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Some theology, spirituality, and religious education materials...

1. Good Theology is thoughts about God.
2. Good  Spirituality is guidance on the journey to God.
3. Good Religious education is about teaching about God and the journey to God.

They're not the same; they are all important.

1. Bad theology obscures the nature of God and the locus of his self-revelation. 
2. Bad spirituality makes it hard to love and trust God.
3. Bad religious education causes failures in the transmission of the message of the Gospel.
Grade School​

Maria Montessori:

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
​      This is a catechetical program for which you can become certified. It is based on Montessori, and it is the best. There is a 3-6 year level and a 6-12 level. 

The Religious Potential of the Child,  by Sophia Cavaletti 
       This volume is based on the thinking of Maria Montessori and the experience of Sophia Cavaletti, her collaborator. The most helpful insight was that for really small children, the single most touching story is the story of the Good Shepherd. They identify with the sheep. 
       Her second choice of scriptures, however, was even more surprising metaphors for our relationship with God and his life in us that he is light, that he is a candle in the heart, etc. 
       "Bible stories" all those Old Testament stories with ambiguous and confusing relationships are, as my experience confirms, very confusing for small children.


The Picture Bible by Iva Hoth is a "cartoon" version that caught my children's interest and got them familiar with the basic stories and characters. How nice to have children so you can find the resources you need to fill up the cracks in your own education! It does not, however, change what I said above. The Old Testament is a very confusing book and some of its stories are not the best way to introduce God to children.


Mary Fabyan Windeatt       
This children's author has twenty or more good saint stories, many coming back into print. 
1.  St. Benedict: Hero of the Hills The beginning of western monasticism is with this specific man. There were always hermits; there were not always monasteries. 
2.  St. Rose of Lima: The Story of the First Canonized Saint of the Americas St. Rose was an advocate of peace between the Spanish and the Indian peoples of South America. Everyone loved her.
3.  Imelda, Patron Saint of First Communicants  This is the story of Imelda Lambertini, one of the youngest of saints. 

Hugh Ross Williamson
A Children's book of Saints  See history booklist. Great man.

Joan Windham
1.  Sixty Saints for Boys 
2.  Sixty Saints for Girls 
​       Two good collections back in print.



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 
by C. S. Lewis 
       This delightful story is an effective illustration of the concept of the Atonement and a good deal else of theology. All the Chronicles of Narnia are very good. 
       The videos are different. The cartoon videos are worthless. The acted version of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was enjoyable, -- I loved the beavers -- but the rest of the videos are scary and put too much emphasis on the witchcraft.  This is becoming a serious issue.
       Disney's Lion King is an obvious attempt to steal the thunder from Aslan. The theology is very poor, as one might expect, but many still underestimate the effect on a small child's formation. Children will take this as representing a Bible story.

Religion Texts

       I have never seen a religion text that I really like; the Faith and Life series is clear and orthodox and has beautiful illustrations, but I find it stiff. 

       Use the lives of the saints and talk things over. Answer questions the best you can when you are asked, and look it up for the next time.

For more Saint biographies, go to the history page or to Love2Learn.net
Theology Booklist Links
History Page

High School and Above

The Bible
      Of course, RSV is excellent. I love the [Old] Jerusalem Bible, but not the New Jerusalem Bible. Tolkien worked on the Old Jerusalem Bible. 
    A translation called "new" means "inclusive" language is used, meaning an avoidance of the pronoun "he" either for God or for "man" in the generic sense. This linguistic imposition is always awkward and unlovely. Children can be taught that "men" means "men and women" just as "ducks" means "ducks and drakes." 
    There are many translations that help different tastes to come to love this foundational work. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church 
You must have this basic reference in your house. Learn how it is laid out, and use it.

​       _____________ 

Didache Series (high school textbooks)
    Midwest Theological Forum has composed a four-year high school religion program that is readable, wise, and beautiful.

I Introduction to Catholicism
II Understanding the Scriptures
III The History of the Church
IV Our Moral Life in Christ

​History of the Church
    Crocker’s Triumph is a complete and readable history of the Church. There’s a value in reading something that takes you from start to finish in a few days or a week. A year’s curriculum is almost bound to reach its end with its beginning out of sight. Something that takes you all the way through your topic in such a short time provides important orientation. Then it makes sense to go more slowly and deeply over the time period of choice.
     Comprehensive exams once had the function of connecting the beginning and the end, but these are out of fashion, perhaps justifiably, for being high pressure, but their positive functions need our attention.


       In a concern for historical self-consciousness and modern ideas of psychology, some recent lives of the saints make it impossible to understand why anyone cared about these people. On the other hand, some of the older ones present the saints as being highly inaccessible.
       Here are some favorites:

​Omar Englebert
    St. Francis of Assisi: a Biography 
       This biography weaves together all that is traditionally held about St. Francis into a reasonable and connected story that makes you love Francis, feel his heartbeat, and love the brothers who gathered around.

G. K. Chesterton
    St. Thomas Aquinas: the Dumb Ox
More than anyone, St. Thomas shaped western philosophy; he also wrote Panis Angelicas, and beautiful hymn of Corpus Christi.
       St. Francis of Assisi 
    This is different account of St. Francis,  another lover of God, committed to poverty at a moment when the gospel was threatened by the riches of the Church leadership. Pope Innocent saw him in a dream and knew that this was God's way of rebuilding "my Church which is falling down."

Wendy Leifeld
    Mothers of the Saints 
        This introduction to 10 mothers of saints or saints who were mothers is a sweet and encouraging piece. The saints were not all nuns! And the saints who were priests sometimes had stunning mothers.

​         ______________


Timothy Gallagher
     The Discernment of Spirits
        A standard reference manual for learning Ignition discernment, this text explains St. Ignatius' fourteen rules of discernment. Very clear and helpful.

St. John of the Cross
        The Living Flame of Love
        The Ascent of Mt. Carmel
        The Dark Night of the Soul
        These three are St. John's explanation of the experience of the soul in search of God. For a good introduction to these works, try Ian Matthews (below) but don't be afraid to read St. John himself. 

Ian Matthews
    The Impact of God
        A perfect and devout introduction to the giant of Carmelite spirituality, St. John of the Cross.

Jacques Philippe
    Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart Here is a perfect introduction to the peace of heart that allows us to know God.
    Thirsting for Prayer
    Interior Freedom
      Several other titles. A source of peace and freedom for many.

 Grade School 
On-Page Links
High School 
 On-Page Links

History Video
Picture Bible
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