Monday, January 19, 2009

BOOK REVIEWS: Saints of the American Wilderness and From Sea to Shining Sea

Did you know that Sophia Institute Press is selling some of their books for $2.00?


Seriously... you can't pass up a deal like that. Especially when you see some of the titles they have in their list! I have bought many of them already (and am in the process of reading several of them).

During one of my post-Christmas illnesses, I sat down and read Saints of the American Wilderness.

As a homeschooler, I am especially glad to have read this book... but if you'll bear with me, let me backtrack for just a moment...

I have struggled over the years to find a decent history spine that I could use for all my children -- one that presented the Catholic faith clearly throughout the centuries AND included stories of the saints as well, so I wouldn't have to stop, research what saints were living in that particular place and time, present that to my children, and then pick up where we left off. Nothing that I tried seemed to cover everything that I needed it to...

...until I tried From Sea to Shining Sea.

This book is phenomenal!

I'm not kidding. It really is.

This particular book covers American history, and it presents the Catholic faith wonderfully -- not sugar coating it, but weaving the story of the Church throughout the history that you learned in school. If your education was like mine, though (even at a parochial school!), you probably never heard many of these stories, so the history lesson will be just as fascinating to the moms as it is to the kids.

Ever heard of Fr. Juan de Padilla?

Yeah, I hadn't either.

Turns out he was the first martyr here in the United States. (Martyred in modern-day Kansas, actually). I think that's important for my children to know.

How about the brave Jesuits who came over to New France to minister to the Hurons and Iroquois? I probably could have told you that some Jesuits came over from France, but that would have been about it... until now. The textbook presents the stories of the brave priests who came over and risked their lives to bring the Catholic faith to the indigenous people of America. The information presented in the textbook was plenty for the younger crowd. For the older ones, some of the Vision series books (like St. Isaac and the Indians) can give more detail and inspire children to follow Jesus as these men did.

And for the adults?

That's where Saints in the American Wilderness comes in.

I will say up front that this is not a comfortable read. It is very difficult to read about all the tortures and hardships these brave men endured in their mission to bring the Christian faith to the Huron and Iroquois Indians. They knew they were on the front lines, and each one went in as a willing sacrifice, ready to offer all to God so that He could use them as He saw fit.

It wasn't comfortable, but I was in awe of their bravery, their determination to follow Jesus no matter what the cost, and their deep love for those they were trying to minister to.

After reading that, you can see why I thought a little stomach bug was NOTHING.

So if you're a homeschooler, I can't recommend From Sea to Shining Sea strongly enough... and if you're brave enough (and come on! It's $2.00!!), I recommend Saints of the American Wilderness as well.


Jane (a.k.a. patjrsmom) said...

Score! I had chosen From Sea to Shining Sea for our next year's history text but have never looked inside it. It looked to be a wonderful mix of traditional secular texts while including a Catholic perspective on historical events. Thank you so much for your review!

God Bless,

Ouiz said...

Jane, you're welcome! I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do... I was just burning myself out trying so hard to combine the "perfect" history text with Church history and mixing the saints all in there... and so this took a HUGE weight off my shoulders!

God bless!

Beth said...

Can you pick a good boy name out of that saint book for me? :)

Ouiz said...

I can if you have a hankerin' for French names like Rene, Charles, Jean, Isaac, etc..


Didn't you mention Isaac as one of the names you were thinking about?

You know, I struggled with Thomas' name until 3 weeks before I had him. My dh had left the naming to me, and I agonized over it until one evening, during a commercial break, I just turned to him and said, "His name is (first name)(second name)."

That was it.

Beth said...

I like his name too :)

Maybe I'll email you about it and see what you think of a few choices.

Beth said...

Oh and I like Isaac, although I am not sure it sounds the best with our last name. Plus my cousin had a baby boy a year ago named Isaac so I don't think we can use that one.

Just think of all the ones we CAN'T use because of our last name, Jack, Max, Zach, Luke, etc.... it's interesting choosing a name with our last name....