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Header - Family Tip 3 - Learning Communication Skills 

If children are to develop into effective people,
the process must begin when they are small.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

 

Communication is a learned skill

Rose KennedySo knew Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy who brought up a generation of statesmen.

True, the Kennedy scenario was a tragic disappointment on many fronts. But doubtlessly the family had outstanding qualities that, if sanctified, could have edified the nation.

The book Times to Remember by Rose Kennedy, reveals a woman of admirable traits, who instilled much good in her family, and strived to bring out the best in each of her children. Rose spoke several languages, was well read, informed, and cultured.

For her, dinner time was the ultimate quality-time with her children, and she made it a priority to take advantage of this hour together.

Rose’s father, once the mayor of Boston, had the curious habit of pinning news clippings to his lapel and commenting on them. As a young girl Rose benefited from the talks these clippings generated.

 

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The Message Board

When raising her family, she came up with a similar idea. On a convenient wall she hung a message board on which she pinned news-clippings. The children were required to read, or at least “scan” one or two clippings and be ready to comment at the dinner table.

Though the clippings encouraged deep discussions, Rose was careful to ensure that meals did not become dry “mental drill sessions”1 but retained the natural pep of a family gathering. As she raised questions, prodded, discussed, debated, and laughed with her children, she also kept a vigilant eye that the louder ones did not hush the quieter ones. The children not only learned to express ideas but to listen – the “secret of secrets” of good conversation. Rose made meal-time a stimulating game–she was the “coach” and all were expected to play as a team.

Given the different age brackets in her large family, Rose sat the tiny ones at a small table (my own mother’s practice as well) so that they could enjoy their prattle and not disturb the older ones.

As they grew, they graduated to the larger table. At home, this “graduation” was something to look forward to.

Notice board

How-To’s, Benefits and Updates

Today good news is scarce. So such a message board would need to include clips from other life venues: nature stories, positive clips from books or magazines, church bulletins, stories of saints and heroes, excerpts from sermons, Bible quotes, famous quotes, Catechism passages, info on gardening, cooking, art and music, snippets on countries and languages–or whatever the specific interest of each family.

With a trendy range of message boards out there, this can be made a fascinating corner of the home, a project involving one and all.

The idea is to get the children to “converse” not just jabber or retreat into isolation. Quoting from Mrs. Kennedy in Times to Remember, “[children]…can’t just suddenly as teen-agers, bloom into remarkable conversationalists or speakers or suddenly acquire the mental quickness, emotional poise or knowledge needed.”2 She adds that ease in conversation, and social confidence don’t happen without preparation and effort, and this preparation should begin as early as age five.

In fact, with the disappearance of the dinner table, social confidence has suffered. Today, many lack social confidence, and struggle with phobias not knowing how to act or what to say in company. Whole books and courses have been written on the subject.

 

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Electronic Gadgets

An “updating note” is that social savvy can be largely impaired by the electronic gadgetry scenario.

Beginning with TV, the electronic world invites minds to “roam” rather than think analytically and in a way, the electronic device does the “thinking” for the viewer. But now, with small electronics at fingertips, a new addiction is at play providing a very incomplete means of human communication which does little to satisfy our human social need.

While small electronics have their use, in the deeper, interpersonal sense, these gadgets can hamper thinking processes and communication skills. Comments, articles, videos, posts and cartoons abound on the subject.

So a must by the message board is a basket–if needed– where all electronic gadgets are deposited. No cellphones, ipads, ipods at the family table.

But that is one thing Rose Kennedy did not have to contend with.

 

Unfortunately, the Kennedys veered off the path of faith and morality, and ultimately were not a shining example to America. But no one can deny they could navigate socially, were fascinating communicators, and even lead brilliantly at times.

It all started at the dinner table.

 


1 Times to Remember, by Rose F. Kennedy, pgs.106, 107
2 Ibid.

Written and Illustrated by A.F. Phillips

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 24, 2021

It is easy to infuse a most fervent devotion into others, ev...

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July 24

 

It is easy to infuse
a most fervent devotion into others, even in a short time;
but the great matter is
– to persevere.

St. Philip Neri


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Charbel Makhlouf

Multiple times, he successfully lit an oil lamp which was fi...

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St. Charbel Makhlouf

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in the village of Bekka Kafra in Lebanon on May 8, 1828 and was one of five children born to Antoun Zarrour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. His father was a mule driver who died when Youssef was only three years old, leaving his widow to bring up their children alone.

Although Brigitta was left nearly destitute, she reserved a profoundly religious atmosphere in their home and instilled in her children a deep spirit of piety. Because of this fidelity, Youssef became unusually devoted and inclined to prayer and solitude at a very young age. He was greatly attracted to the life and spirituality of hermits; and as a young boy tending his family’s small flock, he would often go to a nearby grotto where he had erected a little shrine to the Holy Mother of God and would spend his whole day there in prayer.

When he was twenty-three years old, Youssef, feeling the call to the religious life, left his home and family to join the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Marfouq. Here he began his formation as a monk before later being transferred to the Monastery of St. Maron near Beirut. There he received the religious habit of the Maronite monk and took the name Charbel. He made his final profession as a religious brother on November 1, 1853 – he was twenty-five years old.

Brother Charbel immediately began his studies for the priesthood under the instruction of Father Nimattullah Kassab, who was also later declared a saint by the Church. Charbel was ordained on July 23, 1859, following which he returned to the Monastery of St. Maron where he lived a life of great austerity. In 1875, he was granted permission by his superiors to live a solitary life in the Hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul, which was under the jurisdiction of the monastery; and there he resided for the remaining twenty-three years of his life until his death on Christmas Eve, 1898.

St. Charbel is renowned for his many miracles both during his life and after his death. His most famous miracle – which was also his first – occurred when, multiple times, he successfully lit an oil lamp which was filled with water. He is also credited with many healing miracles.

After his death, he was interned at the Monastery of St. Maron, now a famous pilgrimage site. His tomb was often witnessed surrounded by a dazzling light, and to this day his remains are incorrupt and an unexplainable blood-like fluid flows from his body. He was canonized on December 9, 1977, by Pope Paul VI, who held him up as an example to help us understand “in a world, largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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