Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Titles I Recommend

On a friend's blog, The Mom mentions some books she loves and recommends.  I thought I might do the same.  (I know copy cat).  But she had a very good idea.

I like Hooked on Phonics.  I have taught four children to read with this program and I love it.  However, it can be very expensive.  I have used the same books and tapes for all four kids so it was a good investment for me, seeing that number five is now using the 10 year old books.  My friend, The Mom, recommends Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  I have seen it at the library, but I have never tried it.  I didn't know about this program before I stared with HOP.  Free is good!

I love Singapore Math.  Last year was the first year I used their Kindergarten math with the Aesop's Fables books.  Loved it.  It was fun and engaging.  Stories and Math (not unlike the Mom's recommendation of Five in a Row for Preschoolers) together is engaging for that grade level.  My son loved it.

When it comes to Junior High and High School we now switch to Life of Fred.  My oldest took Beginning Algebra (Algebra I) in 8th grade, my second son in 9th.  This series is humorous and engaging, and almost self-teaching.  With minimal help from mom, my oldest has aced math up through Trigonometry.  Stan Schmidt (the author of the series) was a college math teacher and developed this series after he saw the deficiencies in the public school systems methods of teaching math.  He was also a protestant minister at one time, so he has employed Christian principles in the stores without being overtly Christian.  IOW, anyone can use them.  I cracked up one time when I read a negative review of his books because he mentions Fred, who is 6 entering a bar.  The writer was quite offended.  However, she apparently didn't read the story very thoroughly because it was a JUICE bar.   (Note:  I am happy to see that Mr. Schmidt is now developing more Life of Fred Books for the younger grades.  I look forward to looking at them and perhaps getting them for my younger ones.) 

We use the Faith and Life Series for religious education up through 8th grade.  While I also have my children read various saints stories and we try to do fun crafts and activities tied to the Church year, the material is solid and engaging.  It is thoroughly Catholic and the kids actually have a solid foundation in their Faith.  We use the texts and the activity books.  I use the teacher's resource manual but it is not strictly necessary for home use.  We use Fr. Laux High School series later on.  Plus, The Catholic Catechism by Fr. Hardon, the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, and various other recommendations by Kolbe Academy Homeschool for High School Theology. 

I will add to this as I have time in the coming week with History and English.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ten Commandments

One of my pet peeves in Catholic Catechesis is the Ten Commandments.  In our local Catholic school, they teach the wrong version of the Ten Commandments.  Every Ten Commandments display submitted for the "Religion Fair" at school was the wrong version of the Ten Commandments.  In the parish bookstore, whenever they sell a plaque with the Ten Commandments on it, it is invariably the wrong version of the Ten Commandments.  Whenever I've been to other Catholic Churches and have seen the Ten Commandments displayed, it has been the wrong version of the Ten Commandments.  Why such ignorance of our own Faith?  I'm sure one of the reasons in the Catholic school is not only the lack of teaching nuns, but also the fact that you don't have to be Catholic to teach there.  Does anyone see a problem with an elementary school teacher teaching religion class in a Catholic school when they are not Catholic????  I don't get it.  Not only are we not properly catechizing adults and children but we are allowing those who have never learned the Faith to teach it.

Anyone who has read and loved the Scriptures all his life should, in my opinion, can see the significance of the signs of numbers in Scripture and in our Christian Faith.  Let's just look at the numbers first, then we'll talk about the significance of the redivision of the Commandments by Protestants (protesters against His Church).  The Catholic Ten Commandments are divided this way:

THREE for God: 
1. I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

What is the significance of THREE?  That's a pretty easy one.  Three represents the Blessed Trinity, the Christian Godhead.  There is also the three days Christ was in the tomb, the three days of Jonah in the whale's belly as a sign of the aforementioned, and the Three Kings who visited the Christ Child. 

SEVEN for man: 
4. Honor your father and mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

What is the significance of seven?  It is the number of the completion of creation.  On the seventh day "God rested," not because of fatigue but because it was complete.   We divide our week into seven days for the same reason.

Now, let us look at the Ten Commandments changed by some Protestants.

1. I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet.

Moses and Serpent image
You will be hard pressed to find any significance to a division of 4 and 6.  One will note that the first commandment (Catholic version, 2nd in the Jewish version) has been divided into two, giving protestants an excuse to accuse the Catholic Church of idolatry.  The problem with this accusation and division of the commandments as its "proof" is that not all "graven images" (ie, statues) were condemned by the 1st (now protestant second) commandment.  In fact, God commanded Moses to carve an image of  a snake for the people to look at and be healed.  Just look at the instructions for the building of the temple given by God to Solomon.  These instructions included the construction of twelve bronze oxen and golden cherubim to be displayed prominently in the temple complex.  "Don't make any graven images" obviously does not apply in these circumstances.  God was speaking about things like the "golden calf" that the people had constructed to worship as a god.  They did not worship the snake on the pole as a god but it is a "graven image."   They did not worship the golden oxen or cherubim in the temple as gods but they are "graven images." 
Our Lady of Grace
   In the same way the Protestant second commandment cannot apply to the images of Our Lady, or the Saints in Catholic Churches.  These images are not worshipped as gods.  These "graven images" are pictures of our family, our loved ones.  They are no more worshipped then the Protestant who has a picture of her mother on the wall worships her mother.  Many people find pictures, mementos, or even urns a comforting way to remember their loved ones and have them close to them.  It is the same with the Church.  Now, do some people go over board with their zeal for Our Lady or a Saint?  Of course.  That does not mean the Church is doing anything wrong. Sin by one individual does not make God wrong, nor does it make His Church wrong.

I read somewhere that there are actually 27 commands given by God in Exodus and Deuteronomy, but the Jews compacted them down to 10 because that way they could be easily memorized on two hands.  The Church kept to this tradition but changed the Jewish numbering slightly.  There is evidence that the numbering Catholics, Orthodox, and Lutherans use today may have been developed by St. Augustine in the late 4th or early 5th century.  The list of the Ten Commandments we use today was confirmed by the Council of Trent in the 16th--for what should be obvious reasons.  The protestants (except Lutherans, ironically) later changed the Ten Commandments to what they thought was closer to the "original", along with removing seven books from the Christian Bible.  As you can see by the chart below (sorry about the quality), the protestant version only matches the Jewish one on the last 6 commandments.  The 1st commandment differs and 2-4 of the Jewish commandments actually match 1-3 of the Catholic version.  I conjecture that St. Augustine saw the first (Jewish) commandment as too specific to God's People, the Jews and decided to leave it out.  I have also heard the accusation that Catholic 9th and 10th commandments were insulting because it looks as if wives were property.  Actually Catholic teaching helps us understand that the separation of wife from property in the 10th commandment proves just the opposite.  The Ten Commandments are in order of importance, as taught by the Church, and coveting someone's wife would be a much graver sin than coveting his property, and since lusting after someone's wife (and the strange marriages and remarriages in Rome of the 1st century) was a big problem for man, it was emphasized as a separate command.

The Three Current Versions of the Ten Commandments
 Did the Catholic Church change the Ten Commandments?  Yes and No.  The Christian version, like the Christian version of Scripture, varies slightly from the Jewish version.  The original Christian Church, the Catholic Church, has had the same version of the Ten Commandments (and Scriptures) since at least the 5th century. 

A case can be made that the reason Christ summed up the Ten Commandments into the Great Commandment(s) was just for this problem of division.  "Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength [covers the first 3 commandments], and love your neighbor as yourself." [covers the last 7 commandments]  No more worrying about numbering.  However, when we teach our children and catechumens about how to use the Ten Commandments as a tool for confession and a faith filled life, we need to make sure we are giving them the correct Catholic education and catechesis.

Further reading:
The Ten Commandments - Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The True Ten Commandments -- Catholic Answers Article by Fr. Wensing
The Catholic Church Changed the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments -- A Comparison from EWTN's website
Word for word comparison of the different Scripture versions of the Ten Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy
Dave Armstrong's article on the same subject.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crazy Summer

Wow!  I can't believe it has been over a month since I posted last.  It has been a crazy summer.  I am taking classes to complete my bachelor's degree.  I took my final last Tuesday, and turned in my 7 page term paper just a week before that.  All the kids went to at least one camp.  We had swimming lessons and lots of trips to the pool.  My oldest took his SAT and ACT in June.  We've had day camps and driving lessons (again my oldest).  We've had very few days of doing nothing--especially on the weekend when my husband is home.  I'm not allowed to sleep in, even on Saturday, that's when my husband does all the yard work with the older boys before the heat gets here.

But summer hasn't been without its high points.  My daughter and I went on a girl's only weekend this past weekend.  We spent too much money but boy did we have a good time.  We stayed in a "cottage" in Sulphur, OK a little over an hour and a half drive away.  She wanted to visit the Little Niagara falls.  Swim, have fun, goof off.  That's kind of hard when the "falls" are a tiny, stagnate green pool.  The falls were a bust.  We found other things to delight.  We went to the lake there but my daughter was freaked out by all the fish that were curious and poked her legs.  So, we didn't do much swimming. We spent some time at the local museum.  Saturday night we enjoyed a movie on the "plaza" in town.  They showed "Remember the Titans" a movie you wouldn't think would appeal much to a 10 yo girl, but we had a terrific time watching and munching popcorn outdoors.  The stars were beautiful.  We went to church on Sunday morning but what an odd church.  They had the tabernacle veiled still, flanked by seraphim, so I thought there was hope of an orthodox Mass.  Everything was okay except for the altar girls and one of THEM preparing the altar--which is the PRIEST'S (or deacon's) job, not the altar girl's.  I was truly disappointed by that.  During Mass I tried hard not to think about it.  Then I used their restroom...guess what, another pet peeve of mine.  They had the WRONG ten commandments posted on the wall.  Why are Catholics so ignorant of the history of the protestant ten commandments?  That will be my next post.  Despite the faults of St. Francis Xavier parish we did get to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, so it was worth the unorthodoxys in their church.  Anyway, we took another route home and stopped at G.W. Exotic Animal Park.  I guess they just want to get some revenue that day so only charged the two of us $20 to get in.  If it wasn't soooo darned hot out (around 105 degrees) it would have been the highlight of our trip.  It was amusing to see several tigers laying in the tin tubs provided for them--several with bubbles.  My youngest is obsessed with bowling.  He would have enjoyed seeing the many bowling balls and pins in the cages for the tigers' amusement.  I felt sorriest for the bears.  This Oklahoma hot spell has to be torture for a creature with dark thick fur, who belongs on a mountain somewhere far North of here.  We didn't stay as long cooing and ahing over the animals as we would have liked because we were both melting--like in that Perrier commercial.  It was pleasant, though.  I really didn't want to come home.  I would have enjoyed another couple of days in that cottage and exploring more of Oklahoma on the way home.