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"Children have not been given to parents as a present, which they may dispose of as they please,
but as a trust, for which, if lost through their negligence, they must render an account to God.”

~ Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

 

The Power of a Good Book

All the buzz and commotion of technology seeks to stifle its ancient predecessor: the book. The empty chair in the library is producing increasingly more empty minds and the world is not a better place for it.

It is imperative for parents to fight the gadget “culture” and provide ways for their children to read real books rather than iPhones. Please find below some benefits, book suggestions and practical tips.

 

Benefits:

1)   Bonding time:  Reading to your child makes you bond with him, and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being. Added bonus: Reading will bring calm to both you and your child!

2)   Recipe for success:  Many studies show that students who love learning and do well in school were exposed to reading before preschool.

3)   Makes them smarter:  A study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in January 2013 concluded that “reading to a child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over 6 points.”

4)   Parents Rule:  You have better control over what they are reading. With electronic devices your supervision is greatly reduced and often nonexistent.

5)   Spell it out:  Perhaps the best strategy for improving spelling is to encourage a student to read more. Simply having the words in front of them, absorbed as a story is unfolding from the pages, will instill an instinct in them that is bound to improve spelling, as well as increase vocabulary.

 

Book Suggestions:

 

Children 0-6 (being read to)

  • Andy and the Lion, by James Daugherty
  • Angel Food for Boys and Girls, by Fr. Gerald T. Brennen
  • Beatrix Potter’s books
  • Catholic Children’s Treasure Box
  • Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson (Grimm’s not recommended)
  • Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: The Happy Prince, by Oscar Wilde & P. Craig Russell
  • Fritz and the Beautiful Horses, by Jan Brett
  • Going His Way, Fr. Gerald T. Brennen
  • Is Your Mama a Llama? By Deborah Guarino
  • Jacinta’s Story, by Andrea Phillips
  • Pelusa: A Marvelous Tale, by Fr. Louis Coloma and Andrea Phillips
  • Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale, by Martin Waddell
  • St. Jerome and the Lion, Retold by Margaret Hodges
  • The Clown of God, by Tomie de Paola
  • The Donkey’s Dream, by Barbara Helen Berger
  • The Man Who Forgot God, by Fr. Gerald T. Brennen; click here for your free download!
  • The Mitten, by Jan Brett
  • The Swamp King's Daughter - Creative Character Building Series (Study Key Included), by H. C. Anderson
  • Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne (the original; no phony rip-offs!)

 

Children 7-12

  • The following titles can be found at www.ANF.org/Table/Christian-Life/Family-Series/:
    --The Wreath of the Queen; The Weight of the Holy Cross; The Deer Hunter; The Three Pearls ; The Little Juggler of Our Lady; A Dog Named Grigio; The Little Barrel; and many others.
  • A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond
  • Billy and Blaze series, by C.W. Anderson
  • Father Francis Finn, books written by. Here are just a few titles to get you started:
    --Tom Playfair; Percy Wynn; Harry Dee; Lord Bountiful and The Fairy of the Snows
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, by Margaret Sidney
  • Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
  • Lassie Come Home, by Eric Knight
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard Atwater
  • St. George and the Dragon, retold by Margaret Hodges
  • The Adventures of TinTin series, by Herge’
  • The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Hidden Treasure of Glastonbury, The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, by Father John Gerard
  • The Little House on the Prairie Series, by Laura Ingles Wilder
  • The Magic Tree House Series, by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook, by Joyce Lankester Brisley
  • The Weight of a Mass, by Josephine Nabisso
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Wonder Clock, by Howard Pyle

 

Children 13-18+

  • An American Knight, by Norman Fulkerson
  • Captain’s Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling
  • Cheaper by the Dozen, by Gilbreth, Frank B. Jr. and Ernestine
  • Chivalry, by Leon Goutier
  • Damien of Molokai, by May Quinlan
  • Fabiola, by Cardinal Wiseman
  • Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle
  • Our Lady of Fatima, by William Thomas Walsh
  • Pilgrimage & Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai, by Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
  • Plinio, by Andrea F. Phillips
  • Priest on Horseback, by Eva K. Betz
  • St. Patrick’s Summer, by Marigold Hunt
  • Sun Slower, Sun Faster, by Meriol Trevor (all of her books are recommended)
  • Story of a Soul, by St. Terese of Lisieux
  • The Great Seige of Malta, by Ernle Bradford
  • The Last Crusader, by William Thomas Walsh (any book by William Thomas Walsh is recommended)
  • The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and León, Saint Ferdinand III, by Sr. Maria del Carmen Fernández de Castro Cabeza, A.C.J
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • The Outlaws of Ravenhurst, by Sr. Imelda Wallace, S.L.
  • The Story of Rolph and the Viking Bow, by Allen French (any of Allen French’s books are recommended)
  • The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
  • The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
  • To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiegne Guillotined July 17, 1794 by William Bush
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (anything written by this author is recommended)
  • Tyborne and the Gem of Christendom, by Mother Mary Magdalen Taylor


Practical Tips:*

1)  Install a book shelf in a well-frequented place in the home.

2)  Fill the book shelf with a large variety of good books that the children will be attracted to (refer to list above).

3)  Install a bulletin board in your home, print out good stories (see examples above to be found at ANF.ORG) and pin them to the board. Your children may surprise you and end up taking one to their room to read!

4)  Begin a “Family Book Club” where you meet once every month and share what you have read. Include food at your “club meetings” to encourage participation and make it fun—not just another family chore! 

 

As Catholics, we are the “light of the world.” (Matt 5:14) Let’s illuminate the minds of the young through what has always worked in the past: The Power of a Good Book.

 


*It is not necessary for you to employ all of these tips; simply try one and see how it works!

 

 

 

DAILY QUOTE for November 21, 2017

Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are alway...

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November 21

 

Make friends with the angels, who though
invisible are always with you.
Often invoke them,
constantly praise them, and make good use
of their help and assistance
in all your
temporal and spiritual affairs.


St. Francis de Sales


Why, O Sorrowful Mother, do you weep SO bitterly?

SAINT OF THE DAY

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

Mary asked if she might have the honor to be the servant of...

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The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

On the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, we celebrate the fact that Our Lady’s parents brought her to the Temple at the age of three and handed her over to live there for a long period as a consecrated virgin where she might exclusively contemplate God.

There is a special beauty to this feast since it highlights the fact that Our Lady was chosen even before time began. She is called the root of Jesse (Isaiah, 11:1) from which Our Lord Jesus Christ would be born. She is introduced to the synagogue, the institution in charge of keeping this promise. Thus, the synagogue receives Our Lady as a first step. In this act, the hopes of ages would soon be fulfilled.

Our Lady, a supremely holy soul, is received in the Temple and entered into the service of God. Despite the corruption of the nation of Israel and the transformation of the Temple into a den of the Pharisees, an incomparable light appeared: the sanctity of Our Lady.

Unknowingly, Our Lady began to prepare herself to become the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In an atmosphere of grace in the Temple, she was set apart from everyone in order to serve God. She increased her love of God until she formed the ardent desire for the imminent coming of the Messiah and asked God if she might have the honor to be the servant of His Mother. She did not know that she was the one chosen for this honor. That is why she was perplexed when the Archangel Gabriel greeted her to ask her permission for the Incarnation.

Our Lady’s magnificent preparation to be the Mother of Jesus Christ began with her Presentation in the Temple, a feast the Church celebrates on November 21. It is fitting that we ask Our Lady to prepare us with the best of Catholic doctrine to serve God by serving her. We should present ourselves before Our Lady, asking her to assist us in taking up the task of our sanctification, as the Holy Ghost did with her in the Temple of Jerusalem.

WEEKLY STORY

The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

Click here to Order your free Miraculous Medal and Novena

Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

Click here to Order your free Miraculous Medal and Novena

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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