the Bible Days 1 through 6 FrontAngels in the Bible Days 1 through 6 Back

Angels in the Bible Day 16 FrontAngels in the Bible Day 16 Back

The Apostles Calendar Cards

The Apostles Calendar Cards are a great way to introduce students to the twelve apostles of Jesus. Through 31 days of calendar cards, students are provided fascinating information about each of the 12 apostles. There are two cards for each apostle which provide biographical information about the apostle, the apostle's feast day, some patronages and symbols of the apostle, and what the apostle did after Pentecost.

Apostles Calendar Card Days 1 through 6 FrontApostles Calendar Card Days 1 through 6 Back

Apostles Calendar Card Day 11 FrontApostles Calendar Card Day 11 Back

Both sets of cards include information about the artwork displayed on the front of each card.  In a separate table at the end, the title, artist, date, and current location of each piece of artwork is listed.

With 31 cards in each set, these can be used for any month of the year or simply used as flash cards for learning about angels and the Apostles.


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Monday, November 30, 2015
Online Advent Calendar from the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America  

Advent is a fairly big season in our family.  We have already brought out the Jesse Tree, the Advent calendars, and various other Advent related items.  You can see some of the ways in which our family celebrates Advent here

We really enjoy opening the Advent calendars each day throughout the season.  We have at least 4 calendars that we use each year.  (All of these are re-usable; we only used the chocolate or candy variety for a year or two.) The oldest Advent calendar we own is a simple card stock one with a picture of the Nativity.  There is a Scripture reference behind each door which takes you through the Christmas story.  The latest Advent calendar is from Caspari.  It is a large Christmas tree, and it has fun Christmas-themed pictures behind each window.  No matter what the calendar contains, we enjoy opening them each day to see what surprise is behind the window as we count down the days of Advent toward Christmas.

I have always wanted to find a good online Advent calendar, and I think that I have found one.

The online Advent calendar which I am excited about is provided by the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.  These are the Franciscans who are Custodians of the various Shrines of the Holy Land.  Their monastery in the United States is in Washington, D.C., and it is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.  We have had the privilege of being able to visit the monastery several times.

The gardens are absolutely beautiful.  Inside the main building, they have built replicas of some of the shrines of the Holy Land including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Outside the lower garden area, they also have a replica of the grotto at Lourdes.  It is quite impressive.  From what I understand, the Franciscans are prepared for their assignment in the Holy Land at this monastery.

I just came across their Advent calendar.  There seems to be a video with a meditation on the readings for each Sunday and the rest of the days of the week provide information about the liturgical significance of the day.  If you are looking for a way to "count down" to Christmas and prepare your heart for Christ's coming at Bethlehem, this might be a good option for you.  It can be found here.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015
Introducing Calendar Cards: Christmas Around the World  

In LightStone's Etsy Shop, we have introduced Calendar Cards.  Calendar Cards are 31 cards which cover a particular topic.  The first edition is appropriately, Christmas Around the World in anticipation of next month.

The Christmas Around the World Calendar Cards introduce different Christmas traditions which are celebrated in selected countries around the world. Each country has two days. The first day for each country describes some of the unique Christmas traditions of the country, and the second day of the country lists how to say "Merry Christmas" in the language(s) of that country. The days can be printed out or read from the PDF.

Through November 28th, the Christmas Around the World Calendar Cards can be obtained for 40% from LightStone's Etsy Shop using the coupon code  THANKSGIVING2015.

Update, as of November 30th, the Christmas Around the World Calendar Cards are also available at CurrClick and Teachers Pay Teachers.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Advent will be here Soon  

Although we are still preparing for Thanksgiving, Advent will be here before we know it.

Advent is always a very special time in our home.  During the four weeks, we enjoy preparing ourselves and our home for celebrating the birth of Christ.  We generally have several Advent calendars we open each day.  We participate in Giving Tree projects for the collection of gifts, clothing, and food.  There are special feast days--Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Immaculate Conception, and St. Lucia--which we celebrate.  There are many special events, as well.  And of course, many people in our community put up beautiful decorations and lights which it is fun to enjoy.  It is always a time of high energy which we can use for preparing our hearts for celebrating the wonder of God's gift to us--His Son born as a child to the Virgin Mary.

Several years ago, I wrote an Advent and Christmas-themed Rabbit book with my then seven-year-old daughter which eventually became the second book in the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series--The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas.  For the Rabbit Family, like so many others, Advent and Christmas go together.

In this colorfully illustrated book, Tom and Martha Rabbit are excited that Christmas is only weeks away. Join them as they prepare for Christmas during Advent. And then come along with them for more fun with their family on Christmas Day.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas is currently available as a PDF on Etsy or as an eBook for the Nook, for Kobo, and for the Kindle.

For purchases on Etsy, use the coupon code THANKSGIVING2015 to get a 40% discount!  (The coupon code is good through November 28th.)

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.


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Saturday, November 14, 2015
Looking for Discounts on Catholic Items? Check Catholic Deals Online.  

I recently became aware of a great web site which pulls together online discounts for Catholic items.  (I became aware of it via my daughter who saw it on Catholic Inspired; she is very excited about it.)

The web site, Catholic Deals Online, is run by a mother who is also a blogger and freelance writer.  On the her web site, she posts items which are on discount or have a special offer.  The items are primarily Catholic.  She also does include items that are not Catholic, but she does not include anything that would be considered anti-Catholic.  (I would do the very same.)

Currently, she is featuring items for Advent.  If you are on the ball and already getting ready for Advent, you might want to check out her site.  Even if you are not shopping for Advent, any time you you are looking for discounted items, remember to check Catholic Deals Online.


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Monday, November 09, 2015
40% off Sale on the Rabbits' Thanksgiving and other Items on Etsy  

Looking for a good children's eBook for Thanksgiving?

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

And now on Etsy, the Rabbits' Thanksgiving eBook (PDF) is available for 40% off.  Simply use the coupon code THANKSGIVING2015 at checkout.  The coupon is good through November 28th.  It can be applied to anything in the store.  To get 40% off the Rabbits' Thanksgiving or any other book in the store, go to the LightStoneGoods store on Etsy.


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Monday, November 02, 2015
November, Thanksgiving, and The Rabbits' Thanksgiving eBook  

The month of November brings the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, and for me, a reminder to give thanks every day.

Last year, the first Bear and Rabbit Reader book--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving--was released. I am grateful for everyone who has supported this book and the other eBooks in the series which have since been released.

In this colorfully illustrated book, the Rabbit Family celebrates Thanksgiving at school and home with their friends and family.  In this story for young readers, you can join the rabbits Tom and Martha along with their family for a fun-filled Thanksgiving celebration.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The Rabbits' Thanksgiving is currently available as a PDF on Etsy or as an eBook for the Nook, for Kobo, and for the Kindle.

For purchases on Etsy, use the coupon code THANKSGIVING2015 to get a 40% discount!  (The coupon code is good through November 28th.)

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.


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Friday, July 31, 2015
Getting to Know St. Ignatius of Loyola  

July 31st is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  This Spanish saint is the patron of spiritual exercises,soldiers, and, of course, the Jesuits, the order which he founded.  He was a man of humility and courage.  He left the life of a soldier to become a soldier in the Kingdom of God.  He is an example of being open to God's call through the events of one's life.

Now with Pope Francis, we have our first pope from the order which was founded by St. Ignatius.  We are just beginning to appreciate the impact that his Jesuit training has had upon him and how it has helped shape his pontificate.

If you would like to know more about the great St. Ignatius, you might want to get one of my copies of his autobiography which is available as an eBook in various formats.  In honor of his feast day, the eBook will be available at a special price through August 31st.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Used Homeschool Books for Sale: Curriculum Sale Blog Hop  

Note, this post has been updated as of August 29, 2015. Prices have been reduced for many of the items which are still available.

This post is dedicated to the Curriculum Sale Blog Hop which is sponsored by Shower of Roses.  Click here to view the original post which includes other items for sale on other blogs.

Thanks to Shower of Roses for sponsoring this event.

The following homeschool curriculum items are available for sale. Many of these can be purchased via our Amazon or eBay sites--Light Stone. To purchase the book via Amazon or eBay, simply click on the book's title. (Note, there are two pages of Light Stone items listed on the Amazon site.  The book could be listed on either page.)

If you would like multiple items from the Amazon site, I am not sure whether Amazon will bundle the items when calculating postage. If not, please leave a comment, and I will work out a way to get you the books at a reasonable cost for postage.

If there is no link, the book is not available via Amazon, please add a comment indicating your interest in an item. Payment will be via PayPal. Thanks.

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
MCP Mathematics Level B Teacher's Edition Richard Monnard and Royce Hargrove Dale Seymour Publications 2005 $8.99 Available
Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 Solutions Manual Stephen Hake and John Saxon Saxon Publishers 2005 $5.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Who Has God's Life? Teacher's Manual Grade 1 Mary Jo Smith, Karlee Gardner, and Mary Hudrik Ignatius Press 1991 $4.99 Available
Who is Our Example? Teacher's Manual Grade 3 Michelle Richardson and Camille Kohner Ignatius Press 1991 $18.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
All Ye Lands: Origins of World Cultures Bridget Neumayr Catholic Schools Textbook Project 2011 $47.99 Sold
All Ye Lands: Origins of World Cultures Teacher's Manual Christopher Zehnder Catholic Schools Textbook Project 2011 $14.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America (Student Workbook on with Answer Key on CD) Ana Braga-Henebry Catholic Schools Textbook Project 2011 $7.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Behold and See 6 Textbook Rosemary C. Johnson Sheridan Books 2012 $37.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Creative Communications Sandra Garant Catholic Heritage Curricula 2006 $8.99 Sold
Little Stories for Little Folks Parent's Guide Fourth Edition Nancy Nicholson For Little Folks 2008 $1.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level C Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level D Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level E Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level F Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Christian Heritage Art Program Level 4 Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available
Christian Heritage Art Program Level 5 Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available
Christian Heritage Art Program Level 6 (not pictured) Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available
Christian Heritage Art Program: CD (Instruction Guide for Levels 1-8) (not pictured) Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Puella Romana Little Latin Readers Primer A First Edition Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2010 $3.99  Sold
Britanni et Galli Little Latin Readers Primer B First Edition Reader and Pronunciation CD Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2010 $6.99 Sold
Italia Little Latin Readers Reader One Fourth Edition Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2012 $7.99 Sold
Europa Little Latin Readers Primer C Third Edition Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2012 $5.99 Available
Europa Little Latin Readers Primer C Third Edition Pronunciation CD Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2012 $6.99 Available

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The Bears' Fourth of July eBook has been Released  

In time for the Fourth of July, the latest eBook in the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series has been released.  It is the first bear book--The Bear's Fourth of July.  In this colorfully illustrated book, the bears celebrate the Fourth of July with a get together with friends and, of course, watching the fireworks show.  Join Lillian and Timothy for a fun-filled day of celebration.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The Fourth of July book is currently available as a PDF on Etsy, for the Nook, on Kobo, and for the Kindle.

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.


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Thursday, May 14, 2015
New Product: Flexible Magnetic Flannel Board  

We recently started making an educational product that takes a familiar item and extends its use.

The flannel board has been used for years for teaching and play. By adding a magnetic backing, the flannel board can be put on any surface that holds magnets--a refrigerator, a filing cabinet, or a magnetic white board.

The flannel is large enough (24 inches by 22.5 inches) to hold many felt pieces, and it can be easily rolled up for storage. It is made of quality flannel and magnetic backing.

It can be purchased on Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015
Community Giving Article Published  

 Recently, Seton Magazine, which is an online and print magazine targeted to homeschoolers, published my article on our experience with what we call our Community Giving project.  My wife had the idea to make giving to our community a project each month.  We have had fun with the various projects and giving to others, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our experience in the Seton Magazine.

The article on the idea and how we have implemented it can be read here.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014
What did St. Nicholas leave for you?  

There are a number of traditions surrounding St. Nicholas Day including the tradition of children leaving out their shoes the night before his feast day on December 6th in order that St. Nicholas has a place to leave presents and treats. We have had fun with that tradition for many years with LG. There is a similarity to the tradition of putting out your stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve. And both traditions are often traced back to the real St. Nicholas who was a Fourth Century bishop.

The shoes tradition has a couple of nice ideas associated with it. First, it gives us the opportunity to remember that saints are real people who really lived and our still a part of our reality. We can talk with them and ask them for help. And they help us in many ways which we will only better understand God willing in the next life. Second, the tradition of gifts from St. Nicholas is based in the generosity he displayed in his life. The legacy of St. Nicholas' generosity which we know of through the stories we have of his life remind us that generosity is fun as well as a way for us to live a fully human life. By celebrating this fun tradition, we have had the opportunity of integrating these ideas into our Advent preparation and celebration.

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Thursday, December 04, 2014
The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas eBook is now Available  

Last month saw the release of the first Bear and Rabbit Reader series eBook--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving.

Just in time for Advent and Christmas, the second book in the series has been released--The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas. The story follows Tom and Martha Rabbit and their family through their preparation during Advent and their fun Christmas Day.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The story is available in virtually any type of eBook format.  If you are looking for a fun story to read to your children or for one of your early readers to read to you, you can get a copy of the eBook for Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Every Day is Thanksgiving  

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Our family has always enjoyed the opportunity that Thanksgiving provides to remind us to be grateful not just once a year, nor even for a month, but every single day and throughout the day.

Recently, I have tried to cultivate two habits for giving thanks.  First, I try to begin time in prayer with thanks and to spend as much time giving God thanks as I would spend in any other part of my prayer.  Second, I try to take just a moment at the beginning of each day in the office by writing on a small pad of paper at least seven things for which I am grateful at that moment.  I read about this idea, and I have found it to be very helpful for starting out the work day in the right frame of mind. By my thinking,we should be grateful to God constantly; it should be our overall mindset.  With reminders like these, I hope to cultivate is an attitude of thanksgiving in order to maintain it at all times as much as possible.

For some fun ideas to help you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family and to remind you to give thanks, you can check out these Thanksgiving ideas from the Homeward blog.

[Painting: Angelus, Millet,  Musée d'Orsay]

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014
My Memory of the St. Martin's Day Lantern Procession  

In Fifth Grade, I lived in Heidelberg, Germany, and I attended an American school. At least once a week, we received instruction in German from a nice native speaker who patiently taught us number, colors, key phrases, and lessons about German culture.

One of my main memories of her instruction is when she had us make St. Martin's Day lanterns. In Germany, and other European countries, St. Martin's day processions with lanterns are very popular. At the time, it seemed much better known than Halloween among the Germans, and it was a fun event to celebrate the saint's day on November 11th.

The lantern which I made was from sturdy black paper, It was rectangular in shape with four sides that allowed spaces for light to shine out of the lantern. We glued brightly colored tissue paper over the spaces which gave the lantern a stained glass window effect.

The highlight was that we actually took part in the city's procession. I do not have strong memories of the parade, but I remember that I carried a wooden dowel with a hook at the end which held the lantern aloft as my friends and I walked down the Hauptstrasse. It certainly must have been a beautiful sight to see all those candle-lit lanterns light up the dark November night.

Our German teacher certainly told us the story of St. Martin and his generosity toward the beggar. However, it is the memory of my making and carrying the lantern that has remained with me over the years.

I was not a Catholic at the time, and it would be many years before I would enter the Catholic Church. However, I recognize that this was another of His seeds of faith which He planted and then continued to grow over the years in order to draw me to Himself and His Church. I am very grateful for this seed and the happy memories it brings.


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Friday, November 07, 2014
My new eBook for Early Readers--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving  

Many years ago, LG and I started working on a series of books about rabbits and bears.  The books were simply fun to make as we came up with a story (often LG made up most of the story) and then I (mainly) added pictures to illustrate.  Over time, quite a number of stories were written and more information about the rabbit and bear characters was developed.

Not too long ago, I thought that these books could be edited and then published as eBooks for early readers as a series entitled the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series.  I was very interested in this idea and got started on this soon after thinking of it.  Since then, I have learned much about eBooks, and I know there is much more to learn.

I am very excited that the book has been published and in time for Thanksgiving, the first story has been released--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving.  The story follows the young rabbits Tom and Martha through the week of Thanksgiving and the fun they have getting ready and celebrating the holiday with their family.

The story is available in virtually any type of eBook format.  If you are looking for a fun story to read to your children or for one of your early readers to read to you, check it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.

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Sunday, November 02, 2014
All Souls Day and Purgatory  

On the Feast of All Souls, Holy Mother Church urges us to remember our brothers and sisters who have passed away, but are not yet prepared to behold the Lord because of the effects of the stain of sin that have not yet been fully cleansed from their souls. Through our prayers and sacrifices, we can help them to be purified and enter into the Beatific Vision.

Purgatory is perhaps one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Catholic Church. Despite the many ideas about what the teaching is, the actual doctrine is quite beautiful and makes perfect sense in light of other truths of the Faith. God is all holy and nothing unholy can be in His presence. When we die, we have made a choice to be with Him or to not be with Him. Even if we have chosen to be with the Lord and have repented of our acts of rebellion against Him, we might not have addressed the consequences of our wrong actions.

The example is often given of a boy who is told by his father that he should not play baseball in his back yard because of the risk of breaking something with his baseball. After he he refuses to obey and actually breaks a window with the baseball, there are two effects to his disobedience. First, he has disobeyed his parent and damaged that relationship, and second he has broken a window. To address the former effect, the boy apologizes to His father, and His father forgives him. The boy intends to not disobey his father again and play baseball in the back yard. The relationship with his father is repaired. The second effect of the broken window might be addressed in several ways including the boy helping in some way to repair the window.

The example illustrates the double effect of our sin. Sin always damages the relationship between us and our Heavenly Father. If it is serious sin, the relationship is broken and must be repaired through the Sacrament of Confession. However, there is a second effect to the sin that also needs to be addressed. For instance, stolen goods must be returned. Also, we are effected. Yes, through reconciliation we have a pure soul once again, but because of our sin, we might, for example, be more inclined, rather than less inclined to commit that sin or another sin. If we had resisted that sin in the first place, we would have strengthened our will rather than weakened it.

In this life, there are opportunities for us to repair the damage caused by our sin through penance. However, it might be that we do not complete this damage repair before we die. Purgatory is the place where we will complete that purification of our souls. In His mercy, God grants us the opportunity to be purified. Let us pray for those who await the completion of their purification in Purgatory.


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Saturday, November 01, 2014
November's Reminder--the Call to Holiness  

November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory. In a special way, during the month we remember to pray for those who are not yet cleansed of all of temporal effects of sin. They need our prayers in order to be purified and to enter into the glory of Heaven.

The month, however, begins with the feast day of All Saints. On that feast day, we are reminded of our calling in life--to be a saint. Every single person that God creates is called to be a saint and to live with Him forever and ever. We might get there via Purgatory, but nonetheless, we are called to live eternally with the Holy Trinity.

We should take comfort that, although it can seem very difficult at times, God is with us on every step of our journey. He wants us to be with Him. He created us to be with Him. He will help us be with Him. On All Saints, we can remember that all of these saints from every different time, place, and station of life, with God's grace, have been welcomed into Heaven. We, too, can cooperate with God's grace in order to receive His awesome gift of eternal life.

All you saints, pray for us!


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Angels and Calendar Connections  

As part of LG's daily lesson, we have a brief session in the morning routine which is called Calendar Connection. The idea which we received from 1+1+1=1, is to have a brief daily piece of information on a particular theme for the month. In the past, we have had covered monthly themes on the weather, Thanksgiving, astronomy, ocean life, and botany, This year, I have been making my own. September was dedicated to the Apostles, and October has been about angels.

After a few days providing general information about angels, the rest of the days in the month have been about angels appearances in the Bible. It is quite amazing to see how often throughout salvation history, God has sent his special messengers to intervene in human affairs.

Of course, the most amazing and well-known appearance of angel was at the Annunciation to our Blessed Mother. In a few weeks time, we will begin the Advent season which will be followed by the Christmas season. During those two seasons, the familiar passage from the first chapter of Luke's Gospel will be read many times during the liturgy. It might be fruitful to use those opportunities to meditate on God's angels whom He calls to help us in many ways known and unknown to us. Perhaps, we might even ask our guardian angel to have a greater appreciation of him and for how the Lord works through these special messengers. Also, it is a good idea to often thank your guardian angel for his assistance and prayers and to thank our Lord for this special minister of His grace that He has given to each one of us.

(By the way, I hope to make the calendar connections I have made, including the one on angels, available soon for those who might be interested.)

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Sunday, October 26, 2014
Pope Francis and the Autobiography of St. Ignatius  

Our Holy Father Pope Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits as they are typically called. The contribution to the Church by the Jesuits since their inception in the Sixteenth Century has been immense.

There are many saints who are Jesuits including St. Francis Borgia, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga. If you would like to know more about the founder of the Jesuits--St. Ignatius of Loyola--you can read his autobiography in an eBook version which I recently published. It is an attractive copy with the original translation into English and the original artwork. It is available for a reasonable price of $1.99 at both Barnes and Noble and at Kobo.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013
Memorial Day: Joyce Kilmer, "Trees", and Duty  

A hand shot up from among the troops sitting on the ground. It was an eager sergeant who raised his hand and asked if he could help. In front of the troops was an enthusiastic young lady who was a volunteer with the YMCA. The sergeant's offer to assist her came as somewhat of a surprise. She was reciting a recently published, but well-known poem, and she had suddenly forgotten the remaining lines.

It was 1918 in France. The young lady, Eloise Robinson, who was a poet, was with the doughboys near the front lines of the Great War. Here the men knew all the ugliness of fighting and this war of attrition with its mustard gas, isolation in the trenches, and rampant diseases. The young woman hoped to bring some good cheer with poetry and chocolates. The troops of the Fighting 69th Regiment from New York were eager for any type of distraction from both the daily grind and the quick terror of war. A recitation of poetry held their interest perhaps because it was so unlike anything like combat.

In response to her quizzical look, the sergeant recited the remaining verses of the poem. Although not a long poem, Eloise Robinson was surprised that he knew the lines. The sergeant answered her unspoken question when he gently explained, "Well ma'am, I guess I wrote it."

The sergeant was Joyce Kilmer, and the verses he completed were the end of his best known poem "Trees".

Joyce Kilmer did not have to be at the front lines; he wanted to be there. Shortly after the United States entered the war, he enlisted in the New York National Guard. Although he had a wife and children and was on the older end of the age range for enlistment, he volunteered because he thought it was his duty. He wrote,
"I have considered this step I am taking from every side and I feel there is no doubt that I have an obligation to join the colors. I would be ashamed later on to look at the children if I don’t volunteer. However other married men feel about going, I consider my enlisting as a duty I owe to God and country.”

After a short stint in the 7th regiment, Kilmer was able to transfer to the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment. He soon rose from private to the rank of sergeant. Kilmer was fiercely loyal to his comrades and refused several officer commissions in order to remain with his regiment. As the war went on, Kilmer volunteered for more dangerous assignments in military intelligence which involved him leading scouting parties ahead of the regiment’s lines. His comrades were impressed by how calm he remained in the midst of these patrols into no man's land.

Back home, Kilmer had a wife Aline Murray, who was also a poet, and four children. In the year before he enlisted, Kilmer and his wife had lost their four-year-old daughter to polio. Through their daughter's suffering, the Kilmers were on led on a journey of faith which brought them into the Catholic Church. That same faith buoyed them through her illness and their mourning of her death. It also carried the Kilmers though his military service and sacrifice for his country.

When Kilmer had surprised the YMCA volunteer by completing the lines of his poem, he might have given his last presentation of those famous verses. Only weeks after that day, Kilmer was leading a scouting party to find German machine gun positions when he was killed by a sniper. He was just 31 years old. His desire to fulfill his duty to God and his country had resulted in his making the ultimate sacrifice. Although his life was cut short, he has lived on in his family, his example, and his writings, especially "Trees" which has become one of the most familiar poems in American culture.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breat;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013
Back Again  

It has been a while--September 2007--since I last posted on this blog.  I would like to begin posting again, and there is no time like the present.

Currently, we are in the midst of the last three weeks of the homeschooling year for LG, and we have been packing in many more activities than I could imagine.

Last week, we were in Raleigh, NC for a few days.  It was quite a nice trip in which we enjoyed a number of things including a great bed and breakfast, the great weather, the art museum, a really nice children's park, and the natural sciences museum.

Here are a few photos of that trip.

On the porch of the B&B.

Whale at the natural science museum.

Paddle boats at the children's park.

Art Museum.

Art Museum.

Also, Duc In Altum is now on Facebook, as well.

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Friday, September 21, 2007
Mary Vitamin  

Both M and I take vitamins. It is an essential part of our daily routine that L has picked up on to the point that she asks us on a given day whether or not we have taken them or not. Except when she asks, what she says sounds like, "Have you taken your diamonds today?" Of course, we joke about the diamonds that are actually vitamins, and we talk about how L's term might indicate the importance of these daily vitamins.

One woman has taken the idea of a daily vitamins to include the vitamin of devotion that we all need. She provides help in this area by encouraging Marian devotion through mental prayer. Her apostolate is to provide material to encourage mental prayer through an email that she sends five days a seek. The emails often contain quotes from saints referencing the virtues of our Lady. Then there is a vow to action that urges the reader to put in to practice what our Lady shows us through her example.
Mary Vitamin is a daily email support for Marian mental prayer. Each day (Monday through Friday) members will receive a brief Marian quote with a corresponding Marian meditation and resolution. The Mary Vitamin is designed to make mental prayer a little simpler and bring Our Lady into your day in a systematic way.

Real Marian devotion is studying the life and virtues of Our Lady and then putting into practice what we learn from her.
She calls her emails Mary Vitamin, and the emails are quite like taking a daily Marian vitamin. For more information, click here. To view her blog, click here.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007
More on Christendom College Podcasts  

Recently I mentioned that this past July we attended the Christendom College 2007 Summer Institute on Marriage and the Family. As it has been in past years, it was a wonderful conference. One of the main reasons that the Summer Institute is always so enjoyable is because the organizers always manage to bring in great speakers. This year was no different as the speakers included Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Ms. Mary Stanford, Bishop Thomas Welsh, Bishop Robert Morlino, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, and Sen. Rick Santorum.

A few weeks after the conference, L asked to see some pictures of the speakers. While looking on the Christendom College Web site, I found that the college posts podcasts of lectures that are given as part of the school's speakers program. However, I was disappointed to not find the Summer Institute talks on the Christendom podcast site.

It turns out, I just needed to be patient. Today, I received an email from Tom McFadden who is the Director of Admissions at Christendom. He had read my blog entry on the Christendom College podcast site, and he sent me an email to let me know that the Summer Institute podcasts have been made available.

I appreciate Tom's heads up on the podcasts being posted, and I am happy to pass on the information. It is certainly worth taking the time to listen to these talks. To listen to them, as well as other lectures given at the college during the academic year, click here.


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Monday, September 17, 2007
Vatican Confirms Requirement to Provide Feeding Tubes  

In response to questions posed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Vatican has confirmed the moral obligation to provide nutrition and hydration to patients who are in a vegetative state.

In light of the tragic case of Ms. Terri Schiavo who was put to death by starvation and dehydration , the USCCB asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for a clarification on the Church's teaching on this issue.

The response which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI, confirmed that "the church position that patients in a 'vegetative state' are living human beings with inherent dignity and deserve the same basic care as other patients. This basic care would include nutrition and hydration, even when provided through artificial assistance."

Furthermore, the CDF indicated that the food and hydration should be given regardless of the prognosis of the patient regarding consciousness. The CDF stated that, "ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means" should be supplied regardless of the prognosis of recovery of consciousness.

In a separate commentary, the CDF did note that there might be exceptions to this moral obligation, but these would be rare. Such circumstances might be remote places with extreme poverty, a situation in which it is futile to provide food and water because the patient is unable to assimilate the nutrition and hydration, or a case in which the discomfort of the reception of food and water far outweighs the benefits of providing it. In the Q&A document written by the USCCB to help apply this teaching, the example given for this last case is a patient who has stomach cancer. In this case, the patient may not be able to assimilate the food and water without great discomfort. Even given these exceptions, the CDF made clear that the exceptions do not negate the general provision that giving food and water, even by artificial means, represents "a natural means for providing life."

It would have been fairly easy to anticipate these answers. John Paul the Great made it clear that nutrition and hydration were ordinary means of care for a person regardless of the person's level of consciousness. The natural law, which is often understood as common sense, dictates that you cannot starve or dehydrate a person simply because the person is not conscious as is commonly understood. The fact that this was permitted to be done to Ms. Terri Schiavo, not to mention the numerous other people whose stories are lesser known, is a horrific and deeply disturbing tragedy.


The responses from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)
A CDF commentary, approved by Cardinal William Levada and bishop members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
A Q&A from the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and Committee on Pro-Life Activities




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Thursday, September 13, 2007
Virtual Rosary  

I just recently discovered the Virtual Rosary. It is a small desktop application which guides you through praying the Rosary. There are attractive images, simple music, and meditations for each bead in the five decades. It comes in various languages, and it is up-to-date as it includes the Luminous Mysteries inaugurated by John Paul the Great. The Web site also offers additional modules with different meditations including ones based on St. Louis de Monfort. And for those who need it, there is a reminder feature.

The Web site states the goals.
Virtual Rosary is a free program with three goals in mind:
  1. To teach the rosary and make it simple with the program's super-easy operation.

  2. To help keep the rosary refreshing and deep for anyone with the aid of scripture, illustrations, and music.

  3. To build a worldwide community of people to pray for each other through the PrayerCast network.
I think it is a terrific idea for encouraging praying the Rosary. I, myself, would rather not look at a computer monitor while praying the Rosary, but I am sure many people find this very useful as an aid in their prayer life. I added a link to the site on the right pane under Web sites of Interest.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Christendom College Podcasts  

This past July, we made our annual journey to the Christendom College Summer Institute. It was a wonderful day of inspiring speakers and a beautiful mass at the school's Christ the King Chapel. The theme this year was defending the family, and the speakers included Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Ms. Mary Stanford, Bishop Thomas Welsh, Bishop Robert Morlino, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, and Sen. Rick Santorum. As usual, we had a great time, and we left with much food for thought. (We also left with a few books, but that might need another post.)

L was with us, as well, so we sat together to hear the talks as much as we could, but when she got fidgety, I would take her outside to walk or stroll around the attractive campus. Fortunately, unlike most summers before, the temperature was rather mild for a day in the middle of July. One highlight was that M was able to speak with Fr. Groeschel. She enjoyed her chat with him, and she found him to have that wonderful fully human ability to relate to someone right away.

Yesterday, L wanted to see some pictures of the speakers that she had heard at the conference. (She has a remarkable memory for names and places for an almost three-year-old.) While showing her the picures of the speakers, I came across a podcast site where the school posts lectures from their speakers program which occurs during the academic year. I thought this was a site worth noting because the College draws a number of good speakers during the year, in addition to its own faculty including the remarkable Founding President Dr. Warren Carroll. Unfortunately, the Summer Institute talks are not posted here because they must be purchased.


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Monday, September 03, 2007
Pope calls for more Catholics to help protect the Environment  

The Holy Father was in Loreto, Italy during the first two days of September as he presided over a national meeting of young people. Yesterday, in the homily at the concluding Mass, he urged the young people to consider the importance of helping to preserve the environment.

I appreciate the Holy Father highlighting this important area of justice. Ever since I was quite young, I have had a great interest in the environment. I remember at an early age reading magazines like National and International Wildlife and Audubon. In fact, one of my elementary school teachers predicted that I would become an environmental lawyer.

I never wound up in law school, but after receiving my degree in mechanical engineering, I have been able to work for several consulting firms that to a lesser or greater degree allowed me to work in my area of interest. My current job is the most directly related to preserving the environment, in particular, improving air quality.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work in this area because I know that it does make a difference in improving the lives of others. I have come to understand that preserving the environment is indeed an issue of justice because we are responsible for how we treat God's creation, particularly humans, and we are called to consider what legacy we will leave for future generations.

I can only echo the Holy Father's call to young people to be involved in this work. Faithful Christians can make an important impact by maintaining that any work to preserve the environment must keep human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, as the focus of all efforts.

The world is in urgent need of Catholics working to protect the environment, says Benedict XVI.

Following Christ, the Holy Father affirmed, brings with it "the continual effort to make one's own contribution to building a more just and solidary society, where all can enjoy the goods of the earth."

"I know that many of you dedicate yourselves with generosity to bear witness to your own faith in various social ambits, volunteering, working to promote the common good, peace and justice in every community," he said. "One of the areas in which work appears to be urgent is without a doubt that of protecting creation.

"To the new generations the future of the planet is entrusted, in which there are evident signs of a development that has not always known how to safeguard the delicate equilibriums of nature.

"Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that reflect knowing how to re-create a strong alliance between man and the earth.

"A decisive 'yes' to the protection of creation is necessary and a firm commitment to reverse those tendencies that run the risk of bringing about situations of unstoppable degradation."

Benedict XVI applauded an initiative from the Church in Italy to promote sensitivity to the issue of protecting creation. Sept. 1 has been established as a national day for promoting awareness of these matters.

"This year," the Holy Father observed, "attention is focused above all on water, a most precious good that, if it is not shared in a fair and peaceful way, will unfortunately become a cause for significant tensions and bitter conflicts."



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Sunday, September 02, 2007
Another Look at the Pharisees  

In his commentary on this Sunday's liturgical readings, the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa offers a different view of the Pharisees. One of the major religious groups of Jesus' day, the Pharisees have become synonymous with hypocrites. Fr. Cantalamessa points out the problems and the harm in making this judgement of the Pharisees.
The beginning of this Sunday's Gospel helps us to correct a widely diffused prejudice: "One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him." Reading the Gospel from a certain angle we have ended up making the Pharisees the prototype for all vices: hypocrisy, duplicity, falsity; Jesus' enemies par excellence. The terms "Pharisee" and "Pharisaical" have entered into the vocabulary of many languages with negative connotations.

Such an idea of the Pharisees is not correct. There were certainly many among them who corresponded to this negative image and it is with these that Jesus has serious problems. But not all of them were like this. Nicodemus, who comes to see Jesus one night and who later defended him before the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee (cf. John 3:1; 7:50ff.). Saul was a Pharisee before his conversion and was certainly a sincere and zealous person then, if misguided. Gamaliel, who defended the apostles before the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee (cf. Acts 5:34ff.).

Jesus' relationships with the Pharisees were not only conflictual. They often shared the same convictions, such as faith in the resurrection of the dead and the love of God and neighbor as the first and most important commandment of the law. Some, as we see in Sunday's Gospel, even invited Jesus to dinner at their house. Today there is agreement that the Pharisees did not want Jesus to be condemned as much as their rival sect, the Sadducees, who belonged to Jerusalem's priestly caste.

For all these reasons, it would be a very good thing to stop using the terms "Pharisee" and "Pharisaical" in a disparaging way. This would also help dialogue with the Jews who recall with great respect the role played by the Pharisees in their history, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem.

From Zenit (Also for the full commentary)
To view the liturgical readings for today, click on the link, Today's Mass Readings in the top right of this post.


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Saturday, September 01, 2007
September Prayer Intentions  

General - That the ecumenical assembly in Romania this month may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians.
Pope Benedict is concerned about the Church in Europe, a continent that has seen a long decline in all traditional Christian churches. Europe seems to have forgotten its first love, the Crucified and the Risen Jesus Christ, and the darkness of relativism has invaded all the institutions of Europe.

Opposing this darkness, the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly has chosen this theme: "The light of Christ shines upon all. Hope for renewal and unity in Europe." Ironically, the diminished churches bring an opportunity for greater unity as 3,000 delegates gather in Sibiu, Romania, September 4-8.

This meeting culminates a “pilgrimage” of the major Christian traditions of Europe as they listen together to the Word of Christ and seek the essence of what makes us Christian. At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed that all his followers might be one in him. He knew how easily divisions set in, even among sincere followers.

With Jesus, we pray that the assembly delegates may grow in understanding, love, and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for the light of Christ on them as they discuss many topics, including the visible unity of the Church, the reconciliation between peoples and cultures, the safeguarding of creation, and the dialogue with other religions and philosophical viewpoints, starting with Judaism and Islam.

We pray that they may set in motion a powerful unification of all Christians in Europe and throughout the world.

Missionary - That following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life.
While celebrating Eucharist with fellow bishops in Brazil this past May, Pope Benedict spoke of the missionary nature of the Church. As Jesus was the missionary of the Father, so the Church extends Christ’s love throughout the world.

What difficulties face today’s missionaries? According to the Holy Father, "secularized culture, the crisis of the family, the drop in vocations, the aging of the clergy, churches closing in on themselves, and lowered hopes" are difficulties more formidable than perilous travel, primitive life, and savage rejection such as have afflicted past missionary efforts.

Some of today’s greatest missionary difficulties arise from the need to re-evangelize formerly Christian nations and peoples.

We pray in obedience to the Holy Father that missionaries may be full of Christ’s joy. We pray that their joy will give them strength and understanding needed to overcome the serious difficulties they face in their work.

Rather than lose hope ourselves, we ask God to make us passionate about evangelization in all its forms. Let us see new opportunities in new technologies. Let us welcome missionaries into our own midst. And, most of all, let us give ourselves to the missions in our prayers. We Apostles of Prayer seek everyday to “be apostles now.” We venture by our prayers into all the difficulties faced by the men and women missionaries we support.

With joy, with hope, we offer ourselves in prayer for missionaries today. We will offer ourselves again tomorrow—and again and again—until God’s Kingdom comes.


That God may bless and strengthen the pro-life efforts of college students.


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Sunday, August 26, 2007
No Words Can Express their Grief  

In very sad news, Jude Gilliam, the two-year-old boy who was in the ICU, has passed away. This little boy had captured the hearts of so many who were supporting his family and praying for his full recovery. We entrust him to our Heavenly Father, and we grieve with his family at their terrible loss. I do not think that words can capture what they must be feeling at this time. How can parents ever bury their child, especially a child so young?

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday. For more information and to read the notes signed in the guest book, click here.

Please join your prayers with many others who are praying for the family that is mourning the loss of such a young child.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Prayer Request for a 2-year-old boy in ICU  

Obviously, it has been quite some time since I last posted. I am compelled to add an entry asking for prayer for Jude Gilliam, who is a 2-year-old boy in an intensive care unit. He is in the hospital because several days ago, he was pulled from his grandparents' pool after having nearly drowned.

Now in the ICU, he is being assisted with life support machines, and the medical staff continue to monitor his brain activity. There was significant swelling in his brain, and the doctors believe that his upper brain which controls movement, speech, and sight has not been working since he was pulled out of the pool.

The little boy is one of four children in the Gilliam family. My wife and I are acquainted with Robert, the father of the little boy, and we also know a number of the other family members and friends who have been affected by this terrible accident.

As parents ourselves, we cannot image what this family has endured and continues to face. It is simply a parent's worst nightmare to see your child hooked up to machines in an ICU. We, too, have known this horrible experience, and our hearts and prayers go out to the Gilliam family.

Many people throughout the world have expressed their support and empathy for the family. In addition, a number of friends and family members are keeping a prayer watch at the hospital. The family has expressed tremendous faith that God will heal their little boy Jude.

I would ask you to join your prayers with all of those who are praying. Pray that little Jude has a full recovery. I thank you for your prayers, and I know the family would, as well.

For more information, click here. On this site you can read the journal entries from family and friends, and you can view the hundreds of kind notes that have been added to the site.

I thought, given his name, that it is quite appropriate to ask for the intercession of the patron of desperate situations. St. Jude, pray for us ...


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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Positive Discipline: No spanking  

If you are a parent, you owe it to yourself to look into the whole concept of positive discipline. The ideas put forth by Dr. Jane Nelsen and others are fairly simple, but, depending on how you were raised, may require you to think about things completely differently than you have.

The basic premise is that it is unnecessary to use strictly punitive methods to discipline children. As it is often stated in the Positive Discipline books, why is it a given that you have to make children feel badly in order to teach them how to behave. Translated into practical terms, parents are discouraged from ever using spanking or any type of hitting to punish children.

Now this flies in the face of many people's assumptions that spanking is quite alright. After all, spanking was the discipline method of many people's parents and they turned out okay. Dr. Nelsen replies:
He: There are times when it is necessary to spank my children to teach them important lessons. For example, I spank my two-year-old to teach her not to run into the street.
She: After you have spanked your two-year-old to teach her not to run in the street, will you let her play unsupervised by a busy street?
He: Well, no.
She: Why not? If the spanking teaches her not to run into the street, why can't she play unsupervised by the street? How many times would you need to spank her before you would feel she has learned the lesson well enough?
He: Well, I wouldn't let her play unsupervised near a busy street until she was six or seven years old.
She: I rest my case. Parents have the responsibility to supervise young children in dangerous situations until children are old enough to handle that situation. All the spanking in the world won't teach a child until he or she is developmentally ready. Meanwhile you can gently teach. When you take your children to the park, invite them to look up the street and down the street to see if cars are coming and tell you when it is safe to cross the street. Still, still you won't let them go to the park alone until they are six or seven.
Studies show that approximately 85 percent of all parents of children under twelve years old resort to spanking when frustrated, yet only 8 to 10 percent believe that it is dignified or effective. Sixty-five percent say that they would prefer to teach through positive methods to improve behavior, but they don't know how. This book shows you how.

A response to the argument that adults who were spanked by their parents turned out okay can be found here. The basic idea is that although a lesson may have been taught and even caught when punitive means were used, it might not have been the best lesson for the child.

For our part, we have never spanked our daughter, and we have no intention of ever doing so. The key for us is to remain firm but kind while keeping in mind that the goal of discipline is to teach our daughter to become the respectful, responsible adult we want her to become. We want her to want to be virtuous. We do not want her to want to be good because she fears the wrath of her parents (or God) if she does not behave. This goes beyond getting her to mind us. That can be accomplished via shaming types of punishment, but in the long run, it will only cause problems. Finally, there are alternative methods for teaching her to behave even in the midst of her misbehavior. For me, it requires looking at things from a different perspective than how I was raised. Shaming and strictly punitive methods were constantly used. Although I turned out okay, there are many problems I have carried with me into adulthood that I have no desire to pass on to my daughter.

I have only touched briefly on this philosophy of raising children. There is much more I could mention. For more information, check out Jane Nelsen's blog and the Positive Discipline Web site.


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