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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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DAILY QUOTE for November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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