Faith-Building Books for Teens (The Book Whisperer)

Book WhispererThis week I started teaching a class to prepare a small group of teens to be confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year at St. Basil the Great Parish in Kimberton, PA. So for the next few months — through Lent — I’ve decided that “A Mother on the Road Less Traveled” will be taking a spiritual journey along with them. And what’s a journey without a few good books?

This post will include a few titles that I’m recommending for my students.

The YouCat is a resource for teenagers that will provide reliable answers to any questions about the Catholic faith that you might have. I gave my students a copy at our first meeting. If you want to learn more, you can always read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on which the YouCat is based.

The New American Bible, which is the version read at Mass. On this website you will find daily Scripture readings, which you can follow to learn  more about what God has revealed to us, the “salvation story” that covers more than four thousand years of human history, and culminates in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the reason for our hope; he created the Church while he was here on earth, and instituted the sacraments that strengthen us for the journey to heaven. The story of Jesus is found in the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). If you’ve never read the Bible on your own before, you may want to start there. It is also a good idea to follow the daily readings, which will help you to understand how to read the Old Testament in relationship to the New Testament — that’s important when you are studying the Catholic faith.

my-big-bookIf you would like to read more about the heroes of the faith in Scripture, pick up a copy of My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories. I compiled this book several years ago for Thomas Nelson Publishers. In addition to the beautiful pictures and stories, it also has Catechism references and other helpful information, and little prayers to help you apply the text to your life.

If you want to learn more about the saints, there are lots of books to help you! One I especially like is Mystics and Miracles: True Stories of Lives Touched by God, by Bert Ghezzi. You’ll find some of the better-known saints like Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, and Teresa of Avila as well as some lesser-known like Francis of Paola (who “defied gravity to move huge boulders … passed through fire and handled glowing coals unharmed”) and Gertrude the Great (to whom Jesus appeared as a sixteen-year-old boy and captured her heart).

Next week, I’ll share some of the books that helped me when I was journeying toward the Church in the winter of 1993.

Confirmation Countdown: A 10-Week Reflection

catholic-crossIn many parishes, Confirmation preparation is a one or even two-year process: weekly classes, service hours and projects, retreats and other special events. So when the DRE at my parish asked me if I’d take the RCIA teen class, and prepare five students (four high-school girls and my son) in nine weeks, I thought it was the perfect Lenten challenge.

Oh, and did I mention that we’re moving during Holy Week? So classes have to be completed the week before Easter? (The DRE will take them on the retreat during the week.) Ash Wednesday doesn’t start until March 4 this year, but our Lenten journey can’t wait … Time to get started!

In this class, I will have a set of twins, their cousin, and a best friend of one of the girls. None of them had received any formal religious preparation up to now … but each of them expressed a beautiful wish to want to be a part of the faith, as their grandparents had been. So they all want to BE there, which is going to make all the difference.

Yesterday was our first class. They received a Bible, a YouCat, a composition book, and a copy of the learning plan. The plan explained what we would be covering in class each week, and gave them a series of daily Bible readings. Each day they will read the story in the outline and write a paragraph or so in their journals about it. I’ll be doing the same here, breaking briefly for “Book Whisperer,” favorite spiritual classics, and “Fun Fridays,” which will feature some of my favorite shrines and churches here in the U.S.

Please pray for my students: Christopher and Emily and Mason and Sarah and … (rats. I’ll have to get back to you on the last one. God bless them all). And please pray for me, too!