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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Praying with St. Therese of Lisieux

Evening of Reflection: Praying with St. Therese of Lisieux
Malvern Retreat House (315 S. Warren Avenue Malvern, PA 19335)
January 21, 2016
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
610-644-0400
 
Thursdays:   October 15, 2015; January 21, 2016; March 3, 2016; April 21, 2016
Retreat Director: Brother Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC
Brother Joseph is well published especially on Saint Therese of Lisieux.  He is a respected spiritual director and lecturer in both the United States and Africa.  His book, Praying with Therese of      Lisieux, will be the book used throughout the four sessions.
Schedule:
5:30 – 6:00 PM Registration — Dining Hall
6:00 — PM Dinner – Dining Hall
7:15 – Conference, discussion, personal reflection and prayer writing
8:30 – Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction within the Liturgy of Hours, Night Prayer
9:00 — Dismissal
Cost: $35/for one night; $100 for all four nights
To register, click here or call our office at 610-644-0400 for more information.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Advent Day of Recollection

Advent Day of Recollection
Malvern Retreat House (315 S. Warren Avenue Malvern, PA 19355)
December 2, 2015
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
610-644-0400
 
Director: Msgr. Joseph Marino
One day Retreat for Men & Women in Our Lady’s Chapel
Arrival is 9:00 AM – Departure is 3:00 PM
Hosted in the Main Retreat House
Cost: $40.00 per person, includes Danish & Coffee and sit down lunch (Price may be subject to change in 2014)
Click here to register online for this retreat.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Field Trip Review: Adventure Aquarium

Name: Adventure Aquarium
Address: 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103, 856.365.3300
Preferred Ages: all ages
Cost: $18.95 (2-12), $25.95 (13+), plus parking $10
Membership Cost: $75-$235 (1 person up to 4 adult/4 children), plus parking $5
Website: http://www.adventureaquarium.com



Open 365 days a year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Adventure Aquarium continues to offer new opportunities for families to explore, discover and play. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning guest, you can count on new hands-on activities, new animals and exhibits and new moments of magic.

Check out KidZone, an enchanting playground “under the sea,” and experience seven different touch exhibits to get up close and personal with sharks, stingrays and more. Adventure Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world where you can see hippos nose-to-nose, and the only aquarium in the country to feature a Great Hammerhead Shark – among the largest and rarest of sharks!

Add two million gallons of fun, a 40-foot suspended Shark Tunnel, a 4D Theater, and free live shows and up-close animal experiences daily, and it’s clear to see why a trip to Adventure Aquarium promises to deliver family memories that will last a lifetime.

This is a favorite place to visit among kids, especially since they can touch sharks, sting rays, sea anemones, and starfish, while also seeing large sharks up close.  While it can get extremely busy with school trips and during the summer months, the space is large enough to accommodate lots of people and you will still be able to see the exhibits.  The staff are very friendly, the restrooms are clean, and the food (although extremely overpriced) is decent for what it is.  This is, however, a very pricey field trip, even with a membership, if you plan to eat (easily $35 for 4 people) or hit the gift shop for a small souvenir (where it is hard to find anything a child will want for under $10).  There are a lot of opportunities for photographs and the staff are special needs friendly. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Choose a Homeschooling Curriculum

Are you eclectic?
Do you do "new" earth or "old" earth?
Do you swear by Charlotte Mason or are you more of a Montessori styled family?

Deciding to homeschool can be a difficult decision.  When you get tossed into the ocean of curriculum, you can feel even more confused!  Remember: each year can be different.  The joy of homeschooling is that you can tailor your experience to your family and to the unique educational styles and needs of your children.  Perhaps you start as a traditional homeschooler who moves into an unschooling model for a few years before settling on the classical approach.  Wherever you are in your search, there truly is a fit for every homeschooling parent and, most importantly, for every homeschooled child.  There is no one "right" way, and perhaps for your family, you find that a blend of two or more methods work best for you. 

Link List:
Choosing a Homeschooling Curriculum
Homeschooling 101
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Homeschooling Curriculum
10 Steps to Selecting a Catholic Homeschool Curriculum
Catholic Homeschooling Programs
Catholic All Year: Why I homeschool like that


Different Styles of Educating:
Charlotte Mason
Trivium (Classical)
Eclectic
Traditional
Unit Studies
Unschooling
Relaxed
School-At-Home
Waldorf
Montessori
Multiple Intelligences



Are you trying to figure out how your child learns?  Click here for an example of how to find the best way to reach your child.
 
 
What kind of homeschooler are you or have you been?  Sound off in the comments!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Saints Day


A Blessed and Solemn Feast of All Saints!
"All you holy men and women, pray for us!"

Learn more about this Holy Day in the Church here.

Readings and Worship:
Solemnity of All Saints
Litany of the Saints (Becker)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Walking With Purpose

Walking with Purpose is a parish based 22 week program consisting of at home study and meeting once a week in a small group to discuss the weekly lessons or watch an inspirational video at a Connect Coffee. Classes meet for about 90 minutes once a week, usually beginning in September and ending in April. Many programs schedule breaks around Christmas and other holidays to coincide with local school calendars.

We encourage enrollment before the beginning of each course season, however you are welcome to join-in at any time. Connect Coffee welcome days are a perfect time to learn more about Walking with Purpose and meet other participants.

Find a local group:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Curricula Spotlight: Seaton Home Study School

Curricula: Seaton Home Study School
Website: http://www.setonhome.org
Interactive Catalog: http://www.setonbooks.com
PreOrganized Lesson Plans: http://www.setonhome.org/curriculum

"Seton Home Study School exists because we are committed to the education of Catholic children within their families. We are committed to the education for Catholic children being truly Catholic. We are committed to affirming and endorsing the rights and responsibilities of parents as upheld by the Church. The statements from Divini Illius Magistri cited below are essential to our mission and purpose of existence, and serve as the guideline for Seton Home Study School.

"The whole work of education is necessarily and essentially connected between preparing man for what he must be eternally and what he must do here below to attain the eternal end for which he was created. There can be no true education which is not directed to man’s last end. Thus Christian education is of supreme importance for the individual, for families, and for all of human society. St. John Chrysostom said, “What greater work is there than training the mind and forming the habits of the young?” "

What homeschooling parents are saying:
"I have been very happy using Seton’s curriculum. Seton provides detailed lesson plans on a day-to-day basis in every subject for each child; the plans are a great guide and a MUST for parents just starting out, because they help you to organize, know what to do each day, and assess the progress each child is making. I still use them because I have three children I am teaching, and it makes it so much easier and less time-consuming to have the PLAN right in front of me, all typed up! Seton’s lesson plans are very flexible—you decide how slowly or quickly your child will progress through each subject depending upon his or her ability."

"Just a few short months ago, our second son, Martin, began the long haul of getting through Marine Bootcamp. He was given the job of Catholic Chaplain’s assistant because he was the only Catholic who raised his hand. In just a short time, he was able to get a small group together each evening to say the rosary. He said “thanks to Seton for encouraging his Mom to teach him the rosary and saying it every day” he has been able to lead them. On the Sunday before graduation (13 weeks later) one of the young men in Martin’s Platoon was baptized, made his First Communion and was confirmed!!!!! All due to Martin’s witness. As his mother, I cannot tell you how proud I am of him. But as a “teacher” I would like to thank Seton Home Study for all the encouragement and support that I received for the years that I was homeschooling my sons. Having four young boys just 18 months apart was enough to keep me busy, but your witness of love and strength got us through the tough times and gave us the grace to enjoy and celebrate the good times."


Sample some of Seaton's curriculum for free by clicking here
 
Do you use Seaton?  Please use the comment section to share your thoughts and experiences!
 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Women's Tea

Women's Tea
Malvern Retreat House (315 S. Warren Avenue Malvern, PA 19355)
November 8, 2015
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
610-644-0400
 
Director: St. Joseph’s Hall- TBD
An afternoon of tea for women.
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Cost: $20-includes tea and refreshments
To Register: Call our Main Office at 610-644-0400 or Click here to register online for this retreat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Deciding to Homeschool

For some families, homeschooling is a natural fit for their beliefs and lifestyles.  For others, it comes about due to learning difficulties or special needs.  Yet others try out a traditional schooling method first and then come to educating at home much later in their journey.  Still, other families homeschool some kids and have other children in public or private schools.  Just as there is no one right style of schooling, there is no single reason why families choose homeschooling.  Through prayer, you will be able to discern the path that your family needs to be on in this moment.  That path may change over the years, but your children (and you) will benefit from any time that you spend together.  Remember: the goal is to inspire your children to love to learn; especially in the beginning, what they are loving to learn is less of consequence.  As they figure out how they best decipher information and what subjects they love the most, they will become more well-rounded educationally.  Don't be afraid to let them learn cursive in kindergarten or explore calculus in sixth grade; it may be fleeting, or you may be raising the next new font creator or math genius!

Here are 10 things, taken from Is Homeschooling Right for You, to consider as you embark on this new journey.
1.  The time commitment.
2.  The personal commitment.
3.  The financial commitment.  (While some people go all out for curriculum, there are also many effective and low cost/no cost methods as well.)
4.  Socialization/Co-op Activities.
5.  Your household structure.
6.  Are both parents in agreement?
7.  Is your child on board with homeschooling?
8.  Taking it one year at a time.
9.  Are you intimidated by educating and leading your children in their learning?
10.  Can you relate to why others are choosing to homeschool?


Interesting Links:
Deciding to homeschool is not about if you'll do a good job
Deciding to homeschool
The various stages of homeschooling
Is homeschooling right for my family?


Are you on the fence about homeschooling?  Do you school multiple children in different ways?  How did you come to the decision to homeschool?  Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Feast of the Archangels (Michaelmas)




A beautiful Feast of the Archangels to you!
"All you angels of God, pray for us!"

At one time in the Church calendar, the primary archangels each had their own day of celebration and remembrance, however, in 1969, their holy days were consolidated into Michaelmas, renamed the "Feast of the Archangels".  Whether you still celebrate them on their unique days  (Michael 9/29; Gabriel 3/24; Raphael 10/24; Uriel 11/8), as one unit on September 29th, or both, these sacred bodies intercede on behalf of humanity in prayer and action, and we honor them in our lives.

Learn more about this holy day and it's history, here:

Feast of the Archangels Liturgical Readings
The Akathist of St. Michael
Prayers to the Archangels


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Shout Back Your Love

This post was written and initially shared on Facebook by Emily Sullivan, an Eastern PA Catholic Homeschoolers mom.  Many thanks to Emily for allowing us to share her beautiful, poignant words.

---

To all the women out there shouting your abortion, let me whisper some words of apology.

I'm sorry that I wasn't there as a friend when you took the pregnancy test to tell you that your life wouldn't be over if you choose life for your baby. I'm sorry that someone along the way told you the lie that the little person growing inside of you with a beating heart, hair on their tiny head, and unique finger prints, who was already swallowing and kicking was just a "clump of cells. "

I'm sorry that so many of you will for years be haunted by the regret and depression that characterizes Post Abortion Syndrome, more widely acknowledged by psychologists in the UK & Australia then here. I've lost a baby and know very acutely the sense of sadness and longing for my child that I never got to hold. It is always a horror when your womb becomes a coffin.

I'm sorry for any man who has loved getting access to your body, but has resented the way your body works. "I love your body....except when it creates a new life.....then, not so much." You deserved a man who truly cherishes all of you, including your ability to create and nurture a child whose life can then bless the world with their gifts and talents. I'm sorry we act like a crisis pregnancy is all the women's fault with no thought to the man's responsibilities. I'm sorry that fathers don't tell their daughters that they are irreplaceable and precious, that more men prey on women then protect them and that we've come to think that sex can ever be safe and casual. It is many things but "safe" it is not.

I'm so sorry young women and old women, conservative women and liberal women, religious women, smart women, women in dingy apartments and women in palatial high rises, women who can barely read and women with PhDs, women on welfare and women well off.... I'm sorry that we live in a culture that so often degrades your dignity and the dignity of tiny babies who had no say in how or by whom they were conceived.

I wish I could tell all of you I'm sorry for the world we live in where "porn is the norm" and motherhood is seen as a threat to your identity, your ambitions your value as a member of society rather then as a gift that can transform your life for the better and blesses your life with love and joy. No one on their death bed regrets having a son or daughter who hand they can hold as they depart this fleeting life.

I'm so terribly sorry. But most of all I'm sorry I wasn't standing with my husband and little girls right before you walked into the clinic with a sign...a sign that said "Do you need a family right now? Come live in our home and if you don't want your baby, we do! We want them in our lives to love and nurture and if you don't want a baby right now to enrich your life, we want them to enrich ours!"

I'm sorry I wasn't there as a sister on that Saturday morning or Tuesday evening and I'm sorry the millions of my friends in the pro-life movement weren't there for you as well, on that day and for years afterwards with kind words and encouragement and resources and welcoming homes and food and everything else that would have made it safe to make a difference decision for you and your child.

For all of this and so much more, my most heartfelt apologies.

In Sincerity and solidarity as a woman,
Emily Sullivan

#ShoutYourAbortion
#ShoutBackSomeLove

Current Catholic Events: Pope Francis Visits Philadelphia

(The following information is taken from http://www.popefrancisvisit.com)
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On Saturday, September 26th, 2015 at 10:30 a.m, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. The event is not open to the public and will be held exclusively for local religious and those with personal invitations. 

On Saturday, September 26th at 4:45 p.m, Pope Francis will visit Independence Mall in Philadelphia. There, the pontiff will talk about immigration and religious freedom to an estimated crowd of 50,000, including mainly the local Hispanic community and immigrants.  Bishop John McIntyre told philly.com that he expects the pontiff will arrive for the event via the Popemobile. During this time, he said, Francis will likely do a loop around Independence Mall, greeting the crowds, allowing people to get near him while possibly making stops to bless infants and others.  The Independence Mall visit will include ticketed and non-ticketed areas. 

On September 26th, 2015 at 7:30 p.m, Pope Francis will attend the Festival of Families in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, a major event that is part of the World Meeting of Families gathering. During this event, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and Columbian rock musician Juanes will perform for the pontiff. It is expected that Francis will address the crowds.  The Festival of Families is an intercultural celebration of family life around the world that has taken place in different countries over the years. For 2015, it will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The event is expected to draw large numbers due to the pontiff’s attendance and event being open to the public.  The Philadelphia Art Museum and Franklin Institute are planning family-themed exhibits and extending their hours for the week. There is also a family 5K run planned, as well as bus tours of the national Catholic Shrines in the area. In addition, there will be musical and dance acts, and other family entertainment. The goal of the whole week is to build up family life.
 
On Sunday, September 27th at 9:30 a.m, Pope Francis will meet with bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. The meeting will be exclusively held with bishops attending the World Meeting of Families only.  This event is closed from public access.

On Sunday, September 27th at 11 a.m, Pope Francis will visit the Curran-Fromhold Correction Facility in Philadelphia. Over a couple hours, according to philly.com, the pontiff will meet with connect with select inmates and their families as well as prison staff. According to Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla,  the inmates who get to personally meet Francis will be considered with history of good behavior in mind.

On Sunday, September 27th at 4 p.m, Pope Francis will celebrate the closing mass for the World Meeting of Families 2015. The Mass will be held outside the Philadelphia Art Museum and is open to the public.  The location has proved suitable in the past, with Pope Saint John Paul II celebrating Mass (with an estimated 400,000 attendees) on Logan Circle outside the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul in 1979.  There, the liturgy was imbued with the angelic sounds of the The Archdiocesan Choir, the Boy Choir, the Seminary Choir and the cathedral’s Collegiate Choir. Pope Saint John Paul distributed Communion to 150 specially selected members of the Archdiocese while roughly 3,000 priests moved into the large crowds and distributed the Eucharist to whomever they could reach.  This time around attendance may in the thousands if not millions for the Papal Mass with Pope Francis as the main celebrant.

On Sunday, September 27th at 7 p.m, Pope Francis will formally meet with organizers, volunteers and benefactors involved with the World Meeting of Families at the Atlantic Aviation hangar in the Philadelphia International Airport.  This event will closed off from the public and will be authorized access only.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sanctity and Sanity: Finding God in Your Daily Life

Diocese of Harrisburg Women’s Conference:
Sanctity and Sanity: Finding God in Your Daily Life
October 24, 2015
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
http://www.hbgdiocese.org/event/womens-conference/


“Sanctity and Sanity: Finding God in Your Daily Life”
Keynote Speaker: Sister John Sheila Galligan, IHM, STD Professor of Theology – Immaculata University
Keynote Title:  “Arise and Call Her Blessed”
Principal Mass Celebrant and Homilist:  The Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, DD, JCL Bishop of Harrisburg
CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
8:00 am – Doors Open/Registration/Exhibits
8:00 – 8:30 am Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00 am Welcome, Announcements, and Introduction of Keynote Speaker
9:00 – 9:45 am Keynote
10:00 am – 2:30 pm Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
10:00 – 11:15 am Workshop Session A or Confession
11:30 am – 12:45 pm Workshop Session B, Lunch, or Confession
1:00 – 2:15 pm Workshop Session C, Lunch, or Confession
2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Solemn Benediction
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Holy Sacrifice of the Mass— Bishop Ronald W. Gainer
4:00 pm Dismissal
TWO WAYS TO REGISTER
Register Online
Paper Registration and Payment
DEADLINES
(Both on-line and paper registration)
OCTOBER 3, 2015 – “EARLY BIRD” REGISTRATION $30
OCTOBER 10, 2015 – FINAL REGISTRATION $40
WALK – IN REGISTRATION $50
WOMEN CONSECRATED RELIGIOUS Admitted FREE
Due to space limitations, walk-ins cannot be assured of preferred workshop choices.
If you require special accommodations, please contact us by SEPTEMBER 24 so we can make special arrangements.

Conference Flyer
 
 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Second Saturday Well Read Mom's Book Club

Calling all moms/women/grandmoms to our Well-Read Mom Book Club! We started last year and read some fabulous books about spouses (((Elisabeth Leseur, Hanna Coulter, JPII's The Jeweler's Shop, The Hound of Heaven at My Heels and more).

This year we're tackling The Year of the Daughter. First up is Hawthorne's short, "The Birthmark".

We meet the 2nd Saturday from 8am-9:30am in Colmar.  Winter months include the Kristin Lavransdatter series! Good, Catholic stuff! (Google Well-Read Mom!)

Rules are - to just come! You don't have to read the whole book, or part of it, just come for the inspired discussions and a cuppa joe!

PM Heather via our FB group for more information!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Preparation: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found here.

This weekend's Liturgy of the Word is especially poignant to those who feel forsaken or marginalized, especially those with special needs.

The first reading, from the book of Isaiah, encourages us to "Be strong!" because the Lord is coming to save us.   But Isaiah doesn't tell us that the salvation he writes of is only spiritual; he adds that God will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf; He will give the lame the ability to dance and the mute a voice.  Historically (and even in modern times), those will ailments were seen as cursed by God or, alternately, they were physically bearing the sins of their parents and families.  Is this passage from Isaiah a foreshadowing of Christ's message in the New Testament that the disabled are not shunned from God, but rather bearing a greater testimony?

The responsorial of "Praise the Lord, my soul," once again reminds us to praise God in all things, but the verses echo the first reading.  God will lift up the lowly and save the broken.  This a repeated theme throughout the book of Psalms.  In what ways are we lowly and broken?  Do we praise God through the pain, trusting that He will raise us up and save us?

In the second reading, James warns us to not make "distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs".  In this passage, we are reminded that we shouldn't laud those who come to worship in expensive, beautiful clothing while relegating the poor and humble to our feet or the backs of our churches.  Do you do this personally?  Do you judge the person approaching the Body and Blood of Christ in their torn jeans and dirty shirt, while secretly thinking highly of the person doing the same in their designer dress or suit?  Before God, we are all naked.  Why do you think we choose to see distinction?  Why do you think we choose to judge others for something as simple as clothing?

In the Gospel, a reading from Mark, Jesus cures a deaf man who speaks poorly.  "Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly."  Who among us with a parent of a special needs child doesn't immediately feel our heart leap into our throat at this passage?  With a simple word, Jesus takes away the physical burden that this man has endured, allowing him to finally participate in community life.  He can hear the sounds around him; he can lift his voice in song.  He can communicate and be understood.  For those of us struggling with children who are different (or struggling through life with their own disabilities), this reading is a ray of hope.  But it also beckons the question "Why my child?  Why us?  When will there be healing, if ever?"

Questions to consider from the Gospel: Do you believe that Jesus still heals the way that the stories from the Gospel present: why or why not?  How do you face illness knowing that healing may not come?  How do you raise and teach those with special needs in your life?  How do you learn from them?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Endow Programs: Fall 2015

In 1995, Pope John Paul II said, “woman has a genius all her own, which is vitally essential to both society and the Church.”  The Church understands that a woman, created in the image of God, bears within herself unique gifts that make a tremendous contribution to the world.  The more a woman draws near to Jesus Christ and cultivates a rich spiritual life in the Church, her gifts are illumined and her capacities flourish.  This not only affords a woman deep personal fulfillment, but also gives her the capacity to bring about the transformation of lives, culture and society.  The Church wishes to support women in the journey of discovering their dignity and in living out their vocation.


Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women) is a Catholic study program that engages the intellect of women and teenage girls to help them understand their God-given dignity and respond to our culture’s desperate need for an authentic feminine presence to transform every aspect of life and society.

Discover Your Dignity (North Wales): starts September 8, 2015

Aquinas for Beginners (North Wales): starts September 9, 2015

Discover Your Dignity (North Wales): starts September 14, 2015

Of Human Life (Media): starts September 15, 2015

Edith Stein: Seeker of Truth (New Hope): starts September 17, 2015

On the Christian Meaning of Suffering (Royersford): starts September 21, 2015

Dignity (Morrisville): starts October 3, 2015


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Saturday Rosary: September 2015

 
Join together and pray the Rosary on the First Saturday of September at Mr. B's cafĂ©. There are plenty of seating areas and, once I've arrived, I can let you know where to find the group. Bring your Rosary & special intentions as we join together in this beautiful act of communal prayer.  RSVP with Michele through our FB page.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Preparation: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found here.

As we prepare for this weekend's Liturgy of the Word, it almost seems as though there are 4 unique readings that offer us a look at the different ways we put into action the Word of God.

The First Reading, a discussion from Moses to the Israelite people, is a call to adhere to the commands of the Lord.  He tells them to observe the commands carefully so that their wisdom will be clear to all who see them. 

The Psalm, then, progresses to tell us how to act, rather than what rules to follow.  We are told that "One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord" and then the Psalm proceeds to give us examples of being this just person: walk blamelessly, think without malice, don't reproach or mistreat those around you, refusing bribes.  These are actions of those who will not be welcomed into the Lord's presence. 

In two readings, we've been given commands to follow and examples of how to behave.  The Second Reading, which comes from James, gives us an insight into our own creation: "He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."  He further commands us to not delude ourselves into thinking that we can somehow just know the Word without action.  "Be doers of the word and not hearers only."  How can we be doers according to this reading?  By helping widows and orphans and staying "unstained" by the world we live in.

Finally, we have the Gospel.  So far, the readings have been very straightforward: follow the commandments of the Lord and, in doing so, behave appropriately.  And then we hear the story of the Apostles eating without first washing their hands- a big no-no in Jewish culture.  The Pharisees, who typically represent the knowing-the-Word-in-word-but-not-in-Spirit, are appalled.  They approach Jesus, wanting to know why the Disciples are not following the letter of the law, to which Jesus replies, "...In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition."  He then calls the people to him and says further,  "Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.

Questions to consider from the Gospel:  "All these evils come from within and they defile.”  What does this mean?  Is Jesus telling us to disregard the ancient writings and to focus more on our internal vices and how those things bring us closer to or push us farther away from God?  Do we cling to "human tradition" at the expense of the Spirit of God's Word and the teachings of the Church?  Where are we- are we like the disciples, eating to our fill of Christ but with soiled hands, or are we like the Pharisees, who cling to the literal words in the Bible and Catechism, making sure that we look the part on the outside while perhaps not letting God permeate our innermost being?  Are we somewhere in between?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Curricula Spotlight: Catholic Heritage Curricula (CHC)

Curricula: Catholic Heritage Curricula
Website: www.chcweb.com
Interactive Catalog: https://www.chcweb.com/interactive.html
PreOrganized Lesson Plans: https://www.chcweb.com/catalog/LessonPlansAndResources/catalog.html


"Catholic Heritage Curricula's exclusive materials and lesson plans fit together to provide a solid, complete, family-friendly PreK–12 Catholic education. It is CHC's belief that, when solid academics are offered in a gentle, flexible manner, the vast majority of children will blossom spiritually, emotionally, and academically. CHC's educational approach lays a joyful foundation, resulting in children who achieve at and above grade level, do not ‘burn out,’ and instead ‘learn how to learn.’ While CHC offers complete homeschool programs with lesson plans, ours is not a ‘pre-packaged’ curriculum. Rather, CHC's plans are constructed to allow maximum choice and flexibility to fit your student, while at the same time providing a complete education."

What homeschooling parents are saying:
"Our family has gained so much from using your lesson plans. It has made us have a practical plan to put God first in our studies and CHC has such rich, quality products that teach so much more than I ever learned growing up Catholic. Keep up the good work, God Bless…"   —Katherine, CA

"I have been Catholic homeschooling for 13 years. I have used just about everything there is out there with my 5 boys at some point or other. I feel that your materials are 'just right.' I have changed so much in my approach to homeschooling in the last decade. I have a masters in education and taught in public and parochial junior and senior high schools before having children. So, when we began to homeschool, I 'brought school home' for my older sons… Now with my younger ones, I truly believe that a gentler, focused approach works the best for them. Not only are your materials so wonderfully, authentically Catholic, but they teach all the necessary concepts with a good amount of practice but without busywork. They are just right. They help reduce the risk of 'schooling' from getting in the way of 'education'… Blessings to you as you continue your good work!"    —Maureen

Sample some of CHCs curriculum for free by clicking here
 
Do you use CHC?  Please use the comment section to share your thoughts and experiences!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Preparation: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found here.

As we prepare for this weekend's Liturgy of the Word, what comes to your mind when you think of serving God- as a Person?  As a parent?  As a spouse?  The readings this week address these issues, even though, at times, these readings make people uncomfortable.

The Old Testament Reading has Joshua asking the people who they will serve: God is not their only option.  There are the gods of the people from over the river, the gods of the culture where the Hebrews are residing, and then, of course, Yahweh.  Joshua's question doesn't seem to come with any sort of anger or given answer; he is simply giving his people an option and telling them his choice.  "If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve...As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."  Our world offers us so many options as to who we will serve.  As spiritual beings, we feel called to worship and have a relationship with something far greater than ourselves.  In the world, we have a variety of religions and deities that we can find; have we chosen to serve the Lord?  Will we find ourselves worshiping gods we have created in the media or in our lives, or will we answer, like Joshua's tribe, "we...will serve the Lord, for he is our God"?

The Psalm repeats this week, with its refrain of "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord."  Yet, excluding the first "verse" of the Psalm, the remaining verses are not from the 20th Week.  Instead, we are given a look at the mercy of the Lord.  He sees and hears the just; He is close to the brokenhearted.  The Lord delivers and saves the just.  It is easy to love and praise God in the good times; who doesn't say "Thanks be to God!" when they are financially stable, their families happy, the health well, and their dreams seeming to come true one by one!  But it becomes harder to give thanks and praise when our lives feel shattered: when marriages feel on the brink of destruction, when children die, when we battle illness.  In a society that is wracked by job loss and instability, we often find ourselves barely making it from paycheck to paycheck; with parents reaching older ages and being confronted with debilitating illnesses, we find ourselves not only children but caretakers as well.  Perhaps your life felt complete when God blessed you with a new baby, and you are left wondering how you will start your life as a parent all over again- when you were just getting a grasp on the family you had.  Or maybe your very wanted baby has died in utero to miscarriage or stillbirth, or a child you have cared for and nourished outside of the womb has succumbed to illness and death.  How do we praise God in these awful times?  How do we- especially when we feel we are the "just" that this week's Psalm describes- offer up our sufferings while saying "Thank you, God" for the pain?  How do we accept the embrace that the Lord offers because He IS close to the brokenhearted, when we feel as though are hearts cannot be mended?

The fifth chapter of Ephesians, from which the second reading is drawn, is often a hard pill for many Christians (especially women) to swallow.   We often hear the "Be subservient to your husband" passage without taking note of the way St. Paul begins this section.  
"Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."

In the household- our domestic church- we find each person carrying roles that make the home function.  As in any organization- military, business, or church- there are varying roles, with someone having to be at the top of the pyramid to report to the big "boss"- in this case, God.  We can't always agree; at some point, a person- the ultimate leader of the organization- must make a choice that reflects the best needs of all the family (not just their own opinions).  St. Paul, in Ephesians, gives guidance to the Christian family.  He begins by telling all the members to be subservient to each other because of their love of Jesus.  Put each other first, he is telling them; put yourself last.  This is a commonly repeated message in the Bible.  Wives are told to see Christ in their husbands and to willingly, and with the same love they have for Jesus, to put themselves in a role that looks to their husband for love, support, guidance, and care.  Do we, as wives, look to our husbands this way?  Do we see them as an embodiment of the Lord in our home, the same way we look to our priests as a visual representation of Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? 

Husbands are given no easy task; St. Paul tells them that they are to love their wives in the same way that Jesus Christ loves the Church.  What a call!  Jesus gave His life willingly for the lives He was saving- past, present, and future.  He suffered greatly; He lost everything that a human man could lose.  His friends turned on him, His body was abused, He was the brokenhearted in the Psalms, crying out to God in agony.  And yet, He did all of this with love in His heart.  He did all of this for the ones He loved.  Husbands are given this great command- to give everything to their wives, to lose everything for them, to love them with a love so strong that it surpasses death and suffering.  Husbands, do we look at our wives as Jesus looks at humanity?  Do we love them to the point of losing our own desires and needs, in order to put theirs first?  Not only are husbands told this command, but St. Paul continues by telling husbands to love their wives like they love themselves.  Humans have a naturally selfish streak; we want our own ways, our needs met, our desires fulfilled.  St. Paul turns that around; husbands are commanded to feel this way in regards to their wives.  This passage ends with telling us that this is all "a great mystery", and that it is.  What a self-sacrifice to give yourself completely to your spouse; to value their role in your life among your own, to truly see Jesus in them.

The Gospel Acclamation echoes this great mystery by telling us that the Word is our spirit and our life, leading us into the Gospel from John, which begins by the Disciples saying, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"  In light of the previous readings from today, we may find ourselves saying this very same thing!  This Gospel follows the Gospel reading from the 20th and 19th Sundays; specifically, Jesus's followers are asking how Jesus can truly give them His body and blood for consumption and life.  However, this is a beautiful tie in to the second reading when husbands are commanded to give up all for their wives as Jesus did for the Church and wives are commanded to willingly put themselves subservient to their husbands as they do in love for their relationship to Christ.  This marital mystery intertwines with the Mystery of the Eucharist.  Does Jesus tell the people "You're right- it's hard.  Let's reevaluate."?  No. Instead, He says, "It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail."  What does this mean to you?  How do you read this in light of the readings from last week as well as the readings from this week?

Many people, as a result of this teaching, leave Jesus.  The Gospel tells us "Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him."  We, just like these disciples and those surrounding Joshua in the first reading, have the same option.  We can take the teachings from the Bible and the Catechism and choose to not follow them.  God has given us free will and minds to try to reason and understand.  But each time we do this, we are also offered the same question of our ancestors- the same question that Jesus poses to the Apostles in John, "Do you also want to leave?"

Questions to consider from the Gospel:  How do handle the Word when it conflicts with your natural inclination?  Do you find yourself embracing the teachings of the Church even when it is a struggle or do you feel more in line with the modern "take what you want and leave the rest" motto?  How would you answer the Lord if you were one of the Twelve with him in the book of John?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

FIeld Trip Review: Bucks County Children's Museum

Name: Bucks County Children's Museum
Address: 500 Union Square Dr, New Hope, PA 18938
Preferred Ages: 1-7
Cost: $8/pp  (plus parking)
Membership Cost: $90-$100
Webpage: www.buckskids.org

The Bucks County Children's Museum is located a few blocks from the "main strip" in New Hope.  Parking is available in an attached municipal lot at $1 per hour; there is a minimum $3 charge for credit cards.  The museum itself is 9,000 square feet and it usually takes about 45 minutes - 90 minutes to go through all of the exhibits.

There are four rooms of stationary exhibits.  Room 1 includes a visual example of the river locks, a hands on archway building activity for two, a shadow room, and a wind power exhibit with scarves.  Room 2 has a hot air balloon visualization, a dig-for-fossils exhibit, and a build-your-own racer and track, along with a ball fall that children can build with various tracks.  Room three has a recycling ground visual along with a light activity, a castle, and a slide.  Room four includes a train car, general store and post office, and a garden that young children will enjoy.  A small side room rotates exhibits.  As of the summer, it was a hospital room that allowed children to play with a full size "Operation" game.  Prior to that, it was a Kinex room.

There is a large meeting room that can be divided into two for parties and large trips.  Members are allowed to bring nut-free lunches to store in the fridge.  The bathrooms have adult and child sized stalls.

Overall, this is a big hit with younger children but may be slightly boring to older children.  It is a quick field trip but the space can be overwhelmed with schools and camps attend.  If you see your family visiting more than 3-4 times a year, a membership makes sense (especially depending on family size).  It does offer you a discount on parties and merchandise

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Feast of the Assumption/Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Happy Feast of the Dormition/Assumption!
Ave Maria, Pro Nobis!
Iper Hagia Theotokos, Soson Imas!

Learn more about this Holy Day in the Church here.

Readings and Worship:
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Mass during the Day
Apolytikion (First Tone)
In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.


 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Preparation: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for the 20h Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found here.

As we prepare for this weekend's Liturgy of the Word, what comes to your mind when you think of the Eucharist?  When you consider the magnificent experience of actually partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, it is truly a transformative experience.  

The first reading, from Proverbs, invites us to watch the table being set and ends with the words "Forsake foolishness that you may live."  What foolishness do you find in your life?  Do you see this as blocking the way to your eternal life?

In the Psalm, we sing together "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord."  How good the Lord is!  How wonderful it is to praise God together!  What are the ways that you celebrate the goodness of all the Lord gives to your family, together with your family?  Do you take time to glorify God as a family unit?  Have you focused on building your domestic church and, if not, what are some ways that you make your domestic church a priority?

Once again, foolishness and ignorance make an appearance in the readings, this time in the second reading from the book of Ephesians.  We are told to watch how we live and to seek to understand God's will.  In addition, the reading cautions us against debauchery and encouraging us to praise God together in song through the Psalms.  Are their vices in your life that are impeding your ability to praise God?  Are you putting vices before your family?  Are you seeking out God's will in your life, giving thanks even during the rough spots?

The Gospel, from the book of John, is the quintessential reading that points us to the Eucharist.  "I am the living bread that came down from heaven," says Jesus.  He also implores us to partake of this divine gift.  "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."  Each day, we have the unique opportunity to experience Christ in the Eucharistic Feast.  The Church offers us guidance on receiving the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus.   To receive Holy Communion worthily it is necessary to be free from mortal sin, to have a right intention and to obey the Church's laws on the fast required before Holy Communion out of reverence for the body and blood of Our Divine Lord.  Venial sin does not make us unworthy of receiving Holy Communion; but it does prevent us from receiving the more abundant graces and blessings which we would otherwise receive from Holy Communion. After Holy Communion we should spend some time adoring Our Lord, thanking Him, renewing our promises of love and of obedience to Him, and asking Him for blessings for ourselves and others.  Are you allowing yourself the graces available by reconciling yourself to Jesus regularly and by participating in the Eucharistic table?  Are you encouraging holiness in your home by taking your children to do the same? 

Questions to consider from the Gospel:  How is Jesus your living bread?  In what ways can you deepen your faith and your connection to the Trinity through the Eucharist?  How can you keep the beauty of Holy Communion in your home and family?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Homeschooling Within the Church

This information is taken from Seton.  For the entire article, please refer here.

Does the Catholic Church allow home schooling?

Absolutely, yes! In fact, the Catholic Church strongly supports home schooling.

Several documents of the Church use language specifically stating that parents must be acknowledged as first and foremost educators of their children:

While not using the words home schooling directly, all the documents of the Catholic Church mentioned above leave absolutely no doubt that the primary right of education and the duty of education lie with the parents. The parents are the primary educators.

The Bible tells us:
Fathers teach your children… (Deuteronomy 6:6)
You shall read the law aloud in the presence of all… Assemble the people, men, women and children that they may hear and learn it. (Deut. 31: 11-13)
We also read in Deuteronomy:
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad… (Deut. 6: 6-7)
When your son asks you what these ordinances, statutes and decrees mean which the Lord our God has enjoined on you, you shall say to your son, “We were once slaves of Pharaoh but the Lord brought us out of Egypt…” (Deut. 6: 20-22)
The Book of Proverbs also exhorts:
My son, forget not my teaching; keep in mind my commands. (Proverbs 3: 1)

From the very beginning of the life of their children, the Catholic Church encourages parents to teach their children about the Faith. It is not surprising then, that Vatican II reiterates this in #3 of its Declaration on Christian Education:
" Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and men that a well-rounded personal social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family enriched by the grace and the office of the Sacrament of Matrimony that from their earliest years children should be taught according to the Faith received in Baptism… Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually introduced into civic partnership with their fellow men and into the people of God."
This Declaration further reminds us that “education requires the help of society as a whole” but it must not be forgotten that the original right of education belongs directly with the parents. Society may “aid” the parent but not usurp a parent’s power to educate.

Saint John Paul II said: "As the Second Vatican Council recalled, “Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, the parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.”" (Familiaris Consortio, #36)

***

This information is taken from Catholic Homeschool Support.

So you are considering homeschooling and wonder – what do I do next?
  • Pray - ask God to help you discern if He is calling to homeschooling. Consider praying a novena for discernment.
  • Find a local Catholic Support Group – If you have a group in your area please contact them. It’s the easiest way to get to see what kind of materials families use. Generally groups have activities that you can attend to meet other mothers and kids.
  • Find Out Your State’s LawsHome School Legal Defense Association has information on all states laws regarding homeschooling. Your local group should be able to help too.
  • Order Catalogs – Go through the Curriculum Providers and Homeschool Supply Providers and ask for catalogs. This gives you an idea of materials available.
  • Attend a Homeschool Conference – If there is a conference within an hour or two, try and attend. This gives you a chance to actually see materials, attend workshops, and meet others who are homeschooling in your area. Conferences are generally in the spring and I list as many as I can find (the page usually goes up in the winter).
  • Read about Curriculum Approaches – I’ve provided links for many approaches; begin to look at what bests fits you and your family.
  • Join an Email List – if you can’t find a local group or you need to ask more questions than your group is able to answer, considering joining an email list. They can be an excellent source of support.
  • Just Do It – if you are being called to homeschool, don’t be tempted to put off the decision because you are trying to pull everything together. Sometimes, families just need to do it and work on the details as they go along. Consider field trips, reading literature and nature study as a way to get started.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Preparation: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found here.

As we prepare for this weekend's Liturgy of the Word, what comes to your mind when you think of God's presence in your life? As in the first reading, do you find yourself like Elijah, looking for God in large signs before seeing Him in the fire?
 
In the Psalm, we respond with "Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation."  In what ways has the Lord shown you His kindness this week.  Have you felt the beauty of Christ's salvation in your life in a special way recently?
 
St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says, " I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people..."  Following Jesus and the teachings of the Church isn't easy; often times we find ourselves fighting against what God asks of us and what the world around us asks of us.  Especially in this time of unease and unrest in our respective societies, we find ourselves with the sorrow and pain that St. Paul writes about.   Are you filling pulled in many directions?  Are you having fights within your family or circle of friends, where you feel your beliefs being challenged or questioned? 
 
We can turn to the Gospel for Jesus's direct teaching to us.  Matthew's Gospel tells us that the boat His disciples were in was being tossed about in the waves.  Peter, although he tells Christ that he will follow the Master onto the waves, begins to sink in the face of his own fear.  But Jesus catches him, asking him simply, "Why did you doubt?”
 
As we are tossed about in the sea of culture and disbelief, we often say that we want to be like St. Peter, walking out into the waves.  But we are overcome by trouble and fear, and we begin to sink.  Sometimes, we start to flail our arms; sometimes we fall beneath the waves.  Are you falling?  Have you reached out your hand like St. Peter?
 
Questions to consider from the Gospel:  Why do we doubt?  Are there ways that you have doubted recently?  What are ways that you can combat your doubt?

 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Welcome to Eastern PA Catholic Homeschoolers

This page was started on August 5, 2015, as a way to fill the gap and connect Catholic homeschooling families in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Please join us on Facebook to keep up with the conversation and to make new friends!

I anticipate that Facebook will be the place where trips are planned, connections are made, etc, while this webpage will function more as a place for weekly or monthly Catholic homeschool related posts (probably each Wednesday, there will be an update of some sort) as well as posting information about field trips or get-togethers.