Catechist Katie Bogner takes children, families ‘Through the Year with Jesus’
Reviewed by Nancy Piccione
I wanted to write that Katherine Bogner’s new book is a “back to basics” approach to living out the Catholic faith, using liturgical seasons and weekly Gospel readings as framework.
But that would underestimate the rich and multilayered resource that Bogner, a local teacher with a global reach online, has created in “Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children.”
“Essentials” might be a better term.
Katherine (Katie) Bogner is a multi-talented, creative person. She’s an artist, writer — she is a fellow member of The Catholic Post book review team and author of this newspaper’s series “The Sheen Corner” — and catechist.
Locally, she serves as junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria and is a member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lacon, where she is director of religious education. But some may not know that Bogner is widely known and esteemed far beyond central Illinois.
That is because Bogner has spent the last decade creating excellent art, content, and ideas to share with countless teachers, catechists, and families worldwide at her website “Look to Him and Be Radiant.” Bogner also has a popular Instagram account.
Because of her wide influence and reach online, Emmaus Road Publishing editors reached out to Bogner to consider writing a book. “Through the Year with Jesus” is the fortunate result of this. It is scheduled for release in the coming weeks. (See pre-order information below.)
The book contains seven sections — two for Ordinary Time, one for the Sacred Triduum, and four for the remaining liturgical seasons: Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
Each section includes pages for the holy days and Sundays within that season, including weekly Gospel reflections, and at least one “Visio Divina” — a print of a classic work of sacred art, along with a description and reflection questions.
Each Gospel reading is followed by several short elements: “Tell the Story,” describing the reading in context and incisive questions; “Live it Out,” with suggestions for incorporating the season into one’s daily life; and a “Lectio Divina” sidebar offering helpful prompts for the ancient practice of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating Scripture.
FAMILY AND CLASSROOM FRIENDLY
The “Visio Divina” is one of my favorite parts of the book, offering helpful ways to engage with the Scripture art prayerfully.
So, for instance, in the season of Easter, one of the “Visio Divina” pages is a 17th century painting called “Landscape with Christ and His Disciples on the Road to Emmaus.” After an introduction, one question reads, “Would you want to get to your location quickly and invite Jesus to stay, or would you hope to linger and spend time together on the journey?”
Bogner’s appealing hand lettering and what she calls “liturgical doodles” appear sprinkled throughout the chapter titles, headings, and other places, lending a winsome touch. Readers of her “Look to Him and Be Radiant” website will be familiar with her distinctive style and appreciate the book’s similar feel.
Bogner’s creative work online mainly assists families and fellow catechists and teachers for religious education and formation. But “Through the Year with Jesus” is even more widely relevant.
Though the book is family and classroom friendly, it is not family or classroom exclusive. Groups (such as small Bible study groups), individuals, and couples would also find “Through the Year” spiritually fruitful.
BENEFITS FOR ALL AGES, EVERY YEAR
The book is easy to implement. Simply reading the Gospel, the “Tell the Story” reflection, and the “Live it Out” section, along with the “Lectio Divina” sidebar (perhaps while contemplating the artwork) itself would be a great preparation for Sunday Mass. Individuals can do this on their own or with a small group; classroom teachers can implement it, and families (and not just of young children, but all ages) would benefit enormously from this.
This kind of multi-faceted resource is especially important when people cannot attend Mass in person, as is common during our current time.
Catholics can derive spiritual benefit from developing the practice of reading and reflecting on the Gospel and readings ahead of Sunday’s Mass. “Through the Year” makes it enjoyable, comprehensive without being overwhelming.
What’s great? The book is not pegged to a particular calendar year or cycle, so is flexible enough to allow readers to engage with it as much or as little as time allows, year after year.
Bogner’s book is a beautiful gift to everyone.
HOW TO PRE-ORDER: “Through the Year with Jesus” is likely to ship in February, but is now available for pre-order at your local Catholic bookstore, at stpaulcenter.com, or on Amazon.
NANCY PICCIONE edited The Catholic Post’s Book Page for eight years and is part of its book review team. A member of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, she blogs at ReadingCatholic.com.