Raising children is a difficult yet wonderful experience. We have so many choices now and many of them are harmful. I’ve come to the realization–over time–that combating the secular, relative world view our children are besieged by each day can only be countered by developing and nurturing a faith foundation at home. To pull off this feat, we’re trying a morning and evening routine that includes faith learning to provide balance and illuminate life’s true meaning and purpose.
“Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy,” begins our morning recital, “Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel…” Bradley (Brad), my 11-year-old, loves sharing his newly learned knowledge and he loves how he remembers it. The book of Ruth is recalled by memorizing Babe Ruth’s reflection in a foyer mirror. (A few chapters ago, that same mirror held the eighth commandment: don’t bear false witness. Then, it was a strange carnival mirror that reflected a distorted self-image.) We’ve built our mnemonic house, and now we add new faith knowledge each day.
Such is the method of memory expert and author of Memorize the Faith! (And Most Anything Else) Using the Methods of the Great Catholic Medieval Memory Masters, Kevin Vost, PsyD. The material included in this book is extensive and ranges from the ten commandments and nine beatitudes (eight plus bearing reviling) to the books of the Old and New Testaments and the twenty-one centuries of Church history.
Once we finish the book, Brad and I can use our mnemonic house of faith to remember anything we want to commit to long-term memory.
We spend about twenty minutes of our day learning from the book. In the mornings, Bradley scrambles eggs, does an oral review of what we have learned so far, and I read the day’s new knowledge aloud. We homeschool so after breakfast our next subject begins.
“Why memorize?” some ask. In short, knowledge must be gained before it can be used. Learning beside Bradley, I can share that the information seems to pop into my mind at the “right” moment. Memorizing is only the start. I’ve found that memorization of facts prompts deeper discussions. It is in prayer, knowledge and asking God for understanding that we build faith.
At the end of the day we read an age appropriate saint story Lately, I read St. Dominic and the Rosary as Brad falls asleep. He asks questions and remarks sometimes at the differences in culture and perspective time has brought. We fell in love with these books two years ago while reading St. Martin de Porres’s life story. Stories of saints’ lives provide a window through which to view a glimpse into a life lived for God. Last year, we read a book about St. Benedict and followed up our reading with a trip to a local Benedictine Abbey, where we had the chance to chant Psalms with the monks. Bradley and I enjoy these experiences tremendously.
Of course, we participate in our faith hoping that his memories will aid him in making right choices throughout his lifetime. We all want our children to remain faithful to Jesus and the Church’s teachings.