by Melanie Bettinelli on May 20, 2013
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
I liked this so much better than any other Holocaust book I’ve read with the possible exception of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I wish I had read this at school instead of Anne Frank. But I suspect The Hiding Place is too Christian a book to make it to most school reading lists. And that’s what makes it so very amazing.
The Hiding Place of the title refers not only to the little hidden room at the top of the house in Haarlem where Corrie and her family hid their various Jewish refugees, but even more importantly to the image from the Psalms, God is really the hiding place.
I’ve been hearing about this book for a long time. First, from my former roommate, Niamh. It was one of her favorites. But later from various other sources. Still, it was a quote Niamh posted on Facebook that made me decide it was time to finally check it out:
“He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It’s too heavy,” I said.
Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.
And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”
That was definitely one of my favorite moments in the book. Corrie’s father seems like such a wise man.
There is another passage a little later where he displays the same kind of wisdom that moved me even more, though. Corrie is disturbed by her first encounter with death, the baby of a poor family her mother has adopted.
At last we heard Father’s footsteps winding up the stairs. It was the best moment in every day, when he came up to tuck us in. We never fell asleep until he had arranged the blankets in his special way and laid his hand for a moment on each head. Then we tried not to move even a toe.
But that night as he stepped through the door I burst into tears “I need you!” I sobbed. “You can’t die! You can’t!”
Beside me on the bed Nollie sat up. “We went to see Mrs. Hoeg,” she explained, “Corrie didn’t eat her super or anything.”
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam—when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffled a few times, considering this.
“Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.”
And of course Father is proved right:
In front of us the proud face crumpled; Tante Jans put her hands over her eyes and began to cry. “Empty, empty! she choked at last through her tears. “How can we bring anything to God? What does He care for our little tricks and trinkets?”
And then as we listened in disbelief she lowered her hands and with tears still coursing down her face whispered, “Dear Jesus, I thank You that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done all—all—on the Cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this.”
Mama threw her arms around her and they clung together. But I stood rooted to the spot, knowing I had seen a mystery.
It was Father’s train ticket, given at the moment itself.
This book was a treasure house of riches. I definitely need to buy a copy to read again and again. I also love Father’s wisdom when Corrie has her heart broken. I love Corrie sister Betsie and how she sees the good in everything and can find a light in any darkness, even in the most brutal of the SS guards. One of my favorite scenes is when they give thanks for the fleas.
Oh if you haven’t read this one, you really, really should.
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 20, 2013
The morning of her seventh birthday Bella exclaimed: Oh I just love books! It’s a good thing since they were the bulk of her presents. Because I love to read and to share book lists, here’s what she got:
2. The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen illustrated by Thomas Aquinas Maguire
No idea where I saw this one, but it’s more of a work of art than a children’s book. It comes in a nice box, necessary because the “book” is one long accordion pleated page. Yes. All one picture. It’s just gorgeous and we’re going to have fun exploring it. But it’s also something I’m going to want to keep safe from little hands.
3. Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (another Melissa Wiley recommendation, actually a Rilla recommendation.)
Bella was rather skeptical at first when I grabbed this book and offered to read it this morning. As I started to read her posture was very distant, leaning away from me at the corner of the couch. As I read she crept closer and closer until she was leaning over the book and then finally she took off and began wandering about the room, orbiting the coffee table and returning to glance at the pictures every once in a while. Speculating aloud about who was speaking the poems. She loved the Fiddleheads poem both because we love to eat fiddleheads in season but also because she’s been observing the ferns sprouting at the back of the house. Oh I can tell this book is going to be a favorite. Tonight at bedtime she brought it to me, carrying it in her arms like a treasure. Oh I just love this book, she sighed. When I gently teased her about he initial unfavorable impression, she said she thought it was just going to be a story about a girl who goes for a walk. She conceded that she’d been wrong.
4. St. Jerome and the Lion“St Jerome and the Lion by Margaret Hodges
We love several Margaret Hodges books and I thought this would be a nice addition to our collection. I’m always looking for good picture books about the saints. This fanciful story of the lion was a big hit. Sophie kept wondering aloud: “Where did the donkey go?”
4. Hansel and Gretel by Lisbeth Zwerger
I love Lisbeth Zwerger’s soft, fanciful illustrations, but this story might have been a miscalculation. Perhaps it is a bit too scary for my sensitive girls. As I read it Bella got the shivers and Sophie retreated to listen from the other room. Oh she listened bu at a safe distance. I had always thought the witch was the scary part. And the girls certainly seemed to think so. But this time through it was the stepmother that really chilled me. Oh I do think it important to stress that the children overcome evil. My girls already do know that evil exists. To know that it can be conquered by the week and small of the world is a good lesson. But I suspect this book is not going to be requested very often. Not until it’s needed, which who knows maybe someday it will be.
5. The Story of Icons by Mary P. Hallick
We haven’t read this yet, but a glance through it showed beautiful color plates. The text looks elevated but still aimed at older children rather than adults. Bella has responded well to the other icon book we have. This looks a bit more advanced. I really want my children to appreciate icons as more than just a form of art, but as a means of knowing God. Bella is my artist, my sensitive one, who loves to draw pictures of the crucifixion and of the tomb. She already uses art to meditate on the Gospel. Perhaps one day she will learn to write icons.
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 18, 2013
For her seventh birthday breakfast Dom made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon.
On the way to the farmer’s market Bella exclaimed “Everything looks different today.” Indeed everything does. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since my little wide-eyed wondering child entered the world. Everyone who visited us in the hospital commented on how alert she was. So alert and eager to take everything in. And she’s still the same, wide-eyed, eager girl, exploring the world. In the last year she’s come out of her shyness and is now quite eager to talk to anyone and everyone. But she’s definitely an introvert. She likes to retreat to her room, shut the door, seek quiet to recharge when she gets overwhelmed, much to poor Sophie’s dismay.
Last week Dom went on a walk with her and came home marveling: “I see an unkempt lawn full of dandelions,” he says, “But she exclaims how happy the people who live there must be to have so many beautiful flowers. I see a house that needs attention, she exclaims how beautiful the color blue is. I see a seedy empty lot, she sees a wonderland.” She pays attention to rocks and sticks and flowers and bushes. She has a favorite house on the block, the one with the beautiful garden, a bit unkempt and overgrown but full of flowers. She tells him the names of plants.
Bella picks radishes while Sophie watches. We were all enchanted by the red, red, redness of them.
She got seven dollars from Grandma Virgina and determined to spend them at the farmer’s market. She saw some vegetables she wanted to buy last week. When we got there she asked for some bagels and rolls at the bakery booth. Then she went for the radishes, a big pile of glowing red globes. She also eyed the baby bok choy: “That looks delicious! I want to try it.” And, “Yummy kale!” she exclaimed. Her money was spent on the radishes and a watermelon ice.
Those little dots on the left are me and the kids.
After the market treasures were safely stowed, we walked down to the beach. We discovered a jellyfish, some crabs, beautiful rocks and mussel shells, clams and bricks. A couple of tide pools were an invitation to wonder and Bella crouched to poke and prod while I tried to dissuade the boys from throwing stones into the pool and muddying the water.
Lunch was mac-n-cheese at Chili’s at her request, a nostalgic reprise of her first birthday. This time there was a lot more noise and jostling with four other kids at the table.
When we got home she launched into a complicated game with Ben and Sophie. So lovely to see the three of them playing together so nicely.
Dinner was steaks on the grill. With asparagus and sauteed radish greens and a salad—farmer’s market bounty. Turns out Bella just wanted to cut the radishes and serve them to us. She didn’t really like eating them. Oh well.
I made a lemon cake from scratch with a rather runny cream cheese frosting. Too much lemon juice in it, I think. But Bella liked it.
She told me right before it was time to open her presents that she likes books best of all. Good. I got her some.
She loved the wrapping paper. It was the filler paper from a box of something, maybe from King Arthur Flour or maybe Penzey’s. She was very excited that I’d drawn her a little picture on each package.
Sophie has a hard time when other people get presents. She wants all the shiny things. Bella was sweet and let her hold the new queen whenever Bella had to do something else. Sophie was mollified. I was very proud of Bella’s generous heart.
It’s hard to believe my little baby girl has grown into this great tall lanky girl, all arms and legs and gap teeth.
This morning I was so proud to hear her say that something was not this nor that. “Nor. She said nor.” Yes, my little girl talks like a character from a book much of the time. She’s hovering right on that threshold of reading. She can spell her own name: I S A B E L L A. She can write it too.
Bella was upset after a frustrating reading lesson and drew this frowny figure. She then made it into a scary witch surrounded by spiders, a ghost, bats, a wolf, a bear. She was delighting in scaring Sophie with ever grimmer figures in a Halloween motif.
I am so very, very blessed to have this amazing little girl in my life.
Updated. Just for fun:
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 16, 2013
HE SUFFERED DEATH
He was a man of suffering. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers…he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people. (Isaiah 53:3-4, 7-8)
He suffered death. What does this mean? How can God suffer? How can God die?
He suffered death, was buried and resurrected in fulfillment of the scriptures. He had to do this for the salvation of the world. The corrected translation stating “He suffered DEATH” instead of, “He suffered, died..” makes it clear to us believers what He suffered. He suffered death. Many of us have an intimate knowledge what death looks like. A person can rage against the dying of the light or just slip away, but the result is that our loved one is no longer there. Jesus, our savior and God-man, is the ultimate example for us.
We do not have a God who cannot sympathize with our weakness. Jesus suffered the pain of the cross for all mankind. His gentle mother had to stand and watch it happen to her son:
The crucifixion began.Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place at the top of the stipes, and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” was nailed into place.
The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified.
As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet.
At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.
Dr Truman Davis, published at OurCatholicFaith.org
He suffered death. Jesus, who fed the multitudes and raised Lazarus, permitted this outrageous, horrible death to happen to Himself. Even while they taunted Him, He asked the Father to forgive them. We believers do not know the eternal fate of the sinners there excepting the repentant thief. No matter what happened to those who said ‘Crucify Him!’ the days he suffered death, was buried and rose from the dead made it possible for heaven to be opened for us.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all. Hebrews 2: 9
What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “he suffered death”?
Priest’s Wife blogs at Fear Not Little Flock where she shares her experience of being a Byzantine Catholic priest’s wife in a country that does not expect and sometimes does not accept a married man as a Catholic priest.
Read all the entries in the Blog Series: Credo: Professing the Creed for the Year of Faith.
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 14, 2013
And I’m in complete solidarity with Mrs. D. When I’m pregnant I read an awful lot of juvenile fiction. I’ll have to keep this list for future reference. Just in case, you know. Not that we’re planning to have another child anytime soon. I can’t believe how few of these I’ve read. I kind of want to just take a few months and start reading.
Have not read, but have heard of (includes “I don’t really know much about this book, but I’ve seen it on the library shelves enough times to notice and remember it.”)
Have on my shelves **
2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
2012: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux)
2011: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)**
2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean (HarperCollins)
2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illus. by Matt Phelan (Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson)
2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)**
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi (Hyperion Books for Children)
2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin)
2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Dial)
2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte)
1999: Holes by Louis Sachar (Frances Foster)
1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Scholastic)
1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (Jean Karl/Atheneum)
1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman (Clarion)
1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins)
1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry (Houghton)
1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (Jackson/Orchard)
1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum)
1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown)
1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Houghton)
1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (Harper)
1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (Clarion)
1987: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow)**
1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Harper)
1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (Greenwillow)
1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (Morrow)
1983: Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt (Atheneum)
1982: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (Harcourt)
1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (Crowell)
1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos (Scribner)
1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton)
1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Crowell)
1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Dial)
1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper (McElderry/Atheneum)
1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Macmillan)
1974: The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (Bradbury)
1973: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (Harper)
1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (Atheneum)
1971: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (Viking) at least I think I read it
1970: Sounder by William H. Armstrong (Harper)
1969: The High King by Lloyd Alexander (Holt)
1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum)
1967: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (Follett)
1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (Farrar)
1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (Atheneum)
1964: It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville (Harper)
1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar)**
1962: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton)
1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (Houghton)
1960: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell)
1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton)
1958: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith (Crowell)
1957: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (Harcourt)
1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (Houghton)**
1955: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (Harper)
1954: ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell)
1953: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark (Viking)
1952: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (Harcourt)
1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Dutton)
1950: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (Doubleday) pretty sure I read this one
1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry (Rand McNally)
1948: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois (Viking) pretty sure I owned and read this as a child.
1947: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (Viking)
1946: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (Lippincott)
1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (Viking)
1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Houghton)
1943: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (Viking)**
1942: The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds (Dodd)
1941: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry (Macmillan)
1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty (Viking)
1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (Rinehart)
1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy (Viking)
1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (Viking)
1936: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (Macmillan)
1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon (Viking)
1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs (Little, Brown)
1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis (Winston)
1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer (Longmans)
1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (Macmillan)
1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field (Macmillan)
1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Macmillan)
1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Dutton)
1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James (Scribner)
1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman (Dutton)
1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger (Doubleday)
1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown)
1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (Stokes)
1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (Liveright) **
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 13, 2013
All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander and illustrated by Bruce Whatley
This week Anthony has discovered this picture book and has been requesting it every day at naptime. “Sing,” he commands me.
This is an illustrated version of the hymn. It follows a girl as she goes about a day on the farm from putting on her boots in the morning, doing chores, feeding the animals, to singing with her family in the evening and ends with her in bed looking out the window at the night sky. Beautiful, beautiful pictures with lots of animals, sure to please the toddler set. Horses, birds, cats, dogs, ducks, etc.
If you get it, you’ll need to learn how to sing it. A video helps:
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 11, 2013
Sophie wants to learn French. Actually, to hear her tell it, she already is: “I’m learning French,” she declares boldly. Five year-old boldness. To that end I got her a couple of French first word books for her birthday. We have a few French picture books floating around the house too, Green Eggs and Ham, The Princess and the Pea, etc.
So I was looking for an app that might help her to learn. It would obviously have to be one that is audio only since she can’t yet read and write in English. I haven’t found it yet, but I haven’t been looking very hard. While I was looking about I got sidetracked by an app that is clearly not going to work for her but which I found very fun and I think will be useful for me to refresh my very rusty French. (I once knew enough to work my way through a novel in French with the help of a dictionary, but have never had much in the way of conversational French.)
This free online program is Duolingo and I’m really loving it. I’m not sure how much I’d like it as my primary method of instruction, but as a refresher or for drill for a beginning learner, it’s really great. I love the way it switches rapidly back and forth between listening and reading and speaking, between asking me to provide the French translation for the English phrase and then the English from either the written French along with the audio or from just the audio, which I find much, much harder. It uses the computer’s microphone to evaluate my pronunciation as well. It has a lot of repetition, but not so much that I ever got bored with a lesson. Instead, it moved pretty quickly from one new word or phrase to the next, drilling and repeating any time I made a mistake, but letting me advance when I performed well. I’m definitely going to stick with this for a while.
And maybe later I’ll try out the Italian—I know a little bit from my semester in Rome, but I never studied it formally except for that one semester.
Building a Castle
Speaking of French, though not actually related as steps in the rabbit trail. The other day I stumbled across this article about how the jobs of the future don’t require a college degree. It was a short piece, not an in-depth article, but it prompted an interesting discussion on Facebook. But what was even better it contained a link to this site about the future castle of Guédelon. This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. A team of fifty artisans are building a castle in Burgundy, France using the same techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages. All the trades associated with castle-building - quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, tile makers, basket makers, rope makers, carters and their horses - are all working together to complete the castle. It’s like David Macauley’s Castle come delightfully to life. I have a new life goal: to get to France and visit this site while they are still building it. Bringing the kids with me, naturally.
It seems I do have some time. Work on the site began in 1997 and is scheduled to take 25 years to complete.
Guédelon is a field of experimental archaeology - a kind of open-air laboratory.
The aim is to recreate the site organization and the construction processes that might have existed on an early 13th century building site. Unlike traditional archaeology, which is concerned with cataloguing, excavating and analysing an existing structure, experimental archaeology puts this process into reverse. A structure is built from start to finish in order to obtain, following experiments and observations, a set of conclusive results.
Guédelon is a back-to-front archaeological dig.
“My normal work consists of carrying out research on existing ruins…In fact we mentally deconstruct the wall that we are studying. This can take us so far, but it remains an intellectual activity. Today, Guédelon is helping us to put ideas and research to the test. ” (Anne Baud - Archaeologist and Senior Lecturer at Lyon University)
I love this caveat posted on the site:
Guédelon is a genuine building site and not a staged performance. We do not programme demonstrations at set times. The order in which work takes place on the site is determined by the real demands of the construction process itself. Each task, each piece of work is undertaken strictly according to what needs to be done on site at a given moment.
Furthermore, due to its ever-changing character, activity on site differs from day-to-day. For this reason, it is quite possible that on each of your visits, you will see different tasks being carried out.
There are some short trailers and teaser videos on the site and I found a few more on You Tube. Also, there is a longer feature on the building of the vaulted ceiling in one of the towers that you can watch for $3 on Vimeo. I’m putting that on my to do list for the near future.
With delightful specificity, the castle’s imaginary history has it being built during the reign of King Louis of France, the saint. Our family feels especially close to him not only because I grew up in St Louis parish, but also because his younger sister Isabella is one of my Bella’s patron saints.
The historical context
Guédelon has adopted a specific historical timeframe. The start date for the castle’s construction is taken as 1229. Louis IX, the future Saint Louis, was crowned in Reims three years earlier in 1226; too young to rule, his mother, Blanche of Castile, acted as Regent until 1235.
Locally, Puisaye is under the control of Jean de Toucy. To the south-east lies the county of Auxerre-Nevers, controlled by Mahaut de Courtenay; in the north, the Capetian lands of Gâtinais. On the eve of the sixth crusade, Puisaye is enjoying a period of relative peace and stability.
The architectural context:
The future castle of Guédelon is an entirely new construction; there are no vestiges of a former castle in or around the site. The castle’s design is based on the architectural canons laid down by Philip Augustus in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Philip II Augustus, King of France from 1180-1223, is attributed with standardising the military architecture of castles in the French kingdom. Examples of this standard plan include the Louvre in Paris, Yévre-le-Châtel castle in Loiret, or more locally, the castles of Ratilly or Druyes-les-Belles-Fontaines in Yonne.
Castles built to this standard plan have the following characteristics: a polygonal ground plan; high stone curtain walls, often built on battered plinths; a dry ditch; round flanking towers pierced with single embrasured arrow loops, the position of which is staggered on each floor of the tower; one corner tower, higher and larger than the rest: the tour maîtresse; twin drum tower protect the gate.
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 09, 2013
We learned that there is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between the Church’s sophisticated theology of the lay apostolate and the lived spiritual experience of the majority of our people. And this chasm has a name: discipleship. We learned that the majority of even “active” Catholics are still at an early, essentially passive stage of spiritual development. We learned that our first need at the parish level isn’t catechetical. Rather, our fundamental problem is that most of our people are not yet disciples. They will never be apostles until they have begun to follow Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church.
We learned that at the parochial level, we have accepted this chasm between the Church’s teaching and Catholics’ lived relationship with God as normative, and this has shaped our community culture, our pastoral assumptions, and our pastoral practices with devastating results. We discovered, to our surprise and dismay, that many pastoral leaders do not even possess a conceptual category for discipleship. As long as this holds true, the theology of the laity and the Church’s teaching on social justice and evangelization will remain beautiful ideals that are, practically speaking, dead letters for the vast majority of Catholics.
Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. Dom handed me this book a while back and I’ve been reading it slowly for months. It’s the kind of book that I need to chew on, to think over. (And now, having come to the end, I think I need to re-read.) As I read a bit and then let it sit I have found its ideas percolating. I’ve found myself referring to it to help me think about other topics, other books. Weddell’s book is one of those that has drastically changed the way I see the Church and the world of faith and that in a very helpful way.
There are some things I didn’t like about the first time I read it that made it hard to get through, but the second time they seemed less important. The one hurdle I had in reading it was that much of the language felt like “inside baseball.” Weddell’s use of the term “disciple” being the primary example. I felt very uncomfortable with the word “disciple” the first time I read the book because I really didn’t understand how she was using it. As she says in the book, I didn’t really have a mental category for it and it took getting to the end to really be able to stretch my mind around it. The second read through makes so much more sense.
I do think this book is essential to the conversation about the new evangelization. It diagnoses the root problem of the contemporary American Church in rather frightening detail and then sets out a plan to address them. Weddell herself says that there are many gaps in her understanding and many questions left to answer. This book doesn’t try to set out definite answers, but rather lays out what Weddell has learned through more than a decade of her work with the Catherine of Siena Institute, a ministry whose mission is to equip parishes to form lay apostles.
Why is this book so important? Because we have failed:
Only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still “practicing”—meaning they attend Mass at least once a month.
Nearly a third of self-identified Catholics believe in an impersonal God.[. . .] only 48 percent of Catholics were absolutely certain that the God they believed in was a God with whom they could have a personal relationship.
Recently my sister was telling me about the new parish she’d joined and how she was surprised that the pastor devoted a sizable portion of his homily to addressing some specific Protestant objections to Catholicism. When she commented on it she learned that a new evangelical megachurch was deliberately targeting Catholics at that parish, trying to lure them in. According to Weddell, they stand a good chance of being pretty successful unless the Catholic parish takes steps not just to counter the Protestant arguments but to actively nourish the spiritual maturation of the adults in the parish, to help them become intentional disciples.
In the first part of her book Weddell lays out some surprising insights into the normative experience in Catholic parishes and why the old assumptions are not longer valid.
[I really wanted to organize this blog entry and polish it up. But I’ve been sitting on it a week and still haven’t got a vision of what it should be. All I have is a bit list of passages that I marked. So I’m just going to throw up a bunch of quotes with no comment from me. Feel free to comment on any of them. These are from about the first third to half of the book. I want to write a separate post about the latter half or two thirds or whatever of the book. Later.
Anyway. I hope this book opens up some conversations. It hit a lot of nerves and touched on a lot of themes I’ve been exploring and conversations I’ve been having. But I’m in too much of a muddle right now to really do it justice. So better to just do what I can and see what happens, Right?]
What’s wrong with cultural Catholicism as a paradigm
One of the deepest convictions of evangelical culture is that every person, whether raised inside a Christian tradition or not, has a personal decision to make about whether he or she will live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. [. . .] In contrast, Catholic pastoral practice still assumes that religious identity is largely inherited and stable throughout one’s life span. [. . .] What we have taken as normative is, in fact, the far end of the “religious bell curve.”
Since the late sixteenth and early sevententh centuries, the Catholic retention strategy has been (a) childhood catechesis and (b) sacramental initiation. [. . .] Setting out to give every Catholic child a solid catechetical background was an extraordinary vision hat had never before been attempted. The endeavor was deeply influenced by a Renaissance optimism about the power of education. The assumption was that a carefully nurtured religious identity acquired in childhood would endure throughout life.
[. . .]
But the evidence suggests that what worked in the seventeeth century does not work in the twenty-first. Pew researchers found that attending CCD, youth groups, and evn Catholic high schools made little or no difference in whether or not an American Catholic teen ended up staying Catholic, becoming Protestant, or leave to become “unaffiliated.”
Our pastoral practice still operates on the presumption that although most Catholic teens vanish after Confirmation, they will find their way back when they are ready to get married and especially when they have children. One huge problem with this paradigm is that Catholic marriage rates are, in fact, plummeting.
We can no longer depend upon rites of passage or cultural, peer, or familial pressure to bring the majority back.
In the twenty-first century, cultural Catholicism is dead as a retention strategy, because God has no grandchildren. In the twenty-first century, we have to foster intentional Catholicism rather than cultural Catholicism.
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Personal attachment to Christ is normative
The majority of Catholics in the United States are sacramentalized but not evangelized. They do not knew that an explicit, personal attachment to Christ—personal discipleship—is normative Catholicism as taught time and time again by the apostles and reiterated by the popes, councils, and saints of the Church.
If a living relationship with Christ and, therefore, his Father and the Holy Spirit, does not exist, we have not succeeded in “transmitting” the faith. The faith has not been transmitted unless the Person and the relationship at the center of the faith have been transmitted. And we can’t successfully transmit the relationship at the center of the faith unless we ourselves consciously participate in that relationship.
The common working assumption that we encounter is that personal discipleship is a kind of optional spiritual enrichment for the exceptionally pious or spiritually gifted.
To the extent that we don’t talk explicitly with one another about discipleship, we make it very, very difficult for most Catholics to think about discipleship.
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Simon Peter’s “drop the net” decision is what we mean by “intentional.” From the moment he dropped his nets to follow Jesus, he was a disciple.
Intentional discipleship is not accidental or merely cultural. It is not just a matter of “following the rules.” A disciple’s primary motivation comes from within, out of a Holy Spirit-given “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
In the twenty-first century, Catholic pastoral practice is still largely based on what could be called an “infant paradigm,” rather than am “adult paradigm.” What do I mean? We often function as though the initiation of a young child into the faith is the practical spiritual norm. [. . .] This paradigm also assumes that a baptized child will pick up the Catholic faith from the family and the parish as naturally and inevitably as he or she learns language and culture. The faith is communicated,and the child trustingly accepts and believes it. The child will inherit a stable, lifelong religious identity and practice from the family and the parish, a Catholic identity that will move seamlessly into adulthood, resulting in slow spiritual growth over a lifetime. There is little expectation of distinct internal turning points, much less of an overt “conversion” experience.
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Our problem is not that there is a shortage of vocations but that we do not have the support systems and leadership in place to foster the vast majority of vocations that God has given us. Most fundamentally when we fail to call our own to discipleship, we are unwittingly pushing away the vast majority of the vocations God has given us.
In the Catholic tradition, the word vocation is not a synonym for vocational career. A vocation is a supernatural mystery that emerges from a sustained encounter with Christ. It is a transforming, sanctifying path and work of love to which Christ calls us. A vocation builds on our natural qualities but carries us far beyond what we would imagine.
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What do you think? Have you read the book? Are you interested in reading it? You can listen to an interview with Sherry Weddell on Boston’s The Good Catholic Life if you want to get more flavor of what the book is about.
I haven’t yet got to the part that intrigued me most, the thresholds of conversion. Stay tuned.
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 09, 2013
“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28,20)
Christ’s going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow, because it involves his absence; and of joy, because it involves his presence. And out of the doctrine of his Resurrection and Ascension, spring those Christian paradoxes, often spoken of in Scripture, that we are sorrowing, yet always rejoicing; “as having nothing, yet possessing all things” (2Cor 6,10).
This, indeed, is our state at present; we have lost Christ and we have found him; we see him not, yet we discern him. We embrace his feet (Mt 28,9), yet he says, “Touch Me not” (Jn 20,17). How is this? it is thus: we have lost the sensible and conscious perception of him; we cannot look on him, hear him, converse with him, follow him from place to place; but we enjoy the spiritual, immaterial, inward, mental, real sight and possession of him; a possession more real and more present than that which the Apostles had in the days of his flesh, because it is spiritual, because it is invisible.
We know that the closer any object of this world comes to us, the less we can contemplate it and comprehend it. Christ has come so close to us in the Christian Church (if I may so speak), that we cannot gaze on him or discern him. He enters into us, he claims and takes possession of his purchased inheritance; he does not present himself to us, but he takes us to him. He makes us his members… We see him not, and know not of his presence, except by faith, because he is over us and within us. And thus we may at the same time lament because we are not conscious of his presence… and may rejoice because we know we do possess it… , according to the text, “Whom having not seen… you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1Pt 1,8-9).
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890), priest, founder of a religious community, theologian
Sermon « The Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Church », PPS, vol. 6, no.10
via Daily Gospel Online.
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Dom and I took the gang to Mass this morning at the pastoral center, which the kids call “going to Mass at Daddy’s work.” It’s a treat as far as they are concerned. It’s a nice chapel there and a lovely Mass, short but beautiful. All the various nuns always oooh over the kids and plenty of Dom’s lay coworkers too, of course.
Last night I was afraid we weren’t going to make it. Every time I went into the boy’s room to turn out the lights Anthony’s eyes popped open and if I tried to flip them off, he’d cry. Finally around 11 he came out of his room and plopped himself on the office floor. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t sleeping. When I asked him if anything hurt he didn’t respond. And that’s unusual because when he had the ear infections he definitely told me his ears hurt. So I gave him some ibuprofen anyway and put him on the recliner in the living room. He didn’t get up after that but did get us up at 6 am, which was probably the only reason I made it.
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Didn’t go to Mass? It might not be a holy day of obligation where you are: “Only the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha (the state of Nebraska) continue to celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord on Thursday.”
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 07, 2013
1. The latest in Ben and his refusal to use proper names: I’d sent the girls to their room to calm down before bed and I wasn’t letting Ben go in because they were all in crazy mode and feeding off each other. He complained and said he really wanted to go in because, “I really like one of them.” I was cracking up so much. Which one does he not like?
2. Bella made me stop the Office of Readings to tell me that she loves the line, “no speech, no word, no voice is heard.” It’s just so beautiful, she said. Oh yes. I love that line too.
And this morning I was listening to the Divine Office podcast when someone interrupted. Anthony was listening and seemed disturbed when I stopped the Invitatory, cutting it off after the first word, “Come” and he repeated, “Come,” and then added “worship.” Someone has been listening.
3. I’ve been reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Bella and Sophie. After the first two chapters Sophie adopted it, declared it was her favorite book. She demands I read it first every day during story time. Bella was very unsure at first. That scene when Lucy walks into the wardrobe and finds trees and snow…. Bella got very agitated and almost wanted to stop reading. Very disturbed by how uncanny it is. Sophie was a bit unnerved too. But the fact that the youngest Pevensie is called Lucy—and our youngest is Lucy too!—won them over.
After the second chapter Bella speculated: “I wonder when we are going to see the lion.”
When we got to the chapter when Edmund sneaks out it occurred to me how significant it is that he leaves at the end of a meal just as Judas left at the end of the Last Supper. Reading a chapter a day to the girls definitely slows me down and gives me time to pay attention, to make connections, to ponder more deeply.
When we got to Aslan’s death at the Stone Table Bella said something about how she didn’t cry, but could imagine Susan and Lucy crying. I went ahead and read the next chapter. I couldn’t let them wait overnight with that hanging over their head. I just couldn’t. I loved Bella speculating about the witch’s magic being undone with the statues. She was so pleased when we got to that bit, but Sophie was worried about how the witch was going to react when she found out they had raided her house and freed the prisoners. She kept saying she wanted to know if the witch was going to be mad. Bella noted that Lucy and Susan are the main characters, especially at the end. She also wondered what Peter and Edmund were doing while Aslan was waking all the statues. I love to see her pondering the story, really thinking about it. She told me today that it makes her feel all quivery in her stomach. Sometimes a scary sort of quivery and sometimes a joyful sort of quivery. Bella wondered whether they would notice that the children were gone.
Sophie misses a lot of details and even some major plot points. She wondered if the children’s mother was going to miss them. She asked, “What is Narnia?” But she does love the story. Oh how she loves it.
4. Laughing Lucia. I put the kids in the car and ran in to get something. When I came back out I heard Lucy belly laughing at the big kids. She has such a delightful laugh and she laughs often and long.
More laughing Lucy. The children all love to make her laugh. Ben perhaps most of all. He really does dote on her and it is so sweet to see.
5. Sophie and Bella have learned how to say the Act of Contrition. I’m amazed at how quickly they picked it up. All it took was adding it to our bedtime prayers. After just a few weeks they are now rattling it off on their own Trying to decide which prayer to add next.
Sophie recited it perfectly without hesitation right before I took the video. But the camera must have distracted her. She needed Bella’s prompt in a couple of places.
6. Ben tells me he and Sophie are playing a game called Tom and Anna.
Me: Oh. Who are Tom and Anna.
Ben: They’re just characters.
Me: Characters in a game you’re playing? And what do Tom and Anna do?
Ben: They are construction workers and football players.
Sophie: They work at a construction site and play football on the field.
Me: So Sophie is Anna and Ben is Tom?
Sophie: Yes and sometimes there are other football players from the television. Like Tom Brady. He’s my favorite football player.
Ben: Yeah, he’s my favorite football player too.
Ben: And there are soldiers too. They are in Merica.
Me: Oh. And where is Merica?
Ben: It’s really far away.
Sophie: Come on. Let’s go play.
Ben: It’s night time.
7. Anthony has been waking up at 5 or 5:30 the past few weeks and I’ve been blaming that early morning disturbance both for my sleeping in and for my lack of productivity. Today I was presented with proof positive. Anthony and Ben both slept through the night and so instead of sleeping until 7 or 7:30 I was up at a quarter to seven. I got up before any of the kids, prayed, made breakfast, (They got up when I was in the middle of making the oatmeal.) made scones, tidied the kitchen and dining room, did math with Bella, vacuumed and tidied the girls’ room, weeded the garden bed, fed the baby a couple of times… all before lunch. Phew!
Then I took a short nap with Anthony when I put him down for his nap. Then I read to the big kids, went out and kicked some balls around in the back yard with the kids, took out the trash, weeded the front beds, vacuumed the living room, swept the dining room again, made dinner.
Too late for last Friday. Too early for this Friday. Who cares. I’m going to post this anyway.