After moving right along at Christendom, I think I have adjusted to the persistent state of wonder that I've been in. Sometimes I cannot even believe that I am sitting in the classrooms and learning from the faculty. The degree of excellence in the professors is not something I have ever experienced before. I have never been in such an environment as this, where the integrity of everyone involved permeates every single aspect of activity on campus. The faithfulness of the people I have the privilege to learn from and be helped by, is the most humbling experience of my life. The young people I go to school with are unlike any young people I have ever met. They are of a certain excellence as well that I have not known before.
I was surprised to find out that I absolutely LOVE studying philosophy! Right now we are learning about Aristotle and the "four causes." The last thing we learned was arguments for the immortality of the soul from Socrates' dialogue, the Phaedo. My absolute favorite though has been our dear Boethius and his Consolation of Philosophy. I recommend that if you have not read it, do! it is truly a beautiful work that, at times, has me in tears reading it.
How wonderful it is to know how rich the intellectual life is! It has been so enriching and also challenging. The fact that it has been challenging is what makes it so much fun! At this school, there are no multiple-choice only tests. We have to write essay responses on exams, which is a sure way to verify that we know the material! In theology, we have been reading the Summa of Saint Thomas, which I have found to be so beautiful and exciting to read. At this point in the semester, we are discussing Christology and Soteriology (the study of salvation). Before every class, we all stand at our desks and pray. We pray either the Hail Mary or the Our Father followed by a prayer to a certain favorite saint of the professor or the saint who's feast day we celebrate. As a class, we make the sign of the cross and ask God to help enlighten our minds and strengthen our wills. What a gift all my classmates have been to me!
As we come up on All Saints day, classes are canceled and the whole school volunteers for various "Day of Service" activities. I volunteered to clean around and beautify the grave of Christendom's founder, Dr. Warren Carroll. He is buried on site at the college, overlooking the Shenandoah river. I can imagine him smiling down on us as we struggle with difficult material and later, light up with the satisfaction felt after truth permeates the mind of the pupil. Dr. Carroll famously said that "One man can make a difference!".....and he certainly has for so many. I am forever grateful to him and all the founders of this excellent center of higher learning.
The college is sharing my story with their donors and has printed my conversion from this blog. My prayer is that it helps to highlight how very important this college is to the mission of Christ and His Church. Christendom is the ONLY accredited Catholic college in the United States that does not accept any federal funding. Christendom is free to teach the truth to us through our exceptional professors. The government does not interfere here! This is the only place, in my humble opinion, where I can totally relax and know that whatever my professors are teaching me, that it is the truth!
Now I truly know that there is no other place like this one! What an incredible experience it has been so far and I look forward to the years to come. This college is not only forming my mind, but forming my soul.
I was telling my mom the other day that when I see the steeple of Christ the King Chapel, come into my line of sight while driving to the school, I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. After I pull in, and my feet hit the pavement, the sense of completeness is all consuming for me. For the first time in my life, I really feel that this is where I belong.
May the Good Lord continue to help me in the spiritual life and the communion of saints guide my intellect as I run the race set before me.
God bless you all!
I know it had been such a long time since I have written a blog post and I apologize! Judah and I have moved to Front R0yal Virginia and school will be starting for me very soon at Christendom College. The campus is breath taking and I can't shake the feeling that I am where I belong. Where I have always belonged....
As we settle in to our new life here in Virginia, God contiues to bless us in extrordinary ways. My little son Judah has always been a "hand-full." Anyone who knows us knows what I mean. As he grew older I started to really notice that something was not right. All the times I blamed myself for his massive temper tantrums in public and his innability to adapt to social situations...all the times I allowed myself to think that everything was my fault. It turns out none of that was true and God has revealed to me the answer of why Judah acts the way he does.
Judah has autism. A doctor recognized it because of his intense love for dinosaurs.
Through a series of strange events, God placed my son and I in the office of a local pediatrician. After coming in and being with us for a while, she asked me if Judah really likes dinosaurs, since she noticed a theme. Judah was wearing a dinosaur vest, had dinosaur toys in his dinosaur bag and kept talking to her about dinosaurs during our visit. I told her that in fact, YES, Judah LOVED dinosaurs and obsessively memorized all their names. I mean, he is three and can say the longest most complex dinosaur names. For a long time I would hear him recite their names, and I just thought he was making them up. Then one day, I picked up a book he had with dinosaurs and their names in it and realized that he was in fact naming all his toy dinosaurs correctly! I mean, I almost dropped the book when I realized it! Judah has an amazing memory and very intense focused interest, which is common for children with Aspergers syndrome. Some of these children, like Judah have incredible vocabularies and often have higher than average IQ's. Judah's memory is astounding and he amazes me every day with his ability to memorize words. At his age he can recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, Saint Michael prayer and many others. Children with high functioning autism suffer with social interaction however and this can cause problems for them especially later on in life. They can have special gifts in very focused areas of interest, normally math or science. For Judah, at three years old, it's dinosaurs.
During the visit, as the doctor asked me more questions, every one of them I answered YES! Does Judah ever wander off? Does he run away? Does he have problems with body awareness and transitions in daycare? Does he have "melt-downs" that seem extreme given the situation? Does he "line up his toys" and meticulously organize them instead of using imaginative play? YES YES YES!
Now everything is making sense, all the pieces are coming together. My poor little Judah, all this time I did not know what was going on with him and did not know the right way to help him. God, in His mercy, allowed this doctor to recognize what was going on with my son. As a mother, I KNEW that something was not right. I pushed it back in my mind, thinking that because Judah looks normal he must BE normal, neurologically speaking. I know now that this was not the right way to look at it and to follow my gut instinct. As his mother, no one knows him better than I do.
This has been quite a blow for me and yet for some strange reason, I am RELIEVED! I am not crazy! and there is something wrong with my son! And now we can take the steps we need to help him. Now we can start all the early intervention therapies and whatever else he needs as treatment. If you have a special needs child, REJOICE in God's great gift to you! Do not despair for these children are precious gifts to our world and can help us become holy on our way to God.
God has blessed me with a special needs child and in His infinite wisdom, I trust that He knows best. I don't know what the future will hold for Judah, but I will be there with him at every step. Together we will help each other get to heaven. I know that Judah is my best friend and has been my little pal since the beginning of this journey back to life. When I look into his beautiful, deep blue eyes, I think of Blessed Father Solanus Casey. Everyone said he had the most piercing, deep bluest eyes. I ask Father Solanus to pray for Judah and to help him cope in his day to day life. Please keep us in your prayers as we move forward.
God bless you all and God bless my sweet little Judah!