Reading Comprehension: Stories of the Saints, Volume 3

Elaine Woodfield
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Stapled Softcover
Number of pages: 
109 pages

This book contains four in-depth saint stories (approximately 25 pages each): St. Edith Stein, Blessed Gianna Molla, Blessed Father Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R and Blessed Junipero Serra. The stories are very nicely told, with all the interesting tidbits that people love to read about. Mrs. Woodfield likes to catch the reader's attention by starting out at a particularly interesting part of the story and "leave you hanging" while she goes back to the childhood and upbringing of the saint (or blessed) in question. These are great stories, and the first two in particular are enhanced by a number of black and white photographs.

Saint Edith Stein (1891-1942) was a German Jew-turned-atheist who converted to the Catholic faith in 1922. In 1933 she entered the Carmelite Convent in Cologne Germany, but later was moved to Holland because of the danger from the Nazis. In 1942, Dutch Catholic Bishops spoke against the Nazis treatment of the Jews. The Nazis took revenge by rounding up Catholics of Jewish ancestry and sending them to concentration camps. Saint Edith Stein died at Auschwitz in August of 1942.

Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1961) was an Italian doctor and mother of three children when she learned she was expecting her fourth child. It was discovered that a large tumor was growing in her womb during pregnancy. This required surgery but posed several options: 1. remove the tumor and the womb, ending the life of the unborn child (the "safest" option for Gianna herself), 2. remove the tumor and the unborn baby (without removing the womb - allowing possible future pregnancies, but still ending the life of the child), 3. remove the tumor, but allow the baby to come to full term and live (posing the danger of complications during childbirth because of the surgery). Gianna chose the third option.

Blessed Father Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R. (1819-1867) was a Bavarian-born Redemptorist priest who faithfully served as a parish priest, pastor, and seminary instructor in various parts of the United States. While in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (with St. John Neumann as a superior), he contended with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings while ministering to his parishioners, teaching catechism and providing a worthy example to many. He also worked in Maryland and Louisiana. This story would make an interesting Catholic addition to the study of American History.

Blessed Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784) is the well known Franciscan priest who founded the California missions - Catholic centers of evangelization, worship, education and protection for the local natives of California.

Saint stories are the ultimate antidote to modern culture. Average Americans today are bombarded with television commercials which not only try to persuade them to buy particular things, but generally help them to develop the mindset that material things will make them happy. Saint stories are about happiness too. They show us that a certainly earthly happiness (and true happiness in the long run) can come from living according to an idea that is very foreign to modern culture. Material goods are never truly satisfying. They only create a desire for more. A love for God and a life of service toward others, while more challenging, is also much more rewarding.

This book is recommended for seventh grade, but could be read aloud to younger children and would be suitable for high school and adult levels as well. Each story includes a very extensive section of Lesson Activities from which comprehension questions, vocabulary and a wealth of other projects and exercises can be chosen to reinforce the story and develop comprehension skills. A complete answer key is provided in the back of the book.

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