Thursday, July 02, 2020

Our Homeschooling Experience

Over the past few months I've been approached by many asking about our homeschooling experience.  Friends who were thrust into schooling at home by the pandemic and getting a clearer picture of what traditional classrooms may look like this fall are looking for other options.

Here I've attempted to list for you the programs we have used and their pros and cons.  I am certainly aware that there are many other great programs out there that we haven't used.  Feel free to comment with your suggestions and reasons for choosing the program(s) you have used or are using.  If you have further questions, don't hesitate to reach out to Nicole or me. (740-324-0702 or hahnjamesm@gmail.com)


Seton Home Study School - We have used Seton off and on over the past 10 years.  We have used their full program which includes a set curriculum, access to instructors, grading, and more.  We have also used it as a supplemental program adding the subjects we needed.  The full Seton program, full enrollment, is certainly challenging for both students and parents alike but well worth the effort.  What I've always liked about Seton is the Catholicity.  I've always felt that there was a way to tie in our Faith to every subject from handwriting (yes, they teach cursive) to science and everything in between.  Seton does this with images, stories of the Saints, and more.  If you are just starting out with homeschooling, this may be the right choice for you since everything is packaged nicely and you need to simply follow the schedule and calendar.  The upper grades can be challenging, especially if you or your student are new to homeschooling, but there is plenty of help through a phone call, email, or chat.  If you are worried about your student getting into college or getting a job after Seton, you would not be wasting your time to read their many testimonials from academics, students, and more.

Queen of Heaven Academy - QHA is an online Catholic school for grades 4-12.  Our oldest four boys were enrolled in QHA for a number of years.  Them being in online classes was a bit easier for us as parents but still challenging for boys academically.  Our oldest, Anthony, graduated from QHA and was very well prepared for his college programs.  I like that QHA exposes students to other students around the country.  Our boys cultivated great friendships with many of the students.  Some of them, we discovered, live here in Ohio and they have been able to meet them in person and become good friends.  I also like the fact that they have a set schedule of classes that must be attended on time and that they were held accountable by well qualified instructors who challenged them to think for themselves and find answers.

Homeschool Connections - Homeschool Connections is an online Catholic School with a variety of options.  Families may choose to design their own curicullum and use only pre-recorded classes or they may choose to enroll in live classes.  My favorite part about HC is that there are so many classes to choose from which allowed our children to focus on areas where they had an interest.  In addition, I could sign up for classes (recorded) that I was interested in as well.  All of the classes are taught by well qualified instructors and many of them are well known household names in Catholic circles.  If you have the time and energy to create a program for and with your student, HC is a great choice and for only $30 per month the class choices are basically unlimited for everyone.  I would only caution that you must be very organized and develop a system of keeping your student on track, otherwise it can become overwhelming.

College Credit Plus - While not a homeschooling program I do mention this because we've found it to be a valuable asset to our homeschooling program.  Homeschool families typically have more time flexibility which makes CCP an ideal option for many.  CCP is a state funded program that allows High-School students to take college courses and have those courses count for both High School and College credit at the same time.  Our students have knocked out English and Math credits for college while also having them count toward their High School diploma.  This dual credit is a great help both educationally and financially.  General information can be found at the above link, homeschool information can be found here.

Home-School Co-Ops - These Co-Ops are usually groups of like-minded families who chose to bring their children together one or more times per week to be with and learn with other students.  We have been involved in the Catholic School House Co-Op in Lancaster, OH for a number of years as well as the Opus Domini group in Columbus, OH.  Our children have learned life skills, art, science, survival skills, history, creative writing, and more over the years here.  They and we have developed lasting friendships through this program and highly recommend making a Co-Op part of your homeschooling plan.

Tying it all together - Of course there is more to homeschooling, as far as the state is concerned, than simply enrolling and teaching your children.  Each year we must submit a curiculum and CAT results to the state for approval.  It's not a huge deal but another hoop to jump through.  In the end, the work and effort put forth by us and our children far outweighs the benefits of sending them to a traditional school.

What about socialization?  We find our children and many other homeschool students to be well socialized and well behaved.  They get their socialization through online and in person events, sports, scouts, church, and gatherings with other like-minded families.  The idea that homeschool students are backwards and unable to communicate with others is somewhat of a stereotype.  However, there are some students who are naturally that way and others because their homeschool is basically an un-school or non-school with no discipline, structure, or guidance.  A great way to help socialize your students is to get them involved in extra-curicualr activites of their choosing (4-H, sports, etc) and through homeschool co-op programs as mentioned above.

Our thoughts and prayer are with everyone during this trying time and we hope for the best for you, your students, and your families.  God bless you all, and don't hesitate to reach out to us.  We're not experts but we're happy to share what has and has not worked for us!



Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Monday, June 29, 2020

A Recent Vision of Mine

"It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh.  Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams." - Acts 2:17

As I was hiking on Friday, on my 3rd mile, I had a vision in my mind's eye.  I was in an ancient fishing boat.  Like the disciples in the storm, my boat too was being tossed to and fro.  Each wave
rose high above the stern threatening to capsize or crush the vessel.  The wind howled and whistled around the ropes and the fragile mast standing against all odds in middle of the little ship.

I was sitting on the port side looking about at the chaos and confusion.  Many were crying out, some were working away to keep the ship upright.  Others were fruitlessly casting buckets of water back into the angry sea.  Men who once were fearless now curled up astern.  Women who appeared feeble and fragile held tight to the whistling and snapping ropes with unimaginable strength.  Darkness surrounded the ship and the storm raged without mercy.

I looked to my left and there in the bow of the ship was Our Lord.  I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.  He was reclining on some cushions fast asleep.  His face was restful, peaceful, child-like even.  As the little boat rose to the crest of the wave and careened down the cliff-like face of the other side Jesus stirred a little but did not wake.

I looked to my right and off the starboard side of the ship a seemingly miraculous image appeared.  It was a great white ship aboard which were too many to count.  The people on deck and in their rooms called out to us to swim to their vessel and save ourselves.  There were myriads and myriads of people of all races laughing, drinking, and enjoying themselves.  While we rode wave after wave, swamped with water, and near the point of sinking their ship enjoyed calm waters, sunshine, and warmth.

The people on that great ship continued to laugh and enjoy themselves.  They were scantily clad, old and young.  The played games, basked in the sun, and swam in an enormous pool filled with every beautiful fish and plant.  It was as if paradise had been created on that vessel and many on our own, including myself, longed to join them.

I turned once again to look at Our Lord but this time His eyes met mine.  Even as the storm continued to rage I heard Him whisper, "Would you like to go with them also?"  Before I could answer I was transported high above both ships.  The fishing vessel I sat in, yet was far above, looked like a teacup in the middle of the sea.  The great ship however had no visible bow and no visible stern.  It was as though the ship was without end.  The Lord then transported me to the starboard side of the vessel, the side opposite the people, the side I could not see from the fishing vessel where I now sat staring at our Lord.

On this side of the endless vessel I shrank in terror and tried to avert my eyes but could not.  Legions of demons and powers crawled all over the deck and in and out of the windows.  On this side of the vessel there was no raging storm like the one surrounding my ship, nor was it calm, sunny, and warm like the side of the ship where the smiling people stood.  No, on this side of the endless vessel dark, putrid clouds surround the deck and ship.  The sea was no longer a sea of water but a great rolling sea of fire, like a never ending ocean of lava whose waves towered and crashed against the ship.

With evil joy and celebration the demons dragged the smiling people from the port side to starboard.  The mocked them, tortured them, and then cast them into the sea.  They did not disappear but rather continued burning and burning in the midst of that molten ocean crying and calling.

I blinked and found myself looking still deeply into the Lord's eyes.  He said, "look", as he pointed to the space between our floundering vessel and the great beautiful cruise ship.  There between the two I could see thousands upon thousands of souls swimming.  Some were swimming toward the great vessel while others were swimming toward our ship.  I saw a man in white lifted from the water by strong men on the great ship.  The man in white smiled and gave a blessing to those on the endless vessel and then disappeared to the other side of that ship.

The Lord said, "look again." and there at the helm of our own ship two men struggled to gain control of the rudder which swung about wildly in the storm.  The man on the left had gray hair, was dressed in purple and wore a cross around his neck.  The man on the right was younger and much stronger.  He was dressed in the plain clothes of a fisherman.  He had a tattoo on his right forearm that I could not make out.  Both men struggled with the rudder and secured it in place by using the rosaries they pulled from their pockets.

The storm continued to rage.  Many souls continued to abandon our small vessel and swim towards the endless vessel and the smiling faces on deck and in the windows.  Fewer and fewer jumped from the dizzying heights of the large ship, into the storm, and swam toward our ship.

I looked back to the Lord, His eyes pierced my heart and asked, "what will you do, my son?"

I looked about at the wind and the waves.  I saw the fragile women standing faithfully by the center mast.  I looked once again at the great ship and the joyful faces of those on deck.  I remembered the other side of that cursed ship and the man in white who had long disappeared from sight.  I reached down and tied myself to the inside of the little ship.  When I looked back to the Lord, He was once again asleep.  I stared at him for a long time.  His beautiful child-like face shone in the darkness as the light for our journey.


Please note:  This image was a quick flash in my mind while I was hiking and meditating on the rosary.  I don't claim it to be an actual vision but the product of a very active imagination.  Are there things we can learn from it?  I believe so.  However, I do not want anyone to be confused and think I actually had some sort of vision like St. John on Patmos, my shoulders are too weak and sins too grat for that sort of thing, please God!  As always, thanks for reading!



Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Monday, June 15, 2020

Our Life With a Saint - Part 10 - Our First Night in the NICU

This is a one of a series of chapters from my book about life with our special-needs daughter, Catherine.


Our Life with a Saint Part 10 - Our First Night in the NICU

I honestly have no recollection of how we transferred from Grant Hospital in downtown Columbus to Nationwide Children’s Hospital less than a mile away just across the I70 and I71 split. I’m pretty sure I drove Nicole and myself there but I don’t remember.

What I do know and do remember is that it was the first and only time that we left a hospital after the birth of a child, without that child. Nicole fought tears with empty arms as the nurse pushed her in the wheel chair to our vehicle the next day. Another nurse, one from Children’s Hospital, had called that morning to let us know that Catherine wasn’t doing well and she was in serious condition.

I do remember coming into the NICU late in the afternoon of May 3rd, 2008 for the 2nd time of my life. It would be only one of hundreds of visits over the coming months but it was worlds apart from the visit we had made earlier in the year. Back then the area appeared as a happy place teaming with life and hope. At that time we were outsiders looking on with rose colored glasses. Now we had skin in the game. Now too, all of that life hanging by tiny threads or fragile webs was merely background noise. My tunnel vision was back and I stared helplessly at the crowd of blue scrubs surrounding a plastic womb where my tiny daughter lay weighing less than a bag of sugar. Had she only been born yesterday, mere hours ago or was it eons upon eons of ages past. There was no time. Time was an illusion. There was only now, only this moment and maybe, perhaps with luck and grace, the next.

Don’t worry, we call it the positive people effect,” said Dr. Neel with a smile. It was a genuine smile and like a ray of sun in a windowless room and timeless place. “The best minds in this building are devising a plan for Catherine.

Catherine? Wow, it was the first time I’d heard someone other than myself, Nicole, or the man in black say her name out loud. It was shocking and wonderful for some reason.

She continued, “we’ve run some tests and there is a problem with her intestines.

I’m sure the confusion was plain on my face. Of course there were problems with her intestines! That’s what started the whole thing, some duodenal something or other.

It’s called intestinal malrotation,” she continued hoping to catch me before I lept too far ahead of her. “When we develop in the womb, at a certain point our intestines grow, lengthen, and settle into the area designed for them. This didn’t happen for Catherine.

Again, a non-medical man stood in the midst of high-tech art and science with eyes blinking stupidly while hidden knowledge passed between the doctor and my wife.

She continued, “This needs to be fixed immediately. It’s like when you pinch a garden hose and it shuts off the water supply. With malrotation the stomach does not receive an adequate amount of blood and eventually dies. If the stomach dies, we have really big problems.

I’m sure that’s not what she said but that’s how it was translated in my ears in a matter of nanoseconds. There would have to be a surgery to fix her stomach and it couldn’t wait for days as we had originally hoped. It had to be done now, this evening at the latest.

To complicate things, she is still on the ventilator. To be honest there is a very real chance she may not make it through all of this but that is why you see the best minds in the building working on a plan,” said the doctor with warm, comforting eyes reading the pain she had just inflicted upon us. “She’s fragile and very tiny but we’ve already seen what a fighter she is and so we’re hopeful. You should be too.”

Hope, it is said, springs eternal and I believe that to be true. The alternative is despair, depression, hopelessness and an eternal spiral into darkness. We had to be hopeful, it was the last thread of sanity that we were clinging to at that point. We hoped that the surgery would be successful. We hoped that we could soon take our daughter home. We hoped that all would be well and Catherine could live a normal, healthy life (whatever that means). I say hoped but we could replace that word with prayed. Sometimes, in the darkness, it’s hard to see a difference between the two. Our hope was a prayer of its own and our prayers were expressions of our hope. For the coming weeks our hopes and prayers would be intimately intertwined and wrapped like a mantle around little Catherine Therese.

Dr. Neel continued, “As you know, her lungs are very fragile at this point due to her aspiration and this surgery may stress them beyond capacity. So, if we operate to fix the malrotation, her lungs may not be able to keep up. However, if we don’t perform the surgery her intestines will die and impact her health significantly. Unfortunately, you have a decision to make, a decision that we’ll respect either way. Take a few moments to think about it and talk about it. When you’ve made a decision, let us know.”

Nicole and I must have had that deer-in-the-headlights look in our eyes. We were being asked to make a decision that would have lasting consequences for our daughter who was barely 24 hrs old. Do you push this sweet little fighter to use her lungs to the point of breaking with a very invasive surgery? Or, do we forgo the surgery to preserve her lungs and hope for the best regarding her intestines? Either decision brought about the very real possibility of her death.

There must have been a few hundred people on the floor at the time. Parents, nurses, doctors, aides, and visitors milled about. I can’t say this for sure because I saw none of them. I saw only Nicole and me and Catherine. I stood at the foot of the plastic womb Catherine now occupied tethered not to one single umbilical but many. Nicole was at Catherine’s right looking through the clear plastic covering unable to touch her first-born daughter. No one else existed. We stared on in silence with little beeps and mechanical sounds in the background. It was as if we were center stage, the spotlight was on us, and the entire cast of other characters had disappeared into the surrounding darkness.

Nicole looked up at me and wiped tears from her eyes, “well, what do you think,” she asked softly.

I think she should have the surgery. They said she’s a fighter. I can’t imagine the alternative,” I replied gently fighting back tears that were welling up.

Me too,” Nicole said with a soft smile.

We both turned our attention back to Catherine. Even though she was pierced, prodded, and taped, she was our beautiful daughter. We stared on in wonder and wondered if this was the last time we would see her alive. At this point hope wasn’t a gushing river careening through our hearts and minds. Rather, it was a tiny rivulet barely bubbling above the surface but it was still there and that was a good thing.

Dr. Neel, reading our body language returned to center stage, “how ya doing? Any questions?

We both turned and smiled as best we could at her. Nicole wiped her nose and I pushed tears out of my eyes with my fingers.

We’re ready,” Nicole said with unimaginable strength. “We want her to have the surgery.

Dr. Neel placed her arm on Nicole’s shoulder, “okay, we’ll get things ready and start soon.” She turned and nodded to her team somewhere stage-left. “Take a few minutes, we’ll be back to take Catherine to the operating room shortly. The surgery will take some time, maybe a few hours. There is a room here you can stay in tonight. Just talk to the desk nurse and she’ll give you the details.

The doctor left us alone once again. We stood side-by-side with Catherine in her little life-pod. Her now-vivid, pulsating, pink flesh lie still, warm, and comfortable. We looked, loved, and prayed hand in hand. In a few moments she was off again and we were alone.

The desk nurse showed us to our room in the NICU. The room was basically a hotel room in the middle of the floor for parents like us whose son's and daughter's lives were hanging in the balance.

The last 48 hours had been whirlwind. Mass with my brother at St. Catharine’s seemed like a century ago. Catherine’s birth, baptism, and transfer to children’s felt like it had taken place months ago. Now we faced what would prove to be the longest 3 hours of our lives. I like to joke and tell people that we spent three weeks at Children’s Hospital one night because that’s what those hours of surgery and the rest of that night felt like. If you’ve been in that situation, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We sat on the bed in the hospital-hotel room and waited. Time expanded. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes like hours, and hours like weeks. Unlike many hotel rooms there was no window to help us judge the passing of time. We were in a box with a bed and a bathroom and we were thankful for that. Outside the walls of our box voices, beeps, and bells could be heard but only faintly. Outside our solitary confinement box other families visited their children, wept over their loss, and made heart wrenching decisions like we had just done a few minutes ago...or was it a few days…

We heard a gentle knock on the door of our room. Not sure if it was intentional or accidental from someone passing by we merely looked at each other. The knock came again a little more firmly this time. I jumped up to open the door.

Dr. Neel’s face appeared as I slowly opened the door. “Can I come in?” she asked.

I opened the door and she came into our box. Why was she here? Surely the surgery wasn’t finished, right? They had just taken Catherine back a few minutes ago, or was it a few hours? I honestly couldn’t tell.

I suppose that is my idea of purgatory too. Purgatory is like being in a small box room with no windows. There is no way to tell time and the passing of time was incomprehensible. Did I arrive a few seconds ago or was it years? Was my last thought five minutes ago or 10,000 years? Purgatory, in my mind, would be a seemingly endless period of time alone. The only difference between my idea of Purgatory and Hell? Hope. With Purgatory there is the hope that one day release will come, the Doctor will knock and enter with wonderful news. In Hell, even that hope is gone.

Dr. Neel sat on the corner of the bed at Nicole’s feet. I returned to my place beside Nicole. Dr. Neel’s gentle smile provided some relief to the worry and chaos of our minds.

Catherine did great,” she said softly. “We fixed the malrotation and her intestines looked fine and there wasn’t any damage that we could see. The duodenal atresia or stenosis is still there. That will have to wait for another time, when she recovers from this surgery.

This was fantastic news. However, we all knew that there was a giant asterix standing boldly behind these sentences.

Dr. Neel continued, “However, her lungs were extremely stressed. She’s in very serious condition right now as we knew she would be. That wasn’t unexpected. And I am absolutely convinced that Catherine is a fighter and she’s going to fight hard.

The doctor knew that she had just inflicted a very real and serious wound upon our hearts. She knew after years of practice that hope does spring eternal and that sometimes the hope of parents is unrealistic and unreasonable. Sometimes, the truth hurts and hurts hope but it is the truth. Our truth at that moment was that Catherine was still alive, her intestinal malrotation had been fixed, and she was in serious condition, and there was the very real possibility that she may not make it through the night or the coming days. Yet even in the harsh face of truth, that rivulet of hope continued to bubble.

We spent the night in the windowless box holding one another, praying, dozing, crying, and hoping. It was the longest night of our lives. In the morning we learned that Catherine was still alive, still fighting. We were full of hope once again. The doctors and nurses were full of hope and I believe Catherine, in her own way, was full of hope too.

What we also awoke to was a new normal, a new way of life that would continue for almost exactly four months. We visited Catherine for a long time and prayed over her. Afterwards we began making plans to move into our new, temporary home in Columbus, the Ronald McDonald House. Our families began making plans to help watch the other 4 children while we focused on Catherine. Life had changed but still, there was hope.


Read the next chapter, Our First Night in the NICU here.  (available 06/29/20)  Sign up for instant notification when blog posts are posted at the top right under the picture of Jim and Nicole.

Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter, posts each Monday.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Friday, June 12, 2020

Cord Rosaries and Twine

Single-Decade Rosary Chaplets
Real Life Rosary officially shut down in February of this year.  After many years of making literally tens of thousands of rosaries I decided it was time to move on to the next chapter of my life.  Since then I've received hundreds of emails asking where to buy similar rosaries and twine.

I'm happy to say that I have a place for you to check out.  After shutting down a good friend of mine approached me with the idea of taking over the rosary making and using it as a fund raiser for her awesome family retreat house.  I thought it was an excellent idea and we began working together to create a website and to help her to learn how to make the rosaries we offered for so long.

You can now get those rosaries and twine once again!  The website is up and running and taking orders.  But before I share the website, I'd like to share more about the family retreat house that your purchases help support.

Years ago Rebecca had this idea of giving Catholic families, especially those in the city and suburbs, a place to get away from the normal hustle and bustle of life.  She wanted to help families get their kids outside in nature and help the family reconnect to each other and the Lord.  She searched and prayed for many years.  She sent me messages asking me to take a look at properties or ideas she was considering.  Nothing seemed to fit the bill.  After years of searching she was connected to a mutual friend who is a real estate agent and also owns properties in the area.  This man, a devout Catholic, began helping her search for a spot.  He also devoted a lot of prayer to her effort.

Old Man's Cave, Lower Falls, and the author's children.
They finally found a perfect spot nestled in the heart of the Hocking Hills in Southeastern, OH.  If you've never heard of the Hocking Hills, you are missing out.  It is a natural wonder to say the least.  The area of rolling hills is dotted with cascading waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, wildlife, and more.  To imagine it in your minds eye, simply think back 300 to 400 years what the untamed wilderness of the Ohio Valley must have been like.  Many people liken it to the land before time, something out of Lord of Rings, or The Last of the Mohicans (the book not the movie ;-))


St. Martin de Porres Retreat House
The Retreat House is minutes from all of these natural attractions and eons away from our concrete jungles we call home.  If you'd like to get away, get your kids to turn off the screens, and get your family to reconnect with God in a house of relaxation and prayer, you need to book a day or two or a week at the St. Martin de Porres Retreat House.  You will not regret it.

To learn more about the retreat house and to purchase rosaries or twine (instructions to make your own)  that can help make this place a reality for so many, check out the website.  You'll fall in love with the area, the beauty, your family, and the most especially the Lord all over again!



Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter, posts each Monday.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Daily Meditations for Real Life - You are the Salt of the Earth




Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter, posts each Monday.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Monday, June 08, 2020

The Be-Attitudes of the Saints

Matthew 5:1-12

Every week* I challenge my children to listen or watch for a particular thing at Mass.  If they pay attention, and can answer my related question, I give out a prize.  Usually I ask them to fill in the blank from the Gospel, tell me what book a reading is from, or otherwise tell me something about the Gospel or Mass readings.

Today they were challenged to count how many times they heard the word "blessed" since the Gospel was focused on the Beatitudes or Blessings of Jesus.  Much to my surprise, the answers were all over the board.  I heard everything from 9 to 25.  One son answered 22.  "How did you get 22," I asked in disbelief after counting only 13 myself including the Responsorial Psalm.  He told me that not only had he counted the ones in the Psalm and the Gospel, he counted any in the homily and any in the songs.  I have to learn to be more specific with children.  I gave out a lot of prizes today!

In the Gospel we hear the word "blessed" 9 times but traditionally this Sermon on the Mount is known as the Eight Beatitudes.  I like the word "beatitude" because it has the answer to these often confusing sayings built right in.  They are the Be-Attitudes or the Attitudes of Being that help us to live lives that mirror Christ.  They are the Be-Attitudes that make us into saints!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" - The Be-Attitude is a humble attitude.  With a humble attitude we realize that we need others and God.  We realize that we cannot do it all by ourselves but God made us to be interdependent.  That humble attitude is a huge step toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Blessed are they who mourn" - The Be-Attitude is a caring attitude.  With a caring attitude we see the plight of others and we are moved, often to tears, because of our desire to help them in their situation.  Jesus isn't saying that we are blessed if we go around crying like babies all the time.  Rather, He wants us to have a caring heart, an attitude of compassion, seeing Him in the least of our neighbors.  In comforting others, we ourselves are comforted.

"Blessed are the meek" - The Be-Attitude is a we-attitude.  With a we-attitude we realize that everyone has a role to play and none of the roles are more important than the others.  A we-attitude helps us to see that we are all part of the Body of Christ and each person, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is an important part of that Body.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" - The Be-attitude is a faithful attitude.  With an attitude of faithfulness to God we seek His will in all things.  We realize that if we are faithful, God will take care of the rest and His will will be done.  What was so great about Abraham that Paul tells us that he was credited with righteousness?  He trusted God, he was faithful and believed that God would do all He had promised.  It was that Be-attitude, one of faithfulness, that made Abraham so great.  He was hungry and thirsty for God's will to be done.

"Blessed are the merciful" - The Be-Attitude is a forgiving attitude.  I would guess, based on hundreds of conversations, that more people hold on to grudges than we could possibly imagine.  Yet over and over God tells us to be forgiving, to be merciful as He is merciful.  The Old Testament is full of God's mercy.  Jesus gives us parable after parable concerned with mercy.  Jesus shows us how to be merciful from the cross, forgiving those who were not even sorry for what they were doing.  Is it any wonder that this beatitude ends with, "for they will be shown mercy"?

"Blessed are the clean [pure] of heart" - The Be-Attitude is an attitude of honesty.  God requires us to be honest in our dealings with Him, with others, and with ourselves.  When we are honest in all our areas of life, we have integrity, we have a rightly ordered heart and soul.  It is only those who can see clearly, without the blurring effects of sin and dishonesty, who can see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers" - The Be-Attitude is an attitude of patience.  With a patient attitude we can endure the trials and struggles of this world and help others to do the same.  By our very presence, with a patient attitude, we become a rock upon which others may lean to find peace in their own lives.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness...you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me." - The Be-Attitude is an attitude of courage.  With an attitude of courage we can face a world that no longer believes in God and in some cases is directly opposed to him.  An attitude of courage does not mean we are striking out against all who are opposed to God.  Rather, a courageous attitude enables us to stand firm in the face of opposition knowing that no matter what happens, God holds our lives, and maybe even our deaths, in His hand.  This attitude of courage enables us to live our lives when the world makes fun of our faith and questions our beliefs.


So, today I want to encourage you to count your "blessings".  Maybe those blessings number among the 8 Be-Attitudes, maybe there are 22, or maybe they number in the hundreds.  No matter what, it is Jesus who gives us the prize for being able to count our blessings, for the Gospel reading today ends with these words, "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven."  And that is what we are celebrating today.  We are celebrating those who lived the Attitudes of Being throughout their lives and now stand with the Lord cheering us on to do the same.  All you Holy Angels and Saints, pray for us!

*this is a repost from 2011 when I was the Director of Religious Education at St. Michael Catholic Church in Worthington, OH.


Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter, posts each Monday.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Saturday Photo Finish (06/06/20)

Well another week has flown by again.  Things are starting to feel a little normal.  Nicole and I were able to attend the Latin Mass on Saturday morning, first Mass since mid-March!!  Afterwards we headed home for more work around the house.  We're taking care of a lot of items that have been on the punch list for some time.  An impending visit from the in-laws is helping motivate us as well.  Here's the photo recap from the past week.  Thanks for reading, enjoy...(oh, and click on the pic for a full-size image)

A while back I mentioned that a spring storm had torn a couple of roofing shingles from the house and needed repair.  Below are pictures from the shingle's point of view.  I still wish we would have put dormers on the house when we built it 15 years ago..

View from the shingle's pov.

Another shingle pov looking toward the hop yard.

My pov from atop the ladder.  I wasn't nervous but dang those roofing shingle get HOT!
Our next project was to wash, stain, and seal the entire deck.  Our deck is 10'x52' not counting the deck along the sides of the house, plus railing, and spindles, and... ugg.  I'm glad we only have to do this every so many years.




When we came to the pool side of the house I noticed these little things on the pool vacuum hose.  Yes, those are baby grasshoppers.  48 years on this earth and it's the first time I have seen baby grasshoppers.  It was pretty cool.


We think Nicole may be considering starting her own painting company.  She has painted the upstairs bathroom, the upstairs hallway, the laundry room, and kitchen.  Here she is working on painting the outdoor trim work at the back of the house.  The kids say she's addicted...



Sunday being a day of rest we didn't do too much around the house.  B suggested we have a picnic outside beneath the locust tree.  We took some sandwiches and drinks out and spread out a blanket.  It was ridiculously peaceful for about two hours in the afternoon.  It should be a summer Sunday obligation.


Monday was back to the deck.  It's a lot of deck.  It's a lot of spindles.  It's a lot of stain.  10 gallons thus far and I hope to have it completed by the middle of next week God and weather permitting.


Wednesday I spent the morning with by brother in Christ, John Bradford, from Wilderness Outreach.  We both wanted to push ourselves so we pushed to nearly 16 miles at Clear Creek Metro Park.  We were dead at the end but it was worth it.  We had a great conversation about masculine spirituality, the formation of good men, and shared ideas on how to help more people toward Christ.  Thanks brother!!


Sometimes you wonder how some species have made it this far.  These are frog eggs in the pool skimmer.  We woke up Thursday morning to find that some frog had laid eggs all over the surface of the pool.  Cool but not cool frog!


Buttercup, our next door dog-neighbor joined us on the deck Friday to watch the kids swim.  I think she wanted to get in.  I can only imagine what my filter would look like with frog eggs and Great Pyrenees hair clogging it!



Saturday took us completely by surprise.  I woke at 5 as I often do for coffee and morning prayer and to see Nicole off to work at the hospital.  About 10 minutes after she left she called me to let me know she had harvested the first whitetail of 2020.  She was a little shook but fine, the 2007 pilot wasn't.  I'll take it in Monday to see if it's worth repairing or if anyone would like to gift us another vehicle, we are open to it.  It still runs fine so I was able to bring it back home for the time being.






Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter, posts each Monday.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed (or purchase another vehicle), my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn


* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

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