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

 

 

Communication is a learned skill

So 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.

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

 

 

 

DAILY QUOTE for January 16, 2019

If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer...

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January 16

 

If you really want to love Jesus, first
learn to suffer, because
suffering teaches you to love.

St. Gemma Galgani


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SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Honoratus of Arles

Although their father objected and placed obstacles before t...

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St. Honoratus of Arles

Honoratus was born into a patrician Roman family that had settled in Gaul, present-day France. As a young man, he renounced paganism and won his elder brother Venantius over to Christ.

Although their father objected and placed obstacles before them, the two brothers decided to leave the world. Under the tutelage of the hermit St. Caprasius they sailed from Marseilles with the intention of leading a secluded life in a Grecian desert.

In Greece, illness struck and Venantius died in peace. Also ill, Honoratus was obliged to return to Gaul with his instructor. At first, he lived as a hermit in the mountains near Fréjus.  Later, he settled on the island of Lérins off the southern coast of France. Followed by others, he founded a monastery on the island about the year 400. The monastic community is active to this day. St. Patrick, the great apostle of Ireland is said to have studied at Lérins.

In 426 Honoratus was pressed upon to accept the bishopric of Arles, where he reestablished Catholic orthodoxy, challenged by the Arian heresy. He died three years later exhausted from his apostolic labors.
The island of Lérins, today the island of Saint Honorat just south of Cannes, is home to Cistercian monks who live in a majestic monastery and produce fine wines and liqueurs which are well-known throughout the world.

WEEKLY STORY

Mary and the Muslim

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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