Here’s how it happened:
A couple years ago, my wife called all the kids into our study to organize (yet again) the overflowing bookshelves: my books, her books, kids’ school books, college books, read-aloud books–well, with 8 kids at home, it’s books books books everywhere.
One of the older girls pulled a book off the shelf and said, “Oh, I remember this book. I loved it when I was little!”
She opened it to the picture on the right–the first of 12 incredibly detailed, “Where’s Waldo?” type of pictures in the book. Of course, all the kids gathered around to peer at that and the other pictures as she slowly paged through them.
Trey looked over and replied, “That’s the book that made me stop lying.“
It was My Path to Heaven.
With that testimonial from Trey–you know that my wife set the book aside to tell me that evening, “We need to start selling this book!” And so we have–right HERE.
And we have incorporated a great idea from another mom: we’re using the book with our entire family (yep: college kids, too, when they were home on spring break!) as a part of our family prayers this Lent.
The book makes it easy, because of the “Where’s Waldo?” artwork which pulls you in and engages your imagination…just as Saint Ignatius wants to do with his Exercises.
At the last conference we attended, a Jesuit priest who is a good friend paged through this book and was astounded.
“This has everything in it!” this priest said when he looked at the Table of Contents. He paged through to read it a bit. “Wow–not watered down at all. Just simplified. I’m buying this for my sister’s kids.”
(No–of course we didn’t charge him, but gave it to him free!)
Here’s what is so amazing about this book. If you have ever been on a retreat using the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, you’ll recall that these retreats are SILENT. The silence allows God to break through the clutter of our lives and our minds to speak personally to us.
So, that’s the difficulty right there.
How do you get a child to be SILENT?
Answer: With these detailed pictures and the FIVE STEP process explained in “How to Read This Book” on Page 1.
The priest who wrote this (in 1936) designed an approach for children aged about 9 & up to reveal what is IN THE PICTURES and what IT MEANS–and how to CONVERSE WITH GOD about it in your heart.
And it works.
It touches a child’s heart and opens his imagination to the wonders of God all around him.
It opens his ears to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit
calling him to a unique and unrepeatable purpose for his life.
Here’s how we are using this book this Lent. We’re about halfway through it. We spend about 10-15 minutes extra just 2-3 times per week in our nighttime prayers (or sometimes when the schedules for the evening are a mess, we’ve done it at lunchtime).
We make copies of the illustration so each child can silently and independently study it.
After all have looked at the picture for a few minutes, Dad reads the discussion that accompanies the picture. Then everyone looks again and adds some observations and thoughts, as the Spirit moves them (don’t worry: there will be conversation…you won’t be able to maintain the “silence” of the Spiritual Exercises if you are anything like our family, but that’s OK: you will likely find the insights of your children are helpful to YOU, too…).
Then, Dad has everyone be quiet again for a few minutes to study the picture.
And the kids take their copies of the picture up to bed to contemplate and discuss WITH GOD before they fall asleep.
There are only 12 chapters in this “retreat,” so there’s plenty of time to even start now and finish during Lent or during the Easter Octave leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday.
Another thought if you have kids under 9 years old: Our kids are now all reading the Bible themselves, but during Lent in the past we read through the Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories. What makes this book great is it isn’t just a selection of stories, but 35 chapters leading a child from Genesis through Revelation to reveal the “storyline” of Salvation History. And they are written to be read-aloud–so I have to warn dads that even though the chapters are short…you’ll likely find that the rhetorical questions and approach inspire conversation and discussion. A good thing, but not a “quick story then right to bed.” Click on the graphic to the left–we have the set on sale right now.
Even if you don’t try to incorporate My Path to Heaven into your Lent this year, you should have this book on your shelf.
PS If you’re like us: You certainly have a lot of “teach the Faith” sorts of books, which give you the facts and the commandments and quidelines and precepts, but you also need to have My Path to Heaven to inspire in your children’s hearts a desire for a personal and intimate relationship with God, Who loves your children even more than you do.
Praying that God is richly blessing you and yours!