Local author Bogner takes children, adults ‘Through the Year with Mary’
Reviewed by Katie Faley
“Through the Year with Mary: Ponder and Pray Together with Children” is a grand way to start 2022.
Katie Bogner, local author and active Catholic young adult, wrote this definitive companion for living out the entire year with the Mother of God. It is the follow up to her first book, “Through the Year with Jesus.”
Bogner knows her stuff, too. Not only is she a junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria, she’s also the director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Parish in Lacon, her home parish. Bogner clearly knows a thing or two about engaging kids in the faith.
I have seen many books and resources for children that attempt to do what “Through the Year with Mary” successfully does. There are often two traps that these types of books and resources fall into. Either the books are written without children and their realistic tendencies in mind, or they are written as if children are incapable of comprehending anything at all. This book avoids both traps.
MARIAN DEVOTION BROUGHT TO LIFE
Written with enough depth to engage a junior high or older student, Bogner also makes it seamless for parents and teachers to adapt to any age group, very young children included. The fact that Bogner has created a book that can engage a 3-year-old as easily as a 13-year-old or even a 30-year-old is a talent that only a select few possess.
The book brings to life Marian devotion and makes deep theological truths understandable for children.
“Through the Year with Mary” is a surefire way to deepen your devotion to Jesus through Mary. It is simple, yet profound; a beautiful work of art and a powerful tool for teaching children the faith.
Each section of the book is divided into a week — one reflection for each week of the year. But the catch is it is so much more than a reflection. The content is both dynamic and interactive — more than just words and pictures on a page.
Each week is three pages long, making it perfect for short, childlike attention spans. The focus of each week spans all kinds of Marian topics — from Mary in Scripture, to Marian apparitions, to Mary’s many titles, to Marian saints. The net of Marian nuggets is wide.
SIMPLE, PROFOUND, BEAUTIFUL
Each week opens with a prayer, saint quote or Scripture passage. Then it moves into a short reflection or explanation of the certain Marian focus for the week.
The second page is a full-color image of a Marian scene or depiction. This is one of the most profound parts of the whole book. Mary has been revered for centuries throughout the world. The diversity of the Marian images selected for this book depict that history and diversity. Spanning times and places, we learn so much about Mary’s role in history, salvation, and culture through contemplating the images — something I am certain kids will greatly enjoy doing often.
The third page contains a short meditation on the Marian art. This usually consists of an open-ended question that will get any child — young or old — to contemplate. Before a final prayer comes the tour de force. One last open-ended question encourages readers or listeners to not only apply the Marian principles gleaned into their daily life in applicable ways, but it also encourages us to find Christ in the midst of Marian theology.
In this is the whole point of this book. As Catholics, we know that we do not worship Mary, like many non-Catholics believe we do. Our honoring Mary always points us back to Christ, the One who fully and unreservedly has our worship. We worship Jesus alone, but who better to help us worship Jesus than His mother? All that Mary is and does points to Jesus. And each week ends with a short reflection question to point us back to the heart of the matter — Jesus.
Every parent, child, teacher, catechist and priest needs this book on their shelves. The deep truths of Marian theology truly come to life in a dynamic way that makes coming to know Jesus through Mary engaging and accessible for children of all ages. It is a surefire way to deepen your devotion to Jesus through Mary. It is simple, yet profound; a beautiful work of art and a powerful tool for teaching children the faith.
KATIE FALEY is a member of St. Mark Parish in Peoria and a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. She has a master’s degree in theology and theological studies from the University of Notre Dame. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.