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Just as you have a favorite style of car, you have your own way of homeschooling. Just as you would never drive your car into a pit, you'd avoid potholes because...Potholes are the pits. It's that way in homeschooling, too. You may or may not hit a few tiny bumps on the Catholic Homeschooling Road, but we'd like to help you avoid those potholes! With Keeping It Catholic's Warning Flags and Top Tip-offs on hand, you'll soon know the better roads to travel!
With that in mind,
Keeping It Catholic presents.....
The Original Pit List
(a.k.a. Warning Flags and Top Tip-Offs!)
Please feel free to keep the Pit List handy as you plan your homeschool year or take it along to homeschool conventions.
You might consider preparing a list of specifically Catholic materials upon which you will build the foundation of your Catholic homeschool. You can always pick up math manipulative and such things later, sometimes at a better price. The good Catholic educational materials may not be at your local bookstore, so it might be best to pick them up when you can.
While not every book in the homeschool must be written by a Catholic, prudence remains a virtue. When it comes to studying history, for example, a fundamentalist "Christian" text will rarely handle the subject of the Church in the Middle Ages in a fair and balanced manner. For that matter, it is helpful to first study the early Church, the "ancients" (the doctors of the Church, the writings of the saints, books about saints, etc.) as well as Catholic educational books and other good literature that have stood the test of time. It is perfectly acceptable to read the many fine selections of literature in the world (Chesterton, Shakespeare, Keats, Browning, Stevenson, etc.).
However, there is a difference between literature and the primary use of a secular or fundamentalist home school program. As Catholics, we should know that liberal use of secular or Protestant materials in the home defeats the purpose of Catholic education in the first place. Fortunately, we Catholic homeschoolers today have more choices than we did even five years ago as more Catholic publishers are paying attention to the needs of homeschoolers.
Be forewarned, though, there are a quite few Catholic publishers who have secularized their works. There are Catholic-owned companies that carry Protestant educational materials which contain serious errors. Others present a flawed ecumenical front which will neither offend fundamentalists nor totally support Catholicism.
The Pit List will help you avoid "pitfalls on the path."
and Top Tip-Offs
When paging through a homeschooling catalog, look for descriptive keywords and how they are used. Some words and phrases are your "Warning Flags" or "Top Tip-Offs." These would include, but are not limited to, the following terms:
Biblical approach or Biblically based - This is always a "Warning Flag" or "Top Tip-Off." Catholics teach in union with the Magisterium (Tradition and Scripture). There are three reasons for Catholics to veer away from such resources.
1) When a homeschool resource claims it is "biblically based" or features a "biblical approach," the bible to which it refers is not the same Bible entrusted to the Holy Catholic Church.
Fundamentalists teach only according to their personal interpretations of a bible that was first seriously altered by Martin Luther. (Luther took it upon himself to rename the Deuterocanonical Books of the Old Testament, calling them "Apocrypha" which meant that, in Luther's opinion, certain books were not inspired by the Holy Ghost and therefore had no place in the Sacred Text.) Luther listed the "Apocryphal" books as Judith, Wisdom, Tobias, Ecclesisticus, two books from Maccabees, parts of Esther and Daniel, and the prayer of Manasses.
Luther did not limit himself to the Old Testament, however. As he worked on his own translation of the Bible, he rejected canonical works of the New Testament, including the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St. James, and the Apocalypse. Referring to the Apocalypse he said, "...to my mind it bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophectic character...Everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it." Later, however (and to their credit) Lutherans replaced two of the Epistles and the Apocalypse, which is called "Revelations" among those of fundamentalist belief.
2.) In the Apocalypse, Our Lord warns us through St. John, "For I testify to everyone that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone shall add to these things, God shall put unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life and out of the holy city and from these things that are written in this book." (Apocalypse, Ch. 23: 18-19, Douay-Rheims Bible)
3.) The Church bestows a partial indulgence to those faithful who use Sacred Scripture for spiritual reading with the veneration due the word of God, with a plenary indulgence granted if the reading continues for at least one half hour (Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 1968 edition, no. 50) No indulgence can be attached to any bible except a Catholic one.
These, then, are the reasons why Catholics should avoid any education materials that are "biblically based." It is always a question of - "Which Bible, subject to whose interpretation - that of the one true Church which alone can interpret Scripture or a Bible rewritten by Luther and self-interpreted by various fundamental branches?"
Calvin, Wesley, Luther - Unfortunately, history shows these three men were either heretics, apostates, or both. What is the view the publisher or catalog company upholds toward these individuals? How does the catalog describe the material? Are they full of praise for the public errors these men made against Church dogma and doctrine?
Saint - this word will sometimes appear in a catalog defined as "Christian" but the Protestant definition of saint is not the Catholic one. Various Christian sects falsely believe that a saint is anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ. Catholics know that a saint is one who has died and gained heaven. Incidentally, there was a book exhibited at a Catholic homeschool conference with a title about "Saint" Martin Luther. As shown above, Luther was the catalyst for that period in time now called the "Reformation" which brought forth Protestantism (the root word being "protest"); he was not a true reformer but rather an apostate. Martin Luther is not a recognized by the Church as a saint.
Romanism, Romanists, Papists - these words are meant in a derogatory fashion. Catholics neither call themselves Papists or Romanists, nor do they claim they adhere to Romanism. We are Roman Catholics or a member of those Rites in union with Rome (for example, the Byzantine Rite.)
Other forms of disparagement against the Catholic faith - Other catalogues and publishers not only ignore Catholics but make it a point to publicly insult or subtlety denigrate any type of Catholic views or models.
For example, when paging through what appeared to be a promising looking Christian homeschool catalog, I came across a book entitled The Bible and Birth Control which extolled the virtues of non-contraceptive family planning. The advertising blurb asked four questions, the first being "What theologian declared birth control was the murder of future persons?" Their answers were preceded with "If you think that the above statements were made by Roman Catholics, your quiz score was zero." Those few words spoke volumes on the Christian homeschool company's views on Catholicism. And they weren't even ashamed to print it!
Look for how materials are presented and for what is missing, too. Catalogs may use the word Christian, Jesus, God, and Bible, but who and what is missing? Is there any mention of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Trinity, the Virgin Mary, sacraments, saints or blesseds? Christian curriculums and publishers will present various holy men and women of the Bible as virtuous examples, but they sidestep St. Joseph and totally ignore the holiest and most blessed of all women - the Virgin Mary. What is their definition of a Christian? Why is Greek often favored over Latin? (The answer to the last question: It is because non-Catholics interpret the Scriptures for themselves and like to argue over language interpretations in order to denounce Catholic teaching.)
Also be on the alert for a strong emphasis on Scripture with none or very little on Tradition. We Catholics know that Tradition and Scripture go hand in hand. One cannot be emphasized over the other because to omit one is to deny oneself of the fullness of the Catholic faith.
Beware of the ecumenical mindset that too many Catholic publishers are presenting today. This might convince homeschooling parents it's fine to use any Protestant materials they wish. Real ecumenism and evangelization preparation does not mean abandoning Catholic dogma and doctrine in favor of a false unity.
Seriously consider, too, the use of secular (meaning truly neutral) resources as a differnt kind of resort. In most cases, truly neutral materials and supplements are not going to be harmful. They often are a better option than using anti-Catholic materials or supporting anti-Catholic companies.
Examples of secular or neutral helps include some math curriculums, math rods, maps, some learning games, and flash cards. However, it's helpful to know that some dictionaries and many modern encyclopedias are politically correct in their definitions and views.
Most Warning Flags and Top Tip-Offs will be found in subjects dealing with religion, history, and literature. See The Pit List - Page Two for specific examples.
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