Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Classic Comes Back in Print

The Year and Our Children
By Mary Reed Newland

Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 978-1-933184-27-2
Softcover, 328 Pages

Originally published in the 1950s, The Year and Our Children has been the gold standard by which all other liturgical year activity books are measured. And now, Sophia Institute Press has brought this beloved gem back into print. Those of us with old dog-eared and grease stained copies, and all those who coveted those well-worn editions, thrill at the news of widespread availability of this treasure. I think I was trembling on the phone when I ordered my new copy.

This new edition is larger and easier to read than the original, and the editors at Sophia Institute Press have removed some of the more outdated information and inserted quite a few helpful footnotes. Mrs. Newland proceeds through the year, beginning at the beginning of the Church’s year in Advent and ending with All Souls and Thanksgiving. For each major feast, she describes family activities, prayers, and traditions and explains the origins of the observation of these feast days. She also explains some of the more mysterious or unknown observances, such as Rogation and ember days, and shows in each case how the family can participate in the observances in the home. I especially appreciate her treatment of All Hallows Eve, reclaiming it as a Catholic holiday.

These are more than just craft ideas or ways to decorate the home for the different holidays (though that is included); these are substantial Christian exercises to make the life of the Church real in our families. So for example, when we decorate the Christmas tree, after spending much time making significant and beautiful ornaments, there is a lovely blessing for the tree: a Psalm prayed as a group alternating lines with a reading from Ezekiel.

While the Christmas and Epiphany sections are among my favorites there are wonderful ideas in every part of the book and much to meditate upon as we move through the year of the Church. One line from the section on Lent has always stuck with me. It is so simple, simple enough for children, and yet deep enough to reflect upon all of Lent: For Him to redeem us was not an easy thing. Jesus hurt.

This book would be a thoughtful and much appreciated gift for any family who wants to enhance their participation in the year of the Church and create traditions their children will love. It would be kept for years . . . and become a well loved, dog-eared, and grease stained treasure.

Available from
or any Catholic bookstore

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