Before Aquinas, Chesterton, and Hahn, Your Kids Should Read Maguire Armstrong

Before Aquinas, Chesterton, and Hahn, Your Kids Should Read Maguire Armstrong

As a toddler, my household would crowd round our eating room desk most nights, the place towards the top of mother’s meal Dad would attain onto the window sill for Little Visits with God, the place he would start to learn tales on morality from the Nineteen Fifties-published e book. 

All these years later, when my siblings collect to resurrect recollections from rising up in our bluish-gray nook colonial residence in Bowie, Maryland, Little Visits From God invariably comes up in dialog. Those nights across the desk, we every agree, have develop into cherished heirlooms of heat reminiscence. 

Here’s the best way it labored: At the top of the desk, Dad learn a brief 2-3 web page story, the place characters named Henry the Grocer, Frank the Milkman, Judy the Homemaker, and many others. got here to life by way of storylines to talk phrases of knowledge to youngsters. Thereafter, Dad labored his means across the desk to ask us three or 4 questions based mostly on the appropriate or incorrect ethical selections made by the kids featured in that story. 

All these years later, my siblings giggle on the outdated character who led a wayward, teasing, or mendacity baby to advantage – however, man, did of us like Harry the Grocer subconsciously assist to form every of us in our personal character, decision-making, and particular person paths to advantage.

But right here’s what’s even higher:  “Harry the Grocer” and “Frank the Milkman’s” life-lesson visits into our creativeness across the dinner desk helped to maintain {our relationships} with God. Each of mother’s and pop’s eight youngsters has maintained our Catholic religion. Some are every day communicants and one is a priest. Each of us prays the Rosary, regularly goes to confession, and works with diligence to steer our personal youngsters to larger intimacy with God.

So highly effective have been the recollections of these nights within the Seventies that I searched out an previous copy of Little Visits of God on Amazon. The day after it arrived on our doorstep, I started to learn the identical tales to my very own youngsters. And similarly to all these years in the past, my youngsters laughed and laughed on the outdated characters – however I additionally watched them take critically the teachings on morality and do their finest to reply my questions. 

I’m not taking area on this column to persuade you that my Dad’s studying – or my very own – of Harry the Grocer helped every of my siblings to keep up and develop of their Catholicism – however I do write to say that middle-school-aged youngsters starve as we speak to be captivated and influenced by heroic or relatable characters in books. 

The soul of the sleepy-eyed baby needs little greater than mother or dad to learn an previous bedtime story to ripple by way of their creativeness. Perhaps in these fashionable days, a King and a Queen in a far-off land, a dragon-slaying prince, and even “Harry the Grocer” received’t get it achieved – however Patti Maguire Armstrong’s Dear God, I Don’t Get It most actually will.

As a fellow Catholic writer and journalist, I’ve learn Patti’s bulldog-like reporting within the National Catholic Register and different periodicals for a number of years. I’ve discovered her writings on exorcists, human trafficking, Marian apparitions, and the thornier points within the Church to be an train in top-flight beat reporting. Because Patti takes her religion critically, she additionally writes fascinating human-interest items for laity desirous of being taken extra deeply into the multilayered tales of religion.   

Never, although, did I believe I might be studying Patti’s youngsters’s books! But on a current leisurely weekend, I started to flip by way of her 2nd editions of Dear God: I Don’t Get It and Dear God: You Can’t Be Serious. Just a few hours later I discovered that I had learn each phrase of each books. 

These two gems are Little Visits From God for 2023. They are exactly what the Catholic center college baby – maybe unwittingly – hungers for as we speak. In this seemingly rudderless youth tradition,  immorality is already starting to be mainstreamed and sacred truths pushed apart for pre-teens. Thereafter, in fact, many younger minds expertise confusion, anxiousness, and travail.

Even homeschooled youngsters or these being taught in orthodox Catholic and Christian colleges will bear the pressure of current in as we speak’s increasing ethical rudderlessness. In some trend, as we speak’s riotous youth tradition will rear up and sting even essentially the most fortified and insulated baby, whose childhood innocence is being re-written, refashioned, and redirected by the world. At public colleges in my Maryland county is a e book for Pre-Kindergartners known as Pride Puppy. The e book’s cowl is bathed in rainbow colours, with young children cheerfully waving Pride flags. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding is on the kindergarten studying listing. The cowl exhibits a person squeezing the arm of “his husband” on their marriage ceremony day. First, second, and third-graders are launched to books on transgenderism. Each e book cowl has a joyful-looking character/s. 

Why do I point out this modernist infiltration? To emphasize how badly books like Patti Maguire Armstrong’s are wanted to counteract and dam up the fixed stream of rubbish. Catholic mother and father want Patti’s books – and so do their youngsters.. 

The books are gritty, easy-to-absorb tales centered across the fictional lifetime of sixth-grader Aaron Ajax, his two brothers, and his loving mother and father. In Dear God: I Don’t Get It, Aaron’s disc-jockey father loses his job and is pressured to maneuver his household from the wilds of Montana to suburban North Dakota. Poor Aaron, who fears transferring away from a finest buddy, familiarity, and the mountainous state he has come to like, is confronted in his new hometown by a bully, a impolite woman, classroom spitballs, the embarrassment of fumbling a soccer in a schoolyard recreation, and being despatched to the principal’s workplace. All of this unfolds inside the first few days of his new life. 

This collection of calamitous occasions causes him to start to ponder severe questions: God, why have you ever deserted me? Are my prayers even heard? Why am I so lonely and misplaced? Thereafter, Dad – a prayerful and joy-filled presence within the residence, begins to introduce him to the thriller of the cross and to the lives of some heroic saints. Meantime, Mom is the wind at Aaron’s again with mild reassurance after unsettling days at his new college. His youngest brother Tyler’s love for him, warms his coronary heart and settles his nerves on the finish of his days. Essentially – Patti holds up for younger readers the surprise, help, and graced moments of household life.

After Aaron makes a number of unwise selections, Dad and Mom assist him see the way wherein God brings goodness out of his sin of deceit. Thereafter, Aaron begins to see how the tough – and sometimes humiliating work – of confronting his sin, misstep, and struggles begins to result in graces, peace of thoughts, and sudden blessings. 

Don’t dare inform anybody, however I discovered myself tearing up (yikes) when Aaron managed to summon the braveness to confess to an aged neighbor an unlimited mistake and partial lie he advised. He unpacked his soul to his neighbor in a ravishing, daring, and startlingly humble trend, to which the neighbor discovered endearing (my watering eyes did as nicely!).

Patti Maguire Armstrong, who has raised a big household of her personal together with her husband Mark, understands the youth exceedingly nicely. She is aware of they wish to hear transferring and entertaining tales on children’ real-life struggles and misfortunes. She additionally is aware of how youngsters are swept into the arc of a well-told story to soak up the way wherein they’ll overcome sin and develop into nearer to Christ. Knowing every baby unwittingly wishes sainthood, Patti facilities her tales on time-honored Catholic themes to point out how the highway to sainthood could be attained – at the same time as early because the age of 11 or 12.   

Catholic mother and father as we speak want all the assistance they’ll get – and Aaron Ajax can’t assist however to softly form and heat youngsters’s souls, psyches, and recollections. Between every line of Patti’s books lay the mild reassurances of God’s measureless love and tender take care of characters reminiscent of Aaron. 

I’ve handed each of Patti’s books on to my fifth-grade nephew, Brian – and requested him to have his father (my brother) learn a chapter to him every evening at dinner or earlier than mattress at evening. Patti has included thought-provoking – and even probing – dialogue questions on the finish of every chapter. 

My personal youngsters are older now. But as a dad, I’ll by no means cease needing to slay each dragon of their sight. That’s why I selected to learn Little Visits With God all these years in the past – and it’s why I want Patti had written her Dear God collection twenty years in the past. They are that good.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash



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