Advent

"The Shop of Ghosts"

Book cover: '"The Shop of Ghosts"'
Author(s): 
G.K. Chesterton
Copyright: 
1906
Review: 

Found on pages 82-86 of G.K. Chesterton Collected Works Volume XIV, 1993, Ignatius Press, 802 pages, softcover, Catholic perspective

This is a charming and humorous story about the spirit of Christmas through the ages. Good for a chuckle and a little perspective.

The volume in which this story can be found is available from Ignatius Press
You can also read this story online by clicking here

Review Date: 
12-5-05
Reviewed by: 
Alicia Van Hecke

A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families

Book cover: 'A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families'
Author(s): 
Monica McConkey
Copyright: 
2001
Publisher: 
Arma Dei Family Ministry
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
299 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

with laminated "jelly-proof" covers

During the past few years, there has been a renewed interest in beginning and in continuing traditions within our families within the context of the liturgical year. This book has been written to help make these celebrations easier to plan as well as to provide countless new ideas. Some of these ideas are original while others are traditional. This book is especially well-suited for families with children in the preschool years up through the late elementary years.

The majority of the suggestions for each month are craft-oriented or games that are sure to appeal to younger children. For example, January 17th is the memorial of St. Anthony, patron of basket makers. The book gives a very simple biography of St. Anthony, suggests a "prayer habit", and includes the directions for making a basket out of bread dough. The description for the Feast of the Ascension includes detailed directions for making a kite to ascend to the heavens in addition to directions for making bubble-blowers and bubble solution. Ordinary Time saints' days include a lengthy section describing the making of Catholic games that will help in learning the catechism and in remembering the Saints. Names of some of the games are Jell-O Box Jeopardy, Catechism Categories, Holy Rummoli, and Lists and Levels; don't they sound interesting and fun to play?

The book is organized by the liturgical calendar, beginning with a New Year's Eve party for the beginning of the Church year just prior to the start of the Advent season and continues on to the Feast of Christ the King in late November. The dates and feast days are those of the modern Church calendar, although the listings for some dates include those saints not found on the revised Roman calendar. There are more ideas and suggestions than a family could possibly do; this book should keep your family busy for many, many years. It will be an excellent addition to your family library and a good companion to a book of saint's stories or of church history.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
2-4-02
Reviewed by: 
Susan Kalis

A Year With God

Celebrating the Liturgical Year
Book cover: 'A Year With God: Celebrating the Liturgical Year'
Copyright: 
2005
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
261 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

A Year With God is simply THE purchase of the year! Completely original, inspiring, and unique, the abundance of fresh ideas and activities will re-energize your religion class and re-motivate you to make your homeschool a truly Catholic school in every sense of the word. Spanning the liturgical year, A Year With God contains hundreds of carefully detailed and illustrated projects and activities. Nearly all of these can be extended into several other projects, giving you many, many years of exciting projects to work on with your students.

The Table of Contents begins with "Celebrate Advent and Christmas", continues with "Celebrate Lent and Easter", and concludes with "Celebrate Ordinary Time". This overview will provide you with an easy-to-use reference to the book, but even more valuable is the "Index of Activities" in the back of the book. This Index is arranged by the calendar year and provides page and activity references to specific Feast Days of the Church. Have you ever considered celebrating The Feast of St. Nicholas? Or the Annunciation of the Lord? Or the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows? Now you have ready-to-go plans for these and hundreds of other special days.

Plays, craft projects, dramatic readings, games, drawings, hands-on learning, writing projects and much more employ all of the various styles of learning. Also included are the most popular longer-term projects from the CHC Lesson Plans. Many families have purchased the lesson plan sets just to have access to these enriching ideas. The wide range of projects and activities appeal to all age groups as well. I have a sixteen-year age-range between students in my own homeschool, and there are enjoyable activities for everyone, including me! The extensive artwork is professional, orthodox, and pleasing while remaining accessible and comprehensible to everyone. Produced with a variety of easily-read fonts on creamy, thick paper, the book is a joy to read while allowing both durability and excellent reproduction quality. CHC has permitted that activity pages may be copied for immediate family members, further extending the usefulness of the book. Arrangements can also be made for group copyright permissions; this is a terrific way to introduce these activities into homeschool cooperative groups, sacramental preparation classes, and other group situations.

Every other book that we have used as we have celebrated the liturgical year has been tied to the cultural traditions of different countries around the world. While we have enjoyed these experiences, there are plenty of books available to learn about them. A Year With God is different from these books; it does not include such popular and well-known traditions as the Christmas Tree or the baking of Hot Cross Buns. A Year With God is focused on the truly spiritual and universally Catholic in a way that develops and fosters growth in virtue and holiness. The richness and depth of our Faith comes alive in a way that is unforgettable, both to the student and the teacher. Take the time to really read through and use this book. It will be a blessing to your family!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Copyrights 2003/2005

Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula

Review Date: 
11-5-03
Reviewed by: 
Susan Kalis

Advent Reflections, Come, Lord Jesus!

Author(s): 
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Copyright: 
2007
Publisher: 
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
64 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

In Advent Reflections, Come, Lord Jesus! Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan shares four meditations, one for each week of Advent: “The Threes Comings of Jesus,” “St. John the Baptist,” St. Joseph: A Man Forgotten,” and “Our Blessed Mother Mary.”

With his earthy, conversational tone, Archbishop Dolan’s speaks to our hearts. As he talks about St. John the Baptist, he says, “You see, John’s entire ministry was captured in that one moment when he eyeballs Jesus coming out of the desert and bellows out to the crowd, pointing to Christ, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). That was his job description—to point out Christ. With that, his job was done. He could have retired to Sun City.”

Archbishop Dolan combines teaching, inspiration, personal experience, and scripture in this lively text. To illustrate a point he is making, he weaves in short personal stories or adds scriptural passages that add depth and meaning.

Too often we listen to a sermon or read a spiritual book and later can’t recall what we have heard or read. To help us better remember his essential points, Archbishop Dolan uses catchy phrases. In describing “The Three Comings of Christ,” he says, “Our Lord comes to us in history, mystery, and majesty.”

Advent is a time of waiting and longing for the coming of our Lord. With all the bustle of Christmas preparations, it is easy to lose our focus on what this season is all about. Archbishop Dolan seeks to keep this message of hope alive with words of inspiration, questions for us to reflect on, and a prayer to carry us into the coming week.

Although there is only one meditation per week, instead of daily, there is plenty for us to reflect on during the week.

Not just “pretty” words, Advent Reflections, Come, Lord Jesus! challenges us to put our faith in action. This is an ideal resource for the whole family.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
11-25-2007
Reviewed by: 
Elizabeth Yank

Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany in the Domestic Church

Book cover: 'Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany in the Domestic Church'
Author(s): 
Catherine and Peter Fournier
ISBN: 
898 708 591
Copyright: 
2001
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
101 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This book is an outgrowth of the authors' longstanding website www.domestic-church.com and is a great companion to the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. It is divided into four parts: Family Activities, Saints of the Season, Crafts, and Coloring Pages. The purpose is to provide families with activity ideas that foster a spiritual climate in those seasons.

While the book does have activities that other seasonal books contain, such as the Advent Wreath and Jesse Tree, there are some engaging original projects such as patterns for playable manger figures, cross-stitch patterns, instructions for making gift boxes, and a playdough recipe to make tree ornaments. One of my favorites in the book is an explanation of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which is an often overlooked feast in the Church as it sits in the Octave of Christmas. Another totally unique project is the one entitled "Hidden Life--Forcing Bulbs" in which the family plants bulbs and then forces them in the spring. This provides great metaphors for the connection between Christmas and Easter, the hidden life of the childhood of Jesus, and the coming of his light into the world. The coloring pages include pictures of the saints that are featured in the book, manger scenes, angels, and a decorated alphabet.

Another really nice feature of this book is that the pages have a single line of scriptural text printed around the margins. I didn't notice this the first time I used the book last year. It is a lovely touch.

Recommended for the whole family!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
8-29-05
Reviewed by: 
Margot Davidson

Catholic Traditions in Crafts

Book cover: 'Catholic Traditions in Crafts'
Author(s): 
Ann Ball
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
Our Sunday Visitor
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
189 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This book includes 23 pages of Crafts relating to Christmas. There really isn't an Advent segment, but as Advent is a time for preparing for Christmas, it is certainly an appropriate time to make crafts for Christmas. Mrs. Ball explains that it would certainly be possible to write an entire book on crafts for Christmas, but that here she is providing only a sampling. Some projects you'll find include: Luminarias (a variation on the paper bag variety that are safer, longer lasting and more intricate), a special Christmas tree filled with Christian symbols, German Cookie Ornaments, Ukranian Straw Ornaments, Crochet-Edged photo ornaments, Lacy Snowflakes, Potpourri Pie, Photo Earrings, and Christmas Card Sachets. Where appropriate, the author explain the religious background or significance of projects and each project includes detailed instructions and a black and white photo.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

This book was donated for review by St. Gabriel Gift and Book Nook

Review Date: 
11-9-2000
Reviewed by: 
Alicia Van Hecke

Celebrating the Faith in the Home

Advent and Christmas for the Christian Family
Book cover: 'Celebrating the Faith in the Home: Advent and Christmas for the Christian Family'
Author(s): 
Teresa Zepeda
Laurie Navar Gill
Copyright: 
1992
Publisher: 
Gilhaus Communications
Binding: 
Comb-bound
Number of pages: 
119 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This book contains ideas, history, personal anecdotes, traditional prayers, instructions, etc. for incorporating religious traditions into your family's celebration of Advent and Christmas. Using just one or two of the ideas listed in this book will make this season much more meaningful for you and your family. Some of the traditions which are explained include: the Advent Wreath, the Christ Candle, the Advent Calendar, the Jesse Tree, Advent Paper Chains, Kris Kringle, Letter to the Christ Child, Christmas Wheat, Christmas Creche, Christmas Baking, Advent Songs, Spiritual Reading, Christmas Cards, the Christmas Novena and Advent Feasts. Also includes ideas for celebrating Christmas Day and the feasts immediately following Christmas - St. Stephen's Day, St. John's Day, Holy Innocents Day, St. Thomas Becket, the Feast of the Holy Family, New Year's, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Feast of the Epiphany, the Baptism of Our Lord and Candlemas. The ideas are simple, the layout very easy to follow and the activities are especially for larger families with small children.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 
Alicia Van Hecke

Christmas Turtles

Author(s): 
Sara Ann Denson
Copyright: 
2006
Publisher: 
Purple Sky Publishing
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This is a simple, charming and true story, from the author's own childhood, of a grandmother and her four grandchildren, for whom she makes Christmas Turtles each year with the pecans from her own yard.

The children discover the real "magic" that goes into making these favorite treats and how very much their grandmother really loves them. A recipe for the turtles is included in the back!

The layout of the pages is unusual. The typeface is quite large and the illustrations look like they were drawn by the narrator, the author as a young girl. My son complained about the faces at first, but once I read it aloud to all of my "middles" (ages 4-11), they all REALLY loved it and especially can't wait to make some turtles themselves.

The book came into our lives at a perfect time, when we're trying to move toward more homemade gifts for Christmas and for making more time during the busy holidays to do things like baking with the children.

Available from your local bookstore.

Review Date: 
11-30-06
Reviewed by: 
Alicia Van Hecke

How to Celebrate Christmas as a Catholic

Book cover: 'How to Celebrate Christmas as a Catholic'
Author(s): 
Amy Welborn
Copyright: 
2005
Publisher: 
Our Sunday Visitor
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This nice pamphlet is a simple introduction to Catholic customs and keeping Advent and Christmas meaningful and holy. The Advent segment overviews traditions such as the Advent Wreath, Jesse Tree and Advent Calendar and makes suggestions for remember the great Marian feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe. There are brief explanations of the symbolism and history of some of these customs as well as relevant tidbits. The Christmas segment covers Christmas Mass, the Nativity Scene, Christmas Trees, Candles, Exchanging Gifts and Sharing a Feast, helping readers understand the religious significance and importance of each. The pamphlet concludes with a "Christmas Season" segment which includes the Solemity of Mary, the Mother of God; the Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord.

This inexpensive booklet ($12.95 for 50) is a good start for those wishing to better understand Catholic customs and a holy celebration of Christmas. You would need to do further research to implement some of the customs in your home, but the information is readily available on the Internet and elsewhere.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

full color pamphlet

Review Date: 
11-29-05
Reviewed by: 
Alicia Van Hecke

Jesse Tree Ornament Kit from Illuminated Ink

Publisher: 
Illuminated Ink
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Jesse Tree Ornament Kit comes with 12 ready-to-assemble, 3-dimensional ornaments on card stock, instructions, Bible verses to find the corresponding story to each ornament, string, and sequins. Each finished ornament is approximately 3” x 3” x 2.” They also sell a wooden tree ornament that requires some assembly to display the ornaments on.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
5-2-2006
Reviewed by: 
Elizabeth Yank

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