The Twelve Steps to being a Spiritual Writer

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Step Eleven – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our writing by seeking a conscious contact with God – praying only for the knowledge of His will for our work and the power to carry that out.

 

I have always loved the term that the early Christians used to describe our faith. They called it “The Way.”  I love it because it denotes action. It points to a journey, a path. When we want to go somewhere we check a map, or put the address in our Garmin. (Although my children say this ages me!) We don’t head out on a trip without knowing where we are going.

So it is with our writing journey. We are more than just writers. I once belonged to a writing group headed by a very talented writing professor from Princeton University. I felt so inadequate because everybody in the group was highly educated and held Ph.Ds in Literature and English.  Here I was with a nursing degree and a talent I didn’t know how to use. When I read my positive stories of faith I could feel the animosity and silent mockery of some in the group. Discouraged, I was ready to quit. Instead, that wonderful professor took me to the side and said, “You can learn the skills you need to be a writer! The difference between you and the others is that you have something to say!”

Those words propelled me forward. I couldn’t have been a writer in my youth. I wasn’t that smart. It wasn’t until I found my lost faith in God that He gave me something to say. Anyone can learn the art of writing. It is only a precious few whom He calls to be Spiritual Writers. It is a small niche. It is a tiny genre. We are called by the world to seek worldly riches and acclaim. There is nothing wrong with these things, but when we start to make worldly success our goal we lose the very thing that makes our writing unique and special. We are writing for the Kingdom of God. Our riches lie in another world. And yet doesn’t He always provide.

So we must follow the path. We must live The Way.

“The strength of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too.”… Henry Ward Beecher

I want to follow The Way. And I am blessed because our Catholic Church clearly outlines how to do that. It is so simple and yet it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I need to turn my will, hopes, dreams and writing over to Him. When I do, I experience such a sense of peace and contentment. I am no longer burdened by my own desires. I can live simply. I can follow the Church’s teachings. My writing reflects my faith and I am hopefully following His Will. It is only when I start to play tug of war with the control of things that I get lost.

My gift requires more of me than I am always ready to acknowledge. My gift was given to me to heal the hurting and lost children of the world. I was once (and often still am) one of those children. Oh, at times it might be easier to ignore the gift of words and the hurt and rejection that often accompany it. But how would I stand before Jesus at the end of my life and explain that I buried the talent out of fear? How would I explain all the healing and inspiration that didn’t occur for the rest of my brothers and sisters because I decided to write what was popular or trendy? I have to follow His Way.

How do I do that? I can only do that by turning myself and my work over to God. I learn His Will by daily prayer. I meditate on His Words in Scripture. I meditate on the mysteries of the rosary. I do a daily examination of conscience for myself and my work. I ask Him to speak to me and He often does – in Eucharistic Adoration or even in my dreams. I need to have the Holy Spirit around me. I need to look for God in the faces of others, in the sacraments, in the small miracles and unexpected coincidences of daily life.

To be a Spiritual Writer seems like a paradox of extremes. We need to be humble enough to know it is all His. Yet, we need to have enough faith and self-confidence to use the words He gives us.  But know this: Living The Way for us is both special and wonderful. The path can be dark and scary and, yet at times, we are graced with such brightness and joy it overwhelms us. The journey is isolating and lonely, yet the end result is the greatest connection to others that anyone can ever experience. To learn that someone in a distant state or country came home to God because a character in your novel touched them is a grace that fills your heart. To see the smile of a child – to know that they have found joy in goodness – is beyond any confirmation you will ever need. God gives each Spiritual Writer just the right words to reach the lost soul. It doesn’t matter what genre or type of writing you do. It is for one of His lost souls. And in saving that soul, you save your own.

You may stumble or lose your way. God knows that I have. You may be lured by the world or by the devil himself. Don’t get discouraged. Look ahead – see the light. He will light your way – His Way.

Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: May 21, 2017

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

First Peter 3:15-18

Simply proclaim the Lord Christ holy in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their accusations. And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong. Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


MAY INTENTION PRAYER 

Mary, Mother of God

O Mary, Mother of God, as You are above all creatures in Heaven and Earth, more glorious than the Cherubim, more noble than any here below, Christ has given You to His people, firm bulwark and Protectress, to shield and save sinners who fly unto You. Therefore O Lady, all-embracing refuge, we solemnly recall Your sweet protection and beg Christ forever for His mercy. Amen

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.

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No Man Left Behind

9e01a87d8d3ebe806f12faae5d1807c3a96f4bef[1]Pentecost approaches. We are in the middle of “the 50” and the life of the Church looks forward to the reminder.  We remember the day that it was all too, too real and God chose to put  a final rest to all of the doubts we grudgingly hang on to.  Those are the doubts about who we are and what our place in the world is. About our faith and its realities.   When you think about Pentecost, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  For me it is the chaos of it all, wind, shouting, astonishment, the crowd, the shock of it as it registers on each of the faces of the disciples, that this is the “It” that Jesus talked about.  The power of the Holy Spirit!

What must Thomas have been thinking at that very moment?  After all he was the one who was determined to get himself away from all of this craziness in light of the leader who lied, the one who promised victory and then died in a shameful way anyway. “…if you are the son of God, come down from the cross.”  (Mt. 27:40)  That was a crush to his heart which was impossible to deal with.  So much so that he left the crew.  In his woundedness, he decided he was done. He would never give his heart to another who promised the joy of living with the love of God present and at arm’s reach 24/7.  It was something he could touch daily.  He knew that particular  life and then found out  it was all untrue and too brutal when it ended.  So he was not there the moment the God who loved Him came for him.  To heal, wipe his tears and show that He was real, not a figment of any one’s imagination.  To teach the truth  that death lost!

Now he was in the middle of it all again.  Driving wind , fiery visions, this cacophony of foreign languages, this unmistakable desire to preach, this falling away of all fear, this unearthly energy never experienced before.  The Holy Spirit propelling it all in a way that couldn’t be denied. It was just as Jesus had told them.  Maybe Thomas wondered if this was one more lie, a house built on sand that would simply fade away. Maybe, but his wounded spirit could not deny that even despite his bruised, self-centered spirit, The Master came back for him anyway.  Ego does that, even in the midst of a life changing crisis for others, we think about ourselves!  Thomas was that guy!  But he was also the guy who was: “No man left behind.”  At any one moment of life each of us is a puzzling mix of self and outside of self.  The record of Thomas and Jesus should be something we turn to often.  It is perhaps one of those meditations to last  a lifetime.

Jesus did not have to return to the disciples, He had already made his spectacular point by appearing in the upper room and chiding them to touch him in order to prove he was not a ghost.  Once was enough to demonstrate that!  None the less, in a week he returned and aimed his miracle squarely at Thomas as per Thomas’ own claims. (Luke 24:39) What was Thomas to do?  Should he have called Jesus a liar while his own hand was in the wound of Jesus’ side?  Clearly Jesus was there because of Thomas’ skepticism.  Jesus was well aware of the future and he wanted to make sure there was no man left behind.  He needed Thomas’ skill for the future of the Church.  Tradition and architecture support his presence as a potent evangelist in India. To this day cultures and groups re-tell stories of his presence and his skill as a builder.  In Palayooy India an ancient  Church stands with it’s construction directly credited to St. Thomas the Apostle.

Are you mad at God? Do you have your doubt? Are you angry because of a woundedness you think God has caused you?  You can go through the list of excuses for not being present to Him or locking your door with your fingers in your ears. You can’t deny the record, though.  No matter how deep your wound or disappointment, God always has you in his sights.When the time comes, he will make sure you are the next: “no man left behind”.  Don’t you want to speed that up just a little?  Pentecost with its extraordinary promise and total confusion waits for each of us!  …and YES, you want to go there!

 Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham

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Failure, Fatima and Fasting

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I teach math in a public high school. Like any job, it provides daily challenges. Sometimes, though, education creates situations that really test me, both professionally and personally. For six years, I have taught Calculus III to a collection of the brightest minds in our building. The students in this course receive college credit for their undertaking. I recently administered the three-hour final exam. The next day, an administrator informed me that several of my best students had sent the questions electronically to a sister high school where the students were testing a day after us. I suffered the pain of betrayal and the poor reflection placed on me as their mentor, but upon interrogation of the cheaters, a far greater scandal emerged; none of the culprits thought they had done anything wrong. “I didn’t give answers, only the questions,” was the claim. The longer that declaration of innocence echoes in my head, the darkness of the cheating event fades, and the horror of realizing that these children are navigating life without a moral compass becomes clear. Alas, if only this mindset was limited to them. Instead, the soulless attitude infects the denizens of all high schools like a powerful virus. Where can we turn to combat this moral malaise? Fatima.

You probably have, and will likely read, much about the Fatima Apparitions during the centennial celebration. I have been meditating on the Fatima secrets off and on during my life, but have returned my attention to them with more intensity this year. Of all of the wondrous phenomena, the thing that always amazed me most was the immediate fulfillment of Our Lady’s prophecy that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. The children of Fatima could not have known much about the political situation in Russia. Paupers living in a remote village on the other side of Europe would not have kept up to date with revolutionary ideologies nor understood them. Almost immediately after the great miracle of the sun in Fatima on October 13, 1917, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia during what historians call the October Revolution. They would spend a great part of the next century spreading the greatest error the world has ever known, atheism.

This returns us to my students and perhaps other children you know. In opposition to any religious instruction, today’s media and culture have raised our youth to reject absolutes in truth and revel in relativism. In the aftermath of the cheating incident, my school’s principal lamented a lack of understanding about why children have the attitude that blatant cheating could possibly be okay. I took a gamble in pointing out to her that they have grown up in a world where what is wrong one day is no longer so the next. I did not risk my job going into specifics, but I could have articulated that these seniors will graduate high school having seen marriage redefined as freshmen and gender redefined as sophomores. While the church calls upon Christians to defend the truth, society works to dismantle it. How long can the sins of the Earth cry out to the heavens before justice prevails? As Our Lady calls for at Fatima, pray that it is longer.

The First Secret of Fatima reminds us that there is a hell. In 2015, according to a Pew research poll, 72% of Americans believed in heaven but only 58% believed in hell. In the Nicene Creed, we state a belief in “all things visible and invisible.” Live your belief in that statement and never stop defending it. The Second Secret of Fatima spoke of turning to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. How many people know of the terrifying fulfillment of the prophecy of World War II occurring as predicted by Our Lady at Fatima in 1917? She told us that if hearts did not convert, a greater war would devastate Europe. There is too much controversy about the Third Secret. I leave it to you to read about and meditate on.

In a world of moral ambivalence, the ends do justify the means. What we would once call cheating is now just another way to get a desired result. Abortion, transgenderism, unholy marriages, and research on embryos are all hallmarks of this continuance of the “errors of Russia.” Obviously, those errors existed before 1917, and they continue to plague us long after the fall of the Soviet Union. To break the unholy fog that blankets the conscience of the world, Our Lady of Fatima has called us for one hundred years to turn to her Immaculate Heart. In one vision, an angel called out, “Penance! Penance! Penance!” Make reparations for yourself and for those who are ignorant of their need to make their own. In the words of the Fatima Ejaculation, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.”

© Mark Andrews 2017

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CWG Prayer Post: May 14, 2018

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

John 14:1-12

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said: I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him. Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father, so how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I say to you I do not speak of my own accord: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his works. You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works. In all truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


MAY INTENTION PRAYER 

Mary, Mother of God

O Mary, Mother of God, as You are above all creatures in Heaven and Earth, more glorious than the Cherubim, more noble than any here below, Christ has given You to His people, firm bulwark and Protectress, to shield and save sinners who fly unto You. Therefore O Lady, all-embracing refuge, we solemnly recall Your sweet protection and beg Christ forever for His mercy. Amen

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.

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CWG Book Blast: Ornamental Graces, by Carolyn Astfalk

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Carolyn Astfalk’s book, Ornamental Graces. It is a CWG Seal of Approval winner.

Teaser:

After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend.

Ornamental Graces

Summary:

After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there? A Catholic Christmas romance that spans all seasons.

Special:

Read for free anytime on Kindle Unlimited or in the Kindle Lending Library with your Amazon Prime membership.

Website:

http://www.carolynastfalk.com/carolyn-astfalk-author/books/ornamental-graces/

Excerpt:

It had come to this. Daniel Malone sold instruments of torture just to keep food on his crappy Formica table for one. Of course, that probably wasn’t how others saw it.

They were bringing home a piece of the outdoors, a symbol of the season, a reminder of Christ’s nativity and resurrection, the eternal— evergreen—promises of God. Dan had seen things that way too before the past year took everything he had and shredded it with a mulcher. Muster- ing his remaining whit of self-respect, he’d succumbed to desperation and now sat in a drafty shack waiting for the next giddy Christmas revelers to select a fresh-scented, needle-dropping nightmare.

Okay, so maybe the trees weren’t exactly torturous, but he’d had enough of rough bark, sticky sap, and sharp needles to last a lifetime. Af- ter this, he’d be an artificial tree enthusiast—if he bothered to put up a tree at all.

Inside his small, weather-beaten shack, the one he’d assembled most- ly from leftover wooden pallets, Dan couldn’t smell the fresh, evergreen scent, the only trait of Christmas trees he still enjoyed. Instead, the odor of burnt coffee lingered though he hadn’t made a pot in days. He never cared for the taste, burnt or not, but he had needed something to keep him awake during the long, boring hours when no customers visited his lot.

The space heater at his feet gave a death rattle, and its electrical hum ceased. He kicked it with the tip of his boot. Nothing.

Great.

Dan folded his large frame under the wooden table that served as his desk and jiggled the wire where it entered the cheap heater. It knocked against the laminate floor remnants and hummed to life. A blast of warm air hit his face and then penetrated his boots. As he sat upright, he glanced out one of the two square windows and spotted a young couple beneath the lights in the rear of the lot.

The man had lifted a Douglas fir from where it leaned against the rope Dan strung across the lot. He stamped its trunk on the frozen, dry ground a couple times and then twirled it around so the woman could see every side. It was a woman, wasn’t it? No telltale pink gloves or hand-knit, sparkly scarf. No expensive boots designed for gawking rather than walk- ing. Just a puffy, navy jacket and white tennis shoes. It could be a skinny dude.

The person spent less than three seconds observing it before planting hands on hips and signaling disapproval with a shake of the head. Yeah, definitely a woman.

Dan rolled his eyes. Another one. If nothing else, this job had given him an unforgettable real-life lesson in male-female dynamics—a lesson that would’ve been helpful a couple of years ago. The man would ferret out the best-looking tree, well-shaped and full, and the woman would turn up her nose, forcing them to cycle through four to seven more trees before one met her approval—sometimes the same tree the man had first shown her.

Poor sap. He had at least three more trees to go.

Bio:

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Ornamental-Graces-Carolyn-Astfalk-ebook/dp/B01M60UCQB/

Tweet:

Dan’s mistakes bedevil him. Is there grace enough for a future w/ Emily? Ornamental Graces @CMAstfalk bit.ly/OrnamentalGraces #inspyromance

Posted in Advent, Catholic book blast, Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Faith, Family Life, fiction, Hope, Love, Novel, romance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Perfect Blindside, by Leslea Wahl

At sixteen, Jake Taylor is an Olympic medalist, a snowboarding prodigy, and a big fish transplanted to a small pond. He annoys Sophie Metcalf with his arrogance. She plans to expose him for the thoughtless egotist she thinks he is, but she discovers Jake’s considerate and haunted side. A warm and caring friendship grows between them, until they stumble across a dark secret near an abandoned mine. Threats of violence hinder Sophie and Jake’s investigation, but each tries to protect the other by placing themselves in danger. If they persist in their inquiry, Sophie may write a spectacular exposé on criminal activity in her “boring” little town and Jake may add luster to his celebrity status, or they may both end up buried in an abandoned tunnel.

Several interesting themes run the length of the novel. Jake’s celebrity comes at a price. Former and potential friends awed by Jake’s fame walk by, leaving him hungry for true companionship. In place of normal relationships, Jake is pushed and pulled by parents, coaches, sponsors, and his agent who manage every detail of his life. Then there are the stalkers. They all want something — an autograph, an endorsement, a secret rendezvous. The specter of drug dealing and abuse dances at the edges of Jake’s world. Throughout the book, Jake’s stardom attacks him from within and without.

As this book illustrates, teen romance could be defined as “an out-of-mind-experience.” A perfectly normal, happy, and ambitious teen like Sophie transforms into distracted, mooning, creature under the influence of ancient biological impulses programmed into our earliest vertebrate ancestors. She and Jake suffer the agony and ecstasy of falling in and out of love—the thrill of realizing that a special person wants to be a close friend and the rage when one believes that the other may have betrayed their friendship.

Sophie is prayerful and religious, although sometimes judgmental. Jake and his family have dropped out of the church and seldom pray. As career pressures and pursuit by vengeful criminals weigh on Jake, Sophie suggests that he may find answers in prayers. Will he remember this advice when he hits rock bottom?

Author Leslea Wahl shows both originality and dedication to research. She entertains the reader with a strong plot with side trips into the swirl of world-class snowboarding, a tour of scenic Colorado, and the running of the maze of contemporary teen culture. She builds suspense by alternating the points of view with each chapter. Jake sets up a situation, and Sophie reacts, priming the reader for Jake’s comeback. There is no shortage of tension, conflict, and interest as the reader weighs both sides of the developing story. Jake’s dialogue is a clearly that of a masculine young adult. Sophie comes across as a strong, well organized, intelligent, and honest young woman. Both are pleasant and likable. They could become an ideal couple.

Teens should enjoy The Perfect Blindside because of the celebrity aspects, the snowboarding and skateboarding culture, but most of all because Jake and Sophie are believable and loveable characters. They are romantic, but more importantly, each is willing to make tremendous sacrifices for the other, even if they feel betrayed.

Parents will appreciate the difficulties of raising a celebrity teen. In fact, Jake’s ordeal might discourage those parents intent on channeling their children into a life of fame and fortune. Mothers and fathers might also value the advice given by Jake’s and Sophie’s parents. The fictional characters didn’t always take that advice, but grown-ups can hope that their teens might recognize the value in adult wisdom, given the consequences of ignoring it.

I enjoyed The Perfect Blindside. There were some weak points in the plot, but Jake and Sophie more than made up for them. It was interesting to walk in the shoes of both characters. I would assign The Perfect Blindside 4.8 out of five stars. It did receive the Illumination Book Award, so my enthusiasm is not exaggerated. The Perfect Blindside kept me interested, shared intriguing details about snowboarding and the dark side of the celebrity life. It cautions readers about the destructive outcomes of drug abuse. The book’s most endearing aspects are its main characters. Sophie and Jake are as real as many people I’ve met in my life. I’d like to see them again and am happy that the book ends with the suggestion of future adventures with this teen duo.

Posted in Beauty, Book Review, Catholic Fiction, Faith, Family Life, fiction, History, Hope, Humour, Love, mystery, Prayer, romance, suspense, Volunteering, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Me? An evangelist?

Share Your Story (Dollarphotoclub.com)

Share Your Story (Dollarphotoclub.com)

Did you know that when you were baptized, you were anointed to be an evangelist? Yes — you, I and every Christian are meant to bring others into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How do we do that?

There are as many ways as there are people to fulfill this commission, from a casual conversation with a new friend to an elaborate video training ministry.

A smile is a good beginning, one that arouses curiosity about what makes us smile. Evangelization is as varied as television evangelists defending the faith, missionaries risking their lives to testify to their faith and save the souls of natives, and authors writing their story of how God has changed their lives.

Saint John Paul II teaches us that the most effective way to evangelize is through our personal witness. Everyone has a story.

You have a unique story that no one else can tell that appeals to people no one else can reach. St. Peter exhorts us to:

“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15, 16)

How do you share your story to those seeking a reason for hope? How do you help the potential convert you work with or the returning Catholic in your neighborhood draw closer to God? Or tell a troubled friend how God’s mercy works miracles in the hearts of each of us?

Courtesy of Nancy Ward. All rights reserved.

Courtesy of Nancy Ward. All rights reserved.

Even with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, evangelization can overwhelm you. You can wing it or you can be ready — that’s where the evangelization workshop Sharing Your Faith Story shines!

Interview of the Week

Personal evangelization was the topic of the Interview of the Week on GRN KATH 910 AM did recently. You can listen to the show here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/SharedPublic/Nancy+Ward+and+Diane+Roe.mp3

As Dave Palmer interviews Diane Roe and me, you will hear how the question, “How do I share my faith story?” is answered in evangelization workshops. Sharing Your Faith Story workshops begin with Mass, then a light breakfast and three talks, including two testimonies. In two breakout sessions, you will practice the evangelization skills presented in talks and testimonies.

I give my Protestant-to-Catholic conversion story. Guest speakers tell their renewal stories. We teach you the skills to share your faith story and help you practice them. Ten Tips for Sharing Your Faith Story concludes the half-day workshop. Now you are ready!

Who benefits?

Sharing Your Faith Story helps converts, those returning to the Faith and all who experience continuous conversion to always be ready to answer the nudge of the Holy Spirit as he draws them into a closer relationship with God by sharing their story. Sharing Your Faith Story is ideal for people like you and me:

  • The self-conscious teenager who committed her life to the Lord but couldn’t talk about it to anyone.
  • The twenty-something who joined the Church but hesitated to share her joy with her non-Catholic family.
  • Converts and returning Catholics of any age or spiritual maturity.
  • Those finding a personal dimension of God’s love through a crisis, retreat or joy-filled God-moment of grace.
  • Anyone in the teaching and renewal ministries that has opportunities to share their stories as part of their ministry such as RCIA, ACTS, ChRHP, Bible Study leaders or youth ministers.

What you learn

Sharing Your Faith Story evangelization workshops help you:

  • Experience why Saint John Paul II taught that the most effective way to evangelize is through our personal witness.
  • Understand why baptized Christians are meant to be evangelists and why personal witnessing is the most effective way to evangelize.
  • Connect, without preaching, what God is doing in your life with how he works miracles in the lives of each of us.
  • Discover and practice a three-part structure to know, prepare and deliver your faith story, so you are always ready to share it.
  • Know who you are in God so you can join others in leading the 93% of disengaged Catholics to be spiritually dynamic and engaged in your parish community.
  • Witness effectively and authentically in many situations and time limitations from a two-minute elevator speech to a 40,000-page biography.
  • Learn ten tips for effectively sharing a conversion, reversion or renewal story that also apply to stories of healings, miracles and answered prayers.
  • Experience the reality that when you share what God is doing in your life, you see God in others and others see God in you.
  • Learn to live the Scripture “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15, 16)

The Catholic Writers Guild is a good place to share your story. You can share your story on JOYAlive.net.  For details, see JoyStories.

All the details for bringing a Sharing Your Faith Story workshop to you Catholic group are found on my new author/speaker website: nancyhcward.com.

What’s your faith story and how can I help you share it?

(© 2017 Nancy HC Ward)

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The Twelve Steps of being a Spiritual Writer

 

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Step Ten – Continue to examine ourselves, our writing and our writing gift daily and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.

By now we have asked God to reveal all the mistakes and sins of our past. We have made amends to those we have hurt in our writing and writing career. We have turned our work over to God. But where do we go from here? We are called to live a life examined.

“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Plato

We are now living in the life of the Holy Spirit. How do we grow and continue in the wonderful sense of peace and love that this life offers? How do we use our gift of words to heal and teach the wounded world? We need to give our writing to God – recognizing that it was His all along.

Each morning we need to offer the day, ourselves and our work to God. Taking the time to go into the humility of prayer centers us. Asking God to give us the inspiration and knowledge we need to reach the hearts of the lost is essential. Let Him lead you gently into the day He has planned for you. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer, but it is not something you can skip. We writers tend to rush to our work, trying not to lose a moment of our precious writing time. Don’t skip this morning dedication. It will make the writing better, more focused and easier.

Now that we know ourselves it will be easier to catch ourselves when we fall into that sin pattern that we have developed as writers. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guide us away from jealousy, greed, gossip, resentment and fear. Pray that He will instead lead our writing and our hearts into a writing life of love and caring. When we are aware of our motives in our work it is easy to follow His Will. Now if we fall, we recognize and admit it and make restitution immediately.

This way of living and writing is so peaceful. There is no unbridled ambition or hurt because we know that we have turned over our writing and its purpose to the Lord. We need not worry about it anymore. We only need to listen as He whispers inspiration and guidance to our hearts. It is a gift after all and when we turn it over to Him, His way is so much larger than ours. With all the ambition, jealousy and resentment gone we can concentrate on the words and tales of our craft. What joy I have found in just loving and developing my skills.

The Church calls us to examine our conscience each day. In reviewing our day, we are guided by the Holy Spirit to see the wrongs we have done in order to make changes and amends. It is the same in our writing life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

IV. INTERIOR PENANCE

1430 Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.23

1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).

Each night we need to examine the day we have just lived. Not only our personal life but also in our writing and marketing. The Catholic Church has long taught that a nightly examination of conscience is critical in living a life in the Spirit. That is also true for our writing life. The Church has provided us with many guides to our nightly examination of conscience. Here is my take on a daily examination for a writer. It is a list of questions to ask daily about what we wrote that day:

  • Did I respect the life and dignity of my readers?
  • Did I look for the face and teachings of Christ in my characters, prose and stories?
  • Did I protect the privacy and dignity of those I write about?
  • Am I using my words to promote protection of life from cradle to grave?
  • Is my work positive for my readers?
  • Does my work strengthen or undermine the institution of marriage and family?
  • Do I touch on the problems of society with answers that are compatible with Church teachings and the Gospel?
  • Does my work reflect the dignity of the poor, the working and the marginalized?
  • Are my words healing or divisive? Kind or judgmental?
  • Was I generous to my family, friends and other writers?
  • Did my work or my marketing fall into jealousy, greed or fear?
  • Did I teach the dignity of life for people, animals and the good earth that God created?

If all is well I can go to sleep in peace. If not, I can plan to make it better tomorrow and change any harm I may have caused. A daily examination will fill your dreams with inspiration and possibly even exiting new plots. Our God is so generous when we follow His Way. And as we sense the flow of the Holy Spirit in our life we will share it in our work!

 

Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: May 7, 2017

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

John 10:1-10

‘In all truth I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a bandit. He who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out all those that are his, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’ Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus spoke to them again: In all truth I tell you, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All who have come before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


MAY INTENTION PRAYER 

Mary, Mother of God

O Mary, Mother of God, as You are above all creatures in Heaven and Earth, more glorious than the Cherubim, more noble than any here below, Christ has given You to His people, firm bulwark and Protectress, to shield and save sinners who fly unto You. Therefore O Lady, all-embracing refuge, we solemnly recall Your sweet protection and beg Christ forever for His mercy. Amen

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.

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