Blessings to you and your families! I hope that you are all happily wrapping up the year's academic work and preparing for the summer. I'm happy to provide you with this edition of the CLAA newsletter to help you with your academic planning through the summer and to encourage fathers as Father's Day approaches. There are a number of items I'd like to share with you this month.
Most importantly, in 2011, we had hoped to open the CLAA's Common School program to help families satisfy the requirements (or recommendations) of state academic standards. We had a great deal of interest in the program's opening, but I chose to postpone the opening for one simple reason: I had developed a better plan for helping families get this work done--even more efficiently and beneficially than I initially thought. I'd like to share with you the details of this program and help you simplify the work of big-family homeschooling for the future.
Please know that any questions you have are welcome and will be responded to promptly. Whether you'd like more information on a topic covered in this newsletter, or just have more questions, please e-mail me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with me privately online in the evenings on the CLAA website.
God bless you all!
William Michael, Director
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
HAPPY FATHERS' DAY
A Meditation for Dads
As Fathers' Day approaches, which I'll admit I enjoy more than my birthday, I'd like to wish you a Happy Fathers' Day and share a meditation on this work of fatherhood that we've all agreed to enter into--for life. I'd like to share with you thoughts I've had on Our Lord's story about the prodigal son--but I'd like us to focus on the prodigal son's father.
Here are Our Lord's words--they are worth reading slowly and are infinitely more important than anything I may write below. Remember to keep your mind focused on the father that you may profit personally from the reading.
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"A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father: "Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me.". And he divided unto them his substance.
And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country: and there wasted his substance, living riotously. And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And returning to himself, he said: "How many hired servants in my father's house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger? I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.'.".
And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him. And the son said to him: "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son.". And the father said to his servants: "Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found.". And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing: And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said to him: "Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe!". And he was angry, and would not go in.
His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. And he answering, said to his father: "Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf." But he said to him: "Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found."
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There is our text--O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! God speaks to us of His own ways and teaches us His own thoughts. What a mystery! However, St. Paul teaches us that, while this story is ultimately about God (signified by the father), it is about us men, for we are to "Be imitators of God.". Therefore, if God so acts, we must do likewise if we would be "godly" men, that is, men who are like God.
Let's glean from the text what we can about this father of fathers:
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1. He is WEALTHY.
Say what you want, the father is a wealthy man. He owns land, slaves and has enough wealth to provide for himself and set aside cash inheritances for his sons to live on. His son speaks of the abundance of bread enjoyed by the slaves and the father was able to hand his son enough money to live on as he did for some time. The father was a man of means, able to do many good things because he could afford it.
We fathers have not taken vows of poverty and are doing no one any favors by failing to produce for our families. Scripture's famous fathers are normally wealthy men, save for St. Joseph, whose humble station was appropriate for Our Lord's incarnation, as the manger was for his crib. Some of the greatest men of the Bible--Abraham, Job and David--are set before us as wealthy men who served God as righteous fathers. The books of Wisdom teach us plainly that wise men are usually wealthy and that foolishness leads to poverty. As men who beget children whose needs and education are our duty to provide, it follows that good fathers ought to be wealthy--relative to their family's needs and state of life. God teaches us "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work" and we ought to be men known for the excellence and profitability of our work, not the excess and prodigality of our play.
2. He is WISE.
Many men today can hardly keep themselves employed, let alone manage anyone else. The father in our story is a fountain of life to many because he manages his affairs with wisdom. He is no Al Bundy, bumming around seeking to be entertained or blaming others for his inability to succeed. He embraces his life's work, seeks God's help and blessing, and manages all things carefully. His sons see the order of all things under him and have an example of wise fatherhood that they will never forget.
3. He is FREE.
Many today boast of a political or civil freedom while living lives that are less happy and free than those of history's slaves. One missionary from Africa visited the U.S. with an eagerness to meet people who are said to be most "free", but he was amazed by the unhappy slavery in which they lived day by day--in their homes and personal lives. He said to me, "People are more free in Kenya than in America." He remarked at the lack of love in homes, the lack of respect for elderly family members, the lack of joy in God's worship, and the overall shallowness of life he encountered.
There is no talk of debt or employment in this man's life, but by his own prayer and industry he works for himself and is thereby free to work as his conscience directs him. His son shows us the source of slavery--lust, idleness and pride--and moves quickly from a free son and heir to an impoverished slave working for others. His father maintains his freedom through his goodness and is never pressed into the hardship his foolish son must endure, going about begging for work and food after spoiling the means of living independently. The father, at all times, can rest with a clear conscience, "owing no man anything but to love one another".
4. He is TEMPERATE.
The father's excellence is evident when we compare him to his son. The father possesses much, much more than he gave his son, yet his son quickly used it to indulge his lusts, whereas his father set it aside for the benefit of his children and provided fairly for his servants. He wasn't on the hunt for the latest toy or entertainment, but was content to work and share. The father could handle wealth and freedom virtuously because he was temperate. Moreover, his sons are raised to work themselves, along with their servants, not averse to labor but diligent and humble. His evil son learned the hard way to appreciate what good things his father had taught and given him.
5. He is GENEROUS.
Ebenezer Scrooge was wealthy, wise and temperate, but his stinginess made him miserable. The father in our story was on Scrooge. His own blessing and virtue was set to benefit those around him, regardless of their state in life--whether sons or slaves.
6. He is MERCIFUL.
His son committed a terrible evil. Imagine the shame his father would have lived with after his son famously went off and wasted himself with whores and partying. Nevertheless, the father's great mercy washed away whatever anger or pride might have been welled up within him. When the son returned, he ran to meet him and greeted him with a rejoicing kiss and hug. All of his son's evil was covered by his father's mercy.
7. He is a PEACEMAKER.
The good brother was ticked when he saw his father's generous response to his repentant son. The father has no interest in taking sides or justifying anything. His only concern is peace. He says, "Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again." The father shows us that peace is made not by flattery or ignoring the truth, but by doing "what is fit" in all circumstances and leading others to do the same--even when their arguments are reasonable.
8. He is HAPPY.
In the end, when all is said and done, the father enjoys a happy life. His trials are overcome by patience and all ends with rejoicing. He has succeeded in business and household management, but he succeeds most of all in the goal of life: true happiness. His work is prosperous, his household is at peace, his heart is full of joy, the devil is cast down before him and God is glorified.
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The story the we enjoy in the Gospels is only possibly because of the father's faith and life. It doesn't take any special man to lose a son to sin and foolishness, but to reclaim not by the force of one's words and harrassing, but by the attraction of one's goodness is a rare honor.
As we celebrate Fathers' Day let us ask ourselves whether our children, if they were to wander from us one day, would be drawn back to us by our wisdom and goodness or, finding themselves in the dark place the prodigal son was, turn further away from us into greater sin because their memories of our lives together offer them no hope of better things?
One famous Catholic writer said, "A good soldier does not fight because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." It is for us, fathers, to create that world which our sons will love and fight for throughout their lives, to which they will always be tethered and unable to leave for long. We cannot rely on them to hate the enemy, but must fill them with memories of a home worthy of their love.
Today is the time for us to provide our sons with a history of happiness that can save them in the event of a future fall. Today is the time for us to work that we may share and prove ourselves generous and temperate in all our ways. Today is the time for us to prepare that experiences and memories that will defend our sons by answering the devil's lies and persuasions. Today is the time for us to lay the foundation for our children's salvation.
The Scriptures warn us sternly that "Whatever a man sows, the same shall he also reap." Wisdom warns us that "A son ill taught is the confusion of his father." The day will come, when we are older and weaker and much of what we are doing today will be regretted. We can prove ourselves wise and avoid that regret, but we must sow abundantly today if we would reap abundantly tomorrow. Let us work that the happiest of Fathers' Day celebrations may enjoyed in our latter days.
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Going they went and wept, casting their seeds. But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves." -Psalm 125
William Michael, Director
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Questions? Write to Mr. Michael at: email@example.com.
We are happy to announce that our first two intensive Latin reading courses are now open. The CLAA's Grammar IB and IIB courses allow students to read real Latin from day one with the assistance of word-by-word analysis and audio/video guidance through the text. Students are immersed in the language in an enjoyable course that is sure to produce fluent Latin readers quickly.
Church Latin (Grammar IB)
|View sample lesson!|
In our first reading course, students can read St. Jerome's Latin translation of the Gospel of St. John, verse-by-verse. Mr. Michael provides students with a complete guide to each reading that includes:
- a careful reading of the text
- a word-by-word translation of each verse
- helpful notes on the Latin
Lessons include translation exercises, vocabulary quizzes and challenging examinations that help to ensure that the students master each reading before moving ahead.
It is worth noting that there are no prerequisites for this course and non-CLAA students are welcome to read along with us.
Classical Latin (Grammar IIB)
|View a sample lesson!|
In our second reading course, which is intended for students who have completed Grammar IA, students read selected epistles and moral writings of Cicero, the master of classical Latin. Mr. Michael provides students with:
- historical introductions to each reading
- a word-by-word translation of each verse
- helpful notes on the Latin
- references to principles learned in Grammar IA and IIA.
Thus, in the CLAA, there is no fake textbook Latin, years of aimless Grammar exercises or goofy "cultural" activities that waste children's time and accomplish nothing in the end. We immerse our students in the classical languages easily from the beginning, as children are immersed in their native tongues. Why waste time when you could be reading?
CLAA Classical Grammar Program
|View a sample lesson!|
Students who want to study the art of Reasoning have to deal with Aristotle, who established and taught the system in the 4th century BC.
Aristotle's pupils arranged his teaching in six books that we call the "Organon" or "Method". In the CLAA's Classical Reasoning courses we will study these ancient books one-by-one. We begin in Reasoning I with the first two books: Categories and On Interpretation, which provide us with the bridge that ties our grammar studies into the philosophical studies that lie ahead. Next year, we'll begin the Analytics and later move into Dialectic.
The course consists of a guided reading of Aristotle's text in English translation, with helpful commentary on the original Greek text as needed. Lessons include exercises and examinations to ensure student mastery.
Important: In the CLAA, we deal directly with Aristotle and are careful to maintain the Scholastic interpretation of Aristotle's teaching. This is important because much of what is being taught as "Logic" today in Christian circles is actually a false notion of logic taught by either (a) anti-Scholastic Catholics, or (b) non-Catholics who teach a version of "logic" that was created to suit their false systems of philosophy and belief. The Catholic Encyclopedia helpfully warned of this in 1910:
"In many non-Catholic works on logic, the underlying philosophy is not only erroneous, but subversive of the whole body of natural spiritual truth which the Catholic Church guards as carefully as she does the Deposit of Faith."
So, signing a Catholic child up for a course called "Logic" is not responsible education when taken from non-Catholic sources. We had better be sure that our Catholic children are studying "Scholastic" reasoning, that is, Aristotle according to St. Thomas Aquinas's interpretation, or we may be creating in them a foundation of thinking that is as false as another religion. The Church herself has warned us of this, and we're trying to help families act on those warnings.
CLAA Classical Reasoning Program
We are very proud of the 27 students who have now completed the CLAA's Classical Grammar IA course! These students have completed an extraordinarily rigorous program and have overcome many bumps and obstacles along the way. Congratulations to the students and to their parents for their patience and diligence!
Maria Andress, age 18
Emily M. Bear, 16
Naomi Brenden, 12
Catherine Gallaher, 12
Daniel Giannone, 14
Cameron Hardin, 17
Mary Hardin, 15
Jacqueline D Hernando, 13
Jacob Honan, 18
Patrick Lynch, 16
Christopher Mentele, 12
Jonathan Michael, 12
Naomi Owens, 16
Bryce Queary, 13
Alessandro Reinares, 15
Grant Richardson, 15
Luke Rosamond, 11
Theresa Saenz, 14
Nathaniel Simms, 14
Noah Siwko, 14
Mary-Grace Siwko, 13
Rafael A. Skrobola, 12
Francisco A. Skrobola, 13
Owen Squire, 16
Zelie-Louise Turpin, 14
Samuel Wenerstrom, 14
Maxwell Wenerstrom, 12
Another 18 students have made it through the most difficult part of the course and are working through the easier final 5 lessons at this time, and will be finished in time for fall classes. We are excited to see these students making it through what was historically called the "janua artium" (gateway of the arts), obtaining a mastery of Grammar that will give them access into future studies that those who don't enter this gate will not have access to. It takes a praiseworthy and steadfast commitment to principles to make it through this course in an age of minimum standard workbook curricula and diploma services, but the fruits of true intellectual formation will be reaped in coming years as we enter into the studies at which these early studies were designed to facilitate--Reasoning, Philosophy, Literature and, God willing, Scholastic Theology--the queen of the classical liberal arts.
Thank God for the stability of life, health of body and material provision that allows such sustained achievements to be done.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
The CLAA has a lot to offer--so much that it can seem overwhelming to new families--but getting started is very easy. Everything begins with a core of three courses--Catechism, Grammar and Arithmetic--and everything else builds upon them. We offer flexible, no-fee payment plans and generous discounts that allow large families (like ours) to provide all of their children with a rich course of studies. Everyone can afford the CLAA.
Parents may arrange special support services for their children to help ensure their success in the CLAA. Additional openings will soon be available for Mr. Michael's direct tutorial services, which provide selected students with direct daily assistance from the CLAA's director. Everyone can succeed in the CLAA.
For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We work to help the Missionaries of the Poor here in Monroe, NC at their only U.S. monastery, but also overseas in their missions, serving the poorest of the world's poor in Christ's name. The goal of CLAA Missions is to get Christian families engaged in the missionary work of the Church not by appointing themselves apostles, but by supporting established (but needy) missions around the world.
Our primary work this year will be the support of the newly established MOP sisters in their work at Holy Innocents Center in Kingston, Jamaica, where they provide the poor with an alternative to abortion--by caring for and adopting the abandoned children as their own. It is one thing for Catholics to talk about being pro-life, but another for us to do some extraordinary about it. I'd like to share this note from former CLAA student Sister Claire Turpin, who we would like to answer generously:
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Blessings Mr. and Mrs. Michael!
|Sister Claire with a baby|
at Holy Innocents Center.
Greetings from Holy Innocents Center! I hope you are all well. You are all in my daily prayers. Our community and apostolate has been growing. May 6th we began our novitiate and received the habit. Just two days ago, another one of our mothers had her baby. Everyday there's a fresh flow of God's work cut out for the sisters. We began Catechism classes for children and adults on Saturdays. I have the privileged joy of teaching the children with Sr. Emily. And by the grace of God we also manage two clinics weekly-one for pregnant mothers and another for the general community.
The reason for my email is actually this. We desperately need office supplies such as ink cartridges and printing paper. I was wondering if you could help us in that way. It is a continual need because we use it for the clinic registration and catechism classes, among other things as well. Our printer is an HP Officejet 5475 Cartridge # 675 CN691A. I don't know if maybe that's something the CLAA could sponsor.
Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated, and God will never forget you for giving an ink cartridge in His name for the least of your brothers and sisters! On a side note, the diapers and formula have practically run dry, so if you could also get the word out. Help us to feed the babies!! So while you are rallying the troops, we have no more newborn diapers.
We really need diapers size 1, 2, and 3. The baby formula has just about run dry as well. Enfamil GentleEase is preferred, but really any formula will work. And some other things like:
- Baby Nail clippers
- Dettol Antiseptic
- Baby Soap/Shampoo/oil
- Pens, Paperclips, highlighters, notebooks
- Baby wipes
We also need a pedal for our electric keyboard Yamaha PSR 170.
And while you are at it, you can also recruit a couple more vocations for us from the CLAA. :)
May the Lord bless you abundantly Mr. and Mrs. Michael!
Come visit us soon.
In the arms of Mother Mary,
Sister Claire Turpin M.O.P.S.
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If you would like to help us supply these needs, you can send a donation or the requested supplies to CLAA Missions, 1621 Stack Road, Monroe, NC 28112. You can also join us on a CLAA Missions visit to Holy Innocents Center in Jamaica and meet sister Claire and all the other MOP brothers and sisters in Kingston. More information on CLAA Missions is available at http://claamissions.wordpress.com.
For more information contact us at email@example.com.
2012 JULY SIMPLE LIFE CAMP
I would like to invite CLAA boys (aged 12-17) to Simple Life Camp here at the CLAA property in Monroe, NC. Camp will be held from July 9-13 and will continue to improve on our first two camps which have been very successful.
We believe, as many saints have taught, that manual farm labor offers many important lessons for growing boys that form a system of teaching that God himself designed for the training of virtuous men. Noah was a gardener. Abraham, Moses and David were all shepherds. St. Joseph was an old-world carpenter. St. Peter was a fisherman. St. Paul was raised with an elite education, but learned after his conversion that humble toil was the means by which men could live without being indebted to others, and free to serve God without burdening others. It would be impossible to list all of the saints who preached manual labor as a means of sanctification for the worker and the world around him.
At camp, the boys learn how the well-ordered farm works, with all of its natural parts collaborating to support one another and provide for man's needs. Here, we can show the boys the ancient harmony in the natural world that reveals so powerfully the goodness, wisdom and power of God. They can see and get a hand on everything here--gardens and crops, animals and machines, dairy and grain processing, land management and construction, food and clothing production, fishing and hunting, and more.
However, what separates this place from most others is that everything we do here is brought together in the service of the Christian life and the work of evangelization. The boys learn what it looks and feels like to fulfill St. Paul's teaching, "that by labor you ought to support the weak."
Every day will begin with Morning Prayer and Scripture reading and will end with the same. Many farms begin chores early, but we do not. We begin with prayer and meditation and do our morning chores later in the morning--between 9 and 11am, then wrap work before sunset. We balance our days between prayer, manual labor and intellectual pursuits, and also work to serve the poor in our community.
In fact, on July 11, which is St. Benedict's feast day, we will be celebrating with a feast that will welcome our local poor to rejoice with us. We will again be joined by the MOP brothers and will spend a day at their monastery, learning about their missionary works around the world, praying with them and helping them in their daily works. The boys always find this to be the highlight of the week and I'm sure it will be again.
When the weather is dry and warm, the boys sleep under the stars, camping on our 5 acre woodlot. We pitch tents, hang out around an evening campfire, and enjoy the stunning country sky. When the weather is not suitable for camping out, the boys stay in the CLAA camp house, which is set back in the woods around the block. During the day, the boys are out on the farm at work, with breaks for delicious country meals and time for recreation as well.
More information will be available online shortly, but if you're interested in sending a boy to camp, I recommend you simply contact us and let us answer any questions you have. Remember also that any boy interested in our boarding school must attend a Simple Life Camp. It is the first part of our admission process.
More info? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLAA & THE CORE STANDARDS
"For princes are not a terror to good work, but to evil. Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. Wherefore be subject of necessity for conscience' sake." -St. Paul, Romans 13
We are blessed to have the freedom to manage the education of our own children with very little intrusion from the government. In North Carolina, we have but to show the state our children's standardized test scores and that we have 180 days of school work and we are left free to teach whatever we please. Many states vary in their regulations, but we all enjoy a great deal of freedom as Christians when it comes to education.
Nevertheless, it is our duty, as St. Paul explains, to seek the praise of our "princes" for good work that we do, not merely in meeting their reasonable regulations, but in exceeding them for the sake of conscience and our testimony to the world that we are the good and not the evil. Many in homeschooling circles have taken a rebellious angle on education and that will catch up with up with them at some point. We follow and recommend a different course that we will be helping CLAA families follow in 2012 and beyond.
While many programs may offer an "accredited" study program that promises to satisfy all requirements, there are two problems with such programs that we can and should overcome. First, a program printed 20 years ago may fail to satisfy new requirements, as we see in the Core Standards being adopted by almost all states in the US since 2009. Second, while a program may satisfy state requirements behind the scenes, it does not make the students and parents conscious of those specific concepts and skills and leaves them ignorant of what exactly they know and don't know! This is why so many students go through school feeling lost--because they are never taught what it is that the curriculum is seeking to teach them. This becomes a great disadvantage on standardized tests because the students are left to guess what exactly is being tested rather than reading the question and saying, "Oh, this is testing my mastery of this or that concept." The best students are those who understand objectively what their examiners are looking for in advance and can answer their questions concisely and confidently.
In the CLAA Core Standards program, we will make our students conscious of their own educational progress--what the state requires of them, standard by standard--and lead them to mastery of each standard. We will provide these courses for Language Arts and Mathematics at each grade level. As students progress through these courses, they and their parents will understand exactly what is required of them and will have proof of mastery when each lesson and course is completed.
Our aim in providing this is to make the satisfaction of secular standards as efficient as possible so the maximum amount of time can be devoted to Christian learning without any more though of those standards. We will not need to try and turn a Bible lesson into a reading comprehension exercise. We will learn and master reading comprehension in an efficient way in the Core Standards program, and let Bible reading be...Bible reading. We will not need to try and turn a history lesson into a communication skills activity. We will take care of communications in an efficient way in the Core Standards program and let history be indulged in for its own sake.
Families in the CLAA get so much done academically--there is a better way for us to satisfy the state's requirements and do so in a way that testifies of God's blessings and graces at work in our family's lives. As our nation continues to degenerate into an anti-family and anti-Church welfare state, we cannot be sure that our educational freedoms will remain as they are today, and we would be wise to commit to proving that we are above all possible reproach. "Un-schoolers" are going to find themselves in trouble one day, but we will not. Instead we will prove ourselves, like Our Lord and all His saints, to be living above the law, not against it, "that in all things God may be honored through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4).
Questions? Write to Mr. Michael at: email@example.com.
The printing press and modern printers have allowed books to be easily published. That's the problem. There's just too much stuff being published. A visit to Amazon asks shoppers to select from dozens of editions of the same books, most of which they're trying to buy to read for the first time! Recommendations from "reviewers" are not reliable--we don't even know who they are.
A quality bookstore, especially one serving Christian families, must be able to select the very best editions for family and student use. It must also be able to obtain those books needed by students of the classical liberal arts--which are not easy to find.
Only the CLAA can help you select the best editions of everything classical, Christian or just practical--whether for adults or little ones. We own and read them all ourselves and we know what's good and what isn't.
Visit: CLAA Bookstore