Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Victorian Ball-Civil War Style

Tonight John attended the annual Civil War Ball at the Dupont Mansion in Wilmington.
I hope that they had a great time!
Phil Sneeringer, Adam Holdnack, Julia Holdnack, Claire Sneeringer, Hannah Sneeringer, and John

Monday, May 21, 2012

       The Great Barry
It used to be a lot simpler. As E. C. Bentley deftly summarized it in 1905:
Geography is about maps
But Biography is about chaps.
But that was then, and now Biography is also about maps. For example, have you ever thought it would be way cooler to have been born in colonial Kenya?
Whoa, that sounds like crazy Birther talk; don’t go there! But Breitbart News did, and it turns out that the earliest recorded example of Birtherism is from the president’s own literary agent, way back in 1991, in the official bio of her exciting new author: “Barack Obama, the first African-American president of The Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.”
So the lunatic theory that Barack Obama doesn’t meet the minimum eligibility requirements to be president of the United States was first advanced by Barack Obama’s official representative. Where did she get that wacky idea from? “This was nothing more than a fact-checking error by me,” says Obama’s literary agent Miriam Goderich, a “fact” that went so un-“checked” that it stayed up on her agency’s website in the official biography of her by-then-famous client up until 2007: “He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister.”
And then in April 2007, someone belatedly decided to “check” the 16-year-old “fact” and revised the biography, a few weeks into the now non-Kenyan’s campaign for the presidency. Fancy that!
When it comes to conspiracies, I’m an Occam’s Razor man. The more obvious explanation of the variable first line in the eternally shifting sands of Obama’s biography is that, rather than pretending to have been born in Hawaii, he’s spent much of his life pretending to have been born in Kenya. After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title “Journeys in Black and White,” being born in Hawaii doesn’t really help. It’s entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance — American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury-vacation destination and nothing else. Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man’s rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents.
And where’s the harm in it? Everybody does it — at least in the circles in which Obama hangs. At Harvard Law School, where young Barack was “the first African-American president of The Harvard Law Review,” there’s no end of famous firsts: As The Fordham Law Review reported, “Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color, Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.” There is no evidence that Mrs. Warren, now the Democrats’ Senate candidate, is anything other than 100 percent white. She walks like a white, quacks like a white, looks whiter than white. She’s the whitest white since Frosty the Snowman fell in a vat of Wite-Out. But she “self-identified” as Cherokee, so that makes her a “woman of color.” Why, back in 1984 she submitted some of her favorite dishes to the Pow Wow Chow cookbook, a “compilation of recipes passed down through the Five Tribes families.”
The recipes from “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee” include a crab dish with tomato mayonnaise. Mrs. Warren’s fictional Cherokee ancestors in Oklahoma were renowned for their ability to spear the fast-moving Oklahoma crab. It’s in the state song: “Ooooooklahoma! Where the crabs come sweepin’ down the plain . . . ” But then the white man came and now the Oklahoma crab is extinct, and at the Cherokee clambakes they have to make do with Mrs. Warren’s traditional Five Tribes recipe for Cherokee Lime Pie.
A delegation of college students visited the White House last week, and Vice President Biden told them: “You’re an incredible generation. And that’s not hyperbole either. Your generation and the 9/11 generation before you are the most incredible group of Americans we have ever, ever, ever produced.” Ever ever ever ever! Even in a world where everyone’s incredible, some things ought to be truly incredible. Yet Harvard Law School touted Elizabeth “Dances with Crabs” Warren as their “first woman of color” — and nobody laughed. Because, if you laugh, chances are you’ll be tied up in sensitivity-training hell for the next six weeks. Because in an ever more incredible America being an all-white “woman of color” is entirely credible.
Entering these murky waters, swimming through it like a crab in Mrs. Warren’s tomato mayo, Barack Obama refined his own identity with a finesse Harvard Law’s first cigar-store Indian lacked. In 1984, when “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee” was cooking up a storm, the young Obama was still trying to figure out his name: He’d been “Barry” up till then. According to his recently discovered New York girlfriend, back when she dated him he was “BAR-ack,” emphasis on the first syllable, as in barracks, which is how his dad was known back in Kenya. Later in the Eighties, he decided “BAR-ack” was too British, and modified it to “Ba-RACK.” Some years ago, on Fox News, Bob Beckel criticized me for mispronouncing Barack Obama’s name. My mistake. All I did was say it the way they’ve always said it back in Kenya. But Obama himself didn’t finally decide what his name was or how to say it until he was pushing 30. In the shifting sands of identity, he picked his crabs carefully.
“I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then,” says Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. . . .  So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”
In a postmodern America, the things that Gatsby attempted to fake — an elite schooling — Obama actually had; the things that Gatsby attempted to obscure — the impoverished roots — merely add to Obama’s luster. Gatsby claimed to have gone to Oxford, but nobody knew him there because he never went; Obama had a million bucks’ worth of elite education at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law, and still nobody knew him (“Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him”). In that sense, Obama out-Gatsbys Gatsby: His “shiftless and unsuccessful” relatives — the deportation-dodging aunt on public housing in Boston, the DWI undocumented uncle, the $12-a-year brother back in Nairobi — are useful props in his story, the ever more vivid bit-players as the central character swims ever more out of focus, but they don’t seem to know him either. The more autobiographies he writes, the less anybody knows. Like Gatsby presiding over his wild, lavish parties, Obama is aloof and remote: Let everyone else rave deliriously; he just has to be. He is in his way the apotheosis of the Age of American Incredibility. When just being who you are anyway is an incredible accomplishment, Obama managed to run and win on biography almost entirely unmoored from life.  But then, like Gatsby, he knew a thing or two about “the unreality of reality.”
 Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2012 Mark Steyn

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Marriage Is....

  This post was passed to me through our TORCH group. I know Fr Klein, as he is the Wilmington Diocese head of the Office for Pro-Life Activities and Respect Life Committee. 

The article originated on the Totus Tuus Family and Catholic Homeschool blog.

 Fr. Leonard Klein On What Marriage Is

I had to ask my Pastor, Father Leonard Klein, if I could post his Sunday sermon again. As usual, it was thought-provoking, illuminating and timely! I hope you will read it.

13 May 2012
There are few things more basic to humanity than the desire to love and to be loved, and there are few things about which there is more confusion.

Love in our era has been defined almost exclusively in terms of emotion – something we feel, something we “fall into,” almost as if it were an accident.  Thus follows the confusion about marriage into which our society has fallen.

“What is marriage?” is the question that is not being asked by those who want to change the definition.  Is it merely a way of signaling our social approval of committed love between any ordering of two (or more) people?  Or does it have a deep meaning related to the simple fact that there is only one basic biological function that requires two people?  And that they have to be of opposite sexes?  Marriage exists in human culture to bind men and women together to rear the children produced by their sexual interaction.
The Church understands, along with most cultures until very recent times, that it is not just loving feelings that constitute marriage.  

Marriage is a covenant, ordained by God, necessary for the continuation of the human project.  If marriage is based only on affection, it ends when the feelings change.  But that is not what Catholics believe.  Nor is it what most human societies have believed throughout history.  Marriage was, after all, not invented; it is a reality of the natural law that humanity has with much difficulty and meandering discovered.  It was not created by the state and cannot be changed by the state.

For us, marriage is not just a contract, or a right or a certification of how we feel: it is a Sacrament, a state of life to which the promise of God’s grace is attached.  To get a sense of how radical a claim this is, remember that monastic vows and the religious life are not named a sacrament.

When a priest or deacon conducts the pre-marital inquiry to see whether a couple is free to marry, he does not inquire into their feelings.  We may well talk about feelings and their love and their relationship.  Pre-Cana instruction will address such matters.  And I assume that they have come to inquire about marriage because they love each other in the romantic and emotional sense.  But in the formal inquiry, I will ask them whether they accept the values of permanence, fidelity, total commitment, and openness to children.  Their marriage is constituted by their free acceptance of those values.

I am not trying to measure the degree of their affection or see into their hearts – I cannot – but to ascertain their understanding, their commitment and their freedom.  Their love, you see, is real insofar as they affirm and understand the meaning and values of authentic marriage: permanence, fidelity, total commitment, and openness to children.  These truths are against no one and permit hostility to no one.  The truth about marriage is not a declaration of war; it is a declaration of what is.  [And for further reflection on these questions I commend to you Bishop Malooly’s column in the new Dialog.]

Now, I have pointed out these basic teachings about marriage, not merely because of certain rumblings in the news over this past week, but because of the second reading and the Gospel, and because it’s Mother’s Day and because May is specially dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin.  On all these counts this a good day to think about what love is really is.
Listen to what Jesus says:
“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love."

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.”
There’s not a lot about feelings in this, is there?  It’s not that feelings and romance, emotion and sensitivity, are not important, especially in marriage.  They surely are.  But love cannot be reduced to feelings, as our culture does because it has no other avenues to understanding what is real and good and true.  People have lost confidence in the notion of truth, and in the relativism that follows only feelings seem real.
But love is not just feelings.  It has shape and content, just as marriage has a shape, a content and a purpose that transcends the couple.

Love involves keeping Christ’s commandments.  And did not your mother’s love involve some commandments?  When I went off to college, my mother, sturdy farm woman that she was, told me not to let myself go soft.  Almost fifty years later, I’m still trying to obey her.

And did not your mother’s love have form and content?  It is important that you knew that she had loving feelings toward you.  But if those feelings had not been accompanied by hard work, care, sacrifice, discipline and all sorts of activity, you might remember her with sentimental affection but shake your head over her incompetence, loving her in spite of it. [My eldest son smiled at me at this point]

Christ likewise expects us to show our love by keeping his commandments, and they are numerous.  “God is love” says First John in one of the best known lines of Scripture, but the Father’s love and the Son’s love are manifested very much in commandments and instruction.  We are to obey the Ten Commandments, even when it’s hard.  We are to go further and follow the example of Christ in active works of love for others.  We are commanded to pray, to celebrate the sacraments.  We are commanded to believe, to rejoice and to love.

Ultimately, the love Christ commands is sacrificial.  It is defined by his own sacrifice on the cross.

Again the example of our mothers can be helpful.  They did sacrifice a lot for us.  And in that their joy was made full, as Christ promises.  We do not regret the love and labor we pour into our children.

And the example of the Blessed Mother applies all the more – her heart was pierced by the sacrifice of her Son.  Not only was she bereft, as far too many mothers are who have seen their children die.  She bore him to this purpose and suffered with him, as he suffered for us.  And yet she too shared the joy of the resurrection, and we find her with the disciples in Jerusalem in the opening chapter of Acts.  She finished her life in the home of the apostle John as Christ asked on the cross and as is depicted in the last window on my left, faithful to the end.

Love is shaped by obedience and by service.  It is a Christ-like outpouring for the other in which we discover, often to our great surprise, our true joy.

That obedience is not always easy.  Defending the simple truth about marriage is not easy and evokes misunderstanding and even hatred.  But more generally, the power of sin holds us back from living for the other, from living for the truth, from taking risks demanded by our faith.

Our mothers at their best gave us a model of what it means to live lives of sacrificial love.  And the Blessed Mother surely did.  And Christ did preeminently.
And if we too accept the notion that love is far more than feelings but a matter of obedience, sacrifice and truth our joy will be real and full.  We will find our lives in losing them, as Christ promised.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
In such love we find our life, our hope and our eternal destiny.

From The Archdiocese of Baltimore....

 Home Schooling

The Church offers many opportunities to parents in helping their role as primary educators. It is the Church's responsibility to give parents the supportive resources that assist them in their teaching role. In today's society there are many options that parents can elect in the educational formation of their children. Whether that education is carried out in the institutional classroom or in the home the common denominator rests with the parents' right to make that choice.
Homeschooling is a gift to the Church for it adds another dimension to the teaching apostolate. Homeschooling parents take a more direct role to teach in the name of Jesus, we pray for their success and ask God's blessing on their ministry.


A Gift to the Church

Parent as Educator
It has long been accepted in Catholic tradition that when a husband and wife accept the responsibility of parenthood, they have become partners with God in creation. Parenting includes not only the temporal well being of a child, but most especially it calls for the spiritual nurturing of the child.
The very act of parenting, both by association and execution, calls the parents to be the primary educators. The concept of parents as "primary educators" has been supported and advocated by the Church. "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children," says the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2223). "They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues."
In the Rite of Baptism, parents are called the first educators of their children in the ways of faith. The prayer, spoken over the father, says, "You and your wife will be the first teachers of your child in the ways of faith. May you also be the best teachers bearing witness to the faith by what you say and do."
In his 1994 Letter to Families, Pope John Paul II wrote, "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also posses a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators, because they are parents." (16)
The Second Vatican Council, in its Declaration on Christian Education (5), also affirmed the "primary and inalienable right and duty" of parents to educate their children.
It should be noted, however, that while parents are the primary educators, their interpretation of doctrine can never supersede the legitimate teaching authority set over them in the Church.

What is Homeschooling?

The details of homeschooling life vary from home to home. The uniqueness of family life will correspond to the experience of homeschooling. Homeschooling or home education can be described as the work of parents who have undertaken, to any degree and for any length of time, the formal religious or academic formation of their children, work that has been traditionally carried out in institutional classrooms.
For the most part, parents who homeschool their children are not doing it as a "protest." Many parents who choose homeschooling do so because they have discerned it as a calling from God, and as part of their parenting ministry.
Catholic Homeschooling as Vocation
Catholic homeschooling is virtually a new movement within the Church. The majority of parents who have accepted the responsibility to homeschool their children see this as the completeness of their vocation as parents. They are rooted in the belief that the Spirit drives their calling to homeschool.
Parents, who make the conscious decision to homeschool, accept the literal role of parent as primary educator. Such a decision is ordinarily based on the premise that Catholic homeschooling is a blessing to the Church. It enhances the diversity of Catholic education, while at the same time, affirms the position that homeschooling parents participate in the mission of the Church to teach in the name of Jesus.

Diversity in Catholic Education

The Catholic Church has provided many alternatives to assist parents in the education of their children. The excellence of Catholic schools, the outreach of religious education programs and the support of family and home based catechetical programs is all part of the teaching mission of the Church. Included in this list of alternatives is the ever-increasing phenomenon of homeschooling.
Because of its newness, Catholic homeschooling is sometimes misunderstood and misrepresented. The majority of Catholic parents who homeschool their children do not want to be seen as separating themselves from the Church's teaching mission, but as an integral part of the apostolate of Catholic education. This added dimension provides the entire community of faith with a richness that strengthens the entire Church. It is in this diversity that the Church fulfills its belief that we are many parts, but all one Body.
Parents who have elected to homeschool their children have made a generous commitment of time, effort and energy. They recognize the totality of such a commitment and have accepted the fullness of its responsibility.

The Archdiocese's Position on Homeschooling

The Archdiocese of Baltimore recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children. The Archdiocese also recognizes that parents make deliberate choices of how they want their children educated. Some parents elect to form a partnership with a Catholic or private school to assist them in the education of their children. Others opt to have their children attend public schools and be connected with the many excellent parish religious education programs. Also included in this list of deliberate choices are those parents who want to homeschool their children. All are legitimate options.
It has been a long accepted fact that the community of faith finds order in the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its function, but should rather support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with the view of the common good" Catechism of the Catholic Church (1883). The principle of subsidiarity dictates that parents receive proper assistance from the Church in this, their task of education.
The following are the position statements of the Archdiocese on Homeschooling
  • When properly undertaken, homeschooling is a valid ministry in the Church and makes a positive contribution to the total Catholic education.
  • Pastors have the canonical responsibility to insure the orthodoxy and completeness of home catechetical instruction.
  • Homeschooling parents are to meet with the parish's Director of Religious Education to discuss their plans for catechesis, if they intend to include catechesis as part of their homeschooling efforts. Many parishes offer family catechesis programs that respects home catechesis while supporting the parents.
  • According to the Archdiocesan regulations given in Signs of God's Love and Seal of the Spirit, the immediate catechesis for a sacrament is a freestanding program apart from any Catholic school or parish religious education program. This immediate catechesis involves the candidate, the candidate's parents and the parish community. Therefore, the homeschooling parents are to discuss with the Director of Religious Education how their children will be part of the parish's freestanding program for the immediate preparation and celebration of any sacrament.
  • The Department of Catholic Education Ministries welcomes the participation of homeschooling parents to the annual Catholic Schools Convention and the Religious Education Institute. These opportunities will assist the parents in participating in workshops, as well as to explore educational materials that would be helpful in their overall ministry.

The fullness of Catholic education is predicated on the understanding that those who have been given the responsibility to teach accept the full scope of the responsibility in all of its dimensions. In matters of faith, all teachers are witnesses to the gospel message and pass on the living faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the resource that guides our lessons and teachings.
It is understood that parents have options in how their children will be educated. It is the intent of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to preserve the integrity of the parents' choice, as well as to nurture and establish open lines of communication. Whatever decision a parent renders in the education of a child is not a matter for outside judgement. Whether the environment is the traditional formal structure of an organized school or the classroom of the home, the common denominator must be for the good of the child.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Very Happy Mother's Day!

What a beautiful day we had.
God gave us the weather, and we had a very special family time together.
I was able to get a few pictures over the course of the day.
Lilly and Maggie played in the yard all day!

My Peonies started blooming!

We had a wonderful  backyard cookout!

The fire pit was so nice for sitting and relaxing

Beautiful flowers from my guys!

And my gals.

 Laura, Andrew and the girls sent me a wonderful gift as well! The girls each made coasters with their own original drawings on them. So cute! They are all over the house now, and I love looking at them. Laura sent me a beautiful pair of Miraculous Medal earrings. Very appropriate!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I'm a BAD Blogger

It's been over a week, and we have been so busy that I haven't had time to blog any of the stuff we have been doing!

The boys and I and two of their friends, Henry and Liam, went to New York on a bus tour. That was a new and different experience.

We are working hard to get ready for "King Lear". It's really all we are thinking about right now. The kids are doing a great job getting things together. I made a couple of crowns and some shields last night.

I have been teaching Confirmation, in an assistant capacity, this year and Wednesday night is the big night. I am looking forward to seeing the Bishop again. He is such a special person.

We are getting things wrapped up in school, bit by bit.
Math is actually coming to an end in a week or so. There is still Science and History to finish, which will take longer, but the boys have had a really good year, all in all.
We are going to be participating more actively in co-op next year, and that will be a new experience for all of us. I will be teaching Literature to two age groups, along with Paula and Rachel, and the boys will have Science, art and a couple of other subjects there.

Other than that, we are just running around trying to get everyone where they need to be and make sure that we have food in the house and current driver's licenses. Long Story.

I'll try to keep up better...maybe when I have NOTHING to do over the summer....right...