Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Of Lenten Strewing

At the Unschooling Catholics email list, we have been briefly discussing Lent and Lenten Strewing.

Lent is a forty-day period before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday. We skip Sundays when we count the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection. Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days.

To strew (str)
tr.v. strewed, strewn (strn) or strewed, strew·ing, strews
1. To spread here and there; scatter: strewing flowers down the aisle.
2. To cover (an area or a surface) with things scattered or sprinkled.
3. To be or become dispersed over (a surface).
4. To spread (something) over a wide area; disseminate.


Strewing, in unschooling terminology, means leaving material of interest around for our children to discover.

Do Catholic Unschoolers force Lenten penances and practices onto our children?

I doubt it. Unschoolers tend to use a less didactic model of education and of homechooling and of life; Unschooling is trusting the learner to be in charge of his or her own learning.

This is also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. Lately, the term "unschooling" has come to be associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn't use a fixed curriculum. When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. Pat Farenga

We try to inspire, to be role models ( Ack! This is my downfall...). .

We aim to create a family culture of Catholic practices - so that living the liturgical year is like breathing. It is part of what we do and part of who we are.

Another member of our list discussed her strewing of possible Lenten reading material. A great idea!

Here, in our house, we are discussing our Lenten penances and Lenten reading – what spiritual reading will we do, or will be read aloud as a family? What will we give up or what will we do extra? Even just the discussion is helpful.

Right now, as part of the things on our bulletin board, we have a cartoon explaining Lent, and an article on Ash Wednesday.

I have also strewn the Dhouy-Rheims Bible on the camphour wood chest – cum - coffee table in the sitting room. The Bible is open to Matthew 5 – the Beatitudes. Fr. mentioned at Mass that we could try to read these during Lent and try to emulate some of the virtues described….I've asked the kids to copy these into their notebooks ( perhaps I should copy this into my journal?).

I am also trying to find some nice Lenten artwork for the computer background, too, for visual strewing.

The reading of something more spiritual during Lent and Advent is a practice we began , as a family, many years ago - maybe a year or so after I became Catholic. I was received into the Church in January 1995 and confirmed in March 1997.

I have found that the spiritual reading together helps.

For St Benedict, the principal way to meditate and the main way to be in silence is through reading. In fact, in the Rule whenever Benedict uses the word' meditate', he is always referring to reading or to the memorisation of a text for later use in prayer. For him, meditation is always rooted in Scripture. From : "Finding Sanctuary". Abbot Christopher Jamison

Finding the time for extra reading, or to read aloud to the kids, can be diffcult. I speak from my experience of failures in keeping up with such reading. We may not do this reading every day, but we aspire to read more days than not.

And when we undertake such spiritual reading, we find that we grow together, we talk, we laugh, we sometimes pray - and that certainly helps our unschooling.

St John Chrysostom wrote ~ " 'I am not,' you will say, 'one of the monks, but I have both a wife and children and the care of a household.' This is what has ruined everything, your thinking that the reading of scipture is for monks only, when you need it more than they do. Those who are placed in the world and who receive wounds every day, have the most need of medicine."


Lorna said...

Leonie, this is fantastic and "inspire, not require" so aptly describes what we are about.

Leonie said...

Yes definitely - but its finding ways to inspire that I look for. How to inspire? When and if to require? :-)

Anonymous said...

This is great Leonie. I was feeling lost as to what to do for Lent with the dc. You have given me great food for thought.


Leonie said...

Hope you have lots of Lenten stewing, Molly. I'll check out your blog for ideas...

Moonlight in Vermont said...

Very inspiring! I am off to adorn statues and pictures with purple ribbon now! And strew about my house Bibles and spiritual readings. Thank you, Leonie!

Leonie said...

I like the purple ribbon idea!

Karen E. said...

All beautiful ideas, Leonie!

And I don't think you're at all too old for that Lamb calendar. ;-)

Rachel said...

I LOVE this post. So great and inspiring.
I tend to be very neat, but ya know, I could neatly strew some things.


Rachel said...

Oh yeah, And I am glad you liked the Clash/Tennant video. I really want to see that series, Blackpool, but can't get the DVDs, as they aren't available in the States.


Leonie said...

I love the idea of neatly strewing things - sounds like me!

Haven't seen Blackpool either, btw.