On Barb’s Bookshelf: Ways to Keep Teens’ Faith Alive

Keeping Teens' Faith Alive

When you’ve invested over a decade in raising your child, you discover that as he enters his teen years, the way you need to nurture his faith changes drastically. This is the time when your child needs to begin to take over his own faith development, but it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — or unnecessary.

Ignatius Press has released two books to help parents and teens in this stage: The Light Entrusted to You, for parents, and Humility Rules, for teens (though parents shouldn’t skip this one).

light entrusted to you

John R. Wood’s The Light Entrusted to You: Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive is a parent-to-parent guide to help you share Catholicism with your family by living Catholicism with your family. The author is not a theologian or professor: he’s an eye doctor and a parent who loves his children and his faith. The chapters are cleverly titled to form the acronym “SAINTS,” and the topics covered range from saints to Scripture to sports (yes, sports). A more-detailed table of contents or an index would be helpful in this book, but the information in the book is solid and Wood’s delivery is engaging.

Christ is our model. After His baptism He does not go to the beach to drink a piña colada. He goes to the desert to fast and do battle with the devil (see Mt 4). We must follow His lead and also teach our children to “do battle”. Much of our time parenting is simply training our children to overcome concupiscence, the tendency to do wrong because of original sin. It should be obvious that children often desire to do and have things that are not good for them. Imagine if we simply let our children do everything they wanted to do. They would probably end up either dead or in prison very early in life. We strive to teach them to live lives of virtue, and we all know it is a long journey that each of us continues his entire life. (25)

From the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to the great cathedrals to a synopsis of Old Testament events, Wood invites readers to dive deep into the deposit of the faith and nurture their own souls so that they can inspire their children.

humility rules

While you’re reading Wood’s book, hand Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem to your teen or college student. Author J. Augustine Wetta, OSB, does not talk down to teens, but rather challenges them to engage with their faith as they grow in virtue. Self-esteem might seem like a dated buzzword, but Wetta demonstrates how it’s important, even virtuous, for teens to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Genuine self-esteem is a form of holiness, and holiness, in Saint Benedict’s eyes, is not about self-love but self-abandonment. In fact, the whole idea of holding yourself in high esteem would sound ridiculous to him. It would defeat the very purpose of the Christian life, which is to empty one’s self in order to make room for God’s grace. (18-19)

Wetta distills, from the Rule of Saint Benedict, 12 steps along the ladder of humility, and challenges his readers to climb that ladder.

Humility Rules would make an excellent Confirmation or graduation gift.

Barb's Book shelf blog title


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This article contains Amazon affiliate links.
I received review copies of these books, but no compensation, for my review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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On Barb’s Bookshelf: Pope Francis Takes the Bus

What’s Pope Francis really like? You’ve heard bits and pieces in news stories about him paying his own hotel bill, riding the bus around Buenos Aires and forgoing a plush Papal apartment in favor of a life in community. Italian journalist Rosario Carello has put together eighty vignettes from the life of Pope Francis in a book that will help readers get to know the Pope in his new book, Pope Francis Takes the Bus.

pope francis takes the bus

The title of this book might make you think it was written for children. (Or maybe I’ve spent too much time reading Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! with the first-graders.) This impression is carried even further when you see that the table of contents is arranged alphabetically, like an ABC picture book: “F is for…Francis.” While the stories themselves can be easily understood by children, the vocabulary used in this book will challenge readers below the middle-school level. If your children are younger, consider reading it yourself and simplifying the word choice as you share the stories with your children. The stories are wonderful, and many of them involve children, so your younger family members will certainly enjoy hearing them.

This book centers on the Pope’s humility as his distinguishing trait. The anecdotes in the book are all designed to demonstrate that the Pope deliberately chooses to live that virtue.

I do think that there is a danger, in writing a biography of a Church figure, to canonize a person while he is still alive. Carello walks that fine line in this book, and that’s understandable, because he’s not out to make the Pope look bad.

If you’d like to learn about Pope Francis’ life through stories about more than just his papacy, this book is for you.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

For My Penance, I Will Slow Down

I live a life fueled by adrenalin with a side of anxiety.

In short, I don’t do “slow.”

Just ask my poor husband, who strolls, ambles, and meanders along–10 feet behind the rest of the family because apparently all the kids inherited my inability to decelerate.

I’m always looking for a way to get something done–or to get somewhere–a little faster. I don’t take the highway to Little Brother’s school because that adds half a mile and about 7 traffic lights to the trip. I can get there more quickly if I drive through the neighborhoods.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw once tweeted:

muffet mcgraw tweet

That’s pretty much how I roll too. And yesterday on my way to Mass at Little Brother’s school (so I could be there for his test-and-dose diabetic routine after Mass) I was driving pretty urgently.

As in 41 mph in a 25 zone.

By the time I saw the police SUV, it was too late. He saw me first and followed me to the school parking lot where I foolishly parked in my usual spot–in full view of half the classrooms.

Did I mention that the police officer had his lights on?

I was polite. He took my license, registration and insurance card and went off to check SCMODS* to verify that I’d never had a speeding ticket in over 30 years of driving.

The officer, mercifully, did not give me a ticket–just a warning that I need to slow down.

Honestly, the embarrassment of being pulled over right in front of the school cost me more than any speeding ticket would have.

So what was I saying Thursday about the hours in the day?

…this Lent is going to be all about letting go of–giving up–the control I want to have over the hours in my day. Resistance is futile, but acceptance is going to be hard-won…

I feel like I go through the day always putting out fires. I only get to what’s urgent, and it’s a struggle not to assign everything to the “urgent” category. Writing these words, I can feel myself clenching up inside.

I’m on a “mission from God.” So is the police officer who handed me some grace in the form of a warning.

*”State. County. Municipal. Offender. Data. System.” If you do not recognize this quote, you need to watch The Blues Brothers. Stat.