"You have been told, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. Only to love goodness, to do the right, and to walk humbly with your God."
I have considered this verse from Micah as my "life verse" for many years now. It reminds me to look for the good and beautiful in life and in the world around me; it motivates me to do what is right just because it is the right; and it encourages me to keep my relationship with the Lord a top priority.
Last weekend (May 31 and June 1st), my husband and I attended the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference. I have attended the conference almost every year of my 15 years home schooling. Some years I get a lot out of the conference, some years just a little; but, every year I take away something new and beneficial. This year was a very fruitful year and I am feeling motivated. As I listened to the keynote speaker and the workshop presenters, my "life verse" resounded in my mind many times over.
Fr. Michael Schmitz was the keynote speaker this year. (EXCELLENT anytime you listen to him). Friday night's talk was titled "Being a Man After God's Own Heart." And even though the title leads us to believe it was addressed only to the male part of the crowd, Fr. Mike stressed the importance for each one of us to be people on a mission; fulfilling the mission/purpose that God has for each of our lives.
His talk on Friday night was great, but, I have to admit, even though I enjoyed it very much, it wasn't until his Sat. morning keynote that my "personal retreat" of sorts began.
I think the easiest and briefest way to share the insights I gained Saturday would be to simply bullet some key points I took away from each presentation.
The conference day began once again with a keynote address from Fr. Mike: Real Education
- Philippians 4:8 "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
- Modern culture seems to equate wisdom with experience
- Modern education teaches and values that which is functional or useful (beauty is often considered UNimportant)
- Real goal of education should be teaching TRUTH in order to live a life of EXCELLENCE
- True WISDOM = EXPERIENCE + TRUTH
- To become a person of EXCELLENCE we need three things
- Discipline (gives us freedom... not the ability to do whatever we want, but the ability to do what we aught)
- Good stories (Education should include stories of true heroes. Those who did what was right simply because it was the right thing to do. Stories that give us something to strive for, virtues to desire.)
The presenter of the first workshop I chose to attend was Regina Doman (catholic author and homeschooling mother). The workshop was titled "Who's Prettier: the Disney Princesses or the Blessed Mother"
- The current trend in film/tv is to make the "bad guy" attractive (mysterious, confident, active, dynamic, powerful, seductive, and smooth) and the "good guy"/hero not so much (predictable, doubtful, reactive, static, weak, awkward, and stale)
- We need to make what is good attractive. Show our kids the goodness and beauty of our Catholic Faith.
- "When you sever the connection between goodness and beauty, goodness is in danger of becoming abstract and merely moral and evil becomes fascinating" Dietrich von Hildebrand
- Beauty is the incarnation of goodness
- children ages 3-6... experience good/evil through the senses... they need to see, feel, touch the beauty in the Catholic faith (beauty in the church building, family altar, good quality picture books, catholic art, fun and beautiful Easter and Christmas celebrations)
- children 7-12... good catechesis, stores of true heroes (no wimpy heroes), good (older) church art, active and fun scripture stories
- teenagers... consistently joyful parents, variety in true Catholic worship (Latin/Traditional, Byzantine, Charismatic), encourage their personal creativity
- Being good at what you do is an evangelization
Next I attended "The Well Read Mom: Why Reading Matters for Women" presented by Marcie Stockman (homeschooling mom of over 20 years).
- Surveys show that 1/2 of high school graduates will not read another book (unless necessary for college)
- When a woman reads she benefits herself, her family, and her community
- Reading feeds a woman's heart
- Best way to raise a reader... read to them. 2nd best way...Be a reader! Let your children see you read!
- Studies show that those who read are more involved in society (vote more often, volunteer more often)
- We have a TREASURY of wisdom in books (stories of what is good and beautiful)
- Good stories encourage virtue.
- Go through each room of the house. Make a list of maintenance needs to be done as budget allows.
- Declutter, organize, simplify.
- Does each room reflect the beauty of our faith? Statues. Good art. Place a crucifix in each room that does not currently have one.
- Do a better job changing the family altar to reflect the current season of the church year, day's feast, or particular family devotion.
- Continue with music lessons.
- Make more time for arts and crafts.
- More "living books". Good stories about true heroes in our history. Saint stories... heroic virtue.
- Consistant prayer time (individual and family)
- More frequent confession.
- Consistent adoration.
- More frequent daily Mass
- Good catholic spiritual reading. (alone and aloud with family)
- Finish online photography classes and get out taking pictures (my way of reflecting goodness in nature, in life, and most specifically, in my family)