Why use a homily–not a sermon–format for homeschooling?

posted in: Homeschool & Parenting | 9
The Contemplative Homeschool helps children see all subjects as part of God's self-revelation.
The Contemplative Homeschool helps children see all subjects as part of God’s self-revelation.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote briefly about my faith-based method of homeschooling. To recap: I see methods such as Catholic Heritage Curricula, which bring the faith to individual subjects, as using a sermon format. In contrast, our Contemplative Homeschool starts with a Bible passage. I look for the themes in that passage, and add as many subjects as I can into the discussion of those themes. As my kids get older, I hope to make writings of the Church Fathers and official documents and creeds a starting place for our curriculum as well.

Here are some advantages to using the homily format.

1. Homilies promote meditation on Sacred Scripture.

The Contemplative Homeschool is all about teaching our children to put prayer at the top of their priorities. It encourages a prayerful attitude and teaches methods of prayer, especially Christian meditation. As one blog commenter said, meditating on Scripture is like preaching a homily to oneself. My boys are forming the habit of looking for ways to connect Bible passages with their lives. I believe this will make it easier for them to create their own meditations as they grow older.

2. I can make my lessons flow from my meditation on the text.

This school year I began praying about each new Bible-based unit by meditating in my prayer time on the Bible passages we were to read. This helps me find sources for meditation I may not have used before. It also keeps me seeking God’s will for each lesson. I have long ended our units with a guided meditation. Now I use that as my starting place, deciding what I want my children’s meditation to be first, then finding or creating materials that lead towards that climax. It excites me that my children and I can all use the same sources for our prayer. It cultivates the domestic-monastery aspect of our home.

3. A homily digs deeper into the Bible.

Saint Padre Pio stated: "Through the stud...
St. Pio stated: “Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him.”

I want my children to know the Bible intimately, not just be familiar with popular Bible stories. That’s one reason we use The Golden Children’s Bible. Other children’s Bibles tend to paraphrase and rewrite the text. Making the Bible the center of our curriculum means we study it in-depth. We learn to analyze Bible passages, and look for types and anti-types and the fulfillment of prophecies. Even at their young ages, my boys are learning to read Scripture in a manner that eludes many adults. I hope this will lead to their having a more mature faith.

 4. It helps you to see God everywhere.

Granted, even the sermon format of homeschooling encourages students to ask, “How does this subject or activity relate to the faith?” But the homily format does this in a greater way. My series Finding God in Children’s Literature is largely an outgrowth of my homeschooling method. I would probably never have seen the parallels between Peter Rabbit and Adam, if I had not chosen to read about the former as part of our unit on the Fall of Man. Now I am more alert than ever before for allusions to Scripture and Christian doctrine in the literature I read. I am continually looking for connections between fiction and the faith. I hope my children will come to do this as naturally.

5. It fosters a contemplative lifestyle.

This includes points 1 and 5, while going beyond them. Supernatural contemplation, as its name implies, begins with God. The soul receives rather than attains contemplation. The homily format of homeschooling, together with some other aspects of the Contemplative Homeschool, fosters openness. We start by listening to God. It helps us to “meditate on the law of the Lord day and night” (Psalm 1:2), rather than just in our prayer time.

Spiritual writers say that souls who have reached union with God see everything in God, instead of the way the rest of us try to see God in all things. The Contemplative Homeschool seeks to see all things in God’s self-revelation.

All in all, the longer I teach in this manner, the more benefits I discover. I hope you will consider homeschooling this way as well.

Connie Rossini

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9 Responses

  1. Melinda Loustalot

    Interesting. . useful even if you’re raising natural Jesuits, Dominicans or Franciscans. .

      • Melinda Loustalot

        mine, too! and my teenagers all somehow become Dominicans — not big on poverty and LOVE to proclaim!

        • Connie Rossini

          Ha, ha! Any real Dominicans out there would probably disagree that your description covers them, but I can see how it would cover your teens.

  2. Jane Ann

    Hi, I have been reading your blog just for about 3 weeks now. I am so inspired because I have been homeschooling for 14 years. We have 11 children, two – Twenty. I had gotten to a place of burnout and I began crying out to The Lord. Through a long series of events I was lead back to the foundation of the scriptures and Catechism. It is less burdensome and more joyful to be Led by the Holy Spirit for homeschooling. Continue seeking because you are blessing.
    Catholic Mom of Many

    • Connie Rossini

      Thanks, Jane Ann. My parents had 11 kids too. What a challenge! I got burned out with #4. I agree that if we keep the faith central, we have done the most important thing we can do in our homeschools.

  3. Contemplative Homeschool Unit: Creation - Contemplative Homeschool

    […] The focus of the units I have created is on helping your children grow in their relationship with Christ. Academics is part of that, but not the most important part.  I want to help children learn to see God in everything. I want to teach them to practice mental prayer. I want religion to be a part of our homeschool daily, not just a subject we study a few times a week. You can learn more about my philosophy of homeschooling here and here. […]

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