There is a growing box of books and assorted curricular materials in the large walk-in closet that is our home library. In it, materials I have purchased but no longer use (or may have never used) are being gathered to sell or donate. For now, though, it stands as a staunch reminder not to buy, sight unseen, every good idea about which I read. Often, one person's good idea becomes my bookend. Instead, when purchasing curriculum, it is better for me to sit here one day--or maybe for several weeks-- and think to myself, "I wish there were a book that did___"
For more years than I can count, I have thought, "I wish there were an organized way to integrate the Liturgical Year, great literature, notebooking, copywork, simple crafts, and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd." Such a project was daunting. In order to pull it off, one would have to be immersed in living the Liturgical Year. One would have to spend hours researching the wealth of beautiful religious picture books available out there "somewhere." One would have to have a grasp on the concept of notebooking and a sense of how the faith is taught in a Montessori atrium. Then, one would have to make the time to put it all together in a useable format. Some of us dreamed of a such a resource. One of us did it.
When a child learns the faith within the context of the Liturgical Year, "religion" becomes a living, breathing part of the rhythm of life. It is integrated into her being as fundamentally as a heartbeat. In early December, she just knows it is Advent; that's the way it's always been. She thinks, "Our color is purple because we are waiting, preparing." She looks forward to celebrating the feasts that are nestled in among the fast. St. Nicholas, Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy--all her favorite, familiar friends are met with joy. And when she is older, she will not merely turn the calendar to the last month of the year inside a dry, secular cubicle, she will instead continue to live the richness of the first season of the Church year. And if, for some sad reason, she does not, something will seem terribly out of sync, for that will not be the normal, habitual beating of her heart from the beginning when she was a child in the Domestic Church of her parents.
When the faith is taught within the context of living books a lyrical song is sung, a beautiful image embossed upon a child's soul. Those carefully chosen books become family traditions. "This is the book we read for St. Brigid's feast; this for John Paul the Great's birthday; this for Pentecost." Children learn the stories of the saints and they develop real, living relationships with those holy men and women who cheer them from heaven and intercede on their behalf. The saints of those stories are faithful friends for small children who grow into spiritual giants and guides for well-formed adults. The books Cay has chosen are of the highest quality--living, breathing books that will infuse children and the adults who share them with the breath of the Holy Spirit.
When notebooking is introduced to the teaching of religion and academia meets theology in the context of the rhythm of the household, you have real learning. No one can tell where "school" stops and "church" begins, where "church" stops and family life begins. Instead, there is a lifestyle of learning within the heart of the Domestic Church. It is education within the bosom of the family, just as the Creator intended. Catholic Mosaic offers a plethora of ideas for organizing just such an education. It's all tied together and keyed to the calendar. We can do this! We can have an environment in our homes that is this rich and meaningful!
There will be no used copies of this resource available. Mothers who forego home education to send their children to school will hold on to this book in order to read the stories at bedtime and do the crafts on rainy Saturdays. Mothers whose children have grown and gone will pass the book to their daughters and daughters-in-law. It is a resource destined to become dog-eared and jelly smeared.
At 4Real, we've embraced this resource with great zeal. We are talking about it. We are adding more books and more ideas and we archiving the success stories. Come join us. We are piecing together a life in our homes that is reminiscent of a mosaic in a fine cathedral-- something truly rich and beautiful for our Lord.