This is not your typical book review. My purpose is not just to introduce you to, MOZART: Gift of God, as an excellent picture book to share with your children, but to also to appreciate some specific virtues in it. First, let me give you the basics: Ignatius Press has provided us with an exquisitely crafted book. The artwork of author-illustrator Demi visually transports us simply and exquisitely into Mozart’s world. There we discover the sincere Catholic faith that infused Mozart’s life and music with extraordinary beauty.
It is a delightful surprise to find the depth of faith possessed by this child prodigy composer, that other books and films about him might neglect to share. It is particularly notable that because Mozart is not a canonized saint, today’s children may find him especially inspiring because he is a relatable regular Catholic like them.
Every experience of reading or media is an opportunity to have a virtue conversation with your children. You can guide your children to be “virtue spotters” who learn to notice where virtue is demonstrated in what they read and watch. Don’t work too hard to teach this skill to them. Simply model it, as you comment on what you liked about the book, but frame your comments in the vocabulary of virtue. Too often our children are conditioned to appreciate stories and art based on the quality of the style or craft. Don’t miss the opportunity to gently help them appreciate the richness of the spiritual or moral content as well.
Here are five everyday virtues that are vividly portrayed in Mozart: Gift of God that you can use to inspire a virtue conversation with your children … after you read the story.
- FAITH: Mozart said, “I always have God before my eyes.” The middle name he adopted for himself, Amadeus, is Italian … meaning, “Lover of God.”
- DEVOTION: Mozart cared deeply for his family and friends, and for the divine presence in the Eucharist.
- INSPIRATION: Mozart generously shared his gifts. He continues to energize the hearts of all who hear his work, even today.
- JOYFULNESS: Mozart was known for his happy frame of mind, and he thanked God for the way joy permeated his life, even when times were difficult.
- SELF-DISCIPLINE: Numerous times in the story Mozart shows his willingness to work hard to create beautiful music for others to enjoy.
Intentionally exposing your children to stories that contain Catholic characters is a subtle and very effective way to affirm a child’s own Catholic identity, and motivate them to desire faith and virtue. Picture books are profound access points for just such exposure at any age. Have an older sibling read a book like Mozart: Gift of God to a younger brother or sister and both children’s spiritual imagination will be enriched. As so many children seem to be “outgrowing” their faith as teens and young adults, stories like Mozart, Gift of God can help plant a deep desire in them to live a joyful and fervent Catholic faith when they grow up.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
God beguiles all our hearts through beauty, and music has often been a deep whisper of divine love. If Demi’s Mozart inspires you to seek out more storytelling about Catholics whose music was inspired by God, here a few more great finds. Enjoy the great audio book about St. Cecilia in the Glory Stories collection from Holy Heroes. The magnificent audio drama from Augustine Institute called Ode to St. Cecilia is tremendous for any age to enjoy and is available at no charge for members of FORMED. For an older sibling or mom, discover Yesterday, Today and Forever, the story of the real Maria Von Trapp, whose life was portrayed in the movie The Sound of Music.
Try having casual virtue conversations with your children after reading a story or watching a film. It may feel awkward at first, but it’s totally worthwhile. Share in the comments below how it goes.
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Copyright 2019 Cathy Gilmore