Our Abandoned, Ignored, and Waiting Lord, by Michael Seagriff

Photo © Michael Seagriff

Sometimes we must repeat ourselves — even if our words are not appreciated. It is vital that the Truth be shared, as many times as is necessary. This day is one of those days — a day when I feel compelled to republish (with some slight editing), observations I made nearly a year ago:

Today, in a small upstate New York village, thousands of adoring and appreciative boxing fans will come out to cheer and pay tribute to several boxing legends and the current Miss America, who will process and parade through the village’s streets. The numbers of spectators at this parade will far exceed the total number of individuals who will attend all of the village’s church services this Sunday morning.

Months of preparation and hard work went into this annual event. Many will come several hours before the parade begins in order to stake claim to prime viewing positions. This weekend event attracts national television and media coverage, as well as visitors from all parts of this nation and even from some foreign countries — assembled to publicly honor and pay homage to men and women who made a living by physically pummeling each other. They certainly have the right to do so.

This acclaimed group of human celebrities will parade right past the local Catholic church, where the only Divine Person deserving of much greater public acclamation and worship will remain locked in a tabernacle, ignored, unappreciated, and alone, save for those faithful adorers who keep Him company every hour of every day.

In a few weeks, we Catholics will celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been encouraged for centuries to take Him out of the locked tabernacles in our churches on this feast day and to honor and adore the King of King and Lord of Lords, by publicly processing and carrying Him onto and over the streets of our cities, towns, and villages. Few, so very few, parishes have been or will be willing to do so.

I have no objection to those who wish to offer some public acclamation to individuals who have excelled in some sporting endeavor. I am only stating an obvious but forgotten truth — we should not value those who punch each other with their hands more than He Who allowed Himself to be pummeled, crucified, and killed out of love for us.

It is not right, and I suspect that our abandoned, ignored, and waiting Lord feels the same.

CWG member Michael Seagriff is a Lay Dominican and author of “Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!” His personal blog is Harvesting the Fruits of Contemplation.

Posted in Inspirational | Leave a comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 28, 2014

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

First Kings 3:5, 7-12
At Gibeon Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream during the night. God said, ‘Ask what you would like me to give you.’  Now, Yahweh my God, you have made your servant king in succession to David my father. But I am a very young man, unskilled in leadership. And here is your servant, surrounded with your people whom you have chosen, a people so numerous that its number cannot be counted or reckoned. So give your servant a heart to understand how to govern your people, how to discern between good and evil, for how could one otherwise govern such a great people as yours?’ It pleased Yahweh that Solomon should have asked for this. ‘Since you have asked for this,’ God said, ‘and not asked for long life for yourself or riches or the lives of your enemies but have asked for a discerning judgement for yourself, here and now I do what you ask. I give you a heart wise and shrewd as no one has had before and no one will have after you.

   The power of prayer and the power of people praying.

JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being, his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul, never forget all his acts of kindness.
He forgives all your offences, cures all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the abyss, crowns you with faithful love and tenderness;
Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
his indignation does not last for ever, nor his resentment remain for all time;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offences.
As the height of heaven above earth, so strong is his faithful love for those who fear him.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

The Caves of Steel (Robot, #1)The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like most people on the over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley has little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to help track down the killer. Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worst of all was that the ” R” stood for robot.

I snagged a review audiobook of this from SFFaudio.

I originally read this book when I was a teenager and loved it from the beginning. Isaac Asimov’s descriptions of an overpopulated future Earth were de rigueur for science fiction of the time. What gave this story a fresh spin was that it was a bona fide mystery.

Many years later, listening to William Dufris’ splendid narration, it still holds up. I still remembered the main points of the mystery and detective Lige Bailey’s personality. This left me free to fully appreciate the details of Asimov’s imagined future society, complete with spacemen and robots to provide tension and interest.

I’m not sure if I completely forgot or just never registered the points Asimov was making in this book about technology, adaptation, and the human soul. I was quite surprised to see that Lige Bailey knew his Bible so well that he could quote it in either the King James version or the modern version. And that he used religion as a main point of differentiation (along with art, beauty, and other intangibles) between humans and robots. Atheist Isaac Asimov didn’t deny that faith can lift people higher and that is something one rarely, if ever, sees these days in science fiction.

I also was really interested in watching the way the germ of an idea took hold and was spread from person to person. It was fascinating to see how many things that idea applied to once it had wormed its way into the person’s consciousness.

All in all, this short but satisfying mystery is much richer than I recalled. It was greatly enhanced by the audio where William Dufris became a one man theater company in the way he voiced different characters. There was never any fear of my mistaking who was talking in straight exchanges of dialogue. He was simply masterful whether it was world-weary detective Bailey, slightly robotic Daneel Olivaw, jumpy Jessie, or the nervous Commissioner.

Highly recommended.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE
Wikipedia notes:

It is a detective story and illustrates an idea Asimov advocated, that science fiction is a flavor that can be applied to any literary genre, rather than a limited genre itself. Specifically, in the book Asimov’s Mysteries, he states that he wrote the novel in response to the assertion by editor John W. Campbell that mystery and science fiction were incompatible genres. Campbell had said that the science fiction writer could invent “facts” in his imaginary future that the reader would not know. Asimov countered that there were rules implicit in the art of writing mysteries, and that the clues could be in the plot, even if they were not obvious, or were deliberately obfuscated.

All hail opinionated John Campbell and Isaac Asimov’s determination to prove him wrong. Today there are a lot of different mash-ups included in the science fiction genre and Asimov led the way with this book.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

Opal’s Jubilee, by Leslie Lynch

 

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Strong coffee and strong women perk the pages of Leslie Lynch’s third novel in her Appalachian Foothills series. Learn what gave these women the muscles of the agile tigress who struck from the shadows, the guile of the rural widow who skulked the hollows with her double barrel shotgun or the steel of the sweet grandma who brooked no interference from husband or son when it came to her business. Of all the women to pack a wallop, Opal Mc Bride reigns supreme. Although she served her time in prison, those behind the “Blue Wall” punished her and remained vigilant, to insure that Opal wore the equivalent of the “Scarlet Letter” for the rest of her life. Yet, she cultivated patience and awareness of the threats about her. She dared to dream, hoping for her Jubilee, and she never relented. She would rather die fighting than ever again suffer the imprisonment of fear.

Opal’s dark, lonely journey began in her teens. She had to make it on her own. Her survival skills and instincts kept her alive and sane until parole returned her to the outside where she encountered prejudice, bullying and mistrust, but she would not quit. She found friends where she could, and began to make a new life for herself.

Leslie Lynch drew inspiration for Opal’s Jubilee from case histories of women who were convicted of murder or attempted murder after years of domestic violence and were later granted early release from the Kentucky penal system. Suspense, romance and a river of surprises shackle the reader to each new page until the very last, where lust for a sequel prevails.

I recommend Opal’s Jubilee to those concerned with social justice, women’s rights and to those who enjoy a fresh approach to suspense, romance and adventure. This novel will especially please any who hope for their own Jubilee—their year of freedom.

 

Posted in Adventure, Book Review, romance, suspense | Tagged , | 1 Comment

From the President’s Desk: NFP Week and Catholic Writers Conference Live

James and I teaching an online (virtual) NFP class

James and I teaching an online (virtual) NFP class

In case you didn’t know, we are coming to the end of NFP Awareness Week.

Before I became President of the Guild…even before I started my writing career, I taught Natural Family Planning (NFP). This year, my husband and I will mark our 30th year teaching NFP. My passion for promoting Natural Family Planning and Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is what prompted me to start writing fiction. Since this is NFP Awareness Week, I’d like to first share a few of my NFP-themed blog posts from this week:

Theology of the Body in a Nutshell

The Spiritual Works of Mercy – TOB Style

Theology of the Body Fiction

When I self-published my first book nine years ago, I joined a local (secular) writers’ group. At the first meeting, they asked me to introduce myself and when I said I had five children, I heard a few gasps and perhaps a scoff. Someone said, “With five kids, where did you find time to write a novel?” I remember thinking, “Five kids isn’t all that many.” It wasn’t that they weren’t welcoming; they were nice enough, but I had little in common with the members. I attended a few more meetings, but eventually decided to stop going.

Soon after, I found a Yahoo group called “Catholic Writers Online.” I looked forward to the posts of fellow members, but rarely posted anything. A few years later, some of the Catholic Writers Online members started a group called the Catholic Writers Guild. Knowing they were “faithful to the magisterium,” and knowing I wanted more interaction than daily emails, I joined the Guild in early 2008 and I really felt like I had “come home.” These were writers with whom I shared a common faith and common goals. There were online conferences and in 2009, the first live conference.

The (Sixth) Catholic Writers Conference Live is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to meeting, networking and just chatting with other Catholic writers next week in Schaumburg. If you’re attending, please come and introduce yourself to me (I’ll be the short one giving orders). If you’re not attending, please pray for a successful, safe conference.

With Karina during our book signing. 2009 Trade Show/Conference

With Karina during our book signing. 2009 Trade Show/Conference

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments and/or concerns: president(at)catholicwritersguild.com

Ellen Gable Hrkach
President, CWG

Posted in Blogging, Catholic Fiction, Catholic Writers Conference Live, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Fiction, Self-Publishing | 5 Comments

Glorifying God in Catholic Fiction, by M. R. Zapp

I was checking out the home page for the American Christian Fiction Writers because I was contemplating joining (in addition to being a member of the CWG). While I was on the page, they were featuring one of their authors, Laura Hilton. In her bio, one of the comments she makes is that she wants to make sure all of her writing glorifies God.

As much as I disagree with — and, in truth, must condemn as false — her religion, I have to admire her motive here. It made me question whether that is what I am doing with my writing.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, For the Greater Glory of God, is written on every one of my handwritten letters, not only in recognition and adoration of my Creator, but also as a reminder of the purpose of what I am doing (and it helps cut down on sharing gossip).

Since I add words to my novel via Word, it’s not as if I type AMDG before every session, but I’m starting to think that I should. Is there any better way to ensure that my writing is true to my intent as a writer than to pray about it? And praying before a writing session isn’t something I do with any great frequency. If I do, it’s more along the lines of offering my writing to God to do with as He wills, and that helps me to let go and write because then there’s no pressure. I just do my best and forget the rest (thank you, Tony Horton).

If I think about whether I am glorifying God in my writing, I realize I probably don’t do it as much as I could. And there is a distinct possibility that I will find myself doing some serious revamps (groan) of existing works in progress in the near future.

Of course, the dilemma of glorifying God in fiction without preaching lies at the heart of what it is to be a Catholic writer. As a fiction writer, a good story is the most important part of a book. But as a Catholic fiction writer, writing fiction takes on more responsibility than the work merely being devoid of objectionable content. But what does that really mean?

Does that mean we have to be writing stories centered around the Catholic faith? Does there have to be a priest in every book? A major conversion? Struggling Catholics? Can they just be struggling people? How does this work in dystopian and sci-fi? All of these are questions I, and other Catholic fiction writers, ask ourselves. In what way does our Catholic faith shine through?

The solution to finding these answers, I think, must be prayer — praying that we are glorifying God with our talents as He would desire us to. The Benedictine mantra is Ora et Labora, Pray and Work. It’s a maxim that holds no matter what we’re doing, and it’s past time I apply it to my writing.

On a side note, tempting as it is to join a group that could give me and my writing more exposure, I am deciding against joining the ACFW. But thanks, Laura Hilton!

M. R. Zapp is a mother of five, an avid fan of Regency history, artist, and writer. She has recently taken on a labor of love as editor for Altar and Hearth Magazine, is contemplating the indie publication of her first novel, and blogs at Apostolate of the Pen. She nurses babies, wipes noses, hates ironing and folding clothes, is working on several more novels, and loves to cook.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Fiction | 4 Comments

Catholic Writers Conference, July 29-August 1, 2014

EWTN Bookmark interviews at the CWG Booth

EWTN Bookmark interviews at the CWG Booth

Headed for Catholic Writers Conference next week? Are you excited? You should be! Take a look at this photo to get a sense of the energy and opportunities that await! What an opportunity to rub shoulders with industry professionals, to put names and personalities to folks you’ve met online, to renew friendships, and to network. This is a once in a lifetime experience; make the most of it. There will never be another gathering of exactly the same people at this point in their faith and writing journeys. Truly you are in Chicago, Illinois, because God has called you to be there!

Each of you has a specific reason for attending, a goal you hope to accomplish. If this is your first conference experience, the coming days are likely to be a roller coaster of euphoria juxtaposed with self doubt. Be assured that you are not the only one grappling with these feelings. I hope this knowledge translates into a greater sense of ease in a new and sometimes intimidating environment. Here are some words of advice (of wisdom, too, hopefully!) for both newbies and veterans, for authors, for agents, and for editors, geared toward making this conference the best it can be for everyone:

1) Everyone’s goals are the same, ultimately. Editors want to find the next diamond of a manuscript to publish. Agents want to discover the next author whose career they can guide to new heights. Authors want to find a publisher and/or agent to promote their awesome work. And in this particular setting, all of these people want to serve God with their talents and gifts in the way that pleases Him the most.

When viewed through that prism, competition loses the edge of greed and rejection loses its sting. We’re all on the same side, and God’s looking out for the good of each person’s life and career. This doesn’t mean you should fail to promote your product, just that there is no need for fear. Which brings us to the next point.

2) Be confident. You have something no one else does: your voice, and your work. These are gifts that God has given you, gifts that you have honed with hard work and prayer. No one can duplicate your contribution. Take heart in that fact, and know that your work will find its home. Maybe through this conference; maybe not – which leads to…

3) Don’t take rejection personally. Sometimes it just isn’t a good fit for the publisher or agent. Imagine a library with thousands of books. You have three days to find the best two. You will have to create a system to sort and discard the ones that aren’t suitable for your purpose. Do you see that many wonderful, deserving books will be overlooked? This does not reflect on the worthiness of each one, the same way it does not reflect on your particular project. And in today’s climate, many options are available. So…

4) Be open. There are many possibilities that we may not recognize in our limited, human view. Be open to new ideas, new directions, new options. You may discover a brand new path, or even a calling! You may discover it through…

5) Networking. This is the whole purpose of a conference. Meet people! Ask them what they write, who they want to represent, what they want to publish. Have a brief answer ready when others ask you these questions. (I write ____ and my current project is about ____.)

This is a remarkably small community, and the contacts you make in the next few days will serve you for your entire career. Do not discount the importance of these interactions. They are crucial for your success. But remember…

6) Be nice. This should go without saying, especially in this setting, but we are human and sometimes we need to be reminded. Keep your comments positive; you never know who might overhear or repeat something you said in a frustrated or disappointed moment. Again, this is a remarkably small community even though it may not seem that way.

Also, restrict your interactions to appropriate venues. Don’t try to pitch to an agent or publisher in the restroom, or shove your manuscript under the door of the stall. I have seen the first and have heard of the second, so these are not as far-fetched as they seem. Be considerate of folks. If the target of your interest has a headache or gets a pained look on their face when you approach, be brief. Introduce yourself and say you’d like to send them a query if that is acceptable; believe me, they will remember and appreciate your kindness. And that goes a long way. Which leads to the last point…

7) Be yourself. This may call for leaving your comfort zone, though. If you tend to be shy (many writers are!) push yourself to be more sociable. It’s not hard; smile and ask people around you about themselves. You’ll be glad you did. If you are an extrovert, recognize your tendency to overshadow the more timid among us and let them shine, too.

8) Use social media to keep the non-conference-goers among us updated! There’s the CWG Facebook page and your personal Facebook/Twitter, etc. accounts. The ripple effect can be unlimited. Share the love!

I hope each one of you has a wonderful experience at the Catholic Writers Conference! And… Oops! I forgot the most important words of advice! HAVE FUN!

Posted in Catholic Writers Conference Live, Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Writing and Publishing, CWG member benefits, CWG Needs Volunteers, Encouragement for Writers, Marketing Your Work, Networking, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance by Neal Lozano

I discovered Neal Lozano’s book, “Unbound,” when our covenant community planned an Unbound Conference with him. About 50 of us learned how to cooperate with the Lord to gain freedom from the influence of evil spirits and then guide those coming to the conference in this prayer method.

We learned the five keys that unlock the doors we have opened to intimidating spirits and how to close them. The five keys are not complicated when we understand that not our power but the power of the name of Jesus accomplishes it all: Repentance and faith. Forgiveness. Renunciation of evil spirits. Taking authority over those spirits. The Father’s blessing. That’s the strategy that answers to our prayer “deliver us from evil, freeing us from the lies Satan tells to keep us from God’s plan for our life.

As we learned these keys, we tried them out on one another. Instead of believing the lie that I could never do this right, my confidence grew that the Lord could use me in this ministry. That attitude developed from many healings I experienced through ordinary people in the Unbound ministry with no extraordinary powers within themselves.

Using the keys, I then helped them discover and renounce the hidden roots of their difficulties that blocked their freedom. I heard reactions from “I feel lighter as if a heavy load of furniture shifted from my core” to ““Unbound by the Blood of Christ. My spirit is dancing and celebrating with the Lord.”

The Unbound conference displayed the Holy Spirit working beautifully among many strangers with the common goal of freedom, yet with such different blocks to unlock and remove. The blocks are lies we believe are part of us such as, “I can never do anything right. I don’t belong. God could never forgive me. I’m a victim.”  When the light of God’s truth shines on these lies, the pain of traumas such as addiction to pornography, death of a child or parent, child abuse, abortion and abandonment are healed. Forgiving others and ourselves is no longer impossible. As we recognize hidden guilt, fear and self-condemnation we are able to take responsibility for our sins and renounce their roots. The Father’s Blessing restores our self-worth.

Neal says that the Unbound model works from several basic truths:

  • Because of Jesus, we have hope and can ask for the blessing we need.
  • Jesus is our hope; he is our savior.
  • Jesus saves us from sin and from Satan’s plan for our lives.
  • Jesus reveals to us our hearts so that we can repent.
  • Jesus gives us the power to forgive others and to renounce the enemy in our lives.
  • We have authority over the devil’s influence in our lives in the name of Jesus.
  • God wants to bless us by revealing who we are, so we might fulfill our destiny.

The “Unbound” keys are my do-it-yourself healing kit to apply Neal’s guidelines to the hurts and sins in my life that preoccupy my confessions and my depressions. I began to heal as the examples and reflections peeled back layers of lies I believed. Keeping a journal and engaging in the Unbound deliverance prayers with a trusted friend or small group benefits me even more. Many pastors, spiritual directors and confessors add the Unbound keys to their toolbox.

The keys help me keep resentment and unforgiveness from settling in my soul.  I no longer routinely Xerox my list of sins before Reconciliation, Some of them are gone and Jesus and I are working on some others. Every day my awareness of God’s conviction, presence and power to transform me, grows as well as my freedom to live as the woman he created me to be.

(© 2014 Nancy H C Ward)

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged | 4 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 21, 2014

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Psalms 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

Lord, you are kind and forgiving, rich in faithful love for all who call upon you. Yahweh, hear my prayer, listen to the sound of my pleading. All nations will come and adore you, Lord, and give glory to your name. For you are great and do marvellous deeds, you, God, and none other. But you, Lord, God of tenderness and mercy, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and loyalty, turn to me and pity me. Give to your servant your strength, to the child of your servant your saving help.

  The power of prayer and the power of people praying.

JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being, his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul, never forget all his acts of kindness.
He forgives all your offences, cures all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the abyss, crowns you with faithful love and tenderness;
Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
his indignation does not last for ever, nor his resentment remain for all time;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offences.
As the height of heaven above earth, so strong is his faithful love for those who fear him.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

On the Shoulders of Hobbits by Louis Markos

On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and LewisOn the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis by Louis Markos

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We need the truth, but we also need to know how to live in and through and by that truth.

What we need, in short, are stories.

Louis Markos begins with the idea that in the past stories weren’t only told for children’s entertainment and instruction, but for that of adults as well. We’ve lost not only that idea but a lot of the time-honored values that we used to teach and cherish in such stories. The author “mines” two of the most honored stories in modern times, the Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, The Chronicles of Narnia, to show how they can help us return to classic virtues these days.

Ancient literature, modern culture, and scripture are all woven into Markos’ book. The main emphasis is on Tolkien and Lewis, but the depth of material means that it hits you where you live.  Before delving into the virtues, Markos begins with the idea of the hero’s journey and the road. These are the heart of good story telling, after all, and so are themes that are returned to repeatedly throughout the book.

In the greater tales, the ones that matter—the ones that change both us and our world—the heroes do not so much choose the Road, as the Road chooses them. For our part, we must be ready, prepared in season and out, to answer the call, whenever and however it comes. And we must be prepared to press on, trusting to an end that we often do not, perhaps cannot, see. It is easy to claim that we would have done what Abraham did, but that is only because we stand outside the story. We see the good end, the fulfillment that Abraham could not see from within the story.

Markos is not detached with his subject at arm’s length. He loves these stories and the themes they embrace and his enthusiasm comes through to make a warm, lively reading experience.

I’ve read several other books looking deeper into The Lord of the Rings, in particular, and this book still managed to provide new ideas for reflection. Markos really does a fantastic job of revealing the characteristics of various characters in Middle-Earth and Narnia and the virtues we can see in them. This is a thoughtful and thought provoking book which I can’t recommend highly enough.

I’ll be looking for more of Markos’ books in the future.

NOTE
I received this review copy from Aquinas and More, the largest on-line Catholic bookstore. They’ve got a lot more than books. Check them out for all your Catholic needs … rosaries, communion gifts, and so forth.

I originally wrote this review of On the Shoulders of Hobbits for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments