Monday, May 25, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself"
--Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer, pacifist (1828-1910)

Marriage in an imperfect world

A few weeks ago I read an article in Our Sunday Visitor, "How 'no-fault' divorce has fractured U.S. society". It contains a gem of a statement made by Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "Marriage is the attempt to love one other person the way God loves everyone, and that's hard. You need the support of a community, of a culture, to make it work. If people could do that on their own, we wouldn't need marriage." When Gallagher speaks of community support, she is referring to how no-fault divorce laws do not foster a culture that supports marriage.

I think this speaks to a profoundly overlooked truth about marriage: that marriage is instituted in part to protect its members from each other. Scary, but true. It doesn't exist just because two people are completely mushed-face over one another and are going to blissfully stay that way forever and ever. I think Gallagher hits the nail on the head here: if we could love perfectly, we wouldn't need marriage.

The contract of marriage between two people exists, in part at least, as a fall back when one or both parties would really rather not be married. And of course, no-fault divorce pretty much has wiped that idea off the map, even though the article sites that 4 out of 5 divorcees opposed their divorce. We as a culture are so used to the idea of no-fault divorce, that we almost don't know what marriage is for anymore. It's common to divorce merely because "I'm just not as happy as I think I should be". And because our culture is rife with divorce, marriage no longer means what it is supposed to mean: permanent commitment.

I think there is one other party that marriage is made necessary to protect: children. If laws are created in the first place to protect the innocent, then I can think of no other more appropriate law than the legal contract of marriage. Children are better off when they live with married parents, plain and simple. I could come up with a long list of statistics and anecdotes to prove this point, but I think it's so obvious that I don't need to. I could also write a really long post on this topic, but today is not the day for that. Happy Memorial day, everyone!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quotable Monday

"It is impossible to fulfill the law concerning love for Me, God eternal, apart from the law concerning love for your neighbors."

--Saint Catherine of Siena, Dominican tertiary, mystic, informal diplomat, doctor of the church (1347-1380)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

They're bonding

One of those sweet brotherly moments happened last night as I was getting the boys ready for bed. I was nursing our 10 month old, and I heard my husband say outside the room in the hall to our three year old ' go and say goodnight to baby brother'. Then baby brother surprised me by pulling away from me and smiling, looking towards the door in anticipation. Apparently he heard as well. He did more cute smiling and giggling and kicked his legs in excitement as his big brother came in and went through his ritual of saying goodnight ("goodnight baby brother-wait, wait, don't wiggle...I give you a blessing: in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" Hug, "uh-uh-UH", kiss, "good night!")

It's always sweet to watch my little baby glory in getting his nightly dose of attention from his big brother, but it was just a little extra special that he understood my husband's words.

Monday, May 11, 2009

homeschooling: reason one

As I've been trying to distill my reasons to try homeschooling our kids, I've come up with my number one reason: I want to firmly establish 'the good' in their minds as normal. I read a post recently by a DRE who stated that almost without exception, the public school kids at his parish did poorly on their sacraments testing before first communion while the homeschoolers did very well. He went on to talk about how homeschoolers did not have a problem with a spiritual vocabulary, while publicly schooled kids did; homeschoolers are engaging their spirituality throughout the day while public schoolers spend the majority of their day in an atmosphere that ignores all things spiritual. It is striking to me that a child who goes to public school will spend most of his or her waking hours around people who generally treat spirituality as an alien concept. What is normal, at least at school (no matter how many Christian teachers there are in public schools), is to ignore anything religious.

I've been hyper aware lately of the fact that I am establishing what is normal in my children's minds by what we do and don't do in our family. Because of this, I'm starting to be more careful not to squander opportunities to speak of faith to our three year old. No one else can establish this as normal conversation like my husband and I can simply because our kids spend nearly all their time with us.

I've also been noticing how thoroughly our culture likes to present a picture of life that has been completely sanitized of religion. For instance, for all the ways Sesame street loves to introduce children to the diversity of our world, I have yet to see the show even hint that someones identity is wrapped up in worshiping God. Do they ever show a Muslim praying, or a little Jewish boy wearing a yarmulke, or a child going for first communion? It seems plain silly that though it is not hard to see a person's religion has a profound impact on who they are, pop culture pretends otherwise. It is normal to ignore the most important facet of human existence; relationship to God. This seems a dangerous atmosphere to raise a child in.

It's not impossible to raise a faith-filled child in public school, but I do think doing so adds one more hurdle to the task. I wish I knew who said this first so I could properly attribute it, but...would you rather raise your child in an atmosphere that makes it easy to be holy, or one that makes it difficult? By homeschooling, I hope to choose the former (Lord have mercy!).

Quotable Monday


Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top,
Don't you know a tree top,
Is no safe place to rock?
And who put you up there,
And your cradle too?
Baby I think someone down here's
Got it in for you.

--Shel Silverstein, author, illustrator, poet, musician (1930-1999)