Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Midwest Theological Forum. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recently, I’ve decided to drop almost all of my “extras” due to health concerns. Among other things, I’ve been struggling with nutrtitional & hormonal deficiencies and rather than doing all this extra work that wears me out, I decided to let the kids wear me out instead :). The tricky piece is NOT adding extra obligations back into my newly emptied days. I can’t JUST be a homeschooling mom. So what’s a girl to do?
Well THIS girl decided it was time to redo her education. I’m giving my girls the classical education I wish I had. And I’m classically educating myself as well. Midwest Theological Forum, the folks who gave away and sent me my favorite Bible, sent me the perfect fodder for my new education — a set of 8 books from the Didache Parish series.
Didache Series for Adults
If you homeschool, you may be familiar with the Didache Series as a set of 4 hardcover tomes containing everything about the Catholic faith for high school students. After the USCCB set standards for curriculum in all Diocesan Catholic schools in the US, they edited the 4 Complete volumes into 8 semester titles, one for each high school semester:
- Faith & Revelation
- The Blessed Trinity
- Mystery of Redemption
- The Church
- The Sacraments
- Our Moral Life in Christ
- Understanding the Scriptures
- History of the Church
The semester series has been condensed in some areas and expanded in others. Both the complete series & the semester series have a text book, teacher’s guide and student workbook available.
The set of 8 books that *I* received are from the Didache Parish edition. The parish edition was designed for adults in a parish setting. They contain the same big ideas as the complete and semester series but have been distilled down to the essentials. Make no mistake, thought, they are not lacking, nor elementary, boring or choppy! The Didache Parish series books can be used alone or in a group and there is no teacher’s guide or workbook. Each book in the set stands alone and there are items of note, questions, liturgical art, vocabulary, quotes and more in the margins in addition to the text as well as questions for discussion at the end of each chapter. They are also reasonably priced at $14 each, for a paperback edition.
The History of the Church
While I didn’t read all 8 books of the series I did read one and almost half of a second. The first book I read was The History of the Church. Due to my health and the fact I was still working, and blogging and homeschooling, it took a long time for me to work through this one. It took from March to August.
The History of the Church was authored by Peter V. Armenio and it was seriously one of the best books I’ve read since school. I’m a history nut. Is it recent? No idea. But I’m really wishing that I had started my own book of centuries earlier because I would have TOTALLY filled it in reading this book. I kept interrupting whatever poor hubby was doing to dissect it and work through connections I was making between what little I remembered from school and what I was reading. I’m honestly considering buying the Complete book and going a little deeper with my Timeline and my commonplace book close at hand. I liked it THAT much!
The book itself is a large format paperback on a shiny thick page. The text was easy to read in a good sized font with headings, subheadings and lots of maps. I love ME some maps :). The writing was engaging and smoothly written. I’m not sure how this book differs from the super big one, but it does not sound choppy or anything. It is so well-written that he must have almost started from scratch with just an outline. I had at least a dozen “aha!” moments and I was actually kind of sad that it ended.
Understanding the Scriptures
I was not sad for long. After speaking with Laura at MWF about the difference between the different editions and other things, I decided to move on to Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn. I have to admit right off that I am not the biggest Scott Hahn fan. Some of his books I love and some I just can’t get through. In fact, I have one that I was supposed to review a year ago and I’m about 1/3 of the way in and stuck there.
That said, Understanding the Scriptures is a fabulous Scott Hahn book so far. I’m about 1/3 of way through it and I absolutely love it! His tone is very easy to read and well laid out. Like The History of the Church, it has plenty of marginalia (which doesn’t leave a lot of room for notes, sorry) and is on a glossy page with lots of liturgical art, maps, quotes from the YouCat & more. It, too, has been condensed into the most essential knowledge from the Complete edition making it handy for busy adults studying on their own or in a Parish setting.
I love that he includes many of the types or mirror images of things from Old Testament to New and even includes an explanation of how the layout of the books themselves mirror each other. I spend a lot of time with protestants who read and memorize and study the bible a lot and so I feel like I know nothing compared to them. In teaching my children, I know more than I thought I did AND I have the brilliance of 2000 years of scholars who are directing my understanding of the scriptures instead of depending on my own intellect.
Since I am sometimes on the receiving end of some “You silly Catholic; what do YOU know about the Bible?” attitudes, this is another book where I am considering getting the Complete edition for my own study, even before my daughter is old enough to read it for high school (she’s in second grade now :D). It’s an excellent book and I especially love the second chapter, where he discusses the structure of the bible and gives a summary of each book in it.
I’ve learned a ton about things in the bible and their significance that I hadn’t known before. Like that God was angry with the people for making the golden calf and so he took away the priesthood from all and gave it to the Levites. I had no idea that the calf make the levites the priestly class. Or that Isaac was a type of Christ — they both carried their own wood for their sacrifice and were to be killed by their own people. Blew. my. mind.
Overall, I absolutely have LOVED using the Didache Parish series books. I would really consider my love of the what I was learning through the Didache Parish books about my Catholic faith as being the catalyst to purposefully restarting my education. I cannot wait to work through the rest of them and have even been eyeballing a few of the new ones they had in their last catalog.
SO. If you are looking to learn more about the faith, but don’t have a lot of time or money, the Didache Parish series books are great! They are well written, they are fully Catholic, you can use them alone or with a few friends, and you can go as simple as just reading them or as deep as working through all the margin questions and more. Plus, the subjects hit many of the main points of the Catholic faith so if you feel there is more to know, go where the spirit leads you.
The folks at Midwest Theological Forum LOVE you guys and they are offering ANOTHER giveaway! Can you believe it? I’m so excited for you!!!
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