Monday, August 2, 2021

Catholic History and Religion :: 2021-2022 School Year

I meant to get this up earlier in the summer! But the break has been quite busy, and I'm just now getting the chance to sit down and complete my school plans -- including our Catholic reading for the 2021-2022 School Year.

This year, I will have seven formal students plus a kindergartener, in Form 5 (two 10th graders), Form 3 (7th grader), Form 2 (4th and 6th graders), Form 1 (2nd and 3rd graders). My two littles (ages 4 and 1) will be along for the ride! Once again, we will be using the CMEC mostly as written for all Forms.

I wrote up our plans for last year here: Catholic History and Religion :: 2020-2021 School Year.

Here, I'll be offering some specific suggestions for books that tie into the 1650-1800 time period we are studying this year in American, English, and world history, and some additional resources I am drawing on for our regular religion studies.


As I explained last year, the CMEC follows the PNEU in scheduling Paterson-Smyth's books as a complementary resource for Bible lessons, and I will be using them in my preparation as well.

I like to take his suggestions and combine with Catholic resources, so I rely on Knecht's A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture as well. This tome (it's a thick one!) provides a Catholic perspective on both Old and New Testaments, from historical background to theological and doctrinal connections to application. I have used it in various ways over the past few years and always with good results. It is a thorough but usable reference. 

This year's section on Moses and Exodus, which will be our Old Testament reading for Forms 1-3, also includes nice images and diagrams helpful for our Book of Centuries. 

I will also be using these two references in preparing to go through the Gospel of Mark with Form 1 and 2.

For my older kids' reading of the prophetic books, I am trying out a PNEU-recommended commentary for high school Bible that looks promising. I have already pulled the relevant sections from the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent for them to reference as well.

For New Testament, my Form 3-5 students will read the gospel alongside Charlotte Mason's Saviour of the World, which I just love. 

They will also a study of Acts this year alongside The Acts of the Apostles by Ellen Knox. This PNEU book happens to be written by the aunt of Ronald Knox, author of The Creed in Slow Motion and The Mass in Slow Motion, two favorite books around here! Here's how my friend Kyndra explains the connection: 

Monsignor Knox' father was the Anglican Bishop of Manchester and a staunch evangelical (so staunch in fact that he cut his son out of his will upon his conversion to Catholicism). One of Monsignor Knox' brothers was an influential Anglo-Catholic priest who never could quite make the move to Rome. Both men were influenced by John Ruskin. Monsignor Knox was a friend of G.K.Chesterton and Frances Chesterton was the first secretary of Charlotte Mason's PNEU! Some of the best and brightest minds of late nineteeth/early twentieth century Britain and they all knew one another.....

In all of our lessons, we will be reading directly from our favorite translation, the Douay-Rheims. Each of my Upper Forms students has his or her own copy to use, and I use mine for the younger kids. 

We rely often on The Dore Bible Illustrations. I have used this volume for years and it so handy to have these scenes so reverently and beautifully illustrated all in one place!

As a side note: our TBG Songbooks from Riverbend Press include the Bible passages for the year in the King James Version, so I print ours in the Douay-Rheims and tape it in for our recitations. And for the terms that schedule a hymn we have already covered, we will work on reciting the additional verses of that hymn but also add in a Latin hymn to learn.

Catholic Historical Supplements

This coming year, we will be studying about 1650 through about 1780 (ending just before the French Revolution) along with the CMEC. 
Right now, I have the books listed below lined up on my shelves. I'll be spending the week ahead making final selections and getting them sorted by student and term!

Form 1

My Form 1 students will read a couple of the easier American saint biographies from the list below since they are only studying American history so far. When they come around to this period in Form 2 or 3, they will have the chance to read the others.

Form 2 and 3

Most of these are from the Vision series or the American Background Series newly being reprinted by Hillside Education. This isn't an exhaustive list -- just what we have on our shelves.

I just ordered these from Hillside to add to the options:

And a few Vision books we read last year that would still make good choices for those who haven't:

Form 4 & 5 (High School)

For the older kids, I have a bunch of books in various categories. Most of these will be for Sunday reading and leisure reading, with a few scheduled in the Catholic history block on their timetable. (As always, please preview before handing to your high schoolers.)

Spiritual classics written during the period:

Saints lives:
  • The Autobiography of St. Margaret Mary
  • Bolton's The Padre on Horseback (this is a short but more challenging book about Padre Kino)
  • And I will have my high schoolers read the autobiographies of Pierre Toussaint and Mathew Carey listed above for sure, as well as any additional books from the Form 2 & 3 list that they would like to. They may also like Roos' Royal Road since it has been almost five years since they first read about Fr. Serra and if I remember right, that book weaves various issues of European politics into the narrative and is a bit more challenging than the Demarest.

During the Catholic history block on their timetable:

Catholic historical fiction: I don't own much Catholic historical fiction written about this period for teens/adults. If you have any good recommendations, let me know! The CMEC has already scheduled Willa Cather's Shadows on the Rock, which is a personal favorite of mine.

Fun side note: this isn't a Catholic book, but Gianna liked Belloc's Characters of the Reformation so much last year that I knew we had to have some Belloc in the mix, so I picked up a used copy of his Six British Battles, most of which fall during this year's time period. Belloc's uniquely religious perspective on history is evident even when he is writing on secular topics, so I am hoping we will enjoy this supplement.

Other Notes on History

Arnold-Forster's A History of England and  H.E. Marshall's Our Island Story are both written from a British, Anglican perspective. I love the books and think they are certainly worth using! I can't really imagine our homeschool without them. However, I do edit here and there and supplement with Catholic reading as described above for a more balanced view. With this approach, I think my students get to understand how the viewpoint of the author colors his or her work.

Some chapters Catholic families may want to preview:

Our Island Story (for the chapters scheduled to coincide with this time period, not the chapters assigned to Form 2B by the CMEC this year): chapter 83 (I would question some of the arguments against King James), chapter 85 (I edit)

A History of England: chapter 61 (I would discuss these translations in relation to Catholic ones), chapter 64 (I edit sections of "Why King George Found a Welcome")

The CMEC's high school history texts, which are written from a secular perspective, are quite nuanced and well-balanced. If I'm being picky, the only issue I see in this year's selections from Medieval and Modern Times, for example, is that Robinson has the typical negative view of the Middle Ages and positive view of Voltaire and Rousseau. But he acknowledges diversity of opinion and I think the way he states his thoughts makes for good discussion and is a useful part of the students' intellectual development. Overall I really like his approach and it will be well-balanced with the Catholic history books we will be reading alongside.

Religion Reading

I always schedule religion reading in a few different categories:
  • saints' lives (assigned by Form, listed above under history because they are also biographies)
  • spiritual reading (assigned by Form)
  • liturgical year reading (usually as a family, with additional for high schoolers)
  • specific sacramental prep (as needed, assigned individually)
I'll start with that last category first...

Sacramental Prep

This year, I have just one preparing for First Holy Communion! You can read about my plans here and here.

I plan to spend a half hour with my Form 1 students every Sunday going over some of the basics: catechism, rosary, Mass, etc. We will be drawing on some favorite resources like Treasure and Tradition, Leading Little Ones to Mary, The Secret of Mary Explained to Children, and some of the books from my list last year (listed under "For My Younger Kids").

Liturgical Year

This year, we will be reading from From Advent to Epiphany and From Epiphany to Lent by Fr. Patrick Troadec at breakfast. We will also continue A Character Calendar, which has been a favorite with my younger students. And we're moving through our re-read of First Communion! (We are about two-thirds finished.)

Spiritual Reading

For Form 2 and 3

Cate's reading through Acts will take her some time on Sundays as well, I think, so I have scheduled my Form 2 kids to read Marigold Hunt's First Christians. Then all three of them will read 
Mother Loyola's Forgive Us Our Trespasses(Last year they read Mother Loyola's Hail, Full of Grace and Marigold Hunt's A Book of Angels, so we are continuing with the same authors!) 

For the Older Kids

My older kids' spiritual reading is mostly covered above under history above; their spiritual reading and saint biographies will be tied to the historical period they are studying.

I'm also thinking about adding to their shelf a few other books for particular liturgical seasons. For example, my kids always enjoy some additional reading for Lent and Advent. Currently on the short list:

I have a few others I thought about trying to fit in but think I will save them for next year. These are certainly meaty enough! ;)


I hope this helps those studying the Revolutionary period with us this fall! I can't wait to dive in.

Any wonderful books I should add to the list above? Let me know in the comments!

(Amazon links above are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!)


  1. Thank you so much Celeste for putting sharing these books with us. I have been looking for just these kinds of books in American history. In regards to British history, while I know that the history is biased in Our Island Story and in A History of England when I read those chapters, I struggle knowing myself the full history or which things to have my children to read. Do you have any sources for the parents to enlighten myself or any book suggestions for my kids to read for a solid Catholic perspective?

  2. Hi Celeste! Thanks for posting these, they are so helpful.

    Do you have your kids memorize any catechism beyond St. Joseph First Communion Catechism and if so, is that like a daily thing or just on Sunday? We have been doing it daily for years (free Baltimore Catechism download and print from online) and all the kids are able to get through the first one before first Holy Communion but we are still on the second one and my form 3 kids are going to be getting confirmed in the next year or two, so I can't imagine how we could get all the way through the 3rd Baltimore Catechism by that time if we moved it to Sunday only. Plus, I think memorizing just a little bit daily keeps it fresh in the memory. Just wondering what your approach is to doing the catechism with your kids. We also love reading several of the books you mentioned above as sacramental prep. and as a much-needed supplement to memorizing the catechism, which although brings up some good discussion, can be a bit dry at times.

    You asked about other books, I don't know if you mentioned these in another post or not but a few I didn't see in this post that we have enjoyed are: Mother Loyola's First Confession to go along with her First Communion book (so short but so good so it won't add much to the reading load), her Coram Sanctissimo is so beautiful and a treasure to read especially before mass or Eucharistic adoration. For the Older kids: St. Therese's Story of a Soul and A Call to a Deeper Love (Letters written between parents of St. Therese). And we have all been enjoying reading The Diary of St. Faustina aloud after dinner on Sunday and I'm surprised my kids ask for it every week if I forget.

    Also, I saw on the CMEC program something about assigning a book on Church history for Sundays for form 3 I think it was. Have you read Church History by Fr. John Laux and if so, do you think this would be a good choice as a form 3 book on church history?

    Just one more thing about missals/daily mass readings/Latin mass. Do each of your kids have their own missal to do the daily readings and use at mass (I think I saw something like this mentioned on the CMEC programs too) and if so which missal are you using? If it's a Latin mass missal, how will the religious education of your kids be affected by the new Latin mass restrictions (i.e. altar server training, liturgical year celebrations, daily mass readings, etc.)? And also, how do you explain all of this restriction to the children? We had been leaning more and more heavily towards the Latin mass the past few years, kids and husband spent a long time in training and studying it along with their Latin responses, they were serving it, I was getting ready to get them a missal and transition our daily readings to that rather than the new mass and now I'm just at a loss what to do about it, especially because there is no news for now about whether Latin mass will continue or not (for right now all mass is restricted due to the virus). Any advice in this area would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again for your help, God bless you!


    1. Hi Leandra,

      Sorry, but Blogger was moderating my comments, so I am just seeing this now!

      No, so far I haven't required my kids to memorize more than just the First Communion Catechism. They do have several catechisms on their religious reading shelf, and I have assigned sections to read at various times, but actual memorization hasn't been required for Confirmation at our parish.

      Thanks for the other book recommendations! We have read all of Mother Loyola's books at various times, I think, and each one has been wonderful. I haven't yet read "A Call to a Deeper Love" or St. Faustina's diary, though, so thank you for those suggestions!

      I have heard Fr. Laux's books described as rather dry, but I don't own them so can't personally comment. I have not assigned my Form 3 student church history this year since she is reading Acts of the Apostles and saints lives according to the time period. We also have Father Lovasik's "Church History" as a reference book, which is a slim and helpful volume. I do have a full set of readings for my high school program (as listed above), and have a specific Catholic History block on their timetable that I have added to accommodate this additional reading. It is one of my kids' favorite blocks of the week. :)

      Yes, each of my kids has their own TLM missal for daily readings and to use at Mass. We have a bunch of different ones I have bought used over time, mostly the St. Joseph Daily Missal. We are currently at an SSPX chapel (other Masses are unfortunately still limited in our area due to Covid), so we aren't worried about our access to the Latin Mass -- the SSPX does not rely on bishop's approval to offer the TLM in a diocese. My boys are currently serving the Low Mass weekly and I am so grateful for its effect on their overall character formation! We are as a family very devoted to the TLM, having attended exclusively for a decade now. I am praying fervently that this suppression is temporary for the sake of the Church as a whole!

      Many blessings to you and your sweet family, Leandra!

    2. Thanks for your help, Celeste. We are praying with you for the same intention, so glad you are able to continue attending TLM!


  3. Could Knecht's A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture also be used for the higher forms' study of the prophetic books?

    1. Knecht says very little about the prophetic books, unfortunately. If I remember right, there is just a minor mention of Isaiah and Job, but that's all he goes into.

  4. Hello! I’d be interested to see where you place your religious reading in your schedule. I feel like my son will likely ignore them after 4 PM, which may be more how I’ve couched things than the books themselves. On this year’s schedule I highlighted the words “leisure, evening and weekend reading” but I’d also love to see your weekly schedule with CMEC AND the additional religious readings put together!

    1. Hi Amy! We do Bible during the blocks on the timetable, but the other religion reading is scheduled for Sundays. Some they do after Mass and breakfast (and before football! :)), some they do in bed on Sunday nights. We have always had special "Sunday reading" as part of setting the day apart. :)

  5. Dear Celeste, thank you so much for sharing your about the religious education of your children, always so encouraging and inspiring! I came here to pick your brain as we move to Form 3 next school year and found so much richness! Thank you, Mariana

    1. I'm glad, Mariana! Thanks for your comment. It's so exciting to move into Form 3! The additions of Ourselves, Saviour of the World, streams of science, etc. make Form 3 such a rich middle school program.

  6. Do you have a post for the 1800-1900 rotation?

    1. I am working on it this summer -- it should be up in July!