Do you think Church history is dull? It's okay to admit it! But here are a few facts that might liven it up a little:
- Feeling pent up in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II used to sneak out to ski and hike in the Italian Alps. He did it over a hundred times before being discovered by a 10-year-old boy who pointed at him and shouted, "The pope! The pope!"
- The only Christian church in existence for the first 1,000 years of Christian history was the Roman Catholic Church. Most non-Catholic churches are less than a century or two old by comparison.
- It took so long to build a Gothic cathedral in the middles ages that some master masons worked on a single cathedral their entire life—as did their sons.
- Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, was Catholic and the first book ever printed was the Catholic Bible.
- The Catholic Church is entirely responsible for the composition of the Bible, which books are included, as well as the breakup of the chapters and verses. Protestants have removed some books of the Bible because some of the verses were inconsistent with their theology. (Martin Luther removed Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch.)
A lot of people learned history in the most tedious of ways: memorizing dates, trying to get this king or that pope’s numbers straights (there were, after all, 15 Pope Johns by the year 1000!), remembering significant battles or edicts. In that case: yes, any history can seem very dull indeed!
One of the reasons that history feels dull is because it’s distant. The people who lived back then—whenever “then” happens to be—seem to have nothing in common with us, so they stay one-dimensional in our minds.
And the facts themselves are often irrelevant. Seriously, who cares when a certain Church council’s edicts were ratified? Or when the Gnostic heresy died out? Many people look to the past to help guide their lives today, but that past doesn’t seem to have much to do with modern life.
But if all history (and maybe Church history in particular) were taught differently, we might have a completely different reaction to it. We might even find it useful to know!
Catholic history is filled with brilliance and sacrifice, with passion and dedication, with people willing to do anything for God and his Church. Opening the door to history is allowing all of these people and what they did to spill out and influence our lives as Catholics today.
And we have a great place for you to start! The Crabby Mystic herself, Sister Mary Lea Hill, FSP, is ready to take young people (starting at age 10) and adults alike on a wonderful tour of history in her upcoming book, The Church Rocks. She’ll give you fun facts, ask you questions, and de-mystify the mysterious. She provides a timeline so you can see where events are in relation to each other, adds a “bigger picture” so you can have a sense of the meaning of events and decisions, suggests activities to complement the information, points to options for further reading, and gives “snapshots” of all these amazing people who are our spiritual ancestors.
Because they really are family. Everyone lately seems to be interested in their genealogy, in learning where they came from and who exactly is in their family tree. As Christians and Catholics, we too have a family tree, people who made us who we are today. Forgetting them is forgetting a part of ourselves.
In The Church Rocks, highlights of Church history are presented in an engaging way for young people, parents, and teachers, with every chapter including:
- Fun fictional “eyewitness accounts” to make events come alive
- Additional “factoids,” small snippets of information
- “Once upon a word,” providing explanations of word meanings
- Timelines, so that readers can see events in relation to each other
- A prayer relating to the situations and people in the chapter
- Brief biographies or “snapshots” of each major character
- A “mystery of history” that sparks curiosity about mysteries of the past
- The “latest and greatest” tying Church-related episodes to concurrent events in the secular world
- “On the record” excerpts from historic accounts and quotes from major players
- Activities that complement information, and resources for further exploration
The Church Rocks is available now. Why not check it out? The Crabby Mystic has no time for the dull side of history: she’ll take you on a rollicking tour that will leave you amazed, breathless…and very grateful to be part of this story.
by Jeannette de Beauvoir