Vol 4 No. 2- Dedicated to St. Joseph By & For
Santa Clara Valley Catholics - Mar / Apr, 1997
Publisher - Marc
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IN THIS ISSUE:
Stop! Homeschooling zone ahead
A family that prays together learns together
The Henry Cord family starts the day with a 20-minute walk to St.
Julie’s Church in South San Jose. The two older boys, Alex, 11, and
Chandler, 9, serve at Mass. Then their mother, Elizabeth, and Michael,
8, Amanda, 6 and Landon, 2, walk back home to about four hours of
"classes" in their family room which is set up like a school with
traditional desks and wall-to-wall books.
They follow this routine 12 months of the year, with time out for
holidays and family excursions. Dad is usually not far away. Henry Cord
splits his time between home-office and downtown as a redevelopment
Elizabeth, a former budget analyst, has been homeschooling the
children since Alex was in first grade and Chandler in kindergarten at
St. Christopher's Catholic School. There were a series of bad events
with a teacher, and the result caused her to re-evaluate the entire
She came across the solution to her school problem quite by
accident. In a library book she thought covered a different subject, she
found homeschooling. It planted the seed in her mind. The seed bore
fruit, and she took the two boys out of school and brought them home.
They have been homebodies ever since. They live in the blessed chaos of
a middle-class, Catholic home with neighborhood kids and babies running
in and out, but they are all loved and nurtured here – bodies and souls.
The children are just as enthusiastic as the parents. "It
doesn't take eight hours out of my day," Chandler explained when asked
about homeschooling. "And I don't have to meet any bullies."
Mom likes it because she has control over what her children are
being taught, especially morally and spiritually. Although it is
time-consuming, she thinks the trade-offs are in her favor. "It is less
work than going to all those school meetings and driving around. It is
easier and more natural just to be at home with your own kids." The
family produces its own monthly seven-page newsletter called Regina
Pacis (Queen of Peace) for other homeschooling families. They meet with
some of these families on First Fridays at Our Lady of Peace Church to
attend Mass and swap tips, problems, politics, curriculum ideas and
There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschool
families, but Cord believes in what she calls "delight-filled learning."
The children can spend as much time as they want on projects they enjoy.
Alex worked a whole month on a report, for example, and ignored all
other subjects while his interest was consumed by that topic.
Cord develops a curriculum for each child, based on the needs
and strengths of each one. They work at their own pace, and she monitors
their work and gives them new material as they learn. California
teaching guidelines serve as the basis for the topics they cover, and
they use the "Faith and Life" series for religion. "School hours" are
from 11 to 3, five days a week.
The Cords belong to Homeschool Legal Defense
Association, HSLDA, Box 159, Paeonian Springs, Virginia, which is an
association for homeschoolers that offers legal advice and even legal
help if the family "runs into trouble." The state of California requires
that school-age children be schooled; homeschooling parents can be asked
to show that they qualify.
The Cords themselves have not run into opposition from anyone.
The only queries they get are from neighbors who look enviously over the
back fence and ask how it's done.
The disadvantages of homeschooling are so minimal, Cord
couldn't really think of any. But Chandler thought of one: "I don't meet
as many friends."
The Cords believe that everything is better in homeschooling:
The religious education is orthodox and spiritual. Academically, each
child gets one-on-one attention and a curriculum designed just for him.
The time needed for studies is about one-third the time required for
school attendance and homework. The rest of the day can be reading time,
fun time, sports time, family time.
But what about socialization?
"We don't worry about their social development," Cord said.
"Which setting provides socialization: being locked up in a classroom
with artificial regulations or being at home with the family?"
When the children get older and require advanced subjects like
chemistry and physics, Cord said she will depend on the children's
acquired ability to teach themselves and on aids like videotapes, tutors
and hotlines. She already uses many primary sources other than texts or
history books. For example, she taught her children about the California
gold rush using a book written by a miner's wife who lived with her
husband at the camp. And she believes her way of teaching is superior to
anything the children could get in school.
When it's time for them to go to college, Cord is upbeat. She
said universities and colleges are happy to get homeschoolers now.
College administrators know they are bright, capable, self-motivated and
Cord stays on top of the political issues involving
homeschooling. The national education plan called Goals 2000 appears to be
around the corner, and this cradle-to-grave public education proposal
could hurt. In some states, Goals 2000 is tied to employment, which
means employers are forbidden to offer jobs to applicants who do not
have a certificate from an accredited high school. Truancy rules can be
problematic, too; it can mean harassment from police officers if a youth
is seen walking on the street or playing basketball in front of his
house. So Cord recommends that every homeschooler stay informed -- and
join a legal defense group.
"We do worry about legal entanglements, but it doesn't drive
our decision or threaten it," she said.
The decision to homeschool is one that some families have a hard time
making. But Cord says: "Try it for awhile. "Once you taste
homeschooling, you will never look back."
Back-to-basics: God and ABC’s
Does Catholic homeschooling make sense academically?
Yes, says Mary Kay Clark, director of Seton Home Study School and author
of the handbook, "Catholic Home Schooling." Here are some of the
1. Less time wasted in travel, homeroom, settling down, going from
room to room, detention, recesses, "projects" and other fol-de-rol. Time
spent previously doing "homework" can now be spent doing schoolwork.
2. Individualized attention.
3. Silliness, dirty jokes, swear words, funky peer nonsense can all
4. Health improves without school germs.
5. Mental health improves without teasing, pleasing, bullying,
worrying, time pressures.
6. No offensive sex-education and secular humanism.
7. God is the High Point of learning.
But what about Socialization – (with a capital ‘S’)?
Dr. Damian Fedoryke, former president of Christendom College puts it
"I really didn’t consider it proper for my child to spend a year of
her life learning how to be an 11-year-old, then another year of her
life learning how to be a 12-year-old, another year learning how to be a
13-year-old. She has a mother at home. I’d rather she learn to be like
her mother . . ."
‘NewChurch’ is a turnoff
You don’t have to take our word that the "NewChurch" is turning
In a book hot off the Conciliar Press (P.O. box 76, Ben Lomond,
CA 95005), Our Hearts’ True Home, edited by Virginia Nieuwsma of San
Jose, tells the conversion stories of 14 women. Conversion stories away
from the Roman Catholic Church and into the Orthodox Catholic
Frederica Mathews-Green writes that worship as described in Sacred
Scripture was always "clothed in gold, silver, precious stones,
embroidery, robes of gorgeous fabric, bells and candles . . .
Unfortunately, the revised Roman Catholic Mass has too often lost its
beauty; instead, it has the earnest, vacant feeling of ’70’s smiley-face
Susan Englehardt was a Roman Catholic college student during
Vatican II. Very few people realized at the time how far Vatican II
would undermine what piety the Roman Church had retained down the
"The English translation for the new Mass was banal . . . There
was little sense of piety, then in 1970, the Tridentine (Latin) Mass was
effectively prohibited . . . Sermons on Sundays began to focus more on
political and social issues than on spiritual matters . . . Many people
were interested in ordaining Christian priestesses and blessing
homosexual unions . . . Some also worked to undermine the divinely
established significance of sexuality."
Mary Heather-Lowe writes of the Episcopal Church: "A
pastel-yellow ‘modern’ hymnal was the only publication in the pew rack.
A goofy guitar chorus led us through several weak songs while the female
minister vaguely wandered around the sanctuary . . . Further reading
reinforced my impression that the Episcopal Church was as relativistic
as my college campus. ‘You’re gay? Use drugs? Believe in goddess
worship? Are a radical feminist? Come on in! We’re so sophisticated that
we welcome everyone."
"I suppose I came close to becoming Catholic, but a friend who was
also searching had heard it said that the post-Vatican II Catholic
Church was not salvific . . ."
Brooklyn-raised Magdalena Gerry was searching for the living
Christ. "Contemporary Catholicism seemed to be a stew of ‘mystical
renewal,’ with workshops and guided retreats filled with those searching
for a more satisfying prayer life; pseudo-Marxists proclaiming
liberation theology as the antidote to years of oppression in Latin
America; and progressives and feminists who stubbornly fought for the
‘rights’ of women in the ‘patriarchal’ church. None of that was very
appealing . . ."
One of the women in Our Hearts’ True Home quotes G.
K. Chesterton: "One’s mind should not be so open that the brain
'Pearl of York' coming in May
The Pearl of York, written by Cathal Gallagher and directed by Rick
Frank, will be presented at the Sunnyvale Community Theater, 550
Remington Drive, Sunnyvale, CA, on May 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31 at 8
p.m.. Ticket price is $10.
During the religious upheavals of the 16th century, Margaret
Clitherow, daughter of the Lord Mayor of York, was arrested and
killed for harboring a Roman Catholic priest in her home. The Pearl of
York is about her martyrdom.
For more information, call 408-257-1149.
Act of abortion should mean guilt
"Abortion does not trigger lasting emotional trauma in young women
who are psychologically healthy before they become pregnant."
This is a quote from a New York Times article that was reprinted
across the United States in February. It was based on an eight-year
study of 5,300 women, and the researchers concluded that women who had
high self-esteem before procuring an abortion were not likely to
experience lasting problems, regardless of race or religion, "although
highly religious Catholic women were slightly more likely to exhibit
post-abortion psychological distress than other women. (a fact)
explained by lower pre-existing self-esteem."
The researchers, Dr. Nancy Felipe Russo, a psychologist at
Arizona State University in Tempe, and Dr. Amy Dabul Marin, a
psychologist at Phoenix College, added the interesting observation that
overall, Catholic women generally had lower self-esteem than other
women, whether or not they had abortions – so it wasn’t surprising that
the post-abortion trauma of such women would be high.
Is this Catholic-bashing or what?
Several challenges to the study were offered, but the only
priest quoted, Fr. John Vondras, former associate director of
Family-Life/Respect Life Activities for the Diocese of New York, said he
couldn’t understand the low self-esteem in Catholic women because the
emphasis in the church today "is to build up self-esteem."
To which we reply: "Oh, is that what that is?"
The critics mainly questioned the veracity of the study and the
survey. For example, one critic said that mental maturity is not gauged
by asking the patient; maturity is gauged by testing and observing the
Abortion equals Sin
Of course, all these people: the "researchers," their critics and Fr.
Vondras, are wide of the mark. The bull’s eye is this; Abortion is a
sin. It makes not one farthing of difference whether the woman is mature
or immature, full of self-esteem or low on self-esteem. If she kills her
baby, she has violated the Fifth Commandment. Thank goodness Catholic
women appear to shed some tears over this. They have the g-word:
Transpose this killing into another situation, and the message comes
through loud and clear. Suppose Gulag soldiers were tested after
spending portions of their careers torturing and murdering prisoners.
The ones with strong self-esteem test out OK: no serious guilt trips.
The ones with "low self-esteem" test poorly. They dream about it, have
night sweats, exhibit addictive behavior, etc. Which soldiers would be
called "normal?" The men who exhibited remorse. The ones without remorse
would be called sub-normal or beasts.
Suppose we were talking instead about killing elderly parents when
they become infirm and inconvenient. It would be called "easy death" or
"informed choice" or "Humane, Inc." Surely the most potent argument
against the practice would be: It is wrong to kill human beings. On the
pragmatic level, you would have to deal with the dead bodies, insurance
problems and remorse. But the pragmatic reasons are not the Catholic
reason. The Catholic reason is: Thou shalt not kill.
The abortion study was done to reassure women that it’s OK to do what
they feel like doing – even if it means killing their own babies. The
pill goes down easier by calling the dead babies "fetuses" and calling
the murder "choice". But who are we trying to kid here? God is not
‘We are not going to take it
Editor: May I commend you and your staff on the excellent
issue of View from the Pew. I found particularly helpful your piece
titled "Credentials, Please." I passed it onto some beleaguered
Catholics in Pennsylvania. Like many Catholics, they have been taking
patiently all the garbage that has been handed down since Vatican II. I
simply told them: "Your answer should be to go your bishop and local
pastor, ‘We are not going to take it any more!’"
One can argue all he wants about the abuses. Theological arguments
usually fall on the deaf ears of liberals, but there is one argument
that makes all sit up and take notice. This is: NO DOGMA; NO DOLLAR!
When the collection plate gets a bit light, they take notice, believe
me. Better for a church to go materially bankrupt than for it to become
spiritually bankrupt. It is my view that Catholics who support bishops
and pastors who do not feed them spiritually are material cooperators in
I thank you for your kind and true words about a great priest and
pastor, Father Robert Essig, Pastor Emeritus of St. Frances Cabrini
Parish. I recall him saying at one time that he did not spend very much
time on the altar facing the people because eventually the church "would
wake up and go back to what we had before." With the development of a
strong laity, his wish will become a prophecy.
"The truth shall make you free!"
We’re still ‘practicing’
Editor: Why is it that so many Catholics have not accepted Humanae
Vitae? In the View, you present all such Catholics as re-enacting or
re-participating in Original Sin, no small issue. These folks, the great
majority of American Roman Catholics at least, are the same people who
attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, support their church financially and
with time and prayer, raise their children to love the Lord and obey the
commandments . . . In other words, perhaps this is the ONLY issue in which
you might say that they are not "good" or "practicing" Catholics.
I would suggest to you that these people, many of whom you pray with
weekly at church, are neither malicious nor ignorant in their decision to
disregard the teaching of the church on this issue.
I see a great good in practicing Natural Family Planning. I see it as a
form of prayer, actually. It is a spiritual act, and a good thing. Going
to Mass on Sundays is required of us. Going to Mass daily is a good
practice, but not required. I think that practicing NFP as opposed to a
non-abortifaciant contraception (within marriage, of course) parallels
daily Mass to weekly. One is better, but the other I do not believe is
I think I’m a pretty average Catholic in my position here.
Disagreeing with the Pope
Editor: The contraception issue has been the most significant
cause of lay Catholics leaving the church and reducing their
contributions. The arguments that they are unable to live up to the high
standards of the church is lacking in substance. The layman has every
right to stand up for what he believes with right conscience, even if he
disagrees with the Pope.
The unreasonableness of the contraceptive rule causes everyone to
question it and discredits the papacy. When the Pope speaks about abortion
which is an intrinsic evil, few hear him. They simply dismiss his position
by showing how foolish the contraception argument is.
You can look at it another way, the way of ‘qualifications." There is a
grace of station. That is, the Holy Spirit grants special graces to the
faithful to enable them to carry out their station in life. This includes
the matter of having children. He speaks to the parents, and helps them in
making the decisions that are uniquely theirs to make.