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We are a small family apostolate located in the Chicago area, dedicated to finding and republishing out-of-print classics of Catholic literature. Our special focus is the work of Mother Mary Loyola, but we also feature the work of the well-beloved Father Lasance, of William Canton, Father Henry Spalding and many others. Though we started out by offering photograhic reprints of these older books, most of our titles have now been completely retypeset.
Lisa Bergman, a graduate of the Notre Dame School of Architecture, found herself using her degree in unusual ways while homeschooling her six children. Her artistic sense (that is, perfectionism) led her to create her own little scripture booklets for the children, incorporating beautiful classic art with the sacred texts. When faced with helping her children navigate the Latin Mass, this resulted in our first children's Missal, Learning to Follow the Mass. Learning the art of self-publishing in the process, she next turned her attention to a treasure trove of older, out-of-print books that she found online, especially the work of Mother Mary Loyola. Before she knew it, a publishing company was born.
Larry Bergman is our CFO, now assistant typesetter, and long-suffering husband.
We get asked questions like this often, because of our motto and the books we carry. When we think of -isms, we're always reminded of Grandpa in the movie You Can't Take it With You (1938): "Yeah, sure, you know, Communism, Fascism, Voodoo-ism, everybody's got an -ism these days..."
We will confess to being lovers of old things, but we especially love the rich traditions of our Church. We love them because they make more memorable the way that we meet God in our everyday lives. And we love these books because they speak to those traditions. Most of them were published around 100 years ago. But we don't make this love into an -ism, and as we fear the judgment of God, we consider it our duty to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church.
Nevertheless, we pray for the day when lovers of tradition don't have to be accused of having an -ism just because we want our lives to express the fullness of the riches of our Church.
It is our primary goal to provide the best possible reading material for Catholic families, so that they can stay true to their mission of bringing up the next generation in the Truth of our Faith.
There are three main ways in which we seek to fulfill this goal:
Like many Catholic homeschool families, we fell in love with The King of the Golden City when our eldest daughter was preparing for her First Communion. When we later discovered that Mother Mary Loyola had written dozens of books, we just had to have them in our home. Of course, we couldn’t keep them just for ourselves; we felt the need to share them with others, first in our Homeschool Group and then beyond.
In those early days, our books were just photographic reprints, some of which suffered from the quality of the original scans as well as my lack of knowledge and software to make any improvements. As the years have passed, I have learned more and more and have added slowly to our current arsenal of both hardware and software, with the result that our books now have the sort of quality you would expect from a book you would buy in a bookstore.
But tracking down all of Mother Loyola’s writing has been no easy task. Her books have become rare enough that buying the originals simply isn’t an option (there are seldom any for sale!) and even library holdings are scarce. We have begged and pleaded with libraries around the world (no, I’m not exaggerating!) to help us by scanning some of the shorter, hard-to-find pamphlets she wrote. Many of these libraries have been very kind and generous to us.
Thankfully, by this point we have succeeded in tracking down all of those smaller works. Yes, after 5 years, we have finally been able to acquire Ita, Pater! We are hoping, over the next year, to conglomerate these with our existing title Holy Mass/How to Help the Sick and Dying into a complete anthology of Mother Loyola’s short works.
If you are anything like me, when you read Mother Mary Loyola’s books, you almost can’t help feeling as if you were really there, and could hear her talking to you. Her writing is so vivid, personal and conversational, so full of the countless anecdotes that illustrate her point. While reading her work awakens the imagination, it also fuels a curiosity to know the person behind the words, beyond just the fact that she lived at the Bar Convent in York.
However, because she was a Religious, when she died, her few belongings were disposed of. This was common practice. We have no photos, no life story, none of her correspondence; a one page biography, taken from her obituary, is all the Bar Convent has to offer. Yet if you read the Catholic journals of that era, you can see that Mother Loyola was clearly one of the most popular Catholic authors of her time.
We have been fortunate in making some groundbreaking discoveries about her family and some of her early life through genealogical research; however, this gives us a framework only. We have added bits and pieces gleaned from what was said about her in the Catholic journals, and inquiries revealed that some of her letters were preserved in archives in London. We were finally able to travel there in the spring of 2015 to scan these letters, and the work of transcribing them has begun. However, the Bar Convent was closed during our visit, dashing our hopes of comparing photographs held there with those we were able to obtain from family members. We are hoping to return in the spring of 2016 to complete this research.
To this end, after much consideration, encouragement and prayer, we have set up a project page on GoFundMe to raise money for the necessary expenses in traveling to Europe to collect the necessary information.
So if you too are curious to know more about this incredible author, (or, if like some folks I have spoken to, you have said to yourself, “someone ought to open a cause for sainthood for Mother Mary Loyola…”) then please consider visiting our GoFundMe page and making a donation to this worthy cause.
Because our family answers to this description, we have experienced firsthand many of the unexpected challenges such families face. A majority of the books describing the traditional practices of the church are over 50 years old, and therefore they assume their readers are already familiar with certain terms and customs which are opaque from our modern frame of reference. Absent a time machine to take us back to a time when this Mass was still in widespread use, we are sometimes forced to build our own understanding from firsthand experience. What is the best way to incorporate the celebrations of the 1962 calendar (or in some parishes, an earlier calendar) into a 21st century world?
There is no single answer to that question, but we seek to provide the sort of materials that can lead each family or group of families toward a better understanding of the question itself. First and foremost, we have put together the Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass as a way of helping readers to establish a frame of reference through which they can see and evaluate the differences between the current practices of the church and those which were in practice at the time of our parents or grandparents.
The books we have reprinted, because of their age, are all consistent with a Church that maintains these traditional practices. At the same time, they have a broad enough appeal to be relevant to modern Catholics, whether they attend the Latin Mass or not.
But we are currently working on a vision for another Ultimate Guide…one that goes beyond the Liturgy itself and illuminates the cultural practices that brought the faith into the everyday lives of Catholics around the world. We want to answer questions like: What are ember days? What are the Greater and lesser litanies? Why were processions once considered so important? And so many more.
OK, so now we get to the important part! If you love our books and you find yourself nodding in agreement when you read about our mission, you may also feel drawn to help us in that mission. There are a number of ways you can help, some of which are very easy and can be done right here at your computer in a matter of minutes.
We are just one family doing our best to make a difference. We don’t have a staff or a budget and we certainly don’t do huge ad campaigns. We rely on word of mouth to spread the word about our books, because we believe that Truth, couched in Beauty, is the best advertisement there is. Our books speak for themselves.
So if you love our books, make sure you tell your friends, relatives, anyone who you think would like them too!
Again, if you’re anything like me, you want reassurance that the books your kids are reading are as good as the people selling them say they are. I’m a big reader of reviews for almost everything I buy.
If you really love these books, please take a moment to leave a review so that others can benefit from your experience.
But where your reviews can really make a big difference is on Amazon.com.
Many people, myself included, aren’t big fans of what Amazon stands for. But the plain fact is that they have a huge global reach that our little website can’t compete with. Mother Mary Loyola’s books are making their way into homes around the world through Amazon.com, and it’s there that we need to make our presence felt. For a visitor to Amazon who will never see our website, and read what you are reading now, they need to know why these books will make a big difference in their lives. For that, we have to count on you!
This link will take you to a page on Amazon that lists all of our books that they currently carry. Please consider leaving a review there to help spread the word.
We’ve had some great tips from our readers in the past, and we welcome any suggestions you may have. Please do bear in mind, however, that we are mostly limited to works that were published prior to 1923. Current copyright law regarding works in the public domain is frozen at that date. There have been a few cases where we have been able to reprint works that were published after that, but these were special cases that required a lot of legwork that we simply don’t have the experience or staff to pursue on a regular basis.
That being said, if you would like to see a post-1923 work reprinted and have some experience in tracking down its copyright status, we welcome your efforts!
The process of reprinting these books involves scanning the text using an overhead scanner that does not damage these older, more fragile books. (Would you believe we won it in a contest?!?) Then we run the scans through an OCR engine—that is, Optical Character Recognition. It “reads” the image of each page and makes its best guess as to what each letter and word says. But even the best OCR software makes errors, and because it has the intelligent feature of attempting to guess what the word is, it sometimes make some very interesting errors! So the resulting files have to be very carefully proofread to catch the sometimes minor but important errors.
This is a time consuming process, and we can significantly speed up the rate at which we are able to get these books typeset if we have help in doing the proofreading beforehand.
If this sounds like something you would like to do, let us know!
OK, we saved this one for last because we don’t like asking for money any more than we like being asked for it ourselves. But many of the folks we’ve talked to at various Homeschool Conferences around the country have expressed a real interest in seeing the biographical research on Mother Mary Loyola proceed. If you share this vision, please consider visiting our page and making a donation.