Summer Reading- Enrique’s Journey

We are a nation of Immigrants. Some of us are generations removed from our immigrant relatives while others arrive daily by risking their lives to cross the imaginary borderline that separates them from poverty and hopelessness in the native countries. Their story, and those of our immigrant ancestors is depicted in Sonia Nazario ‘s masterpiece, Enrique’s Journey.

While the story of immigration may be universal for all Americans, the specifics vary in detail. Most of our relatives came by boat from the Eastern Hemisphere while others, like Enrique, have traveled in a more contemporary, but equally dangerous route- atop the ever-curving train cars underneath the blistering Mexican sun.

From the beginning of this book, the reader is enticed by the sheer grit that Enrique must face to travel by himself to the united States from Honduras. While in his middle teens, he embarks on his journey not for economic stability, not for pride, and not for adventure- he does it for love. His mother left him to go al norte when he was just five. He misses her, and he wishes with all of his heart to be with her again.

The author tells Enrique’s story against the backdrop of factual information. She spent years traveling the route that most Central Americans take to enter into the country illegally. Using recent statistics, she paints a vivid picture that encompasses the ideological motives of those who seek a better life for themselves. She joins these ideologies with real life testimonies from those who have lived, and continue to live, through the struggle of globalized poverty.

This book does a fantastic job of joining the pros and cons of illegal immigration into a gut-wrenching love story of Enrique’s life. It is a must read for all teachers, especially those who serve migrant, children of migrants, and impoverished students with problems at home.

For more information on Enrique’s Journey, including pruchasing information, click here.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Those Silly Saints

We Catholics put our Saints on top of a pillar of holiness. But did you know that St. Simeon Stylite lived on top of a pillar to achieve holiness… for 37 years!

The Saints were so human.  They’re also funny and quite entertaining. The book Saint-Watching by Phylis McGinley is a compilation of stories that range from the hysterical to the downright weird of those canonized brothers and sisters of ours.

Here are a few sneak peeks:

St. Christina the Astonishing hated the smell of unwashed flesh. So, when the poor and needy came to honor her during her funeral, her coffin rose to the ceiling to get away from their dirty stench. Being the obedient Nun that she was, she (and her coffin) came back down at the scoffing of the priest doing the service.

St. Bridget could make hens lay eggs on command for visitors. She could also make trees shake their fruit to the ground.

St. Ignatius (who apparently was quite the pool shark) was robbed (not playing pool). Two weeks later, he had heard that his thief had gotten sick. So, he traveled 100 miles on foot to take care of him.

St. Mary Mazzarello, after receiving her last rights, said, “Well that’s my passport. I expect I can leave now!?”

St. Charles Borromeo was apparently a chess whiz. So much that he was once quoted saying, “If the end of the world came, I’d keep playing chess.”

Last but not least, St. John Bosco was commonly thought to be crazy by his co-clergy. When they came to take him to the asylum, he cordially allowed these fellow priests to enter the carriage first. Once they were in, he slapped the horse and yelled “To the asylum!” Since the men at the asylum were awaiting a “crazy man,” they were not surprised to see two that claimed they weren’t John Bosco.

Want more? By the book at ebay or Amazon for a buck and enjoy the softer side of the Saints.

Phyllis McGinley
Hardcover: 243 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; Second printing before publication. edition (August 18, 1969)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670167754
ISBN-13: 978-0670167753

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Books for Students- A Wrinkle In Time

Many classic and contemporary books that demonstrate Christian virtues and themes have found their way into our public and private school curriculums. While the majority hinge on the triumph of Good over Evil, there are others that go even deeper into the Christian faith without necessarily revealing the Gospel messages in the literal sense. Like all faith, there dwell within these books the mysteries of truth that can only be found when we dig deeper and practice the grace of inferring from the text a richer and deeper meaning.

The first book dedicated to this section labeled “Books for Students” is the 1962 classic, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
Title: A Wrinkle In Time

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Genre: Science/ Fantasy Fiction

Grade Level: 5th grade and higher

Academic Themes: Inference (Reading), Profundity (Reading) ,Communism (Social Studies)

Christian Themes: Talents, Effects of Sin, Guardian Angels, Vanity, Uniqueness, Empathy, Faith in others, Power of love.

Review: It begins on Earth when three children, Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Cal meet. For being different, they have become outcasts in their community and the fact that Meg and Charles Wallace’s father has been missing for a year makes the beginning of this story even more saddening. As they struggle about their lives, they encounter three women who swift them off into a different galaxy in order to help them find, and save Meg and Charles Wallace’s father, Mr. Murry. Mr. Murry is being held against His will on a planet called Camozotz, where everyone is controlled by “the dark thing,” which is defined by the author as “evil itself.” On this planet, a demonic being known as IT moderates the population by brainwashing them to become similar in every way. If anyone is different, sick, or rebellious, they are done away with on this planet. The reasoning behind this is the same as communism, if everyone is the same, there should be no problems.

Eventually, the children find their father but not until after Charles Wallace is succumbs to IT and becomes evil. Meg and Cal escape before they are overcome by IT to another planet occupied by “Beasts.” During the travel, Meg is infected with the darkness but it eventually nursed to health by the empathetic Beasts who have the power of supreme understanding patience and forgiveness, much like the God of Christianity. After arguments and struggles of realizing the truth from the blind and patient beasts, Meg is nursed to health and sent back to Camozotz to rescue her brother. In the end, Meg saves Charles Wallace through love, which overcomes all evil all darkness and places superior the communication in the hands of people who understand that actions speak louder than words.

This book was written after WWII when communist Russia and China were establishing themselves as world powers. Camozotz is a symbolic representation of communism and the evils it produces.

There is so much Christian symbolism in the book. The only recommendation is that our students first know how to infer and dig deeper into the intellectual symbols before reading this sometimes difficult-to-understand piece.

Basic Details
Paperback: 269 pages
Publisher: Thorndike Press; 1 edition (March 14, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0786273356