The first people to ask us for a devotional for children were, in fact, our own children. Their sentiments were echoed from the amazing women in our community and in our own hearts. We at Blessed is She desired to offer something to the kids in our lives to help them grow closer to Jesus through His Word, His Saints, His Church, and His example.
For this reason, Rise Up was born.
Written by 15 Blessed is She writers, Rise Up focuses on 15 virtues with passages from Scripture and the Catechism, relevant quotes from the Saints, and a short reflection written for kids ranging from 8-12 (although we have found our younger kids love it, too!).
The Vision Behind Our First Catholic Prayer Book for Kids
Nell O’Leary, Blessed is She’s Managing Editor, sat down with Susanna Spencer, our Theological Editor and pioneer of Rise Up, to discuss the inspiration behind the book.
Susanna, you’re the Theological Editor for Blessed is She. Let’s talk about how you had an idea to write a book on virtues for children. What was the original inspiration behind Rise Up for you?
Last year my eldest daughter mentioned to me that she was interested in having a new prayer book for devotional reading. This lead to my idea of collaborating with Blessed is She to create a beautiful prayer book for children, one that is rich in the Catholic tradition of becoming holy through growth in virtue.
Further, I wanted to have a book for my children that taught them how to pray by learning to place themselves in God’s presence, make an an examination of their daily lives, and then receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
For whom is this book written? What age range do you think would be well-suited to read it?
This book makes the virtues accessible and practical for children ages 8-12 depending on their reading ability.
It would be good for any young person interested in growing in holiness!
You selected the virtues for the book. Can you tell us what they all are and briefly why you chose them?
My first thought in choosing virtues was to write on ones that my own children needed to grow in! While writing it, I realized that I need them as well!
The first virtues are the three Theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
I then chose the four main Cardinal virtues prudence, justice, courage/fortitude, and temperance.
The other virtues I chose are parts or subvirtues of the Cardinal virtues: gratitude, generosity, obedience, perseverance, patience, humility, studiousness, and honesty.
I wanted to pick virtues that children could understand and apply to their daily lives, but also decode the more abstract ones that are more difficult to understand.
You collaborated with fifteen of your fellow Blessed is She writers to put this together. Can you talk a little about what you did for each chapter, drafting the introduction to each virtue and then the first reflection and conclusion?
My role in Rise Up was to choose the virtues and then explain them to the reader.
The book begins with my introduction, which explains what virtue is and how to grow in virtue in general.
Each chapter focuses on an individual virtue. I based the introduction for each chapter on Saint Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of the virtue in his Summa Theologiae. But I took the language down to the level of a 8 to 12-year-old child.
Then comes my favorite part in each chapter. There’s a passage from one of the Gospels which demonstrates this virtue, and a reflection on that Scripture leading the reader into imaginative prayer.
Fifteen different Blessed is She writers wrote the five middle days of the week for each chapter. These are based on a short Scripture selection or Saint quotation that you picked, Nell!
On the final day of the week, I lead the reader to reflect, pray, and make resolutions on how to live this virtue out.
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I love that the five days in the middle of the chapter are centered around the virtue for the chapter, but also a Saint quote or Scripture selection. What do those quotes mean for the kids reading the book?
We chose to give the reader contact with both the Word of God and the words of the Saints. The Word of God was divinely inspired and teaches us how to become like God. Children need to know that it is okay for them to pick up Scripture and read it.
The words of the Saints make holiness seem possible as we remember that they, too, are just humans like us.
This Catholic prayer book for kids has the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur. Can you tell us what that means and a little about what that tells parents about it?
We were super excited to get an Imprimatur for this book. The Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat means that a Church official has read over the book at the bishop’s request and has declared that nothing in the book contradicts or is opposed to the defined body of Church doctrine or goes against the moral law.
As a parent, I look for this on Catholic books for my children. It helps me to know they are reading the Truth.
What was one surprise you had in seeing the book altogether? Maybe one thing that gave you great joy?
I loved seeing all of the different beautiful voices of my fellow Blessed is She writers. It feels like a huge group act of spiritual maternity for the children of the women that we minister to together.
We wrote it for all the children in our lives, in our families, and spiritual families. It is such a gift to be able to do this together!
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Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here. She is the Theological Editor of both the Catechism Studies and the Mystery Studies.
Nell O’Leary is a recovering lawyer turned blogger, speaker, and sewer of baby goods while tending to her husband and four kiddos in the great city of Saint Paul, Minnesota. She serves as Managing Editor for Blessed is She and can down a hot cocoa in no time flat. Find out more about her here. She is the editor of our Blessed Conversations Series and guide for the Gift of You course.