Friday, May 26, 2006

We're Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, actually we're leaving in a van and a car. We're heading to Colorado this weekend for two weeks of camping. I can't wait to see the mountains up close and personal. While there, I'll be doing a speaking gig in Denver. I hope to meet a few Internet friends in real live person while there. If you're anywere near Colorado, you've got to check this conference out. I can't believe all the events they have planned. Awesome!

Upon our return, I'll have the Michigan Catholic homeschooling conference. That'll be an easy job as I'll only have one talk to give. My topic: Bringing History Alive through Literature. The Michigan conference is one of the best organized conferences that I've attended. We get about 900 people from all over Michigan, neighboring states, and even a few from Canada.

An administrative note: Unless the primitive camping sites in the Rocky Mountains offer wireless Internet access, I'll have very little access to the computer. So if you leave a comment at this blog, it may take a week or two for me to approve it.

PS Please pray for our safe travel!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Susie Lloyd Interview Postponed

With all the Da Vinci Code hoopla, Susie Lloyd's interview on EWTN was not aired. It's been postponed to the week of July 2nd. Mark your calendar!
Sun 9:30 am ET
Mon 5:00 am ET
Wed 5:30 pm ET
Sat 9:00 pm ET

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Catholic VBS

Every summer I teach Vacation Bible School (VBS) at my parish. My job is to catholicize the VBS program bought by the DRE. Now Ascension Press has a VBS program out just for Catholics, based on the wonderful Cat Chat CD's. Check it out here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Blogging Hiatus

Blogging will be little to nonexistent over the next six weeks. I have a book to finish writing, two conferences to prepare for, and our Colorado vacation. See you all again in late June!

P.S. Blogger's spell check doesn't recognize blogging or blogger as legitimate words. Interesting.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

First Holy Communion

Sparky made his First Holy Communion on Sunday. It was a very special day of course, but even more special, in a way, because he has celiac disease. Celiacs cannot digest wheat and so Sparky could not take Jesus in the form of bread. Instead, he took only the Precious Blood.

Our pastor did a lovely job using Sparky's special circumstances as a teaching moment. In his homily he spoke of how Jesus, Body and Blood, is present in both the form of bread and wine.

Below is an article that I wrote five years ago on this topic for OSV. It is interesting for me to reread it now. In it I mention how my heart ached. But on Sunday, my heart lept for joy. I wept joyfully as my son took the chalice into his hands. All that mattered was that Sparky really loves Jesus and was thrilled to be partaking in Holy Communion. The wheat thing didn't matter at all.

“Come into my heart Lord Jesus and stay with me forever.”

As I sit at my computer, my seven-year-old daughter is teaching this prayer to her 32-month-old brother. It is a prayer of spiritual communion; a prayer to be said when one cannot partake in Holy Communion. Although it is very sweet to see my little ones praying together, my heart is aching. It aches because I know that there will be times in my son’s life when he will not be able to take Jesus in the Eucharist.

My son has celiac disease, a lifelong disease with no cure. Fortunately, there is a treatment: a change in diet. Persons with celiac have an intolerance to gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. As a result they must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. Rice and corn are safe substitutes.

Recently, a Boston family made national news as they left the Catholic Church when they were told that their 5-year-old daughter, who suffers from celiac, would not be able to use a rice wafer when she received first Communion. The family instead chose to join the Methodist church, leaving the Real Presence behind.

I understand this family’s frustration, but leaving the Catholic Church is not an option for us.

This is not a disease to be taken lightly. Gluten damages the intestinal lining so that it cannot properly absorb nutrients. Even the smallest trace of gluten can lead to future illnesses, such as lymphoma.

At twenty months, my son was malnourished even though he ate a well-balanced diet and took a daily vitamin. He suffered serious weight loss, developmental delays, and cried constantly because of abdominal pain.

After he began the gluten-free diet, my husband and I saw wonderful changes in our son. We were thrilled. Then one day we realized that he would never be able to digest a communion wafer.

We asked our parish priest what we should do when the time came for our child to receive his First Holy Communion. In his forty years as a priest he had never encountered this situation and was unsure of how to proceed. So I sought the advice of Catholic adults with celiac. I had already begun networking through a local support group and the Internet, so I added Holy Communion to my list of questions.

I soon learned that a host made of rice flour was not a legitimate substitute for a wheat host. I am not a theologian, and cannot begin to lay out the theological argument for this, but 2,000 years of tradition appears to insist that the host must contain gluten in order to be a valid consecration.

The pastor of my in-law’s parish uses a low-gluten host, which is valid. This still causes some damage to the celiac priest, but he chooses to take the risk.

One woman told me that her husband receives Communion in the hand and brings it back to the pew, where he breaks off a very small piece to share with her, since even the smallest crumb is still in essence Our Lord. Most people that I talked to take communion under the species of wine and forgo the bread altogether.

Young children need only touch the wine to their lips. Since the particle of host that is dropped into the wine by the priest contaminates the entire chalice with gluten, a separate chalice is provided for the celiac individual.

Life is unfair, especially to little children who suffer from incurable diseases. My son will never share a pizza with his buddies, walk into a McDonalds to order his heart’s desire, eat birthday cake with his schoolmates, or take Communion under the species of bread.

As he will have to do with many other situations in his life, he will make special arrangements in advance in order to take Jesus into his body. When such accommodations cannot be made, he will ask his Lord for a spiritual communion.

Even when he cannot take Jesus into his body, he can take Him into his heart. And he can offer up his sacrifice in love.

Monday, May 08, 2006

2006 Colorado Catholic Home Educators Conference

I'm so excited to have the opportunity to speak in Colorado this year. We're going to make it our family vacation.

If you're anywhere near Colorado, check out the website at: 7th Annual Colorado Catholic Home Educators Conference.

Author Mary Ann Budnik will be there as well as Olympian Rebecca Dussault. I can't wait!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Homeschoolers on the Television

Susie Lloyd will be on EWTN starting Mothers' Day (May 15th). If you don't get EWTN on cable or satellite, you can stream it on the Internet.

Airing (Eastern time):
Sun 9:30 am
Mon 5:00 am
Wed 5:30 pm
Sat 9:00 pm

Go to Bookmark to check it out. Scroll down just past Mother Angelica.

If you're not familiar with Susie Lloyd, she has a column in Latin Mass Magazine's homeschooling section. She also wrote the hilarious Please Don't Drink the Holy Water. It's the kind of book that you give to a friend as soon as you're done reading it, because you enjoyed it so much. That's what I did.

Friday, May 05, 2006

PopeStNick5: The Grail Code

Check to see if this title is already in your library's catalog. If it is, put a hold on it and check it out. If not, fill out a patron request form right away. This can usually be done online at your library's website.

Title: The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence
Author: Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey
Publisher: Loyola Press
Date Published: May 2006
ISBN: 0829421599
Price: 15.95
Comments: Just in time for the Da Vinci Code movie!

From the publisher:
The Grail Code is a lucid treatment of the Grail legends, based on real history. It satisfies the hunger that people have for knowledge of this mystery. The true Grail bears witness to a divine gift that exceeds even the deepest human longing. This book is unique and a great read.
Scott Hahn, author of The Lamb’s Supper and Hail Holy Queen

In Western literature, the search for the Holy Grail is a recurring and engaging theme. In whatever form it takes the spiritual overtones are compelling. While many authors have addressed the quest, Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey bring a fresh approach. The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence is both a good read and an invitation to experience a sense of spiritual journey holding the reader’s imagination in the context of faith.
Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, S.T.D., Bishop of Pittsburgh

The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence is a much-needed book, immersing the reader in the richness of Grail lore through the ages. The book grounds the legends in their historical and theological context, giving a much-needed corrective to some of the more outlandish and unfortunately popular constructs of the legend we find today.
Amy Welborn, author of de-coding DaVinci

There is an accompanying blog: Grail Code

To read past library recommendations, or to join the email list, visit: Pope Saint Nicholas V.

Catholic Magazines in Public Libraries

One of PopeStNicholasV's goals is to get good Catholic magazines into libraries as well as books. For example, my library subscribes to First Things.

I came across an offer from NewsMax magazine that got me thinking. (I'm not familiar with NewsMax, other than Rob says it's a far-right political magazine.) They are offering a free subscription to the library of your choosing should you purchase a subscription for yourself.

Sometimes I come across buy one, get one free offers from my favorite Catholic magazines. I think that next time I'll buy one for myself and send the free one to my library. I hope that you will consider it too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Da Vinci Resources for Teens

Angie left this link in the comments box and I thought that I should bring it out here to share: Da Vinci Outreach Teacher's Resource. It's a 47-page teacher's guide.

Also check out: Catholic Educator's Resource Center for articles and resources.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Catholic Homeschooling Resources

Michelle Grunkemeyer has a nice email newsletter that comes out quarterly. To learn more, click here: New Catholic Homeschool Resources and News.

Michelle also has a great website: Catholic Homeschool Support.

Adoremus Books

There's a new Catholic homeschooling mail order company in town. Check it out at: Adoremus Books

Radio Interview to Air Tomorrow

I just learned that my taped interview with Steve Wood is to air tomorrow (Thursday, May 4th) from 2:00 to 3:00, Eastern time. To find a local station, or to stream online, go to EWTN and click on Radio. To listen to a recording of the interview after May 5th, go to Faith and Family Center.

I encourage you to invite family members or friends to listen as Steve tried to ask questions that would come from non-homeschoolers and those considering homeschooling.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Amy Welborn Comes to Lansing

Teen son and I attended a talk by Amy Welborn on Sunday. The topic was, of course, The Da Vinci Code. I have to say that Amy is an outstanding speaker. Invite her to your city! I felt that I left her talk armed and ready to fight the good fight. I've read Amy's books, but hearing her speak really made me feel prepared for when all the DVC hoopla starts up again upon the movie's release.

Teen son loved the talk and really felt that he got a lot out of it. It seems so important to me that we get this message out to teens and young-twenty somethings more than any other group.

Thank you Amy for coming to Lansing!!

Archery Unit Study

Easy Fun School offers a free archery unit study at their website. I would add "Look into local youth archery clubs." To make it complete watch Narnia or Lord of the Rings!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mother's Day Gifts, Part Two

I made an offer last week to Cathswap of a free sample issue of Heart and Mind ($5 value) with the purchase of The Catholic Homeschool Companion from my website. Plus the book is 20% off the list price. With Mother's Day around the corner, I'll extend that offer until Friday (May 5th). If you'd like the book personalized, let me know when you place your order.

Please feel free to share this offer with any email groups or Internet friends.

I mail the books book rate (3rd class) and it takes about a week to be delivered. If you want to order a book, but want it mailed first class, email me: mwittlans at aol dot com. It's such a huge book that it costs nearly $6 to mail first class.

Mother Day Gifts

If your husband and children are just dying to know what to buy you for Mother's Day, how about suggesting a gift subscription to Heart and Mind!

It's so important the we, as professional educators, keep up on our chosen vocation. We should make sure we're reading all the right books, subscribing to the right magazines, and going to conferences. As mothers we sometimes forget about our own needs, but these things also benefit our children. We don't need to feel guilty about buying Catholic homeschooling books or magazines since these things help us be better teachers to our children.

If you're not familiar with Heart and Mind, it's a nice independent Catholic homeschooling magazine. It comes out quarterly and is small in size, but it still packs a punch. Every single issue has a pull-out unit study that alone is worth the subscription price. There are regular columns by Laura Berquist (Classical Education), Cay Gibson and Ana Braga-Henebry (Literature Alive), and me (Thrifty Homeschooler). Nancy Brown edits one of my favorite columns: A Student's View which is written by a different homeschooled student or graduate each issue. Alicia Van Hecke edits the product reviews. You can't have a great homeschooling magazine without loads of reviews on the latest books and curricula.

Now, I'm a bit partial as a contributing editor, but then I believe so much in this magazine that I donate my time. I don't get paid for articles or editing services other than a free subscription and the satisfaction of offering something of value to my fellow Catholic homeschoolers.