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Homeschooling in the Trenches

4 minutes

Summary

In our fight for our children’s souls, as we educate them for Eternity, we can ask God for the grace to discern our priorities and the courage to live them.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines “trench” as “a narrow ditch dug by troops to provide a place of shelter from enemy fire”.

Some might say it’s a bit overdramatic to say we are homeschooling from the trenches, but I really don’t think so.

One only needs to look at the latest headlines (or simply walk down the street) to know we are in a battle for our children’s souls — from the “world”, often even from our own family and friends.

Many of us are well into another school year, perhaps having done this for a very long time (this is our family’s 23rd year). Some of you are homeschooling for the first time, perhaps recognizing the school system has failed your children.

Others have known all along you would homeschool, and are so excited your child has finally reached kindergarten and you can begin.

Whether you are new or a veteran, all of us need to power up, make a plan, and have a clear sense of direction before we move forward.

There are a few things we can do to help us carry out this awesome and important calling God has given us.

Mission Statement

When people ask us or our spouse why we homeschool, are we confident in our reply? Is this something we have spent time discerning and know so well that we can confidently answer back, and our spouse and children can as well?

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If not, we might consider taking a few minutes to think about — and then write down — why we think God has chosen our family to homeschool. Ask your spouse and your children to give their input.

Having a purpose, a shared mission, unites the family and putting it in writing and makes it tangible and helps everyone to be on the same page.

Before the going gets rough before serious problems weaken our resolve and we are tempted to throw in the towel now is the time to have a firm grasp on why we have said “Yes” to God in this calling to homeschool. The temptation to give up can happen to even veteran homeschoolers.

A few years after our 8th child, who has Down Syndrome, was born, I panicked and seriously questioned my ability to teach her at home. Without letting my husband know, I made plans to go to the open house of a local school that had a program for special needs children.

When I finally told him I was going to do this, he implored with me to remember why we were homeschooling, that just because she had different abilities and challenges from the other children, that did not change our goal and purpose for her education. His understanding of our mission, his strength, and his desire to continue on this same path with our daughter gave me the courage I needed.

Sacramental Graces and Prayer

There will be times when we want to jump ship (or throw them off the ship). But just as when there are difficult moments in our marriage, and we look at our spouse and ask ourselves, “remind me again why I married him?” our vows bring us back to reality.

The graces we need to educate our children are pulled from the graces from the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. Ask for these graces, beg God for them on a daily basis, and they will be freely and generously given.

The graces our families can receive from frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist and frequent confession are abundant and just waiting for us.

There is no better way to “power up” than by obtaining these graces, the more often the better. If your family has not yet discovered the beauty of going to daily Mass, why not make this the year to begin?

Frequent confession, at least once a month, will aid in fighting off the temptations to fall into sin, and also give us and our children the fortitude to stay on the right path.

Pray the rosary with your family every day. This is the weapon of the saints to battle against evil. Kneel together as a family and unite yourselves with God in prayer each evening. When we center our lives around God and recognize it is He we are fighting for, our family will be strengthened.

Make your Home a Holy Haven

Is it possible to be in the trenches and live in a haven, a place of safe refuge, at the same time? I think so! Our home should be a place where anyone who enters will know this is a truly Catholic home, a place where Our Lord is honored and obeyed.

My husband and I tell our children nothing that is offensive to God will be allowed in our home. That means books, music, movies, whatever we do on the computer, our speech, or how we act toward one another.

Philippians 4:8 gives us a good perspective, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” We have to constantly evaluate if what we are doing is pleasing to God — or not. If it’s not, get rid of it.

Soldiers in the trenches have drilled together, lived in close quarters together, laughed and cried together. They are united in the same goal and are willing to lay down their own lives for their fellow soldiers. The family is no different.

Our families grow stronger when we work together, play together, sit around the dinner table and talk together, and serve God together. The more we build unity within our family, the stronger we will be.

Time is Precious

My college-age son lived at home during this past summer, working a full-time internship and taking three online classes. As he tried desperately to fit in a few moments of “free time” between work and study, he lamented how there just needed to be three more hours in every day — then he could fit it all in. We all have felt this way, and I could certainly sympathize. But God has given us all 24 hours.

That’s it, and in His perfection, no more is needed. The key, my son has often heard me say, is knowing and living by our priorities and learning how to manage the time He has given us. Not an easy task, but a vital one if we are to succeed in this battle.

Here’s a sobering thought: You and your spouse will have one chance — and only one — to raise your children right.

Everything else in our lives — jobs, accomplishments, social life — are far less important than raising and forming the children God entrusts us with to become responsible adults of strong moral character who live by Christian principles.

Since homeschooling is part of this path, we certainly have our work cut out for us to fit it all in. This thought alone should keep us in check when we are tempted to get caught up in endless Facebook political discussions, or volunteer for the third year in a row as president of the women’s council.

There is good reason members of the Catholic Church here on Earth are called the Church Militant. We struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, working out our salvation.

While we are in the trenches, fighting for our children’s souls and educating them for Eternity, discernment of our priorities and the courage to live them is essential.

As Fr. John Hardon said, “only heroic Catholic families will survive.” Be assured that God is on our side, right there in the trenches with us, and He will give us the graces we need to fight the good fight. Ask for them.

About Cheryl Hernandez


Cheryl Hernandez
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Cheryl Hernandez resides in Florida with her husband of 30 years. They have 9 children and have been homeschooling with Seton for 21 years. Their five oldest are Seton graduates. Born in California and raised in Europe, Cheryl has a BFA in Graphic Design.
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