New children's book explains the sacraments

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The sacraments are for the birds. And the mice. And the butterflies.

In the new book The Little Butterfly Who Loved Jesus, the sacraments are actually celebrated by many animals, including a cricket, a fish, two turtle doves and a butterfly.

In a series of short stories, the book walks young readers through all the sacraments. In the first story, a caterpillar's life changes forever when she discovers the Eucharist. Her transformation into a butterfly coincides with her spiritual change-of-heart and she moves into the church, where she lives from then on.

As the book continues, the butterfly learns about reconciliation and confirmation and helps other animals learn about baptism, matrimony and holy orders. The book ends with the butterfly learning about the anointing of the sick.

Written and illustrated by sisters, mothers and former religious education teachers Susan Brindle and Miriam Lademan from Annapolis, Md., the book is a great resource for children learning about the sacraments. The seven stories in the book provide readers with the context for understanding the sacraments and how they fit into the different stages of life.

The book contains more than 70 beautiful watercolor illustrations by Brindle and Lademan, who have been drawing together since childhood.

This is their second book, having authored The Little Caterpillar that Came to Church more than 10 years ago. That book was published in English and Spanish and was Our Sunday Visitor's best-selling children's book in 1995. Their new book was published through their own apostolate, Precious Life Ministries.

The goal of Precious Life Ministries is to publish Catholic books for evangelization and missions in different parts of the world. The apostolate has already printed Russian copies of The Little Butterfly Who Loved Jesus, which will be used to reach out to Catholics in Russia. The apostolate also has a series of English and Spanish books written on topics like Mary, divine mercy and the Stations of the Cross.

Although The Little Butterfly Who Loved Jesus is aimed at children, the stories are great teaching tools that provide insights into the deeper meanings behind the things that happen at church. Catholics of all ages can benefit from reading about the sacraments from this simple and child-like perspective.

"People who read our books know they're not just for kids," Bindle said. "The beautiful thing about this story is that the sacraments are the life of the Church and our relationship with God. They are the tools that make it easy to get to heaven."

"I really believe our first Communion book will help children not only to understand the sacraments but come to know and love Christ through these beautiful gifts He has given us in His Church," Lademan said.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2010