Some years ago we started our own publishing with the idea of producing high-quality artwork in children's colouring books in service of an imaginative and symbolic approach to catechesis. That simply means that rather than talk to kids about religious ideas, we would show them. Our colouring books use the symbolic language of Nature and the Bible to introduce children to the mysteries of the Catholic faith. One of our books is written by Scott Hahn. The beauty and enjoyment of interacting with the illustrations means that the child enters more deeply into the symbolism and the "visual language" of faith - the same language we find in icons, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass windows, mosaics, and frescoes.
In developing this approach, Leonie Caldecott was partly inspired by Sophia Cavaletti. Leonie saw it as an application of the fundamental principle of the new evangelization: the intimate association of truth and goodness with beauty. This implies a vital role not only for intelligence and will but for imagination in religious formation. The Vatican has called for an “evangelization through beauty”, since this is the main way in which modern people can still relate to the Christian tradition and begin to grasp its meaning for them. But the first challenge was getting children to relate to the central act of worship, the Mass, which is why our lead title was always THE MASS ILLUSTRATED FOR CHILDREN, now issued in a revised edition, with improved illustrations and a text drawn from the new translation of the Roman Missal - so that the book can be used not only for colouring but as a first Missal, helpfully guiding the child through the unfamiliar prayers and responses of the Mass. (Order now, for delivery in October.)
Second Spring Catechesis involves taking the child, and the child’s sensibility and culture, much more seriously than most other forms of catechesis have done. It opens windows in the child’s imagination through which the vision of the faith can be transmitted, or (to vary the metaphor) it prepares the ground and plants the seeds for a later, more intellectual appreciation of the faith in the child’s mind. To nourish the child’s sense of mystery and of the sacred is essential for the healthy development of the life of faith and prayer through the difficult years of adolescence that lie ahead. The further benefit of exposing children at an early age to a wide range of rich and beautiful imagery lies in helping to perpetuate the best artistic traditions of Christianity. By fostering an appreciation of how icons function to express religious truths and support the interior life, Second Spring Catechesis thus complements and extends the work being done for an older age group by David Clayton in Thomas More College’s “Education in Beauty” program. Indeed David himself has illustrated two of our books for children, adapting his knowledge of traditional styles and techniques for the purpose. New titles are in preparation for next year, but in the meantime we hope you will order THE MASS for your parish or class, either through our UK distributor Prompt Reply, or if you live in N. America through our US distributor, Thomas More College, who can also give you current US prices.