St. Augustine Academy Press was born because I wanted a way to bring Mother Mary Loyola's work back into print for my children, and I knew that other like-minded people would love it as well. And while we have added so many more great books from yesteryear to our growing catalog, our first priority has always been that of helping children (and adults) to learn the riches of their faith.
Having read Treasure and Tradition, many people have come to me and asked for recommendations for further catechesis--either for themselves, or for their children, or for their parish or school. Of course there are excellent resources like the book My Catholic Faith, and you can't get more solid than the Baltimore Catechism, but when it comes to graded religion courses for grades 1-8, it seems there are few choices besides Faith and Life that are both orthodox and reliably available.
So when I was asked if we might consider reprinting the Our Holy Faith Series, which had been among Neumann Press's offerings (now TAN only prints grades 1-3), I thought this might help supply a need. Current prices for these out-of-print books are ridiculous and far too high for families who want an alternative to Faith and Life.
This is what we do, after all: we are trying to provide the traditional books people want and need for their families, at the most reasonable prices possible. And while it is nice to have sturdy hardcovers, for some families, the cost of these is prohibitive. So we decided to reprint those volumes of the series that are not currently in print, in both softcover and hardcover formats, so that families who wish to continue using this series for their families can afford to do so.
But in the process of tracking down originals in this series, we accidentally discovered an earlier series by the same publisher. It's called Highway to Heaven, and it was produced in the 1930's. I immediately fell in love with the illustrations in this series, which are reminiscent of some of my favorite older children's books. But far better than the illustrations was the thorough and straightforward presentation of doctrine, and teachers manuals that are far more usable than the ones that accompanied the Our Holy Faith series. In fact, many of them reference Mother Mary Loyola's books, so we know they must be really good!
To give you an example of the strength of this series, the 6th grade book explores the Mass. (Of course, this is the Tridentine Mass.) It begins by laying the foundations of the Mass: what it is, why it is important, and how it came to be the way it is. It goes on to explore the Mass itself (always with a focus toward helping the student learn how to use the Missal) and the Liturgical Year, and it covers all the vestments and vessels, etc. But beyond this, it examines the role of the Psalms in the Mass, how to analyze a set of propers to understand the overarching theme of a particular Mass, and even gives some ways of studying the Mass that bring out subtle yet beautiful touches that could otherwise easily be missed. For example, did you know that in the Traditional Latin Mass, the priest makes the sign of the cross over the offerings exactly 33 times? I didn't know that, but this book gives the students this assignment as a way of having them look at the Mass through a different set of eyes.
I was truly amazed by the riches contained in this book. And it's meant for sixth graders!!! I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to get to know the Traditional Latin Mass better, even adults. It's incredible.
A brief overview of the series is as follows:
1st Grade: a gentle introduction to the Child Jesus, basic prayers, and recognition of the True Presence.
2nd Grade: goes into greater depth in the public Life of Our Lord.
3rd Grade: covers Creation, the Commandments, the Redemption, and the Church and her Sacraments.
4th Grade: Old Testament History.
5th Grade: The History of the Church.
6th Grade: The Mass (described in detail above).
7th and 8th Grade: A comprehensive look at Church Doctrine.
We are now making plans to republish this entire series, again, both in softcover and hardcover (and grades 1-4 will be full color). We plan to reissue the books as they are, with no changes, and then to expand the teacher's manuals to include some of the out-of-print resources that are mentioned within. We are also planning student guides for each grade, which have extra stories and activities, and everything they need to do their homework in one place.
This is probably one of our biggest undertakings yet, so we ask for your prayers as we plunge into this new territory!
UPDATE 8/2/17: See our latest post on this project here.