SummaryCindy Costello, homeschooling veteran of twenty years found the fruit of success not in her own strength, but rather through sacramental grace.
It was the night before my first day of homeschooling.
My son’s kindergarten teacher had called to say that he was still on their roster if I wanted to change my mind. I had quit my job, taken the three oldest children out of school, was pregnant with my fourth, and had no idea what I was getting myself into and if I would be able to survive the coming years.
As I laid my head on the pillow, I prayed, “Lord, I feel like I am jumping off a cliff, and I hope You’re gonna be there to catch me!”
1. Homeschooling – a Call and the Grace
That was twenty years ago. I see now that homeschooling was truly a call from the Lord that my husband and I followed with blind faith. Some challenges included:
- Being misunderstood by family and friends
- Our fears that we could educate our children well enough
- How we would schedule our day and keep it ordered
- Would our children be happy?
Today we know that with the call has come the grace. Despite the future we could not see, we did jump off that cliff, and found that this “leap of faith” has been accompanied by the grace of falling into His loving arms. God had entrusted to us these beautiful souls, and would one day ask us to give an account of how well we prepared them for their own reception of His grace.
We wanted to raise joy-filled disciples and evangelists – saints in our own time. If the Lord were to ask, “Got grace?”, we wanted to respond with a resounding “Yes!”
2. How Will I Survive?
Many young homeschooling moms over the years have voiced their concerns to me about whether they could “survive”. Now blessed with being able to see the fruit of homeschooling, I can encourage these moms that they will indeed succeed…if they rely not on their own strength, but on the grace of God. And where we get these graces most powerfully through the sacraments:
- through the grace given in the sacrament of married love,
- through the grace given in frequent communion with the Lord in the Eucharist and Adoration, and
- through the grace of healing in the sacrament of Confession.
3. Grace Through Marriage
The beautiful document of St. John Paul II’s called the Theology of the Body teaches us that God calls all people to marriage. God wants to be one with us, and our eternal destiny is union with Him in a heavenly marriage!
We live out this call to union with Him through vocations, and we can witness in a special way to the sacrificial love of Christ for His Church in our marriages. When I was going through a difficult time in parenting, a beautiful bishop calmed my fears by reminding me to find the grace for being a good mother in the sacrament of our marriage.
Immediately, I felt less alone and was reminded that I must keep my focus on the strength of the bond between my husband and myself. This focus would be precisely the thing that would lead to good parenting. As moms, we can tend to neglect our spousal relationship and spend all our intellectual and emotional energy on the children.
But parenting is not a sacrament – marriage is! Looking for the grace we need for good homeschooling can and will be found when we consistently strive for ways to unite ourselves to our spouses in love. This takes time, conversation, and presence, but the reward is the very “good wine” of grace from God that then becomes present to ourselves and helps us love and teach our children.
4. Grace Through the Mass and Adoration
“If you get your kids to Holy Mass, your homeschooling day has been a success.” This gem came through the gentle words of a veteran homeschooling mom to me in my early years of having all of the kids home. I began to shift my focus from priorities such as:
- books and testing,
- grades and worldly accomplishments, and
- lessons and activities
The priority became the salvation of their souls. From that day forward, I made it a point to begin the day with Mass as often as I could. I considered this time of paramount importance to the success of the homeschooling day, for me and for the children. God also gave us the grace to go listen to Him in silence in times of Adoration.
Often we go through the church doors filled with angst and apprehension, and leave with peace and the creative energy needed to tackle the day. Grace! He is so ready to pour it into our hearts if we but open and come ready to receive it!
5. Grace Through Confession
Becoming ready to hear His Voice and become grounded in His deep desire to be one with us involves our willingness to be healed. Life in this time of salvation history means falling many times into the snares the evil one sets for us. We tend toward some of these pitfalls common to homeschooling moms:
- being impatient,
- worrying about the subjects we are not proficient in (like Algebra!),
- procrastination in correcting and planning,
- becoming overwhelmed and lack of trust, and
- hurting the ones we love with our words and in our actions.
These traps beset us daily and are targeted specifically at holy families striving for union and for peace. This calls for constant spiritual protection in the sacrament of Confession. Here we have the opportunity to receive grace to get back up from the fall.
“It matters not how many times you fall,” a wise priest once said to me, “but how many times you get back up again.” Getting back up is hearing God call once more, “Got grace?” We answer when we humble ourselves before God, and allow Him to heal our wounds, our poverty, and our sin.
Filled with the grace of His Precious Blood reconciling us to the Father, we become more open to recognizing His Presence on a daily basis, hearing His Voice guide us in decisions, and giving our children the love that they need through His Spirit.
Grace flowing through the sacraments of Marriage, Holy Eucharist, and Confession has been the stream from which my thirsty soul has been able to drink, so I can serve my family in homeschooling.
As I begin my final years of homeschooling with my fifth and last child, I stand confident that the Lord will provide for us in every way. Sustained in marriage and my love for my husband, in frequent communion with the Lord in Eucharist and Adoration, and in running quickly to Confession when I fall, I continue in faith to follow the Lord’s call to jump off that cliff and be caught up into His loving embrace.
The Lord is waiting and wants to ask, “Have you got grace?”