Living the Faith

100 Activities Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Book cover: '100 Activities Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church'
Author(s): 
Ellen Rossini
Copyright: 
1996
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
121 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This book is first divided into three categories based on age or grade level (Primary - grades 1-3; Intermediate - grades 3-5; and Advanced - grades 6-8). Each of these is subdivided into four segments based on the major parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  • "The Profession of Faith"
  • "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery"
  • "Life in Christ"
  • "Christian Prayer"

Each of these 12 sections offer as many as 25 activities, puzzles, games, skits, essays etc. All worksheets are reproducible. An excellent and cost-effective supplement to your religion curriculum.

The format is particularly nice for homeschoolers since children at different grade levels can be studying complementary materials.

A complete answer key is included in the back of the book.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1-3-05
Reviewed by: 

Chats With God's Little Ones

Book cover: 'Chats With God's Little Ones'
Author(s): 
Mrs. Margaret Mary Myers
Copyright: 
2000
Publisher: 
Lepanto Press
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
94 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Chats With God's Little Ones is a unique Catholic religion course for the youngest of students from pre-kindergarten up through the second grade. Written to the teacher, the lessons are designed to be used orally with the student in a Charlotte Mason three-step style of asking the child, answering with the child, and the re-telling by the child. The lessons are presented as guided scripts for the teacher, who can personalize them and adapt them to the needs and interest of the child. In the words of the author, "I have written a step by step guide to enable you to arouse the child's interest, apply the Faith to his daily life, and convey to him your love of Jesus and Mary and of the child himself. Our chief aim, after all, is to inflame his heart with love of God and His Holy Mother, and enkindle in him the desire to please God."

Chats With God's Little Ones is a 94 page, spiral-bound book with a laminated over. The binding allows the book to lie flat so that is can be used during the lesson time with the child. At first glance, the book seems very simple; it isn't! There are 63 lessons of new material arranged into 24 chapters, in addition to 24 review lessons, one at the end of each chapter. The lessons begin with the teaching of the basic Catholic prayers and the meaning of these prayers. The lessons continue with instruction in all of the basic catechism lessons, intermixed with an introduction to Bible History. The back of the book includes simple drawings and suggestions for art projects for each of the chapters. This is a full-year religion course for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade. It is designed to also be used in the first semester of Second Grade, with sacramental preparation taking place in the second semester.

I really like this course, and I am using it both in Kindergarten as an introduction to our Faith and in First Grade, with an eye toward mastery and understanding. In our family, we tend toward a Charlotte Mason-based approach in the youngest years, and the style of this course fits in very nicely.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
8-10-01
Reviewed by: 

Christopher's Talks to Catholic Children

Author(s): 
David L. Greenstock
Copyright: 
1944
Publisher: 
Neumann Press
Binding: 
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
378 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

What a beautiful book! Do you imagine teaching the catechism to your children through stories and illustrations? This is the book to use. Christopher's Talks to Catholic Children is a book of stories for children from the youngest ages up through elementary school. Written in the first person with a friendly, gentle tone, each story is a beautifully-presented lesson in the whole of the catechism. Even better, the author has included simple line drawings in the stories that he recommends be drawn by the storyteller during the telling of the story and copied by the children to help them remember the lesson.

This edition is actually the two original books bound into one volume. Book 1 contains stories on such topics as God, the Angels, the sin of Adam and Eve, actual grace, the sacraments, baptism, confirmation, the resurrection and the ascension. Book 2 continues with lessons on the other sacraments, the communion of saints, the Holy Souls, the Mass, and each of the commandments, in terms that can be easily understood by children. There is one section after Book 1 titled "For Grown-ups Only" that gives many teaching hints and notes on the lessons for points that may be confusing to children. The section at the end of Book 2 gives specific guidance for the preparation of children for First Penance and First Communion.

I'm delighted to have found this book! It is a wonderful addition to our religion classes and should have a place in every Catholic home. It could be used profitably in homeschools of every description. My only regret is that this book was published in softcover only. It is printed on high-quality, easy-on-the-eyes off-white paper in the style of the books produced by Ignatius Press. I can foresee a lot of wear on the cover when the book is used with several successive children, and I would prefer a hardbound book to keep for the next generation.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Did Adam and Eve have Belly Buttons?

Book cover: 'Did Adam and Eve have Belly Buttons?'
Author(s): 
Matthew J. Pinto
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Ascension Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
270 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Not just a catchy title, "Did Adam & Eve have Belly Buttons?" is an actual question posed by an eighteen-year-old boy. In fact, the whole book is organized around questions from teenagers about the faith. To make it easier to follow, the author has grouped them into twelve categories: God, Creation and Man, Religion and the Bible, Jesus Christ, Catholic Morality, etc.

Because of the layout of the book, the reader can either work his or her way through the book from front to back, or pick and choose topics of interest to him or her. For quick reference to find a particular question, there is also a topic/question index at the back of the book. With a total of 200 hundred questions, there are plenty to choose from! The revised edition includes over 800 Catechism and 500 Bible references to the same questions as in the original edition. At the end of the book, in addition to the index of questions, there is also a guide to confession, an examination of conscience, a list of resources, and a bibliography.

Some questions might be found in a Catechism, such as "What is hell?" Many, however, because they are posed by modern teenagers, are anything-but-typical... such as "Is it okay for Catholics to listen to non-Christian music?" In a way, the book is written by teenagers, and therefore should appeal to them. Although the answers are written in an easy to understand language, they are not watered down or silly, but serious, solid, and thought provoking.

Because of the nature of some of the questions concerning sex (there are just a small handful) I would not hand this book over to just any teen (remembering that these can range from 13 to 19 year olds). Since circumstances vary from family to family, the parents should take into account the maturity of the child, how they spend their time, and what kind of school or work they attend. Straightforward, honest and Catholic, the answers do not in any way arouse sexual curiosity. For example, in answer to a question about premarital sex, the author lists seventeen reasons to save sex for marriage.

Most of the questions in the book even a pre-teen could benefit from, such as "What is the difference between Catholic and Christian?"

While a young person may not pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church voluntarily, he or she might be intrigued by the catchy title and want to read more and in the process enrich their faith.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1-3-05
Reviewed by: 

Fit for Eternal Life

A Christian Approach to Working Out, Eating Right, and Building the Virtues of Fitness in Your Soul
Book cover: 'Fit for Life'
Author(s): 
Kevin Vost, Psy. D.
Copyright: 
2007
Publisher: 
Sophia Institute Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
229 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

With an eye-popping cover that is sure to catch your attention, Fit for Eternal Life is not your typical, Catholic fare. Blending spiritual fitness with physical fitness and eating right, Fit for Eternal Life offers a balanced, Christian approach to a healthy lifestyle.

With a background in weightlifting and fitness training, Kevin Vost, Psy. D. shares his expertise, giving common sense answers to cardiovascular workouts, dieting, and strength and endurance training. Fit for Eternal Life blends spiritual fitness with a Christian approach to physical fitness, “a theology of the bodybuilder.”

For those of us who would rather curl up with a book, than jog around the block or lift weights, Vost hopes to encourage us to see the importance of caring for our bodies as much as our souls. He wants to remind us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and if we treat them well, we will feel better, achieve more in all areas of our life, and live longer.

Quoting Pope John Paul II and Pope Piux XII, he hopes we will see the value of proper and orderly exercise. “There is a need to find free time in order to exercise strength and dexterity, endurance, and harmonious movement, so as to attain or guarantee that physical efficiency necessary to man’s overall equilibrium” (Pope John Paul II).

This book would especially appeal to those interested in fitness training, specifically weightlifting, aerobic exercise, and a balanced diet, yet reaches out to a wider audience. In fact, it might be a sneaky way of exposing a weak Catholic to the importance of living a virtuous life as he learns to do better bench presses.

You won’t find any grapefruit diets or pleas to buy his super vitamins, because he doesn’t sell any. Vost does share plenty of tips on the HIT (high intensity training) methods, offers sample weekly workouts, and explains how to get the results you want. He gives lots of specific advice to encourage everyone to gain maximum strength with the minimum amount of time, yet seek a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I especially like the section that acknowledges that yard and house work are actually aerobic exercise.

Logically laid out, the book takes you step by step through the process of finding a fitness program that works for you. Building on virtue and not sheer will power, Vost knows most good intentions fall easily by the wayside if not established on the proper foundation. To encourage and motivate you along the way, each chapter and section begins with quotes from a variety of sources, St. Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Xenophon, and others. For women, older people, and teens, Vost includes additional advice, so that they too can tailor the program to fit their specific needs.

To keep the reader going, especially those who might not normally spend time reading, the chapters are short and easy to breeze through. His pleasant, engaging voice gives an informal, confidential tone as though he is there for you as your personal fitness coach.

Even though the cover displays a rather brawny bicep, the focus is not to imitate the false images of the world, obsessed with physical beauty, but to lead a balanced, healthy lifestyle for the right reasons. If you are wondering where to begin a sensible, Christian approach to health and fitness, Fit for Eternal Life may be the ticket for you.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
9-25-2008
Reviewed by: 

here.now. a catholic guide to the good life

Book cover: 'here.now. a catholic guide to the good life'
Author(s): 
Amy Welborn
Copyright: 
2005
Publisher: 
Our Sunday Visitor
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
128 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

The world claims to have the answers, but what are they? Please yourself, answer to no one, claim your truth, reject any close-minded or intolerant positions, be tolerant and diverse and accepting of other truths, whatever they are, except it they are intolerant.

If these are the answers, what are the questions?

When young people ask themselves:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want out of life?
  • Why is everything so complicated?
  • Where will I find true happiness? and
  • How do I choose right from wrong in a world filled with so many different answers?

they want the truth, even if it is challenging.

Amy Welborn has written here.now. as a guide book for today's young people, Catholic and Christian. Welborn's style is light, breezy, funny and pointed: the truth is found in the Catholic Church, and if you don't understand why, it's simple: Because Jesus told us so.

She continuously rejects answers such as, "because there is a rule that says..." or "because the Church said so." Welborn reminds us that it's not about "have to" (as in "I have to go to Mass today", or "will I have to confess this sin?") She continues to bring us back to the thought that if we want to have a relationship with God, we can do it best by getting to know His Son, Jesus, and we figure out Jesus best by reading the Bible, going to Church, and receiving the sacraments. It's that simple.

I was prepared to find this book too simplistic, too small. It is a very thin book, only 118 pages with short paragraphs and an easy-to-read type face. However, I found myself totally absorbed in it, able to quickly understand it, and even came away from it with some easier ways to talk about the faith with my relatives and friends.

I think this book would be good for older teens ("mature" 14 or 15 and up, due to the chapter on morals) and young adults to read as an overview of our faith.

This would be a great gift for a confirmand, a fallen-away Catholic, a lukewarm relative, or any person who needs to figure out how to be a mature, adult Catholic in this Church. It is perfect for anyone who might not read something more in depth. I think this book serves a great purpose in being a short and brief but thorough description of the good life: life as a Catholic in full communion with Jesus though his church.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
10-29-05

Letters to a Young Catholic

Book cover: 'Letters to a Young Catholic'
Author(s): 
George Weigel
Copyright: 
2004
Publisher: 
Basic Books
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
208 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

In this small bok, author George Weigel takes us on a journey around the Catholic world, both literally and figuratively. Weigel had the idea to present each different aspect he wanted to discuss with young adult Catholics (and any adult interested in learning a little more about the Faith) by taking his book reading companions on a journey to several noted Catholic destinations, such as Chartres Cathedral in France, the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and various destinations in Poland and America. At each location, Weigel stops to discuss some aspect of Catholic Christianity with his reader.

Weigel begins by telling the reader a little bit about his own upbringing as a Catholic boy in Baltimore. He spends a chapter talking about an energetic parish in South Carolina, and why the pastor, a convert, has succeeded in making the parish dynamically orthodox. Weigel spends time in England with G.K. Chesterton, another convert, and uses a number of Chestertonian quotes to talk about the faith. Flannery O'Connor, too, emerges as one of Weigel's favorite authors, and her quotes are funny, pithy, and speak to the heart.

The author's discussion of redemptive suffering, Theology of the Body, the use of icons and much, much more, make this a book I recommend to all young, and not-so-young Catholics.

You can read a chapter from the book at the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Also available in softcover published by Perseus

originally appeared in Heart and Mind Magazine, Spring 2005 - used with permission

Review Date: 
2005