Monthly Archives: August 2010

Do home educated youngsters need GCSEs?

I know the question of whether young adults actually need GCSEs gets asked a lot. On the whole I think a lot of HE families are of the opinion that the answer depends on what the child wants to do work and future education wise and whether those things they might need can be taken when they come to cross that bridge.

For many there is also the very real problem that for home educaters GCSEs and IGSCEs cost a massive amount of money. Quite a shocking mark up seems to be made for “private candidates” which leaves many of us paying off those exams for some months.  So if we are going to get our children to take these exams they need to be worth it. It’s a bit of a nightmare finding places within sensible travel distance that will take candidates as well. Perhaps with Michael Gove in charge we might see some changes in this area- but he has such a huge mess to sort out I’m not holding my breath.

My daughter is just starting her second 10 point course at level 1 with the Open University.  As she is 16 the OU like to have someone talk her through what will be expected of her for this course. They did this for her last OU course as well and from what I can gather they will continue this very supportive approach until she reaches 18. I am quite impressed. They do not simply take the money and leave the student to sink or swim. If they don’t think a student is up to the work, apparently, they say so. 

In her phone interview Iona was told that she would need a GCSE or IGCSE in English at some point if she was going to complete a full degree with the OU or any other University.  She has IGCSE in Maths (grade B).  I was interested in this advice because it would mean that although her CV would have University level points, including ones in English type subjects, that she would still need to go back and do the IGCSE level. Is that bizarre or what? I am not criticising the OU on this; I am sure they are right. The boxes must be ticked and proving your ability to study at Uni level at the age of 16 doesn’t have a box.

Before we jump in there though and take on more debt, I think we need to see if she really does need it.

My oldest has 12 GCSEs I think (or 13 I lost count) and these haven’t made it any easier for him to get employment or the right kind of degree than his brother who has one IGCSE in Maths (B) and an IGCSE in English (D). He has just finished his BTEC Diploma in Art and Design and has an interview for a job coming up. Bizarrly Labour apparently banned IGCSEs in schools under their control because-get this- they are not compatable with the (laughably awful) National Curriculum!

Iona already has two litte jobs from people who know her well enough know she can be trusted. Would not the fact that her CV already shows she is employed, working at Uni level and has interests outside of “school” hours, stand her in good stead with an employer?

Are employers really still only looking at boxes that are ticked or do they want to ensure someone can actually do the job? I used to short list and interview in my olden days and I remember we were more interested in what they wrote on the back page than the school guff.  Perhaps things have changed.

I’ve got to say I have met a lot of the people my kids have been to school, college and Uni with and, with one or two notable exceptions, I would have be paid to employ some of them! I don’t care what boxes of GCSEs they can tick- they don’t have what it takes to hold down a job; speak with custumers; make eye contact; get there on time; listen and get the istructions; use common sense… the list goes on.

I can only imagine that employers who actually want to make money and save it, are more interested in a personable, appropriately dressed and not too heavily metalled person, than some GCSEs of dubious quality.

But I could be wrong.

[ If you want to know what Iona is studying this time click on the Gift of Learning pic above]

Could we start an educational revolution in home education?

With the launch of Kelly’s book and some musings on the subject by Danae, I’ve been thinking about how Home Education could change the face of education as a whole in the UK. Scotland have their own little battle going on at the moment thanks to the astonishing crassness of a Labour SMP and his remarks about the horrific tragedy of the Riggi case. It is a case that has had horrible echoes for me of something closer to home (though no HE children involved). Perhaps if the Labour SMP could spend some time considering the horror of divorce and it’s impact on children? No? Thought not.

Meanwhile I have been wondering if it is time for more home education to happen, lots more of it.

Could we spread the message so far that more and more parents decide that a suitable education is one that the family offers the children? In a strange way we even seem to have the MSM on our side, in as much as it is filled with so many horror stories of what goes on in schools and the state of pupils that come out of institutional education. Perhaps as more teachers are sacked for trying to do their job properly, and while Ofsted gets it wrong so often, and more and more children are leaving school illiterate, tbere just has to be a better way. Couldn’t that better way be home education?

I know Michael Gove hopes more free schools will come into existence but I think he is stimmied on that for the forseeable future because of the appalling amount of beaurocracy any groups of parents would have to wade through to get the thing off the ground. And let’s face it; there is massive opposition to the idea of mere parents, especially if they happen to be middle class, taking their children’s education too seriously. We haven’t got past the horrible cultural view of “leave it to the experts” yet by an stretch.

Home Education could be the answer for so many children stagnating in a system that doesn’t help them learn or grow. If more parents took the optionand offered their children a truly flexible and worthwhile form of educaiton we might find lots of cultural problems could at least be curbed a little.

I am not saying all home educating families are saints and that all home ed parents put the welfare and education of their children first. I know some HE parents seem to think that, but I have a long and broad experience of HE and have come across  a couple of families over the years who just weren’t good at parenting, let alone educating their children. Chaos and sheer nastiness ensued.  Those families, however, have proved thankfully rare and anyway most HEers steer clear once burned.  In school children are forced to get burned over and over and the horrible behaviour, far from being shunned is enabled by the system.

Perhaps if more and more parents pulled out of the broken system and demand a new one was thought of there could be change. Meanwhile the basis of this system, which was to feed workers to the factories Ofsted thinks should upfront be financed by these private firms. If this isn’t telling is what Ofsted and the Government structure think education is for, I don’t know what does.

Of course many parents who tell me they would love to HE are stuck in the economics of needing two incomes. They are in so deep they can’t even see themselve managing on one and half wages.  I can’t say I blame them. Managing on one wage is extrememly difficult and that’s with doing without a load of stuff these other families take for granted.  But perhaps if enough parents thought the sacrifice was worth it…

I wonder if it would change the way people think. Would more families lean towards a distributist way of life as communities grew stronger with more families living their lives in these communities. No more streets emptied all day as mum goes one way, dad the other way and the children to the locked building up the road. What if instead the families lived and worked together and shared their resources?  It would surely make life easier for single parents too, to be more involved in their local community and able to home ed and work because other families would assist.

There is a move to make school attendence voluntary- but the fact is, as the law stands now, no one HAS to go to school. The question then is, why do so many parents send their children to school? Why is that normal, and home education seen as weird?

Theology of Suffering from Fr Stan

Get a grip of this suffering malarky by listening and watching Fr Stan teach on it. You can click on the bookcase at the top of my side bar or you can click HERE and HERE and HERE. He doesn’t just rap you know :)

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Four Last Things (pt 2) with the Theology of suffering

Purgatory is not one of the Four Last Things but as it is a sort of antechamber to heaven I thought it deserved a mention. It is a state of suffering where, as St Paul describes it, the straw of life gets burned away leaving only the gold, bright and shiny that can enter heaven. It is through God’s Mercy that such a thing can happen and is a direct result of His saving act on the Cross and the Resurrection. I know that many protestant Christian’s don’t accept the existence of this purging before heaven but all the ones that phone Catholic Answers with their questions or statements on it, end up saying something along the same lines as Catholic teaching on the matter, so I suspect there’s at least a vague acknowledgement that as nothing unclean can live with God, that there’s a process of cleaning to ensure that.

Quite a few Biblical scholars (Hahn for one) see purgatory as linked with the old Jewish place of the dead Sheol. The Church inherited a lot of Jewish teaching, obviously as the Jesus didn’t come to change the Law but to fulfil it. Praying for the dead is age old therefore.

It is also argued that hell is part of God’s mercy. He never forces His love on anyone, but the fact is His love is a burning fire and as He is omnipresent it just is there. People in Hell are as far away from God as they can get.  Some argue that true mercy in the case of those who hate God so much would be annihilation. It’s a tricky theological argument that has books written on it. The short version is God’s nature is to life and existence so annihilation goes against His nature. I’m not sure of all the arguments on this matter, but it is something interesting.

One area of this theology that interests me is the view that all three states; hell, purgatory and heaven are present here on earth and that you really can and do take it with you. It’s something you make for others too. Obviously as Christians we are called to make a bit of heaven on earth and accept the offer of it from God, but Free Will also allows us to make other people’s lives purgatory and hell, not just by what we do, but far more often (I think) by what we don’t do. (Take a look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan for example).

Purgatory, as a state of suffering- the last bit of cross carrying- is surely something we go through here on earth. No suffering need be without merit and use. We can offer our suffering with the Cross of Christ as St Paul teaches. All the suffering we are allowed to go through is for something. It isn’t meaningless. How we handle our suffering is important. While it is true that we are called to assist those who suffer and should never just walk on by or say something platitudinous while doing nothing; neither should the person who suffers inflict that on other people.

It is too easy, when struggling with horrible things to give out rather than offer it up. After all as the song says, “Everybody gotta suffer.”

For those of us going through it now we need to remember that this too will pass and we are already called to take one day at a time. We must resist the temptation to take it out on those around us. We mustn’t try and stop others having what they need because of what we want just because we are struggling at the moment.

I actually think that those who try to pull others down with them are creating a small circle of hell around themselves. Something terrible they will take with them. While suffering can be a beautiful opportunity to atone and offer, it can be a time of temptation to make others suffer too. We really mustn’t go there. Suffering in no way exempts us from trying to follow Christ. “Take up your cross and follow Me,” He said. Not ‘take up your cross and bash other people with it.’ We must look past our own pain to other people’s needs and still do what we can for them, no matter how hard, how exhausting that is.

I think I’ll post some more Fr Stan on this subject. He is clearer than I am-perhaps because he hasn’t filled himself with drugs!

A day for Mothers and Alcoholics.

One day people will look back on these days of the 20 and 21st century and call them the dark ages. They will see so much intellectual pride and not much intellectual substance. They will shake their heads at the shallowness of thought and refusal to listen, especially to stories. Our understanding of who we are is deeply rooted in stories, mainly true ones but fairy tales have a place too.

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Four Last Things (pt 1

A few things that have happened recently have had me thinking more about outcomes in life and eternal life. I didn’t get to Mass on Sunday but THIS WAS A GOOD READ on the Scriptures for that day. Then this morning I was reading about how in New York they have grown so dim as to not understand the fast chasm of difference between palliative care and killing the patient. Even in this horrible brain-fog state I still know the difference; what IS their excuse?

One comment said that we need more instruction on the Four Last Things and I think that is true. I have never heard anything about them in Church. In fact the last time I heard anyone speak on the matter it was Fr John Corapi’s little series. I like his talks because they are clear for someone who needs it-like me. The comment also mentioned that if people understood these matters better they wouldn’t be so afraid of death.

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Quick update…

ECG was normal this am which is good. BP is down a bit too. I tell you what, this new drug is making a new woman out of me; no more sausage fingers; I have my ankles back (mostly) and my face and neck are coming and going. That is weird I grant you- yesterday I suddenly noticed my face and neck swelling had just gone. No more double chin. Today it’s back but nowhere near as bad as before. I do get oedema in the oddest of places.

Anyway; blood tests on Friday and then doc again in 2 weeks and probably be seeing the Cardiologist after that.  A normal ECG doesn’t rule out renal and heart failure but it does mean if I do have it I have a better prognosis than if the ECG showed anomalies as well. That’s good.

A friend took me to the docs this am. I told him I thought this was God’s way of having a go at me. I absolutely LOATHE going to the doctors and thanks to this business I have already been 3 times in 3 weeks and have to go back on Friday. Somebody is having a right larf at my expense! Still, He does seem to be hearig all those prayers. I am coping much better with both the pain and exhaustion- which is marvellous. Thank you so much all those of you with sore knees on my behalf :)

Anyway we’ll see what happens next.

Emergency curriculum for hard time in Home Education.

Talked to my friend K yesterday. She a great source of common sense and reasurrance. I am a bit more on top of the pain today so I want to take a look at the curriculum and adjust it accordingly. K suggests I keep it reading heavy and just about everything else light until after Christmas. That sounds good and it’s a target for me. By then I should have hospital appoitments sorted and know more about what I’m dealing with here. Also surely, some of the meds will be working and I can function better than this!

There are plenty of books I think the children can deal with themselves and a few I can read to them or get someone else to read to them. There’s some good free audio online as well. I have been looking at buying CDs or MP3s with some books but the cost is silly.

I want to keep up the Critical Thinking Stuff- but it’s fairly self explanatory so I think it is one of those things where they could do it while I sit with them but it wont do me in.

One thing K pointed out was that because the children are used to learning and want to learn that they will keep ticking over for a long time, just doing it all.

I’m going to try and put up my booklist and alternative approach in the next few days. When I’ve managed it I will post it. K pointed out that peace of mind will come if I am assured they are still doing better than they would in school. I had to laugh. One of the advantages of Ed Balls version of education is that no matter how ill I get, I would have to try hard to make the children’s education worse than they’d get in school.  Being ill though does start allowing the “what will other people think?” thoughts to creep back.  I am not going to let that happen. My attitude will be, that those who think the children are missing out on something can offer to try and fill the gap. If they just want to criticise and walk on by-well that’s their problem and not mine or my children’s.

I am looking at trying to get a few fill in books that are all-inclusive workbooks. Classical approaches tend to have more of these. I’m not sure about this yet.

ECG tomorrow and I have heard that waiting to see a Cardiologist should be 5 weeks at the most. Not sure if I am being referred to the Renal clinic too or whether it will come from Cardio (must ask tomorrow). I am guessing the wait might be a bit less as the GP wants to rush it. That sort of info does make it more sensible to think about more full on HE after Christmas.

Iona starts her Open University course next week, so she is set up. I haven’t bought the Logic course yet. I might need to leave that until after Christmas too. She has some work still which is good and I think she and Alex are still busy with their joint project.

Alex is working hard trying to get some art done that he can sell and he is out there at this moment looking for a job. Josh has a job and is looking at Uni placements. It’s not proving easy. Hope he can get on a nursing course for year and transfer to paramedic next year.

So the biggies are doing what they are supposed to be doing. So as Wallace would say, “Don’t worry, everything’s under control!”

Of course they always drive into a bridge or something  just then….

a ramble about exorcism

I have too good an opinion of your brain to take you for a skeptic. You have an open mind…which means that you can neither be skeptic nor credulous. Both the Skeptic and the credulous have warped minds; they work from a foregone conclusion, the first that they must believe nothing they hear, the second everyting.” (Dr Zodiac in Strange Daughter by Louis de Wohl)

I have to admit I think exorcsim is quite interesting. It is a much neglected and over sensionalised part of the Church’s charism of healing.  I haven’t much personal experience with exorcsim and I haven’t read enough about it to know the whole story but I know some basics and there are some common sense things about avoiding the whole shabang.

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Home Education; Better Late Than Early: Is it really?

Term is approaching. I had it all planned and had a fairly good idea what we would be up to right up to Christmas. I might have to rethink a few things.

For a start this is the first year when we are not really tied to school term dates as such because no one is in school or college. So we can be more flexible. But then if I am going to be ill I need to re-assess how I go about the whole Home Ed process a bit. One area where I think we have an advantage in that Ronan is a strong reader. While I think Avila finds reading more of a challenge she is reading reasonably well too. A primary school teacher friend pointed out that while I was a bit concerned about how Avila was reading, that she had no children at all in Reception and only a couple in year 1 who were reading at her level; so she is ahead of school children. However, I have to say, having worked in a Rec and year 1, I would hope any home educated child was finding reading easier than those children- because they get one to one or at least one to a few attention and books are everywhere in the home.

I am hoping, that as both of them read well enough that if I am too ill to do as much as I would like- they can read.

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Fibromyalgia- it’s breaking my heart.

After Fibro-it’s all in yer ‘ead, I said I would write a follow up with what’s happening to me.

So this is what’s happening to me:

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Feast of St Helena today

It’s the feast day of St Helena today and as she is a family saint of ours I can’t let the day go without giving her a mention.

The beginning of her life is a bit uncertain but my favourite view is that she was the daughter of King Coel the Magnificent of Colchester (who just might be the Old King Cole the merry old soul). Anyway, Helena appears to have been his daughter and she was married off to a Roman consul with a great future named Constantius Chlorus(meaning pale face poor man) and she had a son called Constantine.

Constantius was made to divorce Helena and get a more politically correct wife and so Helena was left to bring up her son alone. She is one of those mothers (along with Monica and my own St Bridget) who knows what it is like to have a hard time keeping a son on the straight and narrow.

It is not certain when she became Christian, although it seems as though it was back in Britain even though most Britains were pagan then. She didn’t seem able to get Constantine to go along with her religious views and there are some suggestions that he had a fondness for Mithras for a while.

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During a crisis is home education better, the same or worse than having the children in school?

In the little home education group I host we have gone through some seriously challenging times over the years. Two of the mums have faced cancer and chemo and I’ve gone through some pretty trying health times too both for myself and one of the children in particular. On the surface it may seem that when something bad happens that it would be better for the children to be in school, where they may at least appear to have been shielded from it all somewhat. But is that true in practice?

Serious illness in any family can cause stress and strain to the family set up. Is is worse, better or the same for those of us who home educate? It is not an area that has had  any research t that I am aware of. However from our own little bit of experience I will say this; I wish I had been home educating the children when I became seriously ill. I think they would have felt closer to what was happening and less confused about it had they not been shipped off to school each day. It might also have been less stressful for my husband making sure they got to and from school and then off to visit me in hospital each day. Not easy.

To make matters worse for one child in particular he was facing bullies each day and the concern of what was going to happen to me each evening!

For both K and J as they went through chemo their children were aware of what was happening and when. They had lots of extended family support although sadly K was not as close into a good supportive home ed group when she had her 12 sessions of chemo (pretty extreme treatment) and so didn’t get the support she and the children needed from the HE community. I certainly hope we can rise to the occasion if and when she faces the onslaught of her cancer again. One thing she says though is that while her children suffered seeing their mother so desperately ill through surgeries and chemo, they coped well. As it happened one of K’s friends also went through the same cancer and  similar chemo while her dd went to school. It was noted that it was much harder for that child to deal with. Whether this was because she was sent to school each day or whether it was because of the way different families deal with things is hard to say, but I think my children coped better with some of the really difficult times we faced over Avila’s repetitive hospital admissions and my own health problems because they were involved and not separated from it (artificially).

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Matter of Conscience; Education as a Fundamental Freedom

Kelly‘s book will be published and on sale soon. Take a look.

Fibromyalgia and the ‘it’s all in yer ‘ed’ approach- and some ideas for coping.

I have only recently had the fibromyalgia diagnosis but I’ve been disabled by it for over 7 years. While this is a home ed blog I hope these occasional posts on fibro and how to live and cope with it are helpful to some people out there.

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That Resource Site- updates

Check out That Resource Site for more freebies.

There is also a page for the worksheets I send which is very kind of them. I am honoured to have been made an honorary team member.

There are more updates to come I believe so keep an eye out.

There is always new stuff coming up on their blog too.

Tagged for Devotional meme

Ages ago Rita tagged me for this meme and I am afraid I was too slack and going off on other things to get around to doing it properly. Now Karen has tagged me as well. So here it is:

I am to name 5 favorite devotions – Mass is NOT to be included – and then tag 5 other people and let them know they’ve been tagged, and then give the person you tagged a link back to the post you’ve completed.

1. Morning Prayer from Divine Office I also love Compline but don’t get around to it as often.

2. Seven Sorrows Rosary. This is linked with my beloved St Bridget of Sweden and others and has more recently been re-reminded by Our Lady of Kibeho. The 7 Sorrows are: the prophecy of Simeon (a sword will pierce your heart), the exile to Egypt, the loss of the Christ Child when He stayed in the Temple; Mary greets her son at the Cross; the crucifixion; Mary receives her Son from the cross; Jesus is laid in the tomb.

3. The Prayer of St Michael.

4.The quickie from Divine Mercy; Jesus I trust in You.

5. The Rosary – sometimes as Lectio Divina.

Oh and I love…well I had better stop there.

So now I tag, Deb,  Swissy,   Therese and anyone else of whatever faith background who has favourite devotions to share, and anyone who hasn’t already done this.

Charlotte Mason Home Education; Grade 2 (yr 3)

I’m setting out the curriculum for Grade 2 or UK yr 3. There is the joint work Roni and Avila will do together.

Then the following:


Math U See alpha finish off and begin Beta.  Mathematical Reasoning level C and Complete the Picture Math book 3. I have some other bits and pieces to help him understand money better.

Critical Thinking: Building Thinking Skills Level 1 which he is already working through.

Language Arts: Language of God level B (he could do with C really) and Language Smarts C (I hope to get hold of level D soon) as well as the online Language Arts books from my resource blog. He has been doing some Scott Foreman worksheets which I think we will continue with.

Reading: He is reading the 26 Fairmount Avenuue books by Tomie de Poala but he has a few other things he has been reading too. He can more or less read fluently now so there is more choice of books for him.

Science Find the Constellations H A Rey; Exploring Creation with Astonomy Fulbright and Nature Detectives. I’ve also got Garden Dectectives on order. Alongside this is his big book of Science (Miles Kelly) and the Usborne Energy Forces and Motion book (internet linked) We’ll also continue with little projects and lapbooks based on the Usborne pocket science series. A kind aunt bought us the whole lot some time ago and they are pretty good.

Read Alouds: Still got to finish Benedict of the Hills and then Augustine Came to Kent and Beowulf. (For both the latter books much thanks to Clare). There’s bound to be more especially from the Baldwin Collection.

We are still working through Our Island Story and 50 Famous Stories Retold; I actually tend to use some of the Librivox versions; some of the readers are quite good. (We heard the story of Grace Darling (ch 19) and then visited her museum and grave last year).

Other stuff includes Dance Mat Typing as well as other BBC schools stuff which can be useful for revision and consolidation at times. We will also probably use some homemade worksheet stuff as well as the  great stuff available from That Resource Site.

This isn’t written in stone; I tend to change things as we go along- but it’s the start.

The unheard cry for meaning and the sorrow of fear.

I have talked before about my great love of the books by Viktor Frankl.  Most people, I think, come to his work via Man’s Search for Meaning but I was introduced to him when a tutor lent me Psychotherapy and Existentialism back in my training days. I was hooked and soon bought some of his books.

He writes with an amazing eye to the human spirit as he survived the Concentration camps of National Socialist Germany. His first wife and mother were killed in those camps. There is no bitterness in his writing, despite the fact that he saw the very depths that human beings are willing to stoop to, sometimes with a false hope of survival.

He talks of the Capos. They were fellow Jews, prisoners like himself, but who were in the pay of the Nazi guards. They may certainly have lived longer than many of the prisoners, worked to death in those camps; but for what? There is no meaning in simply surviving.

That war killed millions and millions of people. No, not the war, PEOPLE did this. How does a country end up producing so many who will vote for such evil and even enact it? It is the mystery of iniquity big time. I think the civilian victims were around the 13 million mark; 6million Jews (polish, Austrian German, Dutch and more), 3 million Polish Catholics with the bulk of them being priests. The slaughter began with thousands and thousands of disabled and mentally ill people and in the number went Jehovah’s Witnesses (what on earth for?) and many homosexual people (mainly German’s I believe). There were Evangelical ministers who had stood up for freedom and countless children.

Sadly nothing much seems to have been learned. There is still the fear of those who are not understood that leads to rumour, lies and of course persecution. There is gross indifference to the suffering of others.

On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)  in 1891 a girl was born to a Jewish family living on that overlap land of Germany and Poland (Breslau/Wroclaw). She was named Edith and was the youngest of 11 children. Her father died when she was young and she and her six surviving siblings lived with their mother who loved God.

By her teens Edith had decided she was an atheist though she always respected her mother’s faith. She was a very intelligent young lady and became one of the first women to be admitted to the Universities in Germany. She studied philosophy and Phenomenology and worked with Heidegger for a time.

In 1921 Edith was on holiday and looking for something to read. She picked up a book that happened to be by a fellow Jewish woman who had become a Carmelite nun. It was the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila. (wonderful woman!) This was the beginning of a turnaround in Edith’s life.

She went on to learn as much as she could and was baptised the following year. She really longed to enter Carmel but this was put on hold for her mother’s sake.

In those days Germany was suffering from the after effects of their role in the First World War. In a bid for revenge Britain and France were demanding a huge debt be paid but this helped push the German economy into the ground. Revenge has a nasty habit of coming around and biting you on the posterior.

The people of Germany wanted a better life, a better economy and as is so common in these situations they would vote for whoever promised it.

Meanwhile Edith had become a popular and well known figure in the Catholic Women’s Movement. She had also I believe met a well known writer and man of integrity Dietrich von Hildebrand.

Well before the election Hitler was making it clear what his plans were and his hatred of the Jews.  There was no love for the Catholic Church either especially as one Pacelli had encouraged Catholics not to vote National Socialist. Maps of the votes of the time (1933) show that Bavaria barely voted for the NSP at all and all other high Catholic areas had very few votes for them too.

As soon as Hitler came to power it became more and more obvious what he was going to do to the Jews and any well known Catholics. Dietrich von Hilderbrand got out of the country only just in time. People told him later that his flat was barely empty when the police went in to arrest him.

Meanwhile Edith had gone to see the Pope and asked him to speak out against the anti-Semitic views of the Nazi Government.

In Austria Dr Frankl continued to work with his patients but the news that Germany was going to annex Austria was a bleak. As it happened he did get a visa to go to America, but he could not bring himself to leave his parents and patients and so he stayed.

Edith finally entered Carmel and took her vows. She took the name of her beloved St Teresa of Avila and became Sister Teresa Benedicta. Her sister Rosa also became Catholic and a third order Carmelite.

In 1936 Hitler’s Government made homeschooling illegal. All children must attend school to receive the Third Reich propaganda. All children must join Hitler’s Youth. It was all compulsory.  Pacelli now Pope Pius XII tried to protect Catholic education at least with the Reich-Konkordat tried to protect both freedom of education and freedom of publication. It was to be (the pope hoped) a way to maintain a semblance of free speech in an otherwise carefully controlled Germany. I don’t get the impression it really worked.

Edith’s request for a voice against the Nazi’s had apparently gone unheard but on Passion Sunday of 1937 a most unusual Encyclical was published and sent out. It spoke clearly against the Nazi’s but that wasn’t the most unusual thing about it; It was not written in Latin as all encyclicals were. It was written in German and called MIT BRENNENDER SORGE (With Burning Sorrow)

In Bavaria a teenage boy called Joseph Ratzinger, son of a local policeman joined Hitler’s Youth as he was obliged to. He was blessed though to have a good Youth leader who, although believing in Nazism as a good way for things to be, agreed to sign his papers and not insist on attendance. So the young Joseph did not attend.

The war was on Hitler invaded Poland in 1936 and hell broke loose.

In that darkness Viktor Frankl and his wife and mother were taken to concentration camps to be worked to death. Only Viktor came out alive.

The von Hilderbrands had escaped and out of Asutria their relatives the von Trapps (Sound of Music fame)  had also made it to Switzerland.

Sr Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa were sent to Holland in the hope that there they would be safe. They weren’t. And when the Catholic bishops spoke out strongly against the way the Jews were being treated revenge was soon taken. The Carmelites hoped to get the two Jewish women to Switzerland but it wasn’t to be.

Along with Corrie Ten Boon and her sister and the Jewish families they had been hiding, Sr Teresa Benedicta and Rosa Stein were bundled into trucks filled with Jews and Christians who had helped them and taken away.

Corrie Ten Boon was to see her sister die, though she finally survived and even forgave her guards, one of whom she later met.

On August 14th 1941 there was the death of a young priest Fr Maximillion Kolbe who had been starved to death in the camps in place of a fellow Pole who had begged for his life because he had a family. The man survived and he and other camp survivors spoke of the priest who had said he would die instead. Fr Kolbe, now St Maximillion Kolbe was one of thousands of priests who were killed in the camps.

Meanwhile in Poland a young actor was seeing the horror of war from both sides, as National Socialism attacked from one side and Communist Socialism from the other. He was finally ordained Fr Karol Wojtyla in 1948. Out of the horror of war, the insistance of those in power of stamping on the weak and deciding who should learn what, beleive what and even be what had formed a strong resistance to hatred in two men at least.

Both of those men who have so valued the freedom of others and have written and spoken of it in love and charity became popes; Venerable Pope John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI who took the name of the Pope of peace Benedict the XV. Perhaps if Britain’s Government in 1916 had not been so arrogant and had listened to Pope Benedict XV the First World War would have ended so much sooner; Lenin may never have been able to move from Germany to Russia and those lights that lit up the skies in 1936 just as Our Lady of Fatima warned, would never have been seen as World War II  would never have happened. Pride is a terrible, terrible thing.

It was on this day August 9th 1942 that Sr Teresa and her sister Rosa were gassed to death, thanks to the opinion that Jews are not really fully human. Sr Teresa Benectica left behind some of the most powerful and beautiful writing on the soul of women. Read more about her HERE.  This wonderful saint whose spiritual mother was a fellow Hebrew Catholic St Teresa of Avila who was such an inspiration for Charlotte Mason- has much still to teach us, especially women, about our true worth.

These stories should not be forgotten. Today is the Feast of St Teresa Benedicta. Her love of learning, freedom and Philosophy has influenced many fine writers since.  Let’s not forget.

Science freebies.

Loads of science freebies.

I confess to watching CSI. Well it’s quite interesting really. Anyway after hearing the tale of medieval men bringing their shovels to the town square so that a murderer might be discovered,  I just had to find out the details. Hence the set on forensics. Go on, you  and yours want to know the real story; and there’s the life cycle of a blow fly to help it along :)

A week of kith and kin and swans at sea.

We’ve had a lovely week away meeting up with the kinfolk in Scotland and spending time back on Holy Isle (a place I just love) with my “mum” Sr Kath and some friends.

There was plenty to see and Iona had a huge amount of photo opportunities.

It was so good to see everyone and catch up. It was extra special for me to see Sr Kath as she will be moving to London next week.

The weirdest thing I saw during the week was three swans swimming around in the sea. Is that normal swanlike behaviour?

We took the children to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh which I hoped would be a fun science day out. They had a good time but ye gods the place is extremely expensive to get into and there isn’t much hands on for the children; too heavy a reliance on fancy computer productions.

We had a lovely time but it is good to be home.