Thursday, July 21, 2022

Catholic History and Religion :: 2022-2023 School Year

Thanks for your patience as I put this annual post together!

Here I'm offering some suggestions for books that tie to the 1780-1900 time period we are studying this year in American, English, and world history (as well as a few for ancient Rome, our focus for ancients!) and additional resources for our regular Bible and religion studies.

This year, I am assigning Catholic reading for eight formal students: two in Form 5 (11th graders), two in Form 3 (7th grader and 8th grader), two in Form 2 (4th grader and 5th grader), and two in Form 1 (1st grader and 3rd grader). Once again, we will be using the CMEC mostly as written for all Forms.

This post is organized in the following way: (1) Bible for all Forms, (2) Historical Supplements for Forms 1-3, (3) Religion for Forms 1-3, and then (4) Catholic History and Religion for High School at the end.

Previous' years plans:

Catholic History and Religion :: 2020-2021 School Year

Catholic History and Religion :: 2021-2022 School Year



Lower Forms

For Old Testament, my students in Form 1-3 will be reading Joshua and Judges. As I have explained before, the CMEC follows the PNEU in scheduling Paterson-Smyth's books as a resource for Bible lessons, and I use his Joshua and the Judges for 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 too. 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 also includes a few nice images and diagrams helpful for Book of Centuries work.

For New Testament, my students in Forms 1 and 2 will read the Gospel of Luke. Paterson-Smyth doesn't have a commentary for this Gospel, so I will be using the Navarre commentary (lots of affordable used copies!), which comes on the recommendation of good friends.

Upper Forms

For New Testament, my high schoolers will be reading through Psalms and Proverbs this year with a few commentary resources on hand:
  • Dummelow's One-Volume Bible Commentary - We used this PNEU-recommended commentary last year and my kids liked the historical details it includes on each book. (This is the new edition -- we have an older used one.)
  • For Psalms: Commentary on the Psalms by St. Robert Bellarmine (I got an affordable used copy). I looked at a few different psalms commentaries from the saints and this was the one I thought my students would most enjoy. He does not provide much  historical background or concordance with other areas of scripture, instead giving thorough explications for each psalm. I think my students will appreciate his perspective.
  • For Proverbs: I have printed a few different texts from online resources, including Father Most's commentary at Catholic Culture.
My Form 3-5 students will also have two streams of New Testament reading: 

First, they'll be reading the gospels alongside Charlotte Mason's Saviour of the World.

Second, they'll be completing their two-year study of Acts this year alongside Ellen Knox's The Acts of the Apostles. This is not a Catholic commentary and includes comments we disagree with here and there, but I have been reading it alongside my students and it has made for good discussions. I described this book last year as well, but just for reference:

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....

All Forms

In all our Bible 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.



This coming year, we will be studying roughly 1780-1800 (beginning with the French Revolution through Reconstruction after the Civil War). My Form 2A and 3 students will also be studying Ancient Rome.

Form 1

My Form 1 students will read a couple easier saint biographies from the list below or from our collection of Windeatt books for this time period, including The Miraculous Medal (on Catherine Laboure), The Little Flower (on St. Therese), The Cure of Ars (on John Vianney), Pauline Jaricot. (The last two are longer and would be fine for Form 2 as well.) When they come around to this period again in Form 2 or 3, they will have the chance to read the others.

Forms 2 and 3

Most of these are from the Vision series or the American Background Series being reprinted by Hillside Education. This isn't an exhaustive list -- just what we have on our shelves, in no particular order. My students and I will pick 1-2 for them to read each term on Sundays. The others will go on the free reading shelf. (Form 3 students who are strong readers may also like some of the options under High School as well.)

Other Notes on Form 1-3 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 generally 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.

This year's assigned chapters don't need to be adjusted at all in my view, though. The only time they discuss Catholics is when describing the Catholic Emancipation Act in England, which is presented in both texts as a positive move toward justice.

The same can be said for our American history texts this year, This Country of Ours and Builders of Our Country, Volume 2.



Catechetical Instruction and Sacramental Prep

My two Form 1 students just received First Holy Communion last month! (You can read about my FHC preparation plans here and here.) So they are very fresh on the basics and are ready for further study.

This year, I plan to spend a half hour with my Form 1 and 2 students each week in a study of the Mass. I will be using the following resources from our shelves:

And as a side note: I have been previewing lately a few new texts about the Traditional Latin Mass to see if they are worth recommending. I get asked for books about the TLM for children a lot and I always like to have a few good in-print and affordable recommendations to pass along! A couple new ones on our shelves are Traditional Latin Mass: A Missal for Little Ones and A Beginners Guide to the Traditional Latin MassIt's nice when discussing the mass structure to have various depictions of Low and High Mass to compare as well as different prayers for the different parts of the Mass to explain their overall role in the liturgy.

We will also be practicing with the hand missal -- this is my fave for littles, but the kids who just received FHC will be moving on to proper missals soon!

(For more titles for young children, I recommend a bunch here (listed under "For My Younger Kids"). I would also add to that list Leading Little Ones to Mary and The Secret of Mary Explained to Children, which I read with my littles last year.)

My Form 3 students will be preparing for Confirmation this year. (My older daughter will likely go through her prep in just one year. I may stretch my son's to his two years of middle school.) Here are the resources they will be using:

Spiritual Reading

My Form 1 and 2 students will be studying with me on Sundays, as mentioned above.

My Form 3 students will read a book a term for additional Sunday reading:
As a family, we will finish up our re-read of Mother Loyola's First Communion and then we may just start back up from the beginning again!

Liturgical Year (read as a family)

This year, we will continue A Character Calendarwhich has been a favorite with my younger students.  I will also do some season-specific family reading. We may go back to the Troadec volumes, which we used on and off last year, or we may try something different before Advent arrives. I personally find Mother Loyola's "With the Church" series much richer than Troadec's, but the simplicity of Fr. Troadec does make it accessible to a broader range of ages.

I read these at breakfast time, so my older kids listen in too. Many of the mottoes from A Character Calendar have found their way into my students' Motto Books!



As always, please preview the books listed below before handing to your high schoolers.

Catholic Historical Supplements

The CMEC's high school history texts, which are written from a secular perspective, are quite nuanced and well-balanced, so I find our additional reading on Catholic-specific persons and events more than rounds out the period for my students.

I add a weekly Catholic history block to my high schoolers' timetable. Here's what will fill that slot this year:

I also like to schedule some Catholic literature or historical fiction. Some selections for this year:
  • Gertrude von le Fort's Song of the Scaffold (a thought-provoking novella what provides a new perspective on the French Revolution)
  • Sienkiewiczk's Quo Vadis (to connect to our Ancient Rome studies since my kids have already read Ben Hur, which is assigned by the CMEC this year)
  • Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop (assigned by the CMEC in Term 3)
  • Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Francis Thompson (assigned by the CMEC in Term 3)
  • Benson's The Necromancer (We have enjoyed Msgr. Benson's books before and this one is set in the Victorian period. I have read it's an argument against spiritualism and has some scary moments! I definitely need to pre-read first, but thought I would mention here in case you were interested too.)


For the older kids, I have assigned a bunch of books in various categories. These will be for daily devotional reading, Sunday reading, and leisure reading.

Spiritual classics written during the period:

Saint biographies and autobiographies:

Devotional reading through the year, not tied to this year's studies:

My kids also wanted some purely catechetical reading, so I went ahead and ordered the classic Fr. Laux's Catholic Morality and Catholic Apologetics for them to work through on Sundays as well. We'll see how far they get!


I hope this helps those studying this time period with us this fall!

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. I so look forward to this blog post every year! What a feast, and I see many favourites here. I hadn't thought of tying in our liturgical reading to the CMEC time period we are studying, so now I have some more summer prep to do! We do our catechism in the morning, before lessons, but sometimes time doesn't allow for it, so I need to be more intentional about that this school year. Our daily staples are the day's readings from "Benedictus" and the "Character Calendar," as well as chapter from another book such as "Leading the Little Ones to Mary" or Fr Lausanne or Bishop Toth. Right now we are going through "A Pictorial Catechism" (Abbe Couissinier) which was reprinted by St. Augustine Academy Press - many of the engravings are reminiscent of Dore. We also have Bellarmine's commentary on the Psalms, but I like to read from "The Psalms, A Prayer Book, Also the Canticles of the Roman Breviary" (long title, phew) from 1945. It has the Latin in one column and the English on the other, which I like. Also, for mother culture, "The Valiant Woman: Conferences for Women" by Monseigneur Landriot has topped "Counsels of Perfection for Christian Women" for me! It's astounding, and Fr Landriot makes so many analogies that resonate with Charlotte Mason's philosophy!

    1. I just finished rereading Counels, so I will definitely have to take a look at The Valiant Woman -- thanks! And thanks too for all of these great suggestions. We have A Pictorial Catechism on my shelf, so this was a great reminder to pull it out during our catechism studies. Will have to seek out the others!

    2. Fr. Landriot takes one Proverb per chapter and really goes deep. I was reading the Eighth Discourse on Prov. 31: 16, ("She hath considered a field, and bought it; with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard") on our family vacation last week (which was a glorious time of observation for our Book of Firsts, including a Stellar's Jay, Abert's Squirrel and so many wildflowers). This chapter spoke so much to nature study in a Charlotte Mason education, and I made many connections to the Burgess Animal Book and Buckley which we will read this year. Fr. Landriot even gave me a captain idea for the whole of our nature study: "Every creature has something to teach us after its own manner"!

  2. I appreciate you putting this list out. I have been awaiting this newest list as this is our first year with CMEC and I have been trying to find a way to incorporate more of our faith. This means so much to me and our family! God bless you and yours!

    1. You're welcome, Alex! And welcome to the CMEC!

  3. Wow, as always, so many stellar suggestions! I am looking forward to incorporating more religious and catechetical reading into a Morning Time block this year.

    So interesting that you are reading Warren Carroll! Funnily enough, he was present in every single one of my high school history classes for four years (his wife, Anne, was the principal and main history teacher at my high school). I haven't read any of Warren's works (they look intimidating!!), but we did use Anne's "Christ the King, Lord of History" last year when we wanted to substitute for some anti-Catholic sections about Henry VIII/QE1. I thought the kids wouldn't love it, after being used to the exciting and lovely writing in OIS, but they actually loved it! (I think for me, the book was *so* far from taking the actual classes with Anne Carroll, that it was a let-down; and I wasn't sure it qualified as a "living book"... but they were! They found it fascinating and certainly got many living ideas from it.)
    I'm interested about what frustrates your kids about his tone in the books, since I haven't read him and only know him from his occasional comments/corrections to his wife's teaching :D; I know a few people I went to school with thought her tone in class and her book was too triumphalist and overly-focused on the Catholic elements in history. I can see that! It didn't bother me personally as I felt she made the aim of her courses clear, but there wasn't a whole lot of nuance in how she presented (then again, she was definitely trying to defend Catholicism and Catholics in history against spurious claims and anti-Catholic biases). Anyway, I am thankful for many resources in the teaching of history and especially for CM's approach to history through living books.

    1. Hi Nicole! Very neat connection with the Carrolls! The issues you mentioned are basically what my students object to in Warren Carroll's work. He is very opinionated and, they think, leaves behind nuance for the sake of agenda (even if it is an agenda we largely agree with ;)). But, as you said, we are reading it specifically as a Catholic history text, not as a general history text, and it performs fine in that role. If they were reading the book as their primary history text, I don't think it would be a fair account, but read alongside Morison, Robinson, and Breasted, it offers a fresh perspective!

  4. I love de Wohl's St. Helena and the True Cross. I've owned it for around 7 years and It is one of my favorite books. I think your kids will enjoy it. Thanks for posting!


  5. Are your mass study resources all about the TLM mass? Such as The Story of the Mass, This is the Mass, The Mass Explained to Children. If so, would they work for the NO? Thanks! Also.. I already had a stack of books that I was considering for Confirmation prep. Now I have several more!

    1. Hi Paula! Yes, they are all for the TLM. I'm not sure how helpful they would be for the NO. The elements and structure of the Mass are similar, but there are so many differences too. I don't know of any good resources for the No, sorry!

  6. I love these posts! Thank you for all the resources you share, they are very valuable for our family. I searched on the blog for your recommendations on the middle ages but couldn't find the post, did I miss it?

    1. Hi Jenn! We will be studing medieval and modern periods for our history next year, so a post like this will be up for those periods then! :)

    2. Good to know, thanks!

  7. Hi Celeste, I am currently in Lay Carmelite formation. We will be reading Story of a Soul this year (Definitive promise prep year one). I have read this beautiful book many times over the years but this is the first year I will be reading the ICS publication. Apparently St. Therese's sister Pauline edited out personal stories from the original printing, including stories that lead to the canonization of St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin. ICS is the only publisher with the rights to the original Story of Soul that Pauline did not edit. John Clarke, OCD translated the critical edition. I am truly looking forward to reading this translation with my formation group and I thought I'd pass it on to you: I believe there is a study edition as well that helps with discussion questions. I pray you have a lovely school year. I have never actually used your religious plans before but decided to use it for my form four and five students as these are tougher forms to plan. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Danielle! My mother-in-law is a lay Carmelite and has been for many decades. Wishing you a wonderful school year as well!

  8. Also, for church history, how do you schedule it? Do you add an extra slot to your time table or do you drop a subject? I'm assuming you only schedule it once a week.

    1. Yes, I add an extra history block to their timetable for the week. So they have one history block daily, M-Th (American, ancient, world, Catholic).

  9. St. Edmund Campion Children's Missal/ Know Your Mass by Fr. Demetrius Manousos
    We absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

  10. Hello from Kansas, Celeste! I am new to the CMEC this year, and I was thrilled to discover this post before planning our first ever year of formal lessons with my oldest who will be 6 soon. Your work is appreciated!!! Thank you for all you do with the CMEC as well as the effort put into this blog. I'm at peace knowing that I can supplement these beautiful books into the program to provide a rich Catholic feast for my children. In Christ, Lindsey

    1. Welcome, Lindsey! How exciting to be just starting with your 6yo. Wishing you a wonderful year together!

  11. Hi Celeste!

    This will be my first year schooling all of my kids who are still very young. My oldest is 11 and we are expecting our 6th. I know I won't be able to fit much more in beyond what the CMEC proposes already but I'd like to get in some kind of reading like this. I'm thinking of starting with ONE book and having that be the Character Calendar since it's short and sweet. If you had to recommend one book for a young family like ours, which would it be? Thanks!!!

    1. Chracter Calendar is a great place to start -- short daily readings. :)

  12. How is your daughter liking “ A Right to be Merry”? I read it about a year ago and it was a very lovely story about life in a convent. I enjoyed it and I hope she does too.

    1. Hi Helena! Both of my older daughters really enjoyed it. I will have to put it on own my holiday reading stack!