Sunday, November 15, 2009
For months now, Roo has been using the echolalic phrase"Yes Sir," in response to every question that requires a simple "yes" and many other questions or comments that don't require a "yes." It all began innocently enough while Bilby and Roo were playing, and Bilby thought it sounded cute when Roo said "Yes Sir!" Bilby encouraged Roo to say it a few times and it stuck despite many, many attempts to dissuade him. Every time he said "Yes Sir," we would model the correct response. I was beginning to wonder if he would ever abandon it! This week I have noticed that he is simply saying "Yes." I have to restrain myself from praising him for not saying "Yes Sir," which could bring us back to square one.
Roo's second achievement is that he has started to use the toilet for bowel motions. Granted this is not the most pleasant blog topic, but as it's such a big step and one that we have worked so hard to help him achieve, I feel it's worth noting. I wanted to shout it from the roof top, but it's not something you can tell everyone without getting odd looks! Perhaps my sharing it here will encourage another family dealing with this issue who is wondering if they'll ever say good-bye to nappies. There was no magic solution for this one, just consistent encouragement, loads of patience and a few lollies!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Last night while watching the ABC's Q and A programme I found myself shouting at the television! The show had a panel of quests and a live studio audience who were discussing religion and the existence of God. Among the guests were Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan, a young Muslim gentleman who is a politics lecturer, a "militant atheist" and someone who called herself a "social Catholic."
What riled me the most was the way in which the audience and several panel members assumed that they knew what the Catholic church teaches about homosexuality and contraception. Fr. Brennan was asked about gay marriage, then later in the show, he was asked was homosexuality considered a sin by the church. In the limited time he was given he attempted to explain the churches teaching much to the surprise of the audience. They assumed that he had gone against church teaching. They ASSUMED that they knew more than a Catholic priest! In short he was trying to say that those outside of marriage are called to celibacy.
The other assumption was that if you follow the Pope then you must have 10 children. More shouting at the television! We follow the churches teaching on life, and we only have 3 children. According to those people I must not be an orthodox Catholic.
The "social Catholic" on the panel joked that her 80 year old mother says that she had a "Vatican bypass" thirty years ago. It is very easy to just say well I don't agree with x or y without knowing what the teaching are or why the church holds a particular view! I know because I felt the same way 10 years ago. I had a lot of anger toward the church. However, when I took the time to find out why the church teaches what it does, all my anger gave way to understanding.
I find it quite concerning that people with a very limited amount of knowledge assume that they have a handle on an issue. A little information can be a dangerous thing. Unfortunately many people take a position of authority when in fact they are almost totally ignorant. I believe this is due to laziness and a lack of humility. How much better would the world be if we took the time to research a topic before assuming that we know it all?
If I succeed in teaching my children to have an informed opinion before opening their mouths, I will have given them a rare gift. In educating my sons I am aiming to teach them that what they read or hear in the media might not be true. I will have failed if they do not question and research information for themselves.
If you are not Catholic, or you are feeling indignant about a Catholic teaching like contraception, I challenge you to do a some research. You might surprise yourself.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Mass was celebrated at the church attached to my primary school . Every time I enter this church memories come flooding back! Just being there is enough to transport me back to the feelings of my childhood.
As I waited for Mass to begin I noted that the noise level from chattering people was quite high. This would never have happened in my day! Both the nuns who taught us, and our parents instilled in us the virtue of respect and silence when in church. We simply did not talk once we entered the doors of the church. Or if we did, we paid for it! I recall our class lining up to face the principal and her leather belt in year three, as we returned from Mass. We had chatted through Mass, and so we received 2 or 3 smacks across the hand as punishment. We knew that the church was a sacred and holy place where Jesus dwelt in the Blessed Sacrament. In the 25 years since I left primary school, people seem to have lost respect for Jesus in the tabernacle. Many people talk and to few acknowledge Jesus by genuflecting or bowing.
After communion I even saw a teenage boy remove the Blessed Sacrament from his mouth, on the way back to his pew. He then slowly ate the Host with his fingers whilst sitting in his seat, next to his parents! Other braver souls then me would have approached this boy and told him why what he was doing was so offensive to them. Alas, I was not that brave soul. Like, Saint Peter, I am a coward. I did however resolve that if he placed the Blessed Sacrament in his pocket, I would not sit still.
Attending this Mass left me feeling somewhat distressed and saddened. The chatter and disrespect of the Blessed Sacrament leads me to believe that we've failed. We've failed to hold people accountable to their faith. I explain it to my children this way.
If you were in a room with the Prime Minister, and he was at the head of the room quietly waiting to speak to you and the other people assembled, you wouldn't turn your back on him to have a conversation with the person next to you! In our Catholic churches, Jesus is physically present and waiting to speak to you. Some people has lost sight of how amazing that is! Should we not give him all our attention and respect. After all He is the same God that created the universe and holds it in existence by His will. As a priest in our diocese once said, if you don't believe that Jesus is physically present, then go, because you're not Catholic.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
After talking with Michelle and seeing her system close up, I decided to invest in some plastic sleeves and warm up the laminator! It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I'm confident that Michelle won't mind that I have an almost carbon copy of her system!
We have been using our workboxes for a week and we all love them. It is similar to my previous visual system, but so much better, especially for me! I no longer have to scramble around for materials in the morning as everything is set up and ready to go. All I have to do is ask the children to take their boxes off the piano and get started.
The boys simply start with folder number one. When they have finished they remove the velcro number in the bottom right of the folder and place it on their laminated strip if paper which holds numbers 1-10.
They then place the completed folder in a plastic basket.
Both the ordered routine and the visual aspect of this system is a perfect fit for Koala.
The system has also enabled me to put a little more creativity and fun into our days. In the past we would complete the basics and that would be it. Now we are using our Rosetta Stone French programme more often, we are lapbooking and using our educational CDs and including things like cooking and playing with the dog in our workboxes. I have also decided to take some time on the week end to plan what each days boxes will contain. This greatly frees up my evenings.
I'm sure we'll be using this system for a long time to come.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I then had them printed four to a page. I laminated them and cut them out. At the beginning of the day all the visuals are placed on a green for go, laminated strip of paper with a velcro strip.The above is our schedule for Friday which includes our catechism, Faith and Life 4, which we simply read and discuss. A page from Maths-U-See Beta. Growing With Grammar, Seton Handwriting 3 for Young Catholics, Aplogia Exploring Creation with Astronomy which Koala just loves! The final visual shows a combination of our history read-alouds. History isn't meant to be on our list for Friday, but we missed it yesterday, so we mght get to it today. We're fairly flexible.
When each activity is completed, Koala moves the visual to the red laminated paper.
We've had a few teething problems in the last 3 days. Koala became rather upset when I wanted him to complete a subject that wasn't next in line! I should have known better! So now I have to make sure that where possible I ask him to complete the subjects in the order I've placed them! We will work on varying the order, as adaptability is an important skill to learn.
Visuals are not exclusively for kids on the spectrum. All kids respond to them. So naturally Bilby has requested his own visual schedule.
Those of you who read my unschool post may be wondering what happened! I'm still working toward a more natural approach to our day, but I think it will take time for me to break my addiction to structure and formal programmes! I have dramatically cut back on the formal side of our day which has been a wonderful blessing.
I know our new visual sehedule will make Koala's day run much more smoothly, which in turn helps everyone in the family.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Faith comes before all else. Start the school day with prayer followed by religion. Light a candle.
Relationship is the most important lesson of the day. Relationship with Jesus, and with each other.
Plan fun into each day. Lapbooks; board games; cooking; playing with the boys.
Ensure that the boys "Write only on days that they eat!" Elizabeth Foss.
Be the change you want to see.
Short lessons. Use the kitchen timer.
Take the boys to Adoration a minimum of three times a week.
Pray the Angelus at noon, and the 3 o’clock prayer daily.
Get up early every day to pray and read the daily Mass readings.
Receive the sacrament of Confession fortnightly, if not weekly.
Play classical music every day.
Shine the sink daily! Keep FLYing, it works!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Like most families who embark on the journey of educating their children at home, I started with a collection of lofty and noble ideals.
Having briefly worked as a high school History and English teacher I knew exactly what I did not want for my sons!
In almost every classroom I entered I would despair over the lack of joy my students showed. They were completely disconnected from that I was attempting to engage them in. For the most part they resisted the curriculum and did only what needed to be done, without any enthusiasm.
I remember one boy in particular, Wesley who obviously loved history, but hated the curriculum. He broke my heart! He had so much potential, but he just didn’t care. I would often wonder what we as teachers needed to do to engage him. Years later I found the answer! (More on this later.)
I knew then, that I did not want my boys to learn in this mind numbing environment. But I hadn’t a clue as to how to avoid it.
A few years later when I learned about home education I knew that it was exactly what I had been searching for. I believed it would be the perfect antidote to the mediocrity of the school environment. Or so I thought!
I was now confident that my children would not end up like the teens I had taught in high schools. They would love learning and not be boxed in by what they were told to learn. They would excel simply because they would have one to one instruction. How could they not? They would love reading because they would not be forced to deconstruct boring novels. They would not have to worry about how they were performing against their peers, which would mean that they could learn at their own pace without pressure. I thought I had it all figured out!
Therefore, it came as a gradual shock, that Bilby wasn’t thriving at home in the way I had anticipated. It took me a long time to realise that simply changing his physical place of learning didn’t automatically wipe out the difficulties he faced at school. Some of us are slow learners!
One day it hit me like a ton of bricks that the very things I was trying to avoid about the school system, I was simply replicating at home. I was thinking like a natural learner, but acting like a classroom teacher! I wanted my sons to be passionate about learning, yet I was squashing that with all the book work that I assumed was absolutely essential. But realising it, and acting on it, were two very different things! So we struggled on.
Almost daily I would wonder if I could sustain home schooling for much longer. I often thought about sending one or both of my sons back to school, if only for a short time. I even had an interview with a school principal, just to test the waters. But the thought of sending them back filled me with dread. School would be a last resort.
By week 6 or 7 of term, I would unfailingly have extremely tense neck and shoulder muscles and frequent tension headaches, as a result of my striving to tick all the boxes, and from the reluctance of my boys to comply with my wishes. Added to this were the numerous therapy appointments for Roo, and attempting to keep up with is home programme for speech and occupational therapy.
I was stressed out and burnt-out, my house was a mess and no one was happy! Five weeks into this new school year I knew I just could not continue in this vein. I was beginning to loath home education. Something had to change at home, or my boys would be returning to school. Something they most assuredly did not want!
I decided to take some time out. We stopped almost all our book work and I began to read unschoooling blogs and web sites. I talked with natural learners in my home education community, and began to read unschooling books.
Unschooling has always been something I have supported and even learned towards despite my actions. I was just too frightened to step away from formal education and relax. I now feel ready to take on some of the principles of unschooling.
My children and my neck muscles have begun to relax! For the first time in a very long time, the joy of being with my boys is returning. I’m not about to become a radical unschooler, but my toes are in the water, and I’m enjoying the sensation!
My passion for home education is beginning to return. I am excited about where natural learning may take us, but scared witless at the same time! What excites me most, are the opportunities for strengthening the connection I have with my children. What better way can there be to achieve this, then through re-discovering together, the joy of learning?
Back to Wesley, my history loving student. What did he need? To be left alone! He didn’t need teachers insisting he only spend 4 lessons or less on a particular topic before moving on so that he tasted everything before the big exam. He certainly didn’t need to answer endlessly dull questions about primary and secondary sources. He needed to have the opportunity to read about things which interested him, not what the Education Department told him he needed. Wesley freely admitted to me that he loved history. Unfortunately, I am now confident that the school system would have done a great job of squashing that love. Unschooling undoubtedly would have fostered Wesley's passion for history.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
The day began very early, with presents. He was particularly taken with the plush Red Panda I found at the Taronga Zoo on-line store. Bilby has taken a real interest in Red Pandas so we've planned a Red Panda lap-book next term.
At the end of Mass, Father Brady asked Bilby to come out the front where he told everyone that he was celebrating his 11th birthday. Father asked everyone to sing him happy birthday, which caused Bilby to turn a pleasant shade of red! I thought this was a lovely way to acknowledge his contribution to our community, as he serves on the alter very often as we have very few alter servers at our Mass.
We also chanced to meet a young man from our parish, Adam who had come to the show alone, so we invited him to join us. He joined Bilby in a game of laser challenge, which looked like great fun! Adam firmly believes he has a vocation to the priesthood, and plans to begin his studies in a year or so. Adam has asked for prayer, so please join with me in praying for him. He will make a wonderful priest.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
He hath shewed strength with his arm.
He hath filled the hungry with good things.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This morning I was reflecting on the main character, Elizabeth's education. She was of course, educated at home. The following conversation between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine de Bourgh had me rather excited!
"We never had any governess."
"No governess! How is that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a governess! I never heard of such a thing. You mother must have been quite a slave to your education."
Elizabeth could hardly help smiling, as she assured her that had not been the case.
"Then who taught you? Who attended you? Without a governess you must have been neglected."
"Compared with some families, I believe we were; but such of us as wished to learn, never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary..."
So could it be that Mrs. Bennett was an unschooler?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
"A person is a person, no matter how small." Horton Hears a Who.
"The fact that the rest of the world has lost its innocence has no bearing on the way I choose to raise my own children." Annon.
"Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality." Beatrix Potter.
"My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school." -Margaret Mead.
"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Autism Spectrum Disorders, sometimes called Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), are a range of neurological disorders that most markedly involve some degree of difficulty with communication and interpersonal relationships, as well as obsessions and repetitive behaviors. As the term "spectrum" indicates, there can be a wide range of effects. Those at the lower-functioning end of the spectrum may be profoundly unable to break out of their own world and may be described as having Kanner's autism. Those at the higher-functioning end, sometimes diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS), may be able to lead independent lives but still be awkward in their social interactions...Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified may be diagnosed when a child has autistic symptoms but does not fit into another Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Terri Mauro.
Two of our boys have an autistic spectrum disorder. Koala has Aspergers Syndrome, and Roo has PDD-NOS. Because no two children with ASD will present in the same way, I can only comment on how ASD effects my children and our family.
When our second child Koala, was a new born we didn't notice anything different about him. Often parents of kids on the spectrum will say that there was always something that they felt wasn't quite right with their little one. Perhaps their baby wouldn't make eye contact with them, they hated to be cuddled, or the parents just had an innate sense of difference about their child.
Looking back the signs were certainly there. Koala's startle reflex lasted for months. I have a fond memory of Bilby carefully approaching his sleeping baby brother and loudly yelling at him so that he could see little Koala's arms wildly jump. Bilby would then dissolve into peals of laughter!
Koala would also shake is head from side to side at an alarming speed. He usually did this when he was tired, so I simply thought that it was just a harmless thing he did like other babies who suck their thumbs. I now know that it is called a "stim." Older children and adults with ASD often find it extremely difficult to control their stims. Some kids on the spectrum might flap their hands, others shake their heads or rock their whole bodies. Koala still shakes his head early in the morning in his sleep, without even realising it.
Koala was the perfect baby! As he grew I did become slightly concerned by his fascination with doors. Long before the age of 2 he would lie near the front door and endlessly open and close it. He loved to push our sliding wardrobe doors for very long amounts of time. If we visited McDonald's he wouldn't be playing in the playground, but pushing the heavy doors open and shut, much to the alarm of strangers who were sure he would jam his fingers in the door. He never did, as he was so focused on the movement of the door.
I had no idea then, that doors were Koala's special interest. "Special interest" is a pleasant way of saying obsession, for that is exactly what a special interest is. Kids who have a special interest will happily spend all their time on their special interest. They will talk of almost nothing else. They will drive their parents and siblings to distraction with a near constant monologue and a series of repeated questions about the love of their life, their special interest. Because kids on the autism spectrum often have poor social skills, they will talk and talk to anyone about their special interest regardless of the verbal or non-verbal cues the listener is attempting to send, as to their lack of interest!
Koala's second special interest was trains and building train tracks. We have almost the complete set of Fischer-Price Geo Trax system. Koala would spend long hours in his room constructing train tracks. Often I would attempt to play with my son. I would pull out the impressive remote controls that made realistic train sounds and try to engage my son in play. Every attempt would end in failure with Koala screaming at me to get the trains off the tracks. I couldn't understand why he didn't want to play with the wonderful engines that went with his tracks. We took him to steam train festivals, watched endless episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine and a documentary on steam trains. When other parents told me that their child was obsessed with trains too, I knew that they had no idea what being obsessed with trains meant at our house!
As I've mentioned in other posts shopping can be a disaster. I now know why. Children on the spectrum often have sensory issues. This can mean they find loud noises, certain textures, light and so forth unbearable. Most of us neuro-typicals (NTs) have a sensory issue. For me it's slimy things like wet bars of soap, messy toothpaste tubes and cockroaches. Perhaps you can't stand the feel of a woollen jumper against your skin, or the sound of finger nails scraping along a blackboard. Now imagine someone insisting that you do the thing which fills you with terror. Imagine them telling you that you're being silly, there's nothing wrong with cockroaches, or whatever it is. How would you react? Multiply that by 100 and you have some idea of why kids on the spectrum have meltdowns over things the NT world tells them are "silly."
A meltdown is not the same as a tantrum. Young children have tantrums in an effort to get what they want. Kids on the spectrum do this too, but a meltdown is something different altogether. Perhaps a better way to describe a meltdown is a neuro-logical storm. A meltdown can seem to come out of no where. They are often caused by sensory issues, like the unbearable feel of the seam of a sock. They can be violent and long lasting. Any thinking person can see that a child in the throws of a meltdown has little or no control of their behaviour. The look on their faces speaks of sheer terror. (In this blog post I touch on the intensity of meltdowns and our journey with Koala.)
In our home many of Koala's meltdowns have often been the result of Theory of Mind problems. Theory of Mind is a complex thing, but basically it means the ability to understand that someone else does not have the same desires, ideas and feelings as you. Kids on the spectrum often assume you know what they are thinking. Stop and think for a minute of the implications!
Thankfully, Roo does not have meltdowns. He does have an ear piercing scream he uses when things don't go his way, but this is mainly due to him not being able to be understood when he attempts to speak. Roo's main challenges are centred around speech and language. Once he is able to communicate verbally I believe that he will be as "normal" as the next child! I have always thought of Roo as the icing on our family cake!
While low muscle tone isn't necessary for a diagnosis of Aspergers, many children with Aspergers have tone problems and general clumsiness. Koala didn't walk until he was 21 months old. All his gross motor milestones were very late. As a baby I bought him a pair of slippers with Mr. Bump on them. Koala had an almost permanent bump on his left temple. My young cousins, after having a cuddle with Koala, would attempt to put him down as they would with any other baby. Koala would simply hit the floor! Many a time I would open the door of the car and Koala would fall out, hitting his head on the curb. His muscles couldn't react quick enough to break his fall.
I have only scratched the surface of what ASD means for our family. I haven't mentioned the significant social difficulties; food issues; literal interpation of language; eye contact; anxiety or how all this impacts on our eldest son, Bilby. But I have provided a small window into our family which I hope will give you some idea od what ASD can look like.
I am thankful that Koala is a joy to educate. Like most kids with Aspergers Koala is very intelligent. He's well on the way to becoming the only natural speller in our family! He also has a great love of his faith. He will happily share treats without being asked, and always thinks of others feelings.
Much of the above seems to paint a less than cheery picture of life with a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. But I feel that our lives have been made much richer because of our sons' challenges. I have learnt patience beyond anything I thought I possessed. I have failed miserably many times, but the Lord has shown me time and time again, that I must lean on him when I think I cannot go on.
Lastly, I urge you to view this moving and thought provoking movie, made by autistic woman, Amanda Baggs.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
It is a talk to which I will return to many times, hence it's placement here on my blog. I can only hope and pray that when I am asked similar questions about The Real Presence, that I will be able to answer with similar depth and grace. Or perhaps I'll just carry a copy in my handbag!
Patrick, please tell me this Eucharist that I so often hear Catholics talk about, what is it exactly and why is it so important?
The Eucharist (which means "thanksgiving") is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. It is the Sacrament of sacraments. It is the focal point of the Catholic Mass. Why you ask? Because the Eucharist is the sacrament in which Jesus gives himself completely to us – body, blood, soul and divinity. So at every Mass we actually participate in a miracle – Jesus comes to us in the form of bread and wine. In other words the same Jesus who walked the streets of Galilee is present to each of us (Catholics) at every Mass.
So at the Mass we worship Jesus – the living God.
Why? I mean why would Jesus do this?
There are many ways to answer this but I guess the best way for me is to look at what Jesus himself said.
In John 6:53-63 Jesus says,
53. …"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."
We thus see here Jesus giving His disciples an important injunction if they are to inherit eternal life. In other words receiving His body and blood is a matter affecting our salvation. Also through the Eucharist Jesus comes to nourish us spiritually. It is food for life – does the "give us this day our daily bread" ring a bell. Think about it. It is also our greatest defence against the forces of darkness – because it is Jesus himself.
Wait, wait, wait – you have just opened a can of worms for me now. I think what you are also on about is something Catholics call the Real Presence. Is that right?
Correct. By Real Presence we mean that Jesus is really physically present in the Eucharist. The bread and wine are not merely symbols of His body and blood. The bread and wine IS his body and blood. That is why it is such an awesome sacrament.
Wow, this I find a bit hard to believe. How on earth can you say that? Surely in John 6 Jesus must have been talking figuratively and not literally?
Actually no. He was speaking very literally. You see one actually needs to take a holistic view and get a proper perspective of all that relates to this topic in Scripture. Now there is not enough time for me to deal with it all in-depth so I will be brief.
In the OT we read in Exodus 12 about the first Passover. We see here that God gave the Israelites a clear instruction to eat the sacrificial lamb and sprinkle its blood on the door mantle. The Angel of the Lord would then pass them by when passing through Egypt that night killing all the first born (the 10th plague).
John chapter 6 starts off with the feeding of the 5000. The next day the people came looking for Jesus again – and He knows they want Him to feed them again. In His subsequent discourse He tries to point them to something far more significant – that He is the Bread of Life. That His body and blood is real food and drink. He was preparing them for what was to come a year later at the Last Supper – the institution of the Eucharist. From that point onwards all His followers could receive His Body and Blood for spiritual nourishment.
This of course ties in very closely with the sacrifice on the cross. Jesus offered himself for our salvation – "the Lamb of God". Note the resemblance - the Passover lamb had to be eaten – Jesus gives us His Body and Blood to eat and drink at the Eucharistic meal.
But let’s go back to John 6 to see why Jesus was speaking literally. I will pick up the story at John 6:25-66…all are welcome to follow in their Bibles.
1) Jesus the teacher
If Jesus was not speaking literally in John 6 ("My flesh is real food; My blood is true drink," etc.), He would have been a poor teacher. After all, everyone listening to Him speak those words understood that He meant them literally. They responded, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" In the cases of Jesus saying He is a "door" or a "vine," we find no one asking, "How can this man be a door made out of wood?" or, "How can this man claim to be a plant?" It was clear from the context and the Lord's choice of words in those passages that He was speaking metaphorically.
But in John 6 He was speaking literally. In John 6:41, the Jews "murmured" about Christ's teaching precisely because it was so literal. Christ certainly knew they were having difficulty imagining that He was speaking literally, but rather than explain His meaning as simply a metaphor, He emphasized His teaching, saying, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51). Why would Christ reinforce the literal sense in the minds of His listeners if He meant His words figuratively? The Lord dealt with other situations where His listeners misunderstood the meaning of His words. In each case, He cleared up the misunderstanding.
For example, the disciples were confused about His statement, "I have food to eat which you do not know." (John 4:32). They thought he was speaking about physical food, real food. But He quickly cleared up the misunderstanding with the clarification, "My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect his work". Also Jesus talking to Nicodemus about being born again (John 3:1-15). Refer also Matt. 4:34; cf. 16:5-12. So you see when Jesus realised that they did not understand he explained.
Back to John 6. Notice that the Jews argued among themselves about the meaning of Christ's words. He reiterated the literal meaning again: "Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you" (verses 53-54). In verse 61 we see that no longer was it just the wider audience but "the disciples" themselves who were having difficulty with this radical statement. Surely, if Christ were speaking purely symbolically, it's reasonable to expect that He would clear up the difficulty even if just among His disciples. But He doesn't. He stands firm and asks, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?" (Verse 62-63). Did Christ "symbolically" ascend into heaven after the Resurrection? No. As we see in Acts 1:9-10, His ascension was literal. This is the one and only place in the New Testament where people abandon Christ over one of His teachings.
2) Peter’s Affirmation
Rather than try to correct any mistaken understanding of His words, the Lord asks His Apostles, "Do you also want to leave?" (verse 67). And Peter replies, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." What a profound act of faith. We have hindsight but Peter did not. His Apostles knew He was speaking literally. They hardly understood what it was all about but they believed.
3) Paul’s writings
St. Paul emphasizes the truth of the Real Presence: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord . . . .Whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Cor. 11:27-29).
The Greek phrase for being "guilty of someone's body and blood" (enokos estai tou somatos kai tou haimatos tou kuriou) is a technical way of saying "guilty of murder." If the Eucharist is merely a symbol of Christ, not Christ Himself, this warning would be drastically, absurdly overblown. If the Eucharist is merely a symbol of the Lord's body and blood, then St. Paul's words here make no sense. For how can one be "guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord" if it's merely a symbol?
4) Martin Luther
Even Martin Luther himself admitted that the early Church was unanimous in the literal interpretation of Christ's words in John 6: "Who, but the devil, hath granted such license of wresting the words of holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures that my body is the same as the sign of my body?. . . It is only the devil, that imposeth upon us by these fanatical men. ..Not one of the Fathers, though so numerous, ever spoke [thus] . . . they are all of them unanimous."
5) The Satanists
Why is it that the satanists target the sacred host? And desecrate it? There have been numerous stories of satanists visiting Catholic churches to steal the host so they could desecrate it during their satanic rituals. It is because they know that it really is the body and blood of our Lord.
Okay, let’s say you are right. But then Jesus is promoting cannibalism! Also the Bible states clearly that God never changes. He forbade the drinking of blood in the Old Testament, why would he "literally" tell his followers to "drink his blood" in the New Testament?
Well, there are two points to look at here. One is cannibalism and the other the drinking of blood. Let’s look at cannibalism first.
There are two ways of illustrating why the Eucharist is not cannibalistic. It was precisely this misunderstanding that led the unbelieving Jews and disciples in John 6 to reject Jesus when He said they must eat His body and drink His blood. They thought Jesus was commanding them to consume Him in a bloody, cannibalistic way.
However, the believing disciples were rewarded for their faith at the Last Supper. Jesus revealed that they would receive His true body and blood sacramentally (present in a hidden way).
In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ’s body and blood are truly present, but not with their normal physical properties. Jesus’ body isn’t spread out in space; its normal condition is hidden under the appearance of bread and wine. While the Apostles truly consumed Christ’s real body and blood, it wasn’t cannibalism, because Christ was not in His natural condition.
They did not bite off pieces of Christ’s arm, for example, or swallow quantities of His blood; instead they received Christ whole and entire - body, blood, soul and divinity – under the appearance of bread and wine. Receiving Christ’s real, but sacramental presence in the Eucharist has nothing to do with cannibalism or drinking blood.
The second way is stated in point 4) further on when we deal with the drinking of blood. Cannibalism and blood drinking are usually uttered in the same breath by our Protestant brethren. Heavens forbid - we be vampires if this claim were true!
The drinking of blood
Leviticus 17:10 indeed condemns "eating blood. If we're going to be consistent with the Levitical Law, then we must also perform animal sacrifices - lambs, pigeons, turtledoves- according to Leviticus 12:8. But as Christians, we are not under the Levitical Law. We're under the 'law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus'" (Rom. 8:2). Hebrews 7:11-12 tells us the Levitical Law has passed away with the advent of the New Covenant. A New Testament commandment always abrogates an Old Testament commandment.
For example, in Matthew 5, the Lord repeatedly uses the formula, "You have heard that it was said (quoting an Old Testament law), But I say unto you . . ." In each instance, Christ supersedes the Old Testament law with a new commandment of His own, such as the commandment against divorce and remarriage, over against Moses' allowance for it in Deuteronomy 24:1 (cf. Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44). This is what we see in John 6. The blood prohibition in Leviticus 17:11-12 was replaced by Christ's new teaching in John 6:54: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall have no life in you." Eating blood was prohibited in the Old Testament, "Because the life of the flesh is found in the blood" (Lev. 17:11). Blood is sacred and the life of each creature is in its blood. Many pagans thought they could acquire "more" life by ingesting the blood of an animal or even a human being. But obviously this was foolish. No animal or human person has the capacity to do this. But in the case of Christ, it's different. John 6:54 tells us that our eternal life depends on His blood: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall have no life in you."
So notice that we are not under the Levitical Law but even so the participating in the Eucharist does not violate the Levitical Law as Jesus blood is sacramentally present as I said before.
There is a lot for me here to digest. I have also heard the term Transubstantiation used when it comes to the Eucharist. What does it mean and where does it come from?
Good question. Okay, let’s start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The CCC defines this doctrine in section 1376:
"The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: 'Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."
In other words, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that once an ordained priest consecrates the bread at the Lord's Supper, it is transformed into the actual flesh of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odour, and taste of bread), and when he consecrates the wine, it is transformed into the actual blood of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odour, and taste of wine).
Transubstantiation is actually quite simple - though when dealing with the divine means it can never be completely understood. Let’s consider accidental and substance change. By accidental we mean that which is outwardly observable – physical appearances/characteristics of something. By substance we mean the essence of what something consists of. An example of accidental change is when water changes from liquid to steam or liquid to ice. The substance remains the same but the accidentals change.
When the priest consecrates the bread and wine, there is a change (trans - ) of substance = transubstantiation. This occurs through the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit. The accidentals – appearances of bread and wine remain the same but at the substance level it has changed from bread to the body of Christ. And the wine to the Blood of Christ. It is a miracle indeed that happens at every Mass. No-one can fully grasp the entirety of what happens – but we are called to believe and see through the eyes of faith. The following table (courtesy of Dave Armstrong) hopefully illustrates it a bit better with some examples.
Type of change
Water to ice or steam
Metabolism of food
Miracle of the loaves (Matt. 14:19)
If this be true then surely it should have been proclaimed from the beginning. How come this doctrine was only invented in the 13th century?
Well, a point of correction first – the RCC never invents a doctrine. It merely defines or formalises what it believes from time to time. Often as a result of heresies. It’s teachings are based on what was passed on from the Apostles and Jesus himself as contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. When it comes to doctrine the Church cannot add.
Now the essence of Transubstantiation has always been the belief of the RCC. It was only in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council that the term Transubstantiation was officially invoked as properly describing the belief of the Church when it comes to the Eucharist.
If this is true how come it is not in Scripture? I have never seen the word Transubstantiation in Scripture.
You are correct. It is not found in Scripture, but then neither is Trinity. The point being that Scripture often does not spell out a doctrine but supports it. The Eucharist is very heavily Scripture based and so is the doctrine of the Trinity. Simply put a doctrine is intended to spell out in clear terms the essence of a theological truth being conveyed by the Scriptures. The actual words used surely do not have to be in Scripture verbatim. This would be very tricky considering all the languages of Scripture and the different translations throughout the centuries. Conversely a doctrine can never contradict Scripture – that is a bad or false doctrine.
I’ve heard that the most serious reason transubstantiation should be rejected is because it is viewed by the Roman Catholic Church as a "re-sacrifice" of Jesus Christ for our sins. Jesus died "once for all" and does not need to be sacrificed again (Hebrews 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18).
The RCC most emphatically does not re-sacrifice Christ at every Mass. Every Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary? What's the difference you say? Let me explain.
I think we all agree that Jesus has a divine and human nature in one person. Because He is both God and man the physical limitations of time and space do not apply to Him. Indeed, He is the master of His creation and is in no way limited by it. We are, however, constrained by time and space - BUT we must be careful not to apply our limitations and very, very limited understanding to the divine. On the human side what happened at Calvary is a historical event - it occurred 2000 years ago. However, God is not bound by time and the Sacrifice of Calvary is as present to Him today as it was 2000 years ago and as it will be 10 000 years from now. This of course holds true for every event in human history.
In essence what happens at every Mass is that the one and only Sacrifice of the Calvary is made present again. It is as if we were standing at the foot of the cross.
Karl Adam, author of the book The Spirit of Catholicism, remarks upon the transcendent nature of the Mass:
"The Sacrifice of Calvary, as a great supratemporal reality, enters into the immediate present. Space and time are abolished. The same Jesus is here present who died on the Cross. The whole congregation unites itself with His holy sacrificial will, and through Jesus present before it, consecrates itself to the heavenly Father as a living oblation. So Holy Mass is a tremendously real experience, the experience of the reality of Golgotha."
Dave Armstrong in his book A Biblical Defense of Catholicism says the following:
"It is crucial to understand that the Sacrifice of the Mass is not a "re-sacrifice" of Christ, as is the common misconception. Jesus does not die every time a priest offers Mass, since He died once, in history, on earth. Rather, the Mass lifts us into the heavenly realms, where all events are eternally present (as they are with God). The Mass is thus a re-presentation of the one Sacrifice at Calvary in a sacramental, unbloody manner. One may not agree with this belief, but opponents of Catholic doctrine should at least honestly and clearly understand what it is they contest."
Another point, in my understanding, Communion is the rite that Christians perform in fulfilment of Jesus' instruction to do in REMEMBRANCE of him what he did at his Last Supper. Now I have heard all that you have said, but does remembrance not imply that the bread and wine are symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and in partaking of the elements we, the believers, commemorate the sacrificial death of Christ.
Good point. Renowned Catholic Apologist, Tim Staples, has the following to say on this subject:
The Eucharist is a true sacrifice, not just a commemorative meal, as "Bible Christians" insist. The first Christians knew that it was a sacrifice and proclaimed this in their writings. They recognized the sacrificial character of Jesus’ instruction, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Touto poieite tan eman anamnasin; Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:24–25) which is better translated "Offer this as my memorial offering."
Thus, Protestant early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly writes that in the early Church "the Eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice. . . . Malachi’s prediction (1:10–11) that the Lord would reject Jewish sacrifices and instead would have "a pure offering" made to him by the Gentiles in every place was seized upon by Christians as a prophecy of the Eucharist. The Didache indeed actually applies the term thusia, or sacrifice, to the Eucharist. . . .
"It was natural for early Christians to think of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfilment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which our Lord invested the Last Supper. The words of institution, ‘Do this’ (touto poieite), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood them to mean, ‘Offer this.’ . . . The bread and wine, moreover, are offered ‘for a memorial (eis anamnasin) of the passion,’ a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord’s body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection" (Early Christian Doctrines [Full Reference], 196–7).
Finally, a question regarding spirit and flesh. In John 6:58 Jesus spoke about his blood and body in a spiritual sense ("not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead") also see verse 63. ( …‘the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit"…) The disciples got upset because they interpreted His words literally, but is it not that Jesus states that he spoke words and "they are spirit" (not flesh)?
From the Catholic Answers website I found the following which I think will answer your question.
For Fundamentalist writers, the scriptural argument is capped by an appeal to John 6:63: "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." They say this means that eating real flesh is a waste. But does this make sense? Are we to understand that Christ had just commanded his disciples to eat his flesh, then said their doing so would be pointless? Is that what "the flesh is of no avail" means? "Eat my flesh, but you’ll find it’s a waste of time"—is that what he was saying? Hardly.
The fact is that Christ’s flesh avails much! If it were of no avail, then the Son of God incarnated for no reason, he died for no reason, and he rose from the dead for no reason. Christ’s flesh profits us more than anyone else’s in the world. If it profits us nothing, so that the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ are of no avail, then "your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished" (1 Cor. 15:17b–18).
In John 6:63 "flesh profits nothing" refers to mankind’s inclination to think using only what their natural human reason would tell them rather than what God would tell them. Thus in John 8:15–16 Jesus tells his opponents: "You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone that judge, but I and he who sent me." So natural human judgment, unaided by God’s grace, is unreliable; but God’s judgment is always true.
And were the disciples to understand the line "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" as nothing but a circumlocution (and a very clumsy one at that) for "symbolic"? No one can come up with such interpretations unless he first holds to the Fundamentalist position and thinks it necessary to find a rationale, no matter how forced, for evading the Catholic interpretation. In John 6:63 "flesh" does not refer to Christ’s own flesh—the context makes this clear—but to mankind’s inclination to think on a natural, human level. "The words I have spoken to you are spirit" does not mean "What I have just said is symbolic." The word "spirit" is never used that way in the Bible. The line means that what Christ has said will be understood only through faith; only by the power of the Spirit and the drawing of the Father (cf. John 6:37, 44–45, 65).
Paul Confirms This
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16). So when we receive Communion, we actually participate in the body and blood of Christ, not just eat symbols of them. Paul also said, "Therefore whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. . . . For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). "To answer for the body and blood" of someone meant to be guilty of a crime as serious as homicide. How could eating mere bread and wine "unworthily" be so serious? Paul’s comment makes sense only if the bread and wine became the real body and blood of Christ.
I want to thank you for a very interesting, informative and challenging discussion. You have given me much to think about.
The pleasure is all mine. I think ultimately each of us have to decide what our reactions are going to be to these very important words of Jesus. If we really proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ we cannot simply dismiss this very important subject or trivialise it. Are we going to walk away unbelieving like the Jews did or is our response going to be, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life and we believe."
A very challenging message, and so I pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten your minds and those of all Christians to the real truth. God bless always.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
This afternoon we have had a very quiet home. Not only have they been practising their reading skills, but their negotiation skills also. We have been haggling over what each book is worth! The average price seems to be $2.00. Koala is reading a gem form my childhood, one of the Choose Your Own Adventure series. We settled on .50c per story. Judging by the rapidity with which he is reading the book, I think we may have set the price slightly too high. I may have to visit the bank tomorrow! It is likely that these books fall into the twaddle category, but I remember them with great fondness as a struggling reader myself. Fortunately I graduated to Shakespeare, Austin and the like.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Another first, and one I have been eagerly awaiting!
He will say I love you when I ask him to, but this came out of the blue.
He also said 6 words today! "Pink rocket go up in sky."
Two lovely little Australia Day presents.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The chapel is a small room attached to the presbytery. It has less than a dozen chairs, some reading material and many beautiful holy pictures of Jesus and his Blessed Mother. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance, at the base of which are always flowers. One can be physically very close to Jesus. You can see why it's one of my favourite places to spend time!
I was very proud of Roo during our visit. He was very reverent. He made a double genuflection and sat quietly in his seat. After a short time, I told Roo we were leaving. Without any prompting he said "I love you Jesus." Very cute.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
One trip to the supermarket with Koala when he was 3 or 4, is embedded in my memory for all the wrong reasons! I can no longer remember the reason for his spectacular meltdown, but I certainly remember the event. Koala was often prone to supermarket meltdowns, but this one was a doosey! Children on the spectrum often have very loud voices and often unaware that one should use a lower volume in certain situations. On this occasion Koala had worked himself up into a frenzy of screaming. He had thrown himself on the ground, and I was unable to move him. Neither he nor I had any control over the situation.
It seems inappropriate, but I began to quietly laugh. Laughter seemed like a better response than having mother and child sobbing together on the floor! All the while people were stopping what they were doing to look. Not the kind of look that says, "Oh, I feel for you, I know you're doing your best." but the looks which says in no uncertain terms " That child needs a good smack." or "How dare she allow her child to scream like that." We left as quickly as we could with Koala thrashing about in my arms, while his screaming threatened to bring down the ceiling!
Even now, at the age of 9 Koala can still behave in such a way to attract "the look." Add Roo into the scenario and you can imagine the potential for chaos!
Today Roo turned on a show for his fellow shoppers. I even started to run after one lady who gave us "the look", to explain the reason why my son appears to be so badly behaved. Mid-way through my sprint I thought better of it. I couldn't be sure that I would say what needed to be said with sufficient grace.
I've begun to avoid looking at people when one of my children is in the throws of a meltdown. I know that if they knew the reasons why, then they wouldn't give us the look. But we don't live in a perfect world, so attempting not to look is my survival strategy.
So next time you see a child throwing a paddy, smile, offer a prayer for them or even a simple word of encouragement. It could make someones day a little brighter.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This is the first year that Koala has not had a special interest. While this is a good thing, it certainly made buying a gift rather difficult! Last year it was wall to wall penguins. This year Koala received a mix of toys: soft toys; Wall-E DVD; a budgie and gift cards which were the favourite. He hurried off in the evening to spend them on a Lego cargo plane he has had his eye on.
James and I felt very sorry for Roo, who was very distressed when the cake came out. For several weeks before Koala's birthday Roo would insist that it was his birthday next! After the presents were opened he did ask if there were any more, for him I guess! But when the cake came out and we told him that Koala would blow the candles out first he was not impressed. He just didn't understand. Of course the mother in me fleetingly worried that in a few years time Roo would think that on one of his birthdays he didn't get any presents and he wasn't even allowed to blow out his candles!
Koala had a great day. Although I am slightly baffled as to how my little boy came to be 9! He is growing into a young man to be proud of. He is a very caring little boy with beautiful manners. We love you Koala. This was taken on Roo's baptism day when Koala was 4.5 years old.
Unfortunately our camera is out of order, so the only photos we have, come from Grandma. Thanks!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
His love of these movies has provided his first use of delayed echolalia. When he is upset with someone he says "You are a toy!" in the same tone which Buzz uses with Woody when he is upset that Woody is not returning home with the other toys.
He has used immediate echolalia ever since he started talking. His use of it has slowed as his ability to express himself has increased. Roo is now able to ask for what he wants rather than shouting. I am very excited about what this year will bring for Roo's use of language.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
When we attended our first home education camp, I realised that they might be more common than I had thought, as many mothers and daughters wore the veil. I became intrigued. It was suggested to me that perhaps these women were somehow stuck in the past, or that they had perhaps rejected many elements of the Second Vatican Council? I wasn't so sure. One thing my history degree had taught me, was that a little imformation can be a dangerous thing! I'm a firm believer in hot having an opinion until you have more than a rudenantry knowledge of the topic. I knew nothing about chapel veils, not even that they were called chapel veils or mantillas. So one day I did a quick google search, and thought little more about it.
Last week Jenny blogged about chapel veils. I read the links on her post, which have had me thinking ever since!
The thing that struck me the most was 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 If I had read these verses, I had no recollection of it. I had not realised that Saint Paul specifcally instructed women to be veiled, and why.
At this point I will not be wearing a chapel veil. But I am enjoying learning why so many of my sisters in Christ are returing to this long held tradition. I encourage you to explore the articles here and elsewhere, so that we can be more throughly informed about this topic.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Bilby and I have just spent an hour or two enjoying some of Beatrix Potter's delightful children's stories. I am usually the one who introduces Bilby to a new author, but not this time!
Just as old Mr Bunny, in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, "had no opinion whatever of cats." I had no opinion of Miss Potter. I have never taken the time to read her work, even though her life story has intrigued me after watching a documentary about her life and the difficult relationship she had with her mother. All long before the recent movie Miss Potter.
My son however, has long been a fan. His interest was sparked by the beautiful children' television series he has enjoyed watching. Despite not being a big reader, I would often find him snuggled up on his bed with a collection of her stories!
Today I took some old favourites from the children's' bookshelf intending to recapture the times when Bilby was a toddler and a great lover of a good story. Bibly however, pulled out his favourite edition of Miss Potter's stories. I was delighted when he offered to read me a story! We then took turns reading to each other. I greatly enjoyed seeing the sparkle in Bibly's eyes as he read his favourite parts. All in the school holidays!