Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Book Review: Hear My Voice

Obviously, with two kids in college I am way past the age where I'd need this book. However, I still remember vividly how difficult it was for little ones to get through that hour sometimes.

Hear My Voice strikes me as a very good way to help children begin to have an understanding of what the adults are talking about in the Gospel readings and homilies that follow. I received a galley to read and can vouch for exactly what the publisher describes:
These passages are suggested for parents to read with children the evening before mass. As the hectic schedule of our Saturdays winds down, take time to shift gears for the time we put aside for worship, reflection and communion. Including your children in the message of the mass with a reading and discussion of the week's gospel will make the mass a shared experience of hearing God's word for both parent and child. These translations are also an extraordinary teacher's aid for Sunday school and children's bible study. Each passage is translated in large text that is inviting to the beginning reader, and is printed side-by-side with the adult text for comparison, explanation and parents' review.

These pages are not fictionalized children's stories, they are translations of Jesus' story, true to His message. They are not sugar-coated or watered-down; children can understand the truth in God's word when it is simply written for their reading level, offered in their cadence and vocabulary. Even educated adults often find the language of the Gospels difficult to fully understand, and often turn to study guides and footnotes to wring more understanding out of words written in an old English voice so far removed from our own daily language. The voice of these stories is not changed to be hip or to use today's slang. The gravity and holiness of God's word demands better than that. But there is no reason for outdated and too-advanced language to stand between our children and Jesus' message. Adults as well, have gained insights into the passages through the shared process of bringing the word to children.
This is a really wonderful resource not only in helping children understand the Gospel but in relating it to their own lives. I also really liked that the reading as it would be heard in the church was printed alongside the children's version ... and that the pages are labeled by their place in the liturgical calendar. This not only helps prepare the family for mass but gives them something to discuss later. I could envision remembering a key point of the homily that might relate to the reading done with children the night before for conversations on the way home. Thus one sets the pattern for the entire family of thoughtful participation in the Mass.

You don't have to take my word for it though. Four sample spreads are available to read in pdf format ... just go here and click on any picture you like to see the whole spread.

Hear My Voice will be published in October in preparation for the new liturgical year. You may purchase a copy directly from the publisher.

Highly recommended.

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