"Big Four" Highlights


A Family Book for All Seasons

Maria von Trapp provides guide to ‘liturgical living’

Have you ever watched “The Sound of Music” and thought it would be nice to live that way? Well, now we all can take some lessons from the von Trapps thanks to a book originally written by Maria von Trapp and recently republished by Sophia Institute Press.

Maria von Trapp provides guide to ‘liturgical living’

This is a very Catholic book that includes all the major liturgical feasts. With the original introduction intact, Around the Year with the von Trapp Family provides innovative and traditional ways to celebrate each season as a family, with appropriate songs, activities, crafts, recipes and words of encouragement for even the busiest parents.

Elizabeth Pham, a young mother who discovered the original book and brought it to the editors at Sophia, writes in her Foreword, “Around the Year with the von Trapp Family is a book about liturgical living. … it is a book about the home and the family — and about how the earthly home and family should be a reflection of and a prelude to the eternal one.”

To get a deeper insight into the book, we spoke with Sophia’s Rob Kenney, the father of seven daughters, who says he feels like a Capt. von Trapp figure in his home, though “without the mariner’s whistle.”

How did this book come about?

Rob Kenney: A friend of Sophia Institute Press, Mrs. Elizabeth Pham, had seen the book and realized it was a treasure that many families — Catholic families in particular — would cherish, yet it was out of print and unattainable. Sophia Press regularly looks for classics that need resurrecting so that new generations can be introduced to the timeless wisdom, pillars of the faith and Doctors of the Church.

Even given the fame of the von Trapps, why should Catholic families today follow advice from the “old days”?

Rob Kenney: The main reason to follow their practices and thereby establish and expand our own family traditions is to keep ourselves and our children rooted in the faith. No matter the day and age, there are distractions that tend to separate families from each other and the ever-flowing grace of our Lord. Today we deal with overly busy schedules, mobile devices in almost every hand, TVs in every room and constant exposure to our commercialized culture. This state of noise not only distracts from what is important, it also tends to isolate and create a self-centered mindset. This only further degrades the family — our first unit of community and last bastion of hope against the evils in our world. Maria von Trapp exquisitely captured simple activities and reflections that help bring the family together! In our world of easily-accessible everything, slowing down to create your own advent wreath or read together about the life of the day’s saint helps children learn how to formulate opinions, express them openly, and even respect differing opinions from others! Our faith is so rich and deep that only by living it daily are we able to truly model a Christian life and handle all that comes at us.

Do you and your wife plan to use this book to order your home life?

Rob Kenney: Yes! We certainly will pick and choose activities as we already do many things with our kids. We’re finding the Advent content to be very useful and a good reminder of some activities we had forgotten, like Christkindl. We like the idea of more intentionally recognizing and celebrating all the Church’s feasts and not just the big ones. Great ones to add will be for each child’s patron saint (we already try to celebrate their Baptism Day). As they get older they can read more on their own and share with the family about their patron and how they see their intercession in that moment.

How would you recommend Catholic families use the book?

Rob Kenney: There is so much content and wisdom to glean from it that people should first of all just read it. As the success of The Sound of Music attests, Maria Von Trap was an enormously gifted and inspired woman, so to be able to read her writing is a real treat. Then go back and depending on the age of your kids, get them involved in looking through the activities, recipes and songs to see what they want to try. Remember, it is all trial and error. There is no one activity that will be a fit for everyone. You may see something that sounds great, but in practice just doesn’t work for your family. And that’s fine because it’s such a treasure trove. Maria clearly had the concept of a living faith and as the von Trapps came to the United States she began incorporating those traditions into her family’s routine. Keeping in mind that we too will always need to adjust and modify to meet the needs of our own families, we can keep the book on hand to help us maintain vibrant, faith-filled and Christ-centered homes!