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For the millions of you who are reading Souls at Work, the FREE STUDY GUIDE is now ready to download. I don’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do, so before I made it available, I actually went through and answered every question myself! And that wasn’t an empty exercise. Even after writing the whole book, I got some new insights and perspectives from responding to those juicy questions myself. I would love to hear that you are working on this! Here are all my own responses, so you can know that through this book, you really are (or can be…have you read Chapter 24 – Books??) in conversation with me: Charlotte’s Responses to SAW Study Guide Questions
There is a dimension of freedom I consider to be its highest realization. I tell my kids all the time that the highest form of freedom is to do in freedom what you must do. Good luck with that! It’s easier said than done, but it’s also not as impossible as it sounds. It’s a paradox!
Are you free if you are obligated to act? It sounds like a contradiction, but a high form of freedom is to fulfill obligations with an interior freedom that is not sacrificed, but placed in service. In freedom, we bind ourselves to religious vows, marital faithfulness, and to the rules of our voluntary organizations. In such cases the difference between freedom and bondage is our capacity to maintain interior freedom while our actions are constrained by the rules and promises we’ve made.
Social courtesies are a small training ground for this capacity, but in our day they are often dismissed as old-fashioned, lost for lack of common usage, or resented as empty formalities. Take, for example, the obligation placed upon you to respond to an invitation. Granted, you did not ask for the invitation, yet it does (or it used to) impose upon you a duty to say yes, or no. Sadly, many recipients today simply dismiss this opportunity to re-weave the social fabric and another opportunity is lost. When non-response becomes the norm, then bondage becomes the norm as our response-ability atrophies.
A gift invites the response of gratitude. Sure, you could write that blasted thank-you note just because you have to, or you could write it in true freedom, realizing it is an ennobling responsibility. It’s not that the giver only gave in order to force you to write that note! A person who always just assumes the giver knows he’s grateful, but never expresses it is missing opportunities to enlarge his sphere of response-ability. No one can make you go to Mass, return phone calls, keep appointments, accept invitations, offer help, contribute, participate, or vote. But if you do what you should, you’ll grow in freedom.
RCYF! Respond – Create Your Freedom!
I mention the placenta so often, I had to post this image!
Here, also, are links to every one of my posts that mentions placenta!
In case you didn’t get it, this photo is of…drumroll, please…a placenta!
This is a shameless plug for my own book! I’m so excited that Angelico Press has published Souls at Work, and I have high hopes that it will be a blessing to readers. Someone has asked “What kind of book is this?” and it’s hard to put it into a typical category.
It is ‘self-help,’ because I enjoy talking to people who enjoy self-improvement. It is ‘educational,’ because I look at the world through the lens of the classical Trivium and suggest this as a model for self-educators and for teachers. It is ‘Catholic spiritual direction,’ because I strongly believe that your interior life will be much improved by taking on reality in all its forms – art, persons, subjects, buildings and more.
It is ‘poetic,’ because it is meant to give you entrance into my own lived experience, and so is written with a richness of vocabulary and diction that is sadly missing from many 10-bullet-point books. It is ‘hard,’ because it invites you into the adventure of working out your salvation in the rough and tumble tensions of things that are difficult for you. It is a ‘workbook,’ because I ask you to do the work of writing it for yourself (!), or, at least, responding to its questions to make it truly your own.
It is ‘dangerous,’ because there is no true growth or education possible apart from venturing into the unknown territory of the Real World with only our imperfect realization of Christ to guide us. It is ‘Catholic,’ because it is deeply indebted to and respectful of the Faith, and is predicated on my own love for Christ and His teaching magisterium…without being at all a work of theology.
What else? A fountain of youth? Yes. A great conversation starter? Yes. A fun romp through science, art, literature, architecture, and more with, not an expert, but an interested fellow student? Yes. A help in understanding relationship dynamics? Yes. A new perspective on the new evangelization? Yes!
So, as one who is obviously totally unbiased about this book, I highly recommend you get a copy and share the news that it is available. THANKS to all who take the plunge and wade into this ‘invitation to freedom’. Together, Catholic writers and readers must discover what it means for an artist to be, not a law unto herself, but a member of the Body of Christ. I so look forward to your response to this book. Please tell me what kind of book it is when you know!
After a baby’s birth, Mom becomes the ‘womb’, the context for his continuing development. This is so much more than just making a safe home, or choosing the best food for him. The womb and placenta, like Mom, are mediating structures meant to link the child to his wider environment through a bulky, messy, murky mass that impedes flow even as it facilitates flow. I’m not calling Mom names here, just pointing out that all attempts to do away with this design, this ‘inefficient’, personal, slow, messy process are dis-integrated, wrong-headed, dangerous.
If I wanted to teach a child, I’d give his mother rich opportunities to learn, to ingest great materials, to practice skills, to discuss whatever she finds delightful, wondrous, or interesting. I imagine she’d do the mediating for that particular child better than any artificial womb I could create. Fr. Luigi Giussani wrote, “I am an educator if I communicate myself.” Unless I can be a real part of your child’s context, mediated to him through his mother’s wisdom and discernment about his needs and capabilities, I cannot truly communicate my self, or anything else, to him.
We need more people in children’s REAL LIVES and fewer contrived, artificial kiddie activities, classes, and play-spaces. It does take a village, but that village better grow up organically around the home to serve the child and his parents in truth. I’m hoping to be part of the village for the families I love, but I don’t want to abstract the children from those wombs in order to give myself to them.
Does this make sense to you? I’d love to hear your feedback on this one!
One of my favorite talks is about Mom understanding herself as this sort of continuing context for the child: Building the Bridge.