Summaryby Dr Clark | Many years ago, a group of about forty Catholic homeschool state support group leaders gathered in Chicago for two or three consecutive years, in the month of April, to discuss the growing Catholic homeschooling movement. It was not an easy meeting to attend as we all had children and not much money for such trips.
Many years ago, a group of about forty Catholic homeschool state support group leaders gathered in Chicago for two or three consecutive years, in the month of April, to discuss the growing Catholic homeschooling movement. It was not an easy meeting to attend as we all had children and not much money for such trips.
We discussed the issues that Catholic homeschooling families were facing and how each of us tried to help the families in our respective states.
There was one thing we all agreed on, and that was to ask a special saint to help us in our discussions. That saint was St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day fell on the day or the week we had our meetings.
We dedicated our meetings to her, called her our patroness, and asked her help as we discussed the important issues for the Catholic homeschooling families we represented, as well as those who could not be represented.
St. Catherine of Siena is a Doctor of the Church, and she is a wonderful model for our homeschooling children and parents as well as those in homeschooling leadership. Catherine was the twenty-third child of a family of twenty-four children.
The whole family must have been exceptional in their practice of the Catholic Faith because Catherine was devoted to Jesus when she was still a toddler.
It was reported that she prayed devoutly when she was only three years old.
Like the older sisters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Catherine’s older siblings taught her prayers and told her stories about Jesus–obviously a homeschooling family teaching by example!
When Catherine was only seven years old, she had a vision from Heaven and, at that young age, dedicated her life to Jesus.
Those of us with many siblings or many children realize that growing up in a large family teaches sharing and generosity.
In a large family, children learn to help others and to work together. Members of a large family learn respect for the common good of the family as well as respect for the unique personality of each member. Dinner table conversations teach patience to express ideas and patience to listen to other opinions from those who share the same values.
Holiness comes through the family.
Family members teach each other not to be selfish but to share, whether it is toys or clothes, food, or money. Family members teach us how to be humble, as they are concerned enough about our welfare to tell us our faults so that we may work to improve.
Family members demand that we give our best regarding family and home responsibilities, yet they still give us love when we sometimes don’t measure up.
Family members support us when we return from our not-so-successful ventures into an unsympathetic society. Family members give us love and encouragement to help us persevere in difficulties outside the home.
Frequent Mass and Confession and the daily family Rosary provide the means for each family member to grow in holiness. The home becomes the domestic church, which so many popes have encouraged in their writings.
The homeschooling family life becomes an extension of the Church because of the many opportunities to grow in grace. St. Catherine of Siena saw her home as a convent, a place of spiritual retreat, a place for service as well as prayer.
As Catherine grew older, she realized that God called her to extend herself outside of her family, so she regularly volunteered at the local hospital and even the prison.
She attended Mass every day, yet she did not neglect the concerns of her town and often visited both Church and political leaders to give them advice.
Catherine was not awed by the powerful of the world, and even had the confidence of her faith to visit the pope in Avignon, France, where he was living in fear. She talked to him about his responsibility to the Church to be a fearless leader in spite of political turmoil.
St. Catherine is known for convincing Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome in 1378, thus ending the 70 years of papal residency in France.
St. Catherine, pray for us to raise our family in a home which can honestly be called a domestic church because of our religious practices and concern for each other.
St. Catherine, pray for us to model our family after the Holy Family in Nazareth.
Pray for our family members to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus while helping those in need of consolation and truth in our community. Amen.