As a Catholic convert, my devotion to Mary has developed slowly. When I first joined the Church, I was aware of the doctrines about Mary, but I was skeptical. During my first pregnancy, I began to feel myself being drawn to Mary as a mother who knew what I was going through. As I’ve continued to learn more about Mary’s life and about Church teachings, I’ve grown to love her more and more.
Now, I find myself turning to her frequently as an example of perfect trust in God’s will. She was the first to say “yes!” to God and constantly draws people to her Son. And so I was very excited about Through the Year with Mary: Ponder and Pray Together with Children, a beautiful new devotional book for families from Katherine Bogner. Through the life of Mary, children and their parents will learn more about Jesus and grow in their faith.
I received this book for review courtesy of the publisher; all opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Overview of Through the Year with Mary
Through the Year with Mary follows the calendar year, with four weekly readings for each month. This makes it easy to jump in at any time, as you can simply pick up the devotional and find the appropriate month and week. For example, this would be Week 2 in June, which focuses on Mary Gardens. Each month has a theme, such as the Holy Family, the Annunciation, the Most Holy Rosary or Marian Saints.
Within each week, Katherine provides a reflection on a specific aspect of Mary’s life or Marian teachings and what we can learn from that. A saint quote is highlighted. There’s a beautiful, classic photo of Mary, with a few reflection questions about it to help draw children into the artwork. (My kids are very visual, so I’d end up reading each chapter with all five of them trying to hang over my shoulders and study the artwork as I read.)
One thing that finally helped me overcome my skepticism about Mary (and the idea that Catholics “worship” Mary) was realizing that she always points to her Son. Mary is the most humble Christian on earth and everything she does is meant to draw us to Jesus. At the end of each weekly reflection, Katherine includes a section called “To Jesus through Mary.” This has some little tips about how Mary can help us grow closer to Jesus; for example,
It is fascinating to think that the moon doesn’t make its own light. It is only reflecting the light of the Sun, which we cannot see at night. … Just like the moon, Mary can brighten our lives and help us to see our way, but remember that the source of her light is Jesus. He is the light of the world!
Each weekly reading ends with a prayer. These are traditional Catholic prayers which you may want to add to your family prayer time. January’s prayers included the Ave Maria in Spanish and the Litany of Loreto.
My thoughts on this devotional
Katherine Bogner’s knowledge and love of the faith, and her desire to draw families to Jesus, is evident throughout this beautiful devotional. From the glossy pages with full-colour artwork, to the calligraphy and other little Marian symbols throughout the pages, this is a book that will draw children into the beauty and wonder of our faith. It’s the perfect addition to your family prayer time each week.
Through the Year with Mary is the perfect companion to Katherine’s first book, Through the Year with Jesus. You could alternate devotionals each year, learning about your faith through the life of Mary one year and the life of Jesus in the Gospels another year. Or you could use them together, perhaps reading a devotional from one at the start of the week and from the second during the latter half of the week. I’ve sometimes spread the weekly devotional through the week, by reading small parts of it (for small children with small attention spans) at a time.
Katherine truly has a gift for teaching. Whether you’re using Through the Year with Mary in your catechism classes, school or homeschool, or family, you and your children will enjoy learning more about Mary. This devotional is accessible and easy to use with children of all ages, which I love as a homeschool mom. Each of the children picks up something from the readings, appropriate to where they are in their faith journey, as we read together.
I’ll be honest… I’ve been struggling to find a time for regular family prayer. The kids have several evening activities that make life busy between supper and bedtime. During the day, my oldest is at school and I want to include her. Mornings are hectic with breakfast and getting out the door. And I know this is a struggle every family faces. Having great resources to use during our prayer time doesn’t help if we don’t use them.
I’m working on getting better at this important habit. We have a little altar area in our home now, with a statue of Mary, a few saint candles, and some flowers. (I tried putting rosaries here too, until my four-year-old started using them as lassos and they had to go higher up.) Now, I also leave Through the Year with Mary on the altar, as a reminder to stop and pray together at the end of our day. Having this visual in an obvious area of the house does help.
More about Katherine Bogner
Katherine Bogner is a Catholic school teacher and Director of Religious Education from Central Illinois. She has worked with Catholics of every age—from preschool through adult—but has a special place in her heart for middle schoolers. Most of all, she is passionate about equipping parents, catechists, and teachers to share the beauty and truth of Christ and His Church with their students. Visit LookToHimAndBeRadiant.com where she shares free lesson plans, printables, and other resources for teaching the Faith.
Through the Year with Mary is available from Amazon, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and your favourite Catholic bookstores. (You can view the Table of Contents with their weekly themes on the St. Paul Centre website.)