Giveaway for St. Augustine’s Day

To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; 

To seek him, the greatest adventure; 

To find him, the greatest human achievement.”

                                                                                           - St. Augustine of Hippo

The feast of St. Augustine of Hippo is a special day for CTP’s general editor, Christopher Zehnder. When he was received into the Catholic Church 30 years ago, he took St. Augustine as his Confirmation patron. Reading the Confessions of St. Augustine during his teenage years was instrumental in Mr. Zehnder’s conversion. Further, CTP’s president, Michael Van Hecke, is also headmaster of a school named after St. Augustine. 

In honor of the great bishop and theologian, here is our Giveaway:

The DVD “Restless Heart: The Confessions of St. Augustine” 
AND St. Augustine and His Search for Faith by Milton Lomask (an out-of-print children’s book from the Vision Series)

To enter, please leave a comment. Entries will be taken through Sunday,  August 31st and the winner will be announced on Monday, September 1st. Please make sure you leave your contact information.

Additional Resources:
On this day you may want to read these words from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he comments on his special attachment to St. Augustine.

Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Augustinum Hipponsensem
The Restless Flame: A Novel about St. Augustine by Louis de Wohl
coloring page of St. Augustine.
Another coloring page

This Week in History

August 26-30, 1914:
The Russian Army Destroyed

Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern WorldThis week, we continue to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of World War I, with the German invasion of Belgium and the defeat of the Russians at Tannenberg. The following comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
The day after Great Britain’s declaration of war, the German army began bombarding the fortresses surrounding the Belgian town of Liège. For two days, German artillery battered these fortresses until at last, on August 7, their defenders surrendered. Following the capture of Liège, the German army, like a relentless flood, rushed westward until it reached the Belgian city of Namur. Like Liège, Namur was surrounded by a ring of fortresses and was said to be impregnable. But, training its heavy howitzers on the fortresses, the German army forced Namur to surrender on August 23 after a three-day siege. 

A 1914 cartoon from the British periodical
Punch, depicting Belgium as a boy farmer
  defying a cudgel-wielding Germany

Eighteen days after crossing the border, Germany controlled nearly all of Belgium. Her armies were now prepared for the invasion of France.

But while she was victorious in the West, Germany faced grave dangers in the East. Russia had mobilized more swiftly than the German generals had thought she would, and while the German army was still fighting in Belgium, Russian troops were pouring into East Prussia and threatening the important city of Königsberg. On August 20, General Maximilian von Prittwitz led the German Eighth Army in an attack on the Russian First Army, commanded by General Paul von Rennenkampf. Prittwitz was defeated and began retreating to the Vistula River-a move that would have left all of East Prussia under Russian control.

When Moltke heard of Prittwitz’s defeat, he called the 66-year-old General Paul von Hindenburg from retirement and appointed him commander of the Eighth Army. Hindenburg appointed General Erich Ludendorff, who had become famous at Liège, as his chief of staff and immediately ordered the Eighth Army to advance against the Russians. From August 26 through 30, the German army surrounded and destroyed the Russian Second Army in what has been called the Battle of Tannenberg. So complete was the German victory at Tannenberg that it ended the Russian invasion of Germany.

A Russian Triumph

In 1914, the Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev, having finished his studies at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, engaged in a “battle of the pianos.” He played his own Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-Flat Major, which he had composed two years previous. Prokofiev won the competition. This video features a 2005 performance of Prokofiev’s concerto.

Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No 1, Martha Argerich & Alexandre Rabinovitch (complete)

Why Use a Catholic Textbook for History?

Fr. Norbert Wood, O. Praem, a member of the Order of St. Norbert and an educator in southern California explains why:

In terms of supplementing content, it makes much more sense to supplement a Catholic textbook to meet specific standards rather than the reverse. No matter what the subject matter. 

If we, as Catholic educators, use a secular textbook for social studies, for example, but must repeatedly tell our students that this book left something out or that it was not accurate in certain fundamental premises, then we send students a mixed message. Why should a student trust a book that has to be corrected?  Why should a Catholic student trust a book that denies the possibility of the supernatural? And yet ironically here is a classic application of the modern educational concept “hidden curriculum.”  No matter how much we try to correct a flawed text to bring it into harmony with the faith, the very fact that we have chosen the flawed textbook as the primary text in the first place sends the students the hidden (and erroneous) message that the secular text is superior to the Catholic alternative. And despite our best efforts to the contrary, the faith is undermined.

Instead, if we use a Catholic textbook for social studies; one that tells the story of history from a perspective that is open to discover and present whatever is true—the good and the bad alike—students benefit.  Then, if we supplement a textbook that is fully accurate, we enhance rather than destroy a child’s trust – and our presentation has integrity in both senses of that word. I think Jesus put it much more succinctly: “Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added unto you.”

Back-to-School Discount!

Special Offer with Great Savings 

Choose one of these packages:
1) For $79 get one CTP textbook and teacher’s manual (worth $95).
2) For $149 get any TWO CTP textbooks and teacher’s manuals (worth $190). 

This sale runs until September 30th and is not available at the normal CTP website. 
For more information or to order go to: or call 888.610.3354

Please share this money-saving offer!

This Week in History

August 1-7, 1914
The Week of War Declarations

Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern World (Textbook)This week, we continue to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of World War I. The following account how the war went from a local struggle between Austria-Hungary and the kingdom of Serbia to engulf the major powers of Europe comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern WorldFor ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.

Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia seriously threatened the peace of Europe, and the great powers knew it. On July 29, the day following Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war, Tsar Nikolai II ordered the mobilization of the Russian army. Though mobilization did not necessarily mean war, European governments generally understood it to be nearly the same thing as a declaration of war. Tsar Nikolai knew this; and since he was unwilling to go to war, he asked Great Britain to come up with a plan that would convince Austria-Hungary to end her war against Serbia.

Helmuth von Moltke
Russia’s mobilization alarmed Germany. At a meeting between the kaiser and his advisers on the evening of July 29, the German army’s chief of staff, Helmuth von Moltke (the nephew of the Moltke who had directed the Franco-Prussian War) argued that war with Russia was sure to come, and Germany must mobilize. Kaiser and council rejected Moltke’s advice, and that night Wilhelm telegraphed Berchtold to persuade him to talk with Russia. The kaiser sent a message to the tsar as well, begging him to do nothing that “would precipitate a calamity we both wish to avoid.”

The next day, July 30, Great Britain presented a peace plan to Austria-Hungary. According to the plan, Austria- Hungary would call a cease-fire but would occupy Belgrade and other Serbian towns while peace talks went on. Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg of Germany sent a message to Berchtold, urging him to accept the British plan. If Austria-Hungary refused the plan, said the German chancellor, the “result would be uncommonly serious for Austria and ourselves.” Later the same day, Kaiser Wilhelm also sent a message, urging Austria-Hungary to accept the British plan.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Yet, the very same day that Bethmann-Hollweg had urged him to open talks with Russia, Berchtold received a telegram from Moltke, urging him to order a mobilization of the Austro-Hungarian army against Russia. That night, Moltke met with the kaiser and was at last able to convince him that Russia’s mobilization was a true threat to Germany. Reluctantly, Wilhelm agreed to send the tsar an ultimatum — that if Russia did not call off its mobilization in 12 hours, Germany would be forced to declare war. The next day, July 31, the German government sent a note to the French government, demanding that it declare itself neutral in a war between Germany and Russia. France was given 18 hours to respond.

Germany might have had some hope that Russia would call off her mobilization, but there was little hope that France would abandon her ally, Russia, in the event of a war. In the end, neither Russia nor France agreed to Germany’s demands. Tsar Nikolai simply refused to reply to Germany’s note; and so on August 1, Germany declared war on Russia. The same day, France said that she “would consult her own interests,” and began mobilizing her army against Germany. Two days later, Germany declared war on France.

A war with both France and Russia posed great dangers for Germany, for she would have to fight armies on two fronts at once. Russia’s army, moreover, was far larger than Germany’s. To defeat these enemies, the German high command decided it had to rely on the swiftness of Germany’s army — for, the German generals thought, it would take some time for Russia’s armies to fully mobilize.
Map of Europe in 1914
Moltke and his generals had come up with this plan: while Russia’s armies were mobilizing, the German army would invade France, swiftly defeat the French army in a six-week campaign, and then turn and fight the Russians. To invade France with the necessary speed, German forces could not cross directly into France over her common border with Germany, for that part of France was well defended both by the Vosges Mountains and French military emplacements. Instead, the Germans would pass through Belgium and across the less fortified plains of northwestern France.

By deciding to invade Belgium, Germany was playing a dangerous game. Though the British government had warned Germany not to attack the French coasts or French shipping, most Englishmen were opposed to entering the continental war. An invasion of Belgium might change public opinion and bring Great Britain into the war against Germany. The German high command, however, thought the only way to save Germany would be to knock out the French quickly, and this meant an invasion of Belgium.
German soldiers on the field, August 7, 1914
On August 2, therefore, the German army occupied the independent and neutral Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and sent an ultimatum to Belgium — the Belgian government had to allow German armies to cross Belgian territory or face an occupation. The Belgian government proudly refused to surrender its sovereignty to Germany and appealed to Great Britain for protection. When the German army began crossing the Belgian border, Great Britain made her decision. At midnight of August 4, 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany.
French bayonet charge
Great Britain was not the last European country to enter the war in 1914. On August 7, Montenegro joined Serbia against Austria-Hungary, while the Ottoman Empire (hoping to regain lands in the Balkans) signed a secret treaty with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany and Austria’s ally, Italy, however, declared herself neutral; the Italian government said the war was not a defensive one, and Italy was bound to aid her allies only in a defensive war….

Thus the war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia turned into a European-wide conflict. On the one side were the Central Powers (so called because they held Central Europe): Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their allies. On the other were the Entente or Allied Powers: Great Britain, Russia, France, Serbia, and their allies. Europe had never known a war like the one she was now entering; indeed, the world had never known so destructive a war as this war would become.

The clash of the Central and Entente powers in what became known as the Great War would destroy what remained of Europe’s ancient regime, as well as its civilization. Moreover, it would change the face of the world forever.

The New Music

The 20th century witnessed a good deal of experimentation in music. This piece by the Austrian composer, Anton von Webern –Sonata for Cello and Piano (1914) — is  an example of the new direction music was taking by the beginning of the First World War.