Jun 15, 2007

Resourcefulness in Children .... and Wallace

Fr. John Fullerton, District Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, writes that assigned chores and hobbies are necessary to develop resourcefulness in children. He adds that creative and educational hobbies are endangered by TV, video games, and surfing the web.

The story of a very resourceful young student was told to me recently by a 91-year old woman. She described her days in the southwestern desert where she and her family tried to eke out a living on a farm when it was expected the crop would fail two out of every three years. Loans from the bank allowed farmers to survive in the off-years.

Thirteen-year old Wallace, a sixth grader, was a fellow student in the consolidated school of the early 1920's. Wallace's father was a farmer who had bid successfully with the school district to provide a canvas covered truck to transport the children the long distances to and from the school. Interestingly, the farmer always made his young son, Wallace, drive the "school bus".

One day, the bus left school and went about a mile and a half before it ran out of gas. Wallace had to walk back to get gas and carry it in a can to the bus. The other kids shivered on the wood benches under the tarp-covered truck until Wallace returned, filled the gas tank, and drove the students the rest of the way home.

Wallace had to be especially resourceful the day when the bus broke down. While he and a couple of other boys repaired the truck, the late autumn weather was delightful and the girls decided to walk home with the full moon rising on the eastern horizon. In about an hour, Wallace and the boys were good enough mechanics to get the bus running again to pick up the girls and drive them the rest of the way home.

Can you imagine this example of youthful responsibility and ingenuity happening today? Resourcefulness in children seems to be limited to family environments where a lot of children (or grossly defective parents) require the children to take care of themselves and their siblings. Maybe, just maybe, some of these children will be as responsible and resourceful as Wallace Lockmiller.

Missale Romanum

Did you know that a 16.5 MB pdf file of the Missale Romanum is available here? You won't be able to print it, but you can see and search it. Compliments to the German site kath.net and its community forums for this information.

The latest news on the coming Motu Proprio again is found at Rorate Coeli.

A Long Remembered Lesson About Envy

When I was ten years old I was very sick with pneumonia. The doctor arrived at our house and brought penicillin, a new drug at the time. When I saw the needle, I freaked out and it took three grown people to hold me down while I was given an injection. Naturally, I became immediately better, but the doctor also prescribed continuing doses of oral penicillin that tasted terrible. Being a rather difficult child, I clenched my teeth and refused to take it.

After all cajoling and threats did not work, my Aunt E decided to bribe me. If I swallowed the foul-tasting medicine and finished the bottle, she and my Uncle B would buy me a pair of cowboy boots. At that time, my life revolved around playing cowboys and Indians in the barn and in the woods--well, what could you expect from a kid who loved to watch Roy Rogers' movies. So I gulped the sickening medicine down as fast as I could and a short time later got my beloved cowboy boots. They cost about $10 and probably represented about $70 in today's money.

Naturally my siblings were very impressed and looked longingly at my beautiful brown and cream cowboy boots with the stitched red design. When next Christmas came, my generous uncle and aunt decided to give my brother and sister each a pair of cowboy boots. As the packages were opened, I looked at their NEW boots and compared them with my now worn ones. I became very angry, "They didn't have to swallow that terrible medicine. They shouldn't get any cowboy boots!" Then I ran and pouted and cried.

My Uncle B caught up with me a few minutes later and I'll always remember what he told me in that excellent 'teaching moment'. He asked if I remembered the Gospel told at Mass a few weeks earlier. Then he repeated the story of the laborers in the vineyard, especially:
These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good? (Matt 20: 1-16)
I felt very ashamed when I was told that the cowboy boots were given to my siblings because my aunt and uncle tried to be very generous people. It was a lesson I will always remember. May God grant His eternal love to my Uncle B. who died unexpectedly almost 50 years ago.

Jun 12, 2007

Severe Decline in Catholic Marriages

U.S. Catholic dioceses reported 426,000 Catholic marriages in 1970 but only about 212,000 in 2006, a decline of 214,000 (or 50%) in the past 36 years, according to Our Sunday Visitor. This statistic means that there are 50% fewer new Catholic families being started than in 1970--even though the population of Catholics has supposedly increased. Moreover, the number of children may be fewer because of contraception.

I wouldn't be surprised if a significant part of the recent 212,000 marriages in 2006 were Catholic because of the parents' faith or wishes, rather than that of the bride and groom. Considering this likely scenario and other statistics, the number of Catholic marriages may indicate that the Catholic church in the U.S. could have decreased in believing members by over 70 percent.

If I were a good Bishop today, it would be hard not to look at the mess left by former Bishops in my diocese and ruefully say, "Thanks a lot, guys--you've made my work a lot harder than it should have been!"