This summer I’ve been catechizing my 6th, 8th, and 9th grade children by using the Christ Our Life series by Loyola Press. This series is my favorite for catechesis. Knowing it inside and out from using it so much as a full-time 6th-8th grade catechist from 2002-2012, I no longer need the books. I simply use the links provided below, which I believe are sufficient for most, to be honest. There are study guides and games to help teach your children the faith, without all the silly stories about “Johnny and Susie” that bore kids by pointing out the obvious.
Christ Our Life – 6th Grade
The 6th grade curriculum starts with creation and ends with John the Baptist. This means it covers the entire Old Testament. It begins with the Pentateuch and the stories of the patriarchs. Next, it covers the period of judges and kings. Then it moves on to stories and teachings of the prophets. Finally, it comes to a close with the last and greatest prophet, John the Baptist, the one who ushers in the coming of the Messiah. Interwoven throughout are teachings on the Ten Commandments, morals and principles of decision-making, and more. I love the opportunity to introduce kids to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, pointing out situations that prefigure the coming of Jesus.
Christ Our Life – 7th Grade
The 7th grade curriculum is all about the life of Jesus Christ. Included are stories of His birth and His culture, language, geographical region, and political situation in which He lived. Certain chapters focus on His teachings, parables, and miracles. Naturally, His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension are covered. In addition to these, the learner gets to know those closest to Jesus, namely, Mary and the Apostles. Attention to the Beatitudes and social sin provide great discussion points. Treatment of each of the Seven Sacraments, along with attention to the writings of the New Testament, round out a very comprehensive “year” of study.
Christ Our Life – 8th Grade
The 8th grade curriculum focuses on the history of the Church, from the Acts of the Apostles onward to our present time. Students learn about Apostolic succession, the Church Fathers, and early persecution of martyrs for the faith. They learn about the advent of monastic and religious life, the preservation of culture by monks during the so-called “Dark Ages,” and the budding of Christendom under Charlemagne. The curriculum then covers scholasticism, the founding of mendicant orders like the Franciscans and Dominicans, and both the Protestant “Reformation” and authentic Catholic Reform that followed. Catholic spirituality, the Renaissance, and challenges to the Catholic Church resulting from the Enlightenment follow. Finally, Vatican II and the Church today get the attention they deserve as well. Throughout the course, students learn about the great saints of every era, as well as the liturgy and liturgical cycle.
The Christ Our Life series is a great catechetical tool, and I invite others to use it. You might learn something along the way too! How could you not? From 6th-8th grade, you’ll go from Genesis to today! Enjoy!