God, Religion and the First President of the United States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gilbert_Stuart,_George_Washington_(Lansdowne_portrait,_1796).jpg

The other night I watched a video I received in the mail, documenting some of the writings of America’s Founding Fathers, in reference to the need for Godly principles in American public life and excerpts from court cases upholding those principles.

George Washington, himself, in his Farewell Address, wrote that our country would fail without them.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington’s_Farewell_Address

As I consider how successful special interest groups have been in removing God and religion from so much of our public life, I could not help but draw a parallel to this past Sunday’s first reading from Nehemiah 8:2-10.  After years of captivity and being forbidden to hear the Word of God in public or practice their religion, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem.  “Ezra the priest…standing at the open place…read out of the book…and all the people listened…all the people were weeping as they heard the words…”  I cannot help but think that what was foretold by President Washington if we exclude religion, is coming to pass.  I do not believe religion or faith should be forced upon a person –  the Catholic Church practiced that grievous mistake for hundreds of years.  This, after having it practiced on us for hundreds of years in an attempt to suppress us.  God gave us free will that we may come to him willingly and joyfully if we so choose.

As a modern, American Catholic, I am very comfortable with my religious freedom.  Maybe even complacent.  However, I have been hearing warning bells, and must pull myself out of my complacency.  Lest we be dragged into the abyss of secular humanism, let those of us who have faith, pray.  Let those of us who have wits, join the fray and educate, legislate and lobby to keep our Constitutional rights.  Let those of us who waver, not be swayed by popular opinion, but seek truth on our own, delve deeper into the issues, and draw our own conclusions, instead of jumping on someone else’s bandwagon in ignorant bliss.

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Catholic Education: Homeschool or the Parish School?

I read in our diocesan newspaper last week about how enrollment is dropping at Catholic schools.  People can’t afford tuition, there isn’t enough assisstance to go around, etc.  Families are disappointed that they have to pull their children out of the parish school and put them into public school.  Frankly, my enthusiasm for Catholic schools has waned since more of the teachers started coming from the secular and often non-Catholic community, and more of the students from non-parish and frequently non-Catholic families who could “afford the better education”.

Assuming that these same schools are keeping the tuition as low as possible, and that these same families are making sacrifices to come up with the money for their childrens’ education, such as giving up the extra car, the boat, the vacation home, the vacation, meals out, extra wardrobe, shoes, downsized house and lifestyle, and still can’t afford tuition, I have another suggestion – Catholic Homeschooling.

Homeschooling is far more economical than either tuition or public schooling (considering the expense of fashionable wardrobe/uniforms, supplies, backpacks, lunches and transportation).  A homeschooler’s primary cost is books.  There are many excellent Catholic curricula available now, far more than when I began.  And a family doesn’t have to use all of one program.  Materials can be mixed and matched according to individual needs and preferences.  Some families even use entirely free public domain and library materials.

Two working parents can teach, one parent can stay home (thereby saving the expense of working wardrobe, convenience foods and transportation for that parent).  Even single, working parents can homeschool – I am not suggesting parents need to be super heroes, either.  Homeschooling can take about as much time as the nightly sitcoms, and when done well, merges right into daily life and experience.

As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1653:  “Parents are the principal and first educators of their children”.  And again 2221:  “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute”.  As well as numerous other references in CCC 2221-2230.

I homeschooled my 3 grown children (two of whom recently graduated with Associate’s Degrees and transferred to universities) for several of the middle- and high school years, and am currently homeschooling my second grader.  I encourage anyone to check into this fantastic option for providing our children with a wholesome Catholic education.

Some places to start:  Homeschool Legal Defense Association – great resource for state laws and precedents regarding homeschooling.

Catholic Heritage Curricula – excellent Catholic education resources

The Homeschool Lounge – great place to meet other homeschoolers, get ideas, support and have fun!

Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes – another great site for support and ideas for Catholic homeschooling

Mrs. D’s Homestead and Around the Homestead – my other website and blog, where I discuss my country life and homeschooling

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