True Grit and the Gift

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A few of my friends and family had shared on social media a TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, Ph.D on the #1 predictor of success, when all other factors had been considered. You can watch the video if you’d like, but to sum it up: it all comes down to resilience, or grit, as she calls it.  

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School of the Home

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"Back to School!" How that phrase used to fill me with dread when I was a child. I have to say [as a parent] the thought of the children returning to the daily/weekly routine of school timetables and repetition is somewhat of a relief after 6 weeks of a fair degree of disorder and random activity [depending on the weather] around the home. For all of that though, I shall miss something of the "school of the home" atmosphere we have all enjoyed as a family since mid July.

Classroom and home, hearth and assembly hall have got to be synergised in the cherishment of Christian values and faith if the family/school; parent/teacher partnership is to bear the rich fruit it is called to bring forth in grace. For that, there really has to be fresh standards of mutual appreciation and support but especially I feel, for the sacred space that is the Christian home.

I was reflecting on this over the last few days as I was immersed in [of all things] the painting of our humble garden shed. A somewhat mundane task but one which we all enjoyed contributing to [though I had the lion's share] as a family. What's this got to do with my point above? Well, some years ago I addressed an international conference at the University of Torun in Poland on the dignity and purpose of the family. In my talk I reminded the audience of the unique phrase to this island nation of ours; "An Englishman's home is his castle." 

It was established as common law by the lawyer and politician Sir Edward Coke (pronounced Cook), in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628:

"For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]."

This enshrined into law the popular belief at the time, expressed in print by several authors in the late 16th century. It was even used as an argument to say that outlawed English Catholics still enjoyed the protection of this maxim, at least culturally if not always technically. The Stage of Popish Toyes: containing both tragicall and comicall partes, by Henri Estienne wrote in 1581:

'The English papists owe it to the Queen that "your house is your Castle."'

The English have had a passion for the sovereignty of hearth and home for more than a millennia. The English have the widest variety of chimneys in the world as well as more garden sheds than anywhere else. (Which is why I felt obliged to smarten our's up!)

Seriously though, if the home is meant to be sacred then the family, and the wishes and conscientiously held beliefs of that family [consonant with Gospel values and Catholic teaching] who reside in that home ought to be fully respected and served by all sectors of society and ecclesiastical life. The former grows less and less but the latter [especially the parish and school] must be something the Catholic family can depend upon; if not then something is very drastically wrong. There is no need for me to enunciate the many and diverse risks facing the family. The message of the 2008 World Day of Peace puts it succinctly;

'Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.

So as a new academic year begins I pray the Holy Spirit will pour afresh on parents, teachers, clergy, and catechists a new and deep sense of mutual respect, Christ-like love and dependence upon the Lord to fulfil their shared task of passing on the Faith.

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When Your Spouse Doesn’t Share Your Faith

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My husband and I are both practicing Catholics. But out of all the couples I’ve had go through CatholicMarriagePrep.com, I’m guessing close to half of them are Catholics marrying a person of another faith, usually a protestant denomination. But even for those who are Catholics marrying another Catholic, often times one is stronger in their faith than the other. And so for the sake of good, holy, happy marriages, I want to talk about what you can do when your spouse doesn’t share your faith. Here are 4 things to keep in mind:

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Moon at her Feet

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These last few days have seen some major media attention on the full lunar eclipse of the sun which passed through 10 different US states in the space of 90 minutes. An eclipse is always an impressive thing. One commentator in the US who witnessed it said it was "a religious experience."

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My Present Failure

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When I was in high school, I always wished I was two years older. In my youth group, most of my friends were two years older than I was. I wanted so badly to be the same age as them: to get my license when they did, to stay out as late as they did, to graduate when they did. I could not wait for college.

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Seeds of NFP

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Lately, the readings of the liturgical cycle have been focusing on the parable of the sower. And since last week was Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness week, I wanted to follow up with some reflections on sowing the seed of NFP.

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Lessons in Love

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Before I got married, I thought I was the perfect catch. I was confident in myself, loved adventure, was disciplined in my job,  went to daily Mass, and frequented the adoration chapel. I was intelligent and happy and was surrounded by good friends.

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Looking at others

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Dear Ron,

We married in August 1999, both aged 20, we dated two years before marriage. Tom is a cradle Catholic, Anna raised Lutheran. Not much premarital counseling due to our mixed faith marriage. In year five of marriage, we vacationed with Anna's two girlfriends to Maui. At the time, they were both single. We brought our 15-month-old with us. 

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Bonding Bucket List

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The other night my husband and I were discussing our bucket lists. Mine went something like this: go to the Grand Canyon, go to the Sand Dunes, go on a cruise, travel to Europe…
His bucket list was a little different: go heli-skiing, go skydiving, go parasailing, get a motorcycle…
Since I am deathly afraid of heights and he gets motion sickness, it doesn’t sound like we will be accomplishing many of our bucket list items together.

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Matrimony Does Not Mean Legal Roommates

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Often today if a man and woman want to get married, they first live together to see if they would be a good fit. To a lot of people, it makes sense to see if you are “compatible” before marriage, but really the opposite is true.

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