Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Redeeming Administration

With summer vacations winding down and the world getting back to the business of school and work, it is the perfect time to read Redeeming Administration: 12 Spiritual Habits for Catholic Leaders. Author Ann Garrido serves as a program director at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Lewis. Having been in an administrative role for many years, she brings a unique and much-needed perspective to the topic of Catholic leadership. 

At first glance, it would seem that this book would have a very limited audience, but that is not the case. Even those of us whose administrative domain consists of only one’s family can gain much from reading these pages. In addition to improving our own outlook and spiritual lives, we can also gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of those who work in administrative capacities. As Garrido readily admits, “administrative tasks are often considered odious” and for those not in administration, those in that role are often viewed with suspicion. It’s tough to be the ones who have to make the hard, sometimes unpopular, decisions!

Garrido has provided one habit for each month for administrators to focus on. These include: breadth of vision, generativity, trust, agape, integrity, humility, courage, reflection, humor, forgiveness, embrace death, hope, and a bonus topic of learning to make peace with time. For each of these chapters, she also provides a holy administrator as an example of this habit in practice. Saints such as Angela Merici, Gregory the Great, Martha, Ambrose, Thomas More, and Rose Philippine Duchesne are featured. It was also wonderful to learn about the lives of some lesser-known saints such as Bruno, Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, and Mary MacKillop. Each of these holy role models has something to teach us about leadership and spirituality. Each chapter also includes questions for reflection and prayer. 

Garrido says that being an administrator is a job full of interruptions and that she needed to find meaning in her work or she needed to quit. This book developed from her reflections. The word administer actually comes from Latin and means “to minister”, so Redeeming Administration: 12 Spiritual Habits for Catholic Leaders is for anyone who leads as a means of serving others. Pick up a copy for your favorite bishop, pastor, and principal, and while you are at it, you might want to pick up a copy for yourself. There is much wisdom and practical advice within its pages.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Adventures in Homeschooling: On the Last Day of a Golden Summer . . .

On the Last Day of a Golden Summer . . . For whatever reason, that line from Pooh's Grand Adventure - The Search for Christopher Robin always comes to me the day before school is about to begin. While some homeschoolers hit the books throughout the summer, we've always taken a long break - almost a full three months. We all need the rest and relaxation that summer brings. Yet, lots of learning goes on even in that down time. I like to say that we are unschoolers in the summer.

Just for fun this year, I thought I'd keep track of the various things summer brought, educationally speaking.

Field Trips: We didn't take any vacations this summer, but we did hit a few relatively local attractions such as the Springfield Armory, the Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival, Forest Park Zoo, the CT Science Center, the Springfield Museums, and Ocean Beach.

Camps: David went to a one-week video game design camp and Isaac went to drama camp.

Summer Reading Program: They both volunteered two hours a week at our local library to help with the summer reading program as well as each read 100 hours for the summer reading program (a goal that they set for themselves - the program ended at the beginning of August; they've read much more.). David also went to a photography workshop that was being held at the library where they used long-exposure photography to photograph glow sticks. Both boys went to a robotics demonstration put on by WPI. And, we got to see some awesome shows put on by Tanglewood Marionettes where we also learned about puppetry.

Physical Fitness:  We spent a lot of time outside this summer. The weather has been wonderful and we were able to take advantage of almost every day swimming and/or playing at the park. The boys even got to try kayaking at a friend's cabin!

Reading this, it seems like we must have been busy all the time, but that really wasn't the case. The boys had friends over often, we got together with our homeschool group, Amy and I played outside quite a bit in the yard. It really was a relaxing, golden summer.

I'm dreading the start of "school" tomorrow, even while being thankful that I don't have to get everyone up and out of the house tomorrow to get to a physical school. I don't know what this year will bring. David suggested we could just skip school for this year, but while I might be willing to take an full unschool approach if they ever felt compelled to do any math or writing in their free time, that isn't the case. They need the structure, even while I respect the fact that they do the bulk of their learning outside the classroom. And so, the curriculum is bought and I have a general idea of where I would like the year to take us, and like or not, our new adventure begins tomorrow morning.

If you have the chance, please say a "Hail Mary" for us to have a good year - productive and full of positive learning experiences.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey

by Emma Rowley
HarperCollins Publishers, 2013

I know I'm not the only person eagerly awaiting the next season of Downton Abbey. While Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey was written to usher in Season 4, it is every bit as relevant gearing up for Season 5. This book is a delight for any Downton fan, offering a look at all that goes into bringing this program to life.

It discusses what goes into writing the scripts, the beauty of Highclere Castle (where some of the footage is shot), the other sets and locations, the hair and makeup, the clothing design, the work that goes into choosing and creating the props (including the food!), and what life is like for the actors and actresses when they are working on the show.

I learned so much reading this book. I had never even thought about many of these details that have to happen for the show to be as beautiful and historically realistic as it is. For example, when a letter is opened, someone has actually written several copies of the same letter so that it can be opened again and again for each take! The work that goes into the costumes and hair is truly amazing. So many people work incredibly hard to make Downton come to life. This book is interesting from a historical, an artistic, and a cinematic perspective. If you are a Downton fan, you will definitely want to read this book.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcoming People Into the Catholic Church

Pope Francis has been very adamant about maintaining that the Catholic Church is a hospital for sinners. We are all sinners in need of God's mercy. We are all in need of repentance. We all have room for improvement.

All too often the Catholic Church has been seen as unwelcoming, and so those in need of spiritual nourishment seek it elsewhere. We need to change that impression. The Catholic Church is for everyone. No, you might not be able to receive Communion without some additional education/sacraments and/or life changes, but you are always welcome to come sit in the pews and to participate in the liturgy. You are welcome to come and pray and bring your needs to God. You are welcome to speak with a priest or pastoral minister and receive some spiritual guidance and support. We in the Church are a family and all are welcome.

My parish published this in the bulletin this week. It is a message I wish more Catholic Churches (and  Catholics) would take to heart:

No matter what your present status in the Catholic Church,
No matter what your current family or marital situation,
No matter what your current personal history, age, background, or race,
No matter what your own self-image,
You are invited, welcomed, accepted, loved and respected here at Holy Name Parish.
We are here to welcome and serve you.
Together we are called to conversion in Christ. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman's Guide to Catholic Motherhood by Danielle Bean

CatholicMom.com's next book club adventure is focused on the book Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman's Guide to Catholic Motherhood by Danielle Bean.

Bean, well-known as the editor of Catholic Digest and writer of several popular books, is also the homeschooling mom of a large family. She wrote Momnipotent for "unhappy, struggling moms. It is also for those of us who, in moments of restlessness, boredom, or the frustration of seeing other women who appear to 'have it all,' wonder if what we are doing now can legitimately be considered a life's work."

Bean offers encouragement to mothers, beginning with acknowledging our feminine genius as explained by Pope St. John Paul II. She discusses our beauty - both inside and out, our emotions, our desire to be perfect, our tendency to sometimes smother, to give too much, and to try to do too much. She explores our tendency to compare our lives with others, our inner strength, and our need to learn to trust God and others. Bean also offers True and False quizzes with suggestions on what you should do depending on your answers.

This is a very down-to-earth book that will leave you nodding your head in agreement, laughing and crying. It offers support and good advice. It is a great book to read alone or with other mom friends.

I invite you to buy the book: Momnipotent: The Not-so Perfect Guide to Catholic Motherhood and, if you like, to take part in the Catholic Mom book club adventure (I'm one of the featured writers): http://catholicmom.com/2014/08/17/danielle-bean-momnipotent-come-to-catholicmom-com-join-us

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prayer To Our Lady of Good Remedy

To read about the Title of Mary, Our Lady of Good Remedy, please visit https://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/novena/Remedy.htm

O QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, Most Holy Virgin, we venerate thee. Thou art the beloved Daughter of the Most High God, the chosen Mother of the Incarnate Word, the Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Vessel of the Most Holy Trinity.
O Mother of the Divine Redeemer, who under the title of Our Lady of Good Remedy comes to the aid of all who call upon thee, extend thy maternal protection to us. We depend on thee, Dear Mother, as helpless and needy children depend on a tender and caring mother.
Hail, Mary....
O LADY OF GOOD REMEDY, source of unfailing help, grant that we may draw from thy treasury of graces in our time of need.
Touch the hearts of sinners, that they may seek reconciliation and forgiveness. Bring comfort to the afflicted and the lonely; help the poor and the hopeless; aid the sick and the suffering. May they be healed in body and strengthened in spirit to endure their sufferings with patient resignation and Christian fortitude.

Hail, Mary....
DEAR LADY OF GOOD REMEDY, source of unfailing help, thy compassionate heart knows a remedy for every affliction and misery we encounter in life. Help me with thy prayers and intercession to find a remedy for my problems and needs, especially for... (Indicate your special intentions here).
On my part, O loving Mother, I pledge myself to a more intensely Christian lifestyle, to a more careful observance of the laws of God, to be more conscientious in fulfilling the obligations of my state in life, and to strive to be a source of healing in this broken world of ours.
Dear Lady of Good Remedy, be ever present to me, and through thy intercession, may I enjoy health of body and peace of mind, and grow stronger in the faith and in the love of thy Son, Jesus.
Hail, Mary.....
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of Good Remedy,
R. That we may deepen our dedication to thy Son, and make the world alive with His Spirit.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Quilting Project - Sunflower Quilt

I love sunflowers and so I've decided to try to create a sunflower quilt. This is a departure from previous quilts I've done in that it is more of an art quilt and will use applique instead of patchwork. This is the plan I drew for myself. So far, I have the blue fabric for the field (a sheet) and the yellows and greens. I'm searching for some brown or black fabric for the sunflower centers. I also made patterns for the centers and petals. Six months to a year from now you should see the finished product. What I love about quilting is that even if it comes out poorly, it will still be a warm, usable blanket.