Tag Archives: School

A Spiritual Educational Philosophy

The Holy Father gave an address to a convention of the Diocese of Rome. (Why is it not an archdiocese?) Seeing ZENIT‘s title for it (“There Is Talk of a Great ‘Educational Emergency'”) immediately drew me in.

This is an inevitable emergency: in a society, in a culture, which all too often make relativism its creed—relativism has become a sort of dogma–in such a society the light of truth is missing….

So how would it be possible to suggest to children and to pass on from generation to generation something sound and dependable, rules of life, an authentic meaning and convincing objectives for human existence both as an individual and as a community?

For this reason, education tends to be broadly reduced to the transmission of specific abilities or capacities for doing, while people endeavour to satisfy the desire for happiness of the new generations by showering them with consumer goods and transitory gratification. Thus, both parents and teachers are easily tempted to abdicate their educational duties and even no longer to understand what their role, or rather, the mission entrusted to them, is.

Yet, in this way we are not offering to young people, to the young generations, what it is our duty to pass on to them. Moreover, we owe them the true values which give life a foundation.

However, this situation obviously fails to satisfy; it cannot satisfy because it ignores the essential aim of education which is the formation of a person to enable him or her to live to the full and to make his or her own contribution to the common good.

As a teacher, a godmother, a Confirmation sponsor, and a Catholic, I find this fascinating. My classmates last semester who graduated in May had to interview for admission to the master’s degree program. Vanessa mentioned that, during the interview, she was asked what her (English) teaching philosophy is. (Mine is that all people love reading once they find the right book.) Thursday on Life on the Rock, a former Notre Dame football coach insisted that football prepared his players for life. After Remember the Titans, I can understand that. My task as a teacher isn’t just to get my students passing test scores, but to help them understand literature and language, why they matter, and their significance in their lives (and not get fired in the process). All the popular movies about great teachers (Stand and Deliver, Music of the Heart, and more recently, Freedom Writers) have little to do with test scores. Those teachers changed their students on a personal, relational, spiritual level. The Holy Father is talking about an educational philosophy.

An essential priority of our pastoral work [is] to bring close to Christ and to the Father the new generation that lives in a world largely distant from God.

In practice, this guidance must make tangible the fact that our faith is not something of the past, that it can be lived today and that in living it we really find our good. Thus, boys and girls and young people may be helped to free themselves from common prejudices and will realize that the Christian way of life is possible and reasonable, indeed, is by far the most reasonable.

I experience this every time I encounter Catholic youth. Our task as Christians is to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). The youth are part of those nations. I even experience it when I talk about faith with fallen-away or non-Catholics. I love Christ so much, with every part of my being, that I am bursting to share him with everyone I can find.

This is what makes me want to try teaching Catholic school. Is it possible to be too Catholic for public school?

Knowing that B16 and JPII were both teachers explains their grace at relating faith to education. It also gives me hope that my teacher’s mind will help me as I make up for a good decade of lost catechesis in my own life.

I Survived Another One

Finals week is over, and grades are up. I managed to get all A’s again, praise God. This semester, I had something of a scholastic revolution. I usually end the semester tired, depressed, and desperate. This semester, I was just tired. I’m starting to understand that finishing the reading isn’t as vital as I thought it had to be. I discovered a procrastination hack, the 30-10 Rule, that was unbelievably helpful. Finishing classes by the early afternoon gave me a new approach to every day. Even when I used the afternoon to get chores done instead of study, I had my evenings a lot freer for hitting the books.

The “student” aspect of my identity has always ranked very high. In the past, I’ve even dabbed in letting it surpass “Catholic.” That has changed so much. Now, I am definitely Catholic before I am a student. I managed to get even more involved at the CSC than I was before. Martino organized a small group of us to pray Vespers after 5:30pm Mass, which we both attended every day due to mid-day classes. The LOTH is meant to be prayed in community, so it was the perfect setting. I even got better at chanting it.

There were some evenings during Vespers when my inappropriate laughter got the best of me. I have a habit of laughing at the most awkward times. During sharing of graces on Spring Retreat, I shared an image that popped into my head during the sharing time. When I lived overseas, my grandparents would always have to mail our Christmas presents to us. Anything shipped overseas takes at least five days. Packages take even longer, especially at Christmastime. We’d often get the packages a week before Christmas, so my mom would unpack the wrapped gifts and stack them under the tree. I would do my best to walk past them until Christmas morning came and I finally got to open them up. The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit worked like that for me. I received them at Confirmation, but I didn’t open the box. I tucked it away. It was only years later, when I finally truly claimed my faith for myself, that I opened the box. There must have been an excess of joy in my box.

My Bible study group went to dinner at Noodles & Co. to celebrate the end of the semester and say goodbye to Liz (she’s being transferred to the new FOCUS at Vanderbilt). After we dug in, she asked us to share some way we’d grown spiritually this year. I shared first. As I mentioned, I usually have to drag myself through every semester, and I start slipping away from the Lord, and I wind up a complete mess after finals. I used to need a good week to deprogram. This semester was not like that. I had a slightly better handle on schoolwork than before, and I managed my classes instead of letting them control me. And while all that was happening, I managed to get closer to God. I went back to my daily rosary, I consistently prayed three Hours of the Divine Office every day, I went to Mass six days a week, I was a retreat leader for the last time, I never missed a Bible study…. I did good. It feels good, too.

Taking Another Crack at the Catholic Carnival

I mean that in a non-battering way, of course. Steven of Book Reviews and More hosted last week’s carnival. Here’s what stood out for me.

Christina at Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae (love the title!) laments the worship music at her parish that fails to actually worship. I can top that.

The Memorial Chapel at UMD is non-denominational. I have absolutely no problem with that. I’ve been to a night of one-act plays performed in the same space where Jesus manifests Himself six days a week at noon. It’s weird, but we transform the space into our house of worship. During finals week, a bunch of red hymnals appeared in the racks in each pew. I was slightly offended at first, because there’s less space for us to put the hymnals we bring out each week for Mass. Curious, I picked up one of them and flipped to a random page. What should I find but these priceless lyrics: “Who is this, neither male nor female? / Who is this, neither woman nor man? / … She is God….” My jaw dropped. Then I laughed and went to show it to Kevin and Martino. Fr. Bill seemed unfazed. I know God is incorporeal, and that men and women both are made in His image, so He is therefore genderless, but give me a break. That song was almost as bad as Katharine Jefferts Schori’s reference to “mother Jesus.” She must have missed an important day of biology class.

Melissa at A Third Way writes about her “well-worn friend”: a St. Gerard prayer booklet. I have a Divine Mercy Chaplet booklet I know the same way. I’ve had it since 8th grade CCD, but it was only last Lent that I finally learned to pray it, and now it’s one of my favorites.

Jean of Catholic Fire posts a great list: “15 Ways to Purity for Men.” I have to share this with the Knights, and not just because of the St. Maria Goretti reference in Tip #1.

Vehige (rhymes with Peggy?) of Thursday Night Gumbo enumerates “The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America.” He is spot-on. I especially agree with #1, Biblical illiteracy. I’ve been working on that in my own spiritual life for almost two years now, and I still have a long way to go. Why aren’t the faithful clamoring for Bible studies? Why did it take me so long to remember to list the Bible as one of my favorite books on facebook? I gave Ryan a book of Bible stories for children last weekend, since I couldn’t find a good children’s Bible. I won’t let them inherit my flaws; I’m starting him young.

The Home Stretch

I’ve been dying this week under the stress of the end of the semester. I had to give a presentation on Monday to a small group in Adolescent Lit. It was very low-pressure, but it still took time to prepare. Then, on Tuesday, my guardian angel kept me calm and focused while I gave a group presentation in rhetoric class. I’m still not sure why we had to present. We weren’t actually making arguments, only explaining them. It was like a smaller oral version of our papers. Presenting also meant I had to stand for half an hour, which was not good for my knee.

Wednesday wasn’t as long as they were for the rest of the semester because we had the day off from Adolescent Lit. I went to work twice, then to the CSC Spring Cookout. I even manged to get in some extra time in front of the tabernacle to make up for the lack of Holy Hour.

Then I came home and started working. I finished my resource unit, which was tedious but easy. Then I wrote my legal brief for Argumentation and Debate, which was kind of confusing and also tedious. They took all night. I tried to stay awake by praying, drinking tea, and eating Tostitos. (It’s hard to fall asleep while chewing.) I finally finished around 3:30am, so I crawled into bed until 5:45. Getting up early was definitely a mistake. I was so lethargic I couldn’t even function until I was back down to my usual start-at-6 schedule. I did manage to get in a solid two hours of notetaking for the in-class part of my rhetoric final, though.

My goal was just to get through Thursday. That’s all I asked my dear guardian angel for, and I got it. I was tired during American Lit, but I managed to get through it. I think I might have done okay on the rhetoric exam. Comm ran nice and short since we only had four speeches. I came home, ate lunch, and napped for an hour. Rarely do I have such good naps. My eyes went down from their puffiness and everything.

Finals week, which started today, is actually not that bad for me. I went to work yesterday morning. It was dead, so I got to work on my rhetoric paper the whole time. I came back to read and send out the lector listserv message, then went to Mass a bit early. The Chapel now comes with a (Yale?) college hymnal in every pew, featuring hymns with lines such as “Who is this, neither male nor female? She is God.” I felt scandalized just reading it. I had lunch with Dean Hamilton and the rest of the UGST Advisory Committee at Adele’s, which was less fun than it used to be because it was Buffet Day and I couldn’t eat the yummy-looking chicken. Then I came home and spent all afternoon, evening, and night working on my rhetoric paper.

This morning, I got up and went to Mass at 10am. I’ll have to ask Fr. Bill if he’ll consider scheduling a once-a-month Saturday morning Mass. He does them about that often anyway. I like it because I have a reason to get up and get going on a Saturday morning. I came home right after Mass and launched back into my paper, stopping only for a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Then I did the take-home part of the final, which also felt too easy considering my lack of reading this semester.

I finished both rhetoric assignments by 2:30. They were due by email at 5. I finished TWO HOURS EARLY! Praise God for His never-ending help!

In related news, the Grotto of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at the CSC was dedicated this afternoon. Godincidence, anyone?


I’m preparing my resource unit for my adolescent literature class. The theme of my unit is death and dying. (Hey, it’s interesting.) As I was trying to figure out which volume of The Best American Short Stories includes “The Lottery”, I came across The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006.

The categories are all pretty genius, but one in particular validates popular culture beyond all the rest: “Best American Things to Know about Chuck Norris.”

Hooray for CDA

You know, I never do old-fashioned “what’s going on in my life” posts anymore. Let’s fix that.

It’s almost the end of the semester, so I am dying accordingly. Reading for class still puts me to sleep. I go to class almost every day now having done only part of the reading assignment. As I continue in upper-level classes, the reading volume only increases. Last semester, I got so far behind that I honestly just gave up. This semester is turning out to be very similar. My days are scheduled so tightly that I have very specific chunks of time for studying. Unfortunately, those are often the very ends of my day, so I’m either not awake enough or far too tired to concentrate. I can’t figure out what else to do, though. I don’t know any other way to do school.

We had CDA elections two weeks ago. The nominating committee only picked one person for each office. Attendance dropped so dramatically this year that I’m kind of impressed they came up with that many people. Cathy had mentioned that she would consider a nomination for Vice Regent again if she knew the Regent wouldn’t resign like last year, but I guess they didn’t ask her. So, Kaitlyn will be Vice Regent, Maura will be Recording Secretary, Kait L. will be Financial Secretary, Maureen will be Treasurer…and I’ll be Regent. xD After we finally managed to have a business meeting in October, I realized that I wanted to run for Regent. Cathy isn’t graduating, so I promised myself that I wouldn’t step on her toes if she ran for reelection, but she didn’t. This spring, she herself suggested I consider taking the regency. I told Myca, swearing her to secrecy, and she was all for it. When Fr. Bill told me he hoped I’d become Regent, that pretty much sealed the deal.

On Monday evening, we had what Cathy swears is her last CDA event as Regent. (We still need to do a financial review, though.) Having inducted a whopping three new Daughters on Divine Mercy Sunday, we wanted to try to bring together as many current and new Daughters as possible for an orientation. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to plan enough, so I went to the CSC on Monday evening for Mass as usual with only a very fuzzy idea of what we’d be doing.

Cathy spent Mass in the kitchen preparing dinner. She did a really good job considering that she was working by herself (though Jess N. made the cake). We ate first, then had dessert while Gina led our attempt to go over parliamentary procedure. When you do it right, parliamentary procedure is a really good way to get decisions made with discussion, especially with large groups. We’ve never quite managed to do it right, though. I did manage to get people used to standing when they spoke during business meetings, though. That helps a lot with order, because no one wants to raise her hand and stand up just long enough to say, “That’s a great idea!”

After dessert, we did a (late) icebreaker game of “Do You Love Your Neighbor?” One person stands in the middle while the rest sit in a circle of chairs. She picks a girl and asks, “Do you love your neighbor?” She answers, “Yes, and I especially love people who…” and fills in something about herself. (You can also play it, “No, but I love people who…,” but there is negativity allowed in CDA. Ha.) Then, all the girls who share that characteristic have to change seats. You have to move at least two seats away, and the last person standing starts the next round by introducing herself. Of course Cathy started with me. I picked people who have siblings. Gina needed clarification (“biological or “People who converted” wasn’t thrilling, because there were only two (including my future new roommate, Sarah). Myca picked “I love Catholics,” so that was a complete melee of elbows and squeals. Jess M. couldn’t talk because something was wrong with her throat, so I interpreted her notes.

After the train wreck ended, we played Kait L.’s Circle of Love game. She is a very creative girl. Cathy talked about St. Maria Goretti in the absence of both our Spiritual and Chastity Chairs. We ended by making cards for hospitalized children, and then we all went home. Attendance was pretty good considering our track record; we had about 12 girls (including one who isn’t actually a Daughter). And I got a super-neat saints + JPII bracelet blessed by the Holy Father!

Wednesday night dinner was even more fun than usual because I missed last week, and because we got to eat outside with minimal bug nuisances. It was also the Feast of St. Mark, and I had a wonderfully enlightening Holy Hour.

Earlier this afternoon, I had a phone interview for a summer job. I applied to Johns Hopkins’s Center for Talented Youth Summer Program back in February. I wanted to be a TA, knowing that my chances weren’t great because they’d already been reviewing applications for over a month. I interviewed today for an RA job. I don’t think it went that well. I don’t have much experience as an RA. That aspect of my job with Portz last summer was my weakness. My interviewer asked me what topics I might consider inappropriate for discussing with adolescents as opposed to my peers, and I totally blanked. It’s been a while since I’ve really talked to kids, I guess.

Mary (and Fr. Bill) sent me links to the newest OotP trailer. I’d already seen them, but I appreciated the gesture. It was only a few days ago that I realized that taking this job I interviewed for (if they even offer it to me) means missing out on EVERYTHING Harry Potter this summer. I can’t guarantee I’ll even be able to get DH, let alone read it. How sad is it that Harry Potter is seriously affecting my work this summer, and it’s not even summer yet?

I’ll be leaving for the CSC in a few minutes. The Missionaries of the Eucharist are leading a discussion tonight on the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. I actually managed to read the right sections of it, so this should go much more smoothly than my classes lately, where I tend to go without having read and then doze off for an hour and a half.

EuCon 2007

The semester was half-over at spring break, which is when I went home and finally got around to this blog redesign. If you remember the old design, you can probably guess that this one isn’t finished. I did a bit of touching up, but it’s not even properly dedicated to St. Rose of Lima or Our Lady or anything. My goal for winter break was to catch up on blogging the entire fall semester. I did not. I barely even got to writing recaps of each class, old Catholic Carnivals, or updates on my spiritual life.

I don’t like living in the past. It gets depressing, like remembering past (absolved) sin. So I’m giving up on the recap and just picking up from here.

On Palm Saturday, the CSC hosted its Third Annual Collegiate Eucharistic Congress (a.k.a. (by me) EuCon 2007). Last year was so awesome that there was no question as to my attendance this year; I returned the registration form the day after I got it in the bulletin. I buckled down and did as much homework as possible on Friday to buffer against being out all day Saturday. I got up around 7am, got dressed in my new knee-length (a.k.a. (also by me) church-length) black skirt, and read the lectionary for Saturday and Palm Sunday in preparation.

When I got to the CSC around 9:50am, no one was there. (It was supposed to start at 10.) I ran into Jim and Chris M. on the way, but then everyone else showed up in a huge wave. I had eaten breakfast at home (Lenten Friday fasts for me mean no Honey Nut Cheerios, ergo, a serious craving from them on Saturday morning), so I just talked while everyone else munched. We moved into the chapel around 10:30 for praise and worship to start the day. Fr. Bill gave us a quick intro to the EuCon and to the practice of adoration, and then exposed, and Julie and the choir led us into song. They sang several that I’d never heard of, but we did “Sweet Redeemer,” “Here I Am to Worship,” and, after the break, “You Are Holy (Prince of Peace).” They took the last two a bit too fast, but singing to Jesus is always lovely.
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