An internet friend is worried that she’s made a horrible mistake by homeschooling.  She has one child who forgets to turn in his homework, one who rushes through assignments with no regard for whether her answers are correct, and a third who says the work is simply too difficult, and in that last case, there’s a chance the child might be right.  None of these  situations, of course, are unique to homeschooling.   Still, it just plain hurts when you feel like a complete failure, whether you are at fault or not.

Enter St. Joseph of Cupertino.  His unhappy childhood came to a close this way:

When the time came for him to try and earn his own living, Joseph was bound apprentice to a shoemaker, which trade he applied himself to for some time, but without any success.  When he was seventeen he presented himself to be received amongst the Conventual Franciscans, but they refused to have him.  Then he went to the Capuchins, and they took him as a lay-brother; but after eight months he was dismissed as unequal to the duties of the the order: his clumsiness and preoccupation made him an apparently impossible subjects, for he dropped piles of plates and dishes on the refectory floor, forgot to do things he was told, and could not be trusted even to make up the kitchen fire . . .

Eventually his mother used family connections to get him in as a servant in another order, where he finally came into his own, and his superiors determined he should be ordained.   His education still went badly.  Butler’s Lives observes, “Try as he would, the extent of human accomplishements was to read badly and to write worse.”  He only managed to pass the examinations for the diaconate and the priesthood by sheer luck.  Eventually the saint found his calling as a mystic, which only got him into trouble for doing that *too well* — running afoul of the inquisition (not for any particular fault, other than an excess of levitation and other stupendous feats).   Oops.

Here’s my point for today: As Catholics, our end goal isn’t academic success.  It isn’t career success.  It is holiness.  Over and over again we see apparent failure in the examples of the saints.  And this is hard.  We want to do well.  We want to be confident that we have taken the gifts God has given us and used them to the full.  Homeschooling is one way we try to do that.  When we don’t get the academic results we were hoping for, we feel like we must be on the track.

Not necessarily so.   I don’t know that any parents *wants* to be in league with St. Joseph of Cupertino — give me a houseful of Anselms and Augustines, please.  (Well, maybe not that either — St. Monica sure went through the wringer as a mother, too.)  But if that’s what God sends us, we aren’t alone.  St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us!