Around the country, the sound of number two pencils being sharpened signifies the start of another school year.  Families are busy acquiring supplies and clothing, planning schedules, and discussing expectations for the year ahead.

We grown ups may not be jumping on board the bus or working on remembering our multiplication tables, but “Back to School” season is a great time for us to rededicate ourselves to the task of living a more fully integrated life.

Around my own home, this time of the year carries nearly the same sense of spiritual renewal as the seasons of Advent and Lent.  During the summer vacation, we tend to get a little loose with schedules and routines as we savor the less hectic time and enjoy one another’s company.

But my sons’ return to the classroom also brings a familiar sense of routine and order to our home.  For this “work at home” mom, the return of the academic calendar means a few more hours devoted to professional tasks and catching up on projects which may temporarily have been placed on hold while I enjoyed long summer days with my boys.

I also love to begin each school year with a renewed commitment to my spiritual life.  This year’s themes arose for me as I sat in Mass last Sunday, praying through the Liturgy of the Word.  Paul’s exhortations to the Hebrews in Chapter 12 on the value of discipline, combined with Jesus’ command to his followers in Luke 13 to “strive to enter through the narrow gate” give me two important spiritual benchmarks.  I have my marching orders for the 2010-11 scholastic season.

Perhaps it’s the great optimist in me who continues to believe that even as a grown woman, I still have new things to learn each school year.  Just as my son Adam will be pondering over geometry and chemistry problems this Fall, I have the opportunity to grow in wisdom and in strength if I take advantage of the tremendous grace God continues to shower upon me in each phase of my life.  A recommitment to daily prayer time, frequent reception of the sacraments, and respect for the physical body God blessed me with are a few of my objectives for the months ahead.

As we enter a new school year, what goals have you set for yourself and what themes will your family embrace together?  If you could master one new objective this year what would it be?

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms.

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