My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J. Illustrations by Caryll Houselander (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
Original Title: A Retreat with Saint Ignatius: In Pictures for Children
Finished: Mar. 6, 2012
First Published: 1936, Sheed & Ward
This Edition: 1997, Sophia Institute Press
Genre: Catholic, Christian, children, devotions, doctrines
Note about the modern edition: "This 1997 edition contains slight editorial revisions to remove anachronisms and correct infelicities in style."
First sentence: "The young boy at the bottom of the picture is supposed to be just made, or created, by God; that is why two lines come down from God's hands onto his head."
Publisher's Summary: "My Path to Heaven is an old-fashioned "retreat-in-a-book" that helps Catholic children, ages 9-12, ponder the truths of the Faith and calls them to live lives of holiness in accordance with those truths."
Acquired: Purchased a new copy from an online retailer.
Reason for Reading: We always start our homeschool time together with God. First using something for study, then reading a story or passage from the Bible. I just happened to stumble upon this book online and after looking at the sample pages was extremely excited about using it with my son as a catechises/devotional.
This book is utterly amazing and I highly recommend it. I do not have the theological background to do justice to it by trying to explain it to you and anything I do say about it will only be a small portion of just how beautiful and spiritually captivating and instructional it really is. This is a twelve lesson course and we did one lesson a school week, thus with the occasional week off it took us just over 3 months to complete. During that period of time, my son's knowledge of God & Jesus has blossomed and intensified. He has formed from a childish knowledge of his faith to a more mature and personal devotion to the Lord which gradually became evident throughout the study of these lessons. He understands concepts he never quite got before. He knows what Love and Hope are, he knows who to pray for, he appreciates the glory of the sacraments and the importance of the Holy Eucharist with a true heart of someone who cannot live without the food the Lord provides for our souls. He speaks of the Lord with knowledge and truth. He has reached a new stage in his religious life and I am so thankful to this book which engaged him on all levels.
Briefly how the book works. Each lesson is the same. We start off with an illustrated picture and these are incredibly intricate and detailed pictures which one is asked to study the first day. The picture also has a caption to go along with it to help your thought process.
The second day one is to read the accompanying text for the lesson which run two to three pages, usually three. These lessons are written to the children, in an old-fashioned voice, remember the book was originally written in the 1930s, but it is never condescending or babyish (the modern editing may have had a bit to do with this perhaps). It explains theological concepts and Church dogmas so simply, even a youngster listening in could comprehend. The theology is not watered down though in anyway. The Truth is told here. There is a Heaven and a Hell and it is up to you where you will go. God sends no one to Hell. He gave us free will and we make the choice to go there on our own by the way we choose to live our lives and the lessons in this book each touch on a subject and show one how to strive for holiness, remembering that we have a forgiving God. That while the Devil will tempt us with snares, God will show mercy and patience as long as we return to him and keep striving for that holiness through which this book shows children how to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.
The lessons suggests spending more than one day reading the lesson. Then finally there is a list of anywhere from 10 to 20 "yes" or "no" questions at the end of each lesson to catechize the student/reader to obtain there understanding of the material covered. Interestingly, there are no answers. Just an accumulation of the yeses and noes such as Answer: 14: Yes, 6: No. This makes the Instructor/leader have to pay attention as well. I will say these lessons brought about some amazing discussions between ds and I. He is 11 and autistic, he discussed throughout the lessons about the topics and we even got way off topic and he had me answering questions about morality, ethics, what about the people who don't believe, abortion, what do we do with bad guy killers and a whole bunch of other stuff. He's a very intelligent kid when it comes to this stuff and his lack of verbalizing in the usual way most of the time, makes it very thrilling to have these conversations with him when he takes the lead. I highly recommend this book for individual or small group settings such as homeschool Sunday School.