Hope Springs – The Adventures of Nick and Sam is a six-book series written by Paul McCuster from the Augustine Institute.
Synopsis (from Lighthouse Catholic Media): Nicolas and Samantha Perry are twins in the Perry family. They moved with their parents, their brother Andrew, and their sister Lizzy, to Hope Springs in the summer. Hope Springs is a multi-faceted series of stories that explores living the Catholic faith in the modern world. This series presents the adventures of the twins, their family, their friends, and the people they encounter at school, church, and in town. This series presents Catholic culture easily and normally, and provides opportunities for readers to think about the consequences of words and actions. The likeable and engaging characters reflect the sensibilities and struggles of being Catholic in the quirky small town of Hope Springs, playing out their faith at the St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church and School, with their neighborhood friends and adversaries, and in the many adventures that make the teachings of the Church come alive.
There are six books in this series:
Book #1 – Perfects Gifts
Book #2 – Hidden Treasures
Book #3 – The Best Advent Ever
Book #4 – Trouble with Lent
Book #5 – A World of Wonder
Book #6 – View from the Top
Discussion: This series covers significant milestones in the character’s lives and includes the liturgical year such as – birthdays, the first day of school, Advent, Lent, Ordinary time, Easter, First Communion, and then the ending of the school year. It is mainly a series about children learning and discovering their faith on an individual/personal level following the natural rhythms of life within the seasonal year, and many Catholic children could relate to the situations and practices of the Perry family.
These books can introduce the liturgical year to your children. One of my favorites things about being Catholic is an emphasis on the liturgical seasons. There is always something to look forward to and/or practice, such as feast days, Holy Days of Obligations, or holidays. I have noticed in my own life the importance of preparing (fasting) for major holidays (feasting). In one year, we witness the “whole mystery of Christ” (CCC 1163 and 1194).
Pope Pius XII wrote, “By commemorating the mysteries of the Savior, the sacred liturgy strives to bring all believers to participate in them in such a way that the divine Head of the Mystical Body may live in each of His members with the fullness of His holiness.”
Rituals and traditions are important as they reinforce important values and beliefs. Many studies have linked habits, rituals, and religious practices to the overall well-being of humans.
The liturgical year is made up of seasons, feast days, and holy days that determine the scriptures used in mass and the colors used in celebrations. This week we continue the Easter season, and today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord. Tomorrow we celebrate St. Rita, which is significant to my family as she is one of my daughter’s confirmation saint.
This rhythm and celebration is a biblical concept and came from our Jewish roots in the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus Chapter 23, which details the Jewish Holidays. This concept is even there from the beginning:
Gen 1:14: Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate the day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days, and the years.
Here is the basic breakdown of the year the Roman Catholics use. Note – the Eastern Church has different days and ways of counting.
1. Advent – Prepare the way of the Lord: Covers the 4 Sundays before Christmas and their weeks.
2. Christmas – Birth of Christ: Starts at midnight mass and continues until the Baptism of the Lord.
3. Ordinary Time – Walking with Christ: This is broken up into two periods over the year.
4. Lent – Dying to self: the 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays), which focuses on fasting, abstinence, and increase prayer.
5. Easter Triduum – Death into Life: Shortest period starting on Thursday before Easter (the Lord’s Supper) and ending at Easter Vigil.
6. Easter – Christ is Risen: Easter Sunday until Pentecost and covers 50 days.