Monday, April 30, 2007

Review: Memorize the Faith!

Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anythting Else): Using the Methods of the Great Catholic medieval Memory Masters by Kevin Vost
2006, Sophia Institute Press, 271 pages, paperback

Reviewed by Ana Braga-Henebry, M. A.

This is neither a textbook nor a homeschool book, yet it could very well serve as basis for a religion curriculum for a year! The author, Kevin Vost Psy. D., teaches not only a time-proved, centuries old method of memorization, he also guides readers step by step through memorizing the major tenets of the Faith.

The book has the usual uncluttered, crisp Sophia Press lay-out, and is divided into 5 major parts. Part 1 introduces the method and explains how it works, in a language accessible to an average reader. Parts 2 and 3 include step-by-step guides to memorizing lists from Sacraments and Commandments to Beatitudes, to works of Mercy, Holy Days of Obligation and even the Six Sins against the Holy Spirit. Part 4 goes further into memorization of important basics of our faith, covering all of the books of Bible, the Twenty-One centuries of Church History, virtues, sins, and the list goes on. Truly impressive! Along with these five major parts, there are twenty-nine Memory Master Tips and Facts gray blurbs throughout the book that are informative and interesting as well.

From the publisher:

" (...) over 700 years ago, St. Thomas Aquinas perfected an easy method for his students to memorize most any information, but especially the truths taught by Christ and His Church. As the years passed, our need for this ancient art of memorization grew, yet somehow our culture largely forgot it . . . which is why today, when you and I try to remember a list of things, we have to repeat their names over and over. (...) Now, thanks to the delightful pages of Memorize the Faith!, you can easily keep all these in mind — and learn the Faith! — by tapping into the power of the classical memory system that helped St. Thomas become the Church’s preeminent theologian, and made it easier for him to become one of its greatest saints. (...) By the time you finish this book, you will have memorized dozens of key teachings of the Church, along with hundreds of precepts, traditions, theological terms, Scripture verses, and other elements of the Faith that every good Catholic needs to know by heart."

The best as far as homeschoolers are concerned is the fifth part, entitled "Application for all ages". Here the author addresses exactly the business of how to use the book for children and young adults, and more. Under specific homeschool use he suggests using the method for test prep--such as SAT, ACT, etc., and as and aid to good public speaking.

This book would also lend itself well, I think, to an extra-curricular club activity of middle/high school students, perhaps under the name "Aquinas Mnemonics Club". As the the author states, the ages that would be best suited to learn and use this method would be upper elementary and High School. If they would meet once weekly with the energy and camaraderie typical of that age, I bet they'd have the content of all of these chapters under their belts (or in their minds) in one year!

Available at Stella Maris and Adoremus Books.

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