Monday, September 17, 2007

Catholic Carnival #137: School Daze

Catholic Carnival #137:
Parenting 101: "School Daze"

Two weeks of bed rest is giving me a chance to catch up on my classic movie watching. Right now I’m catching the second half of The Miracle Worker (starring Patty Duke, 1962), the life story of Helen Keller. In one memorable scene, Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft) recounts young Helen’s “school day” to Helen’s mother as follows:

“She ate from her own plate, with a spoon, herself. The room is a wreck, but her napkin is folded. I’ll be in my room, Mrs. Keller.”

(Sounds like my house, except for the safe retreat at the end.)

In a very real sense, Annie Sullivan was Helen’s mother – she alone could free Helen from her prison of eternal darkness and silence. However, Annie’s methods would have been little use, if not for Annie’s empathetic heart. Words were useless to the blind-and-deaf wild child. Annie’s heart was revealed through her actions.

Parenting Lessons, Great …

“Actions speak louder than words.” This truism is often used in the context of parenting our children, but they are equally true when applied to our own personal growth. The lessons we need most are best conveyed not through words, but by actions.

At “Catholic Spitfire Grill,” Red-Necked Woman (RNW) confesses her initial resistance to allow herself to be moved by the book of Mother Teresa’s letters … In the end, it was Mother’s life more than her words that moved her. “Mother Teresa wrote with acts of her life more about the Gospel of our Lord and the meaning of the words "Take up your cross and follow me" than all of the Doctors of the church combined.”

At “Heart, Mind, and Strength,” Kevin Miller draws from the Holy Father’s book Jesus of Nazareth to illuminate last week’s Gospel on the Prodigal Son, and to remind us of what we can learn from the Son of the Father’s infinite mercy.

… and Small(er)

As parents, we spend countless hours trying to help our children become responsible, happy, well-adjusted members of society. And yet, it is often our children who teach us to become responsible, happy, well-adjusted members of the Kingdom of God. As Sarah at “Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering” points out, “Sometimes it’s hard to remember that our children are not really ‘ours’ at all – they are God’s.”

At Spiritual Woman, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur says that the past seven years in the school of parenthood have been fruitful ones. “I am a very different person now than I was seven years ago before they came along. I am less selfish and more patient.”

To Kate Wicker, parenting is about stopping to smell not just the roses, but the dandelions, too.

Pat Gohn reveals the little-known connection between a clean floor and the onset of labor, and reflects on what it is like to “give birth” to three adolescents at “Write in Between.” Heather at “Doodle Acres” adds, “You’ve got to like your children (especially your teenagers) as well as love them.”

… and Spiritual

This Carnival on parenting would not be complete unless we turned our attention heavenward, to our Heavenly Father and the lessons He wants to instill in us. Ebeth at "ACatholic Mum Climbing the Pillars" ( reflects on how important it is for parents to continue learning about their faith – and allowing their children to witness the process.

This desire to teach his children about God – and about all of life – by his own example prompted Matthew at “Play the Dad? No, Be the Dad” to choose to take a direct hand in his children’s education. “This is the place I am called to grow, having to live my faith in front of and with my children. How I treat my children and relate to them forms their idea of God and how they relate to God. My personal growth is formed in my call to holiness inside my vocation is found here, relating to and with my children.”

What is interesting about Matthew’s post is that he chooses to homeschool when an affordable and faithfully Catholic school is already available to his family. And yet, as Christine Schult at “The World … IMHO” reminds us, even shepherds sometimes need a refresher course in Catholic teaching. Christine posts an article about the good Bishop Burke and his recent letter to brother bishops, in which he admonishes them for failing to discipline Catholic politicians who support “legislation … that is contrary to moral law.”

Whether we are the teacher or the student, our task as Catholic parents is a formidable one – made even more difficult by the encroaching influences of the “Culture of Death.” Sometimes we feel like Helen Keller, stumbling through life blind, deaf, and mute. The good news, as “A View from the Pews” reminds us, is that our self-worth is based not on the validation of other people, but in relationship with our Heavenly Father.

“Obedience without understanding is a blindness, too. …” Annie Sullivan

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