Freely Receive, Freely Act

roundupYour fellow Guild Members are calling you to action!! This is what these posts have in common, and it’s also what Catholic writers have in common. We are making demands, in a way, upon our readers. That may be why we don’t have so many readers! It also may be why we avoid reading what others write.

But I think we should take it as a challenge that, since we are writers, we must also be readers. Not only readers, followers, aware of what’s being said, but responders, actors, accepting these demands as an invitation to grow our freedom – our sphere of response-ability. If nothing else (and it is most certainly NOT the ‘last resort’!), PRAY over each piece you read, and see if God will nudge you to any other actions.

Kassie Ritman has a writing assignment for us all, and I think we should take her up on it!

Larry Peterson‘s post is a tough one to read, but if we writers can’t write the tough stuff, who will??

My (Charlotte Ostermann) September guest post was a great new chance to tell an ongoing story.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

Monday’s Writing Tips – The Story Board

thumbnailrosarykeyboard

So now, after the work we have done in the last few weeks, you have your character.  Hopefully, you have rounded out all of the major players in your next work. You have an idea for a plot and want to get going. This is the stage of writing that I love. It is a new beginning. I am creating a new world for my reader, with setting, plot, and unique well-rounded characters. This is the stage during which most writers sit down and compose an outline. Not me! I hate outlines! If you do like to write outlines, go right ahead. However, for those who hate writing those outlines, I will teach you the best secret I ever learned for composing a novel: the story board.

Before we get started, however, let’s learn the secret of the three parts of a story. I like to think of a plot as a ‘Trinity.’ I guess  because I write Christian fiction. Why am I telling you this? Because the natural and most pleasing plot has three parts. It is a formula for storytelling, joke-telling, and speech-giving that has existed since the ancient Greeks. It probably existed before that. It is an accepted framework that works. What are the three parts to a good story, joke, or speech? Plays are usually in three acts, so why don’t we call the three parts of our plot acts.

Act One: The first part of your story. It is the part that should hook your reader. In order to do that, it should introduce your basic story.  Set up the conflict with a sympathetic character who is challenged in some way, and you have a ‘hooked’ reader. If you can do it in the first few sentences or paragraphs you have your hook.

Act Two: Now what? Your character has committed to a plan of action, but in this part of the novel he runs into an obstacle, or one obstacle after another. Now is the struggle, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Keep your reader guessing how it will turn out.

Act Three: The ending.  Tie up all your loose ends. You will have numerous story lines of minor characters. Tie them all up. Your reader cares about the characters. He wants to know. You can add a little twist for interest, but never cheat your fans.

story board 072

My current story board for my new novel – My Father’s House

Movies and animated films have used story boards since they were first created. Cartoonists draw their story in grids that contain each frame of the cartoon. Movies use the same grid method to create the different scenes that the camera man and set designer will use.  But how do authors and writers use a story board? It is a little different.  First, get a board. It can be cork board, black board, or white board like mine. It can be large and hung on a wall, or created on your computer. The details are up to you. I like a large board because as I write I can turn to it and let my thoughts flow, see just where I am and how my plot is progressing. I can also look at my characters for a better sense of them.

No matter what kind of board you choose,  the very first thing you will do is draw a large “W” on it. This “W” represents the flow of your plot or story. The high points of the W are the beginnings of your three acts. The downward and upward parts are the back stories of your plot, with a natural flow that guides your tale. Like a play. The “W” is not an original invention by me, it is used by many writers.

Make your characters real to you. This is the fun part. As you can see from the story board I am currently working on, I pin images and basic information about my major characters to the top of the board. I type the description of my characters into google image and search until I find an image that fits my character. If I know a famous actor or politician who looks like my character, I use their image. I print them all out in thumbnail size and pin them to the back side of an index card with their name and basic information. Now, when I look at my board, I can actually see my characters.  This helps with the next stage of my story board.

In order to create my novel or story, I have to think about it in scenes. Create your story board and we will discuss the scenes next Monday.

Karen Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in NJ with her retired husband Michael. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. She is an award-winning novelist and writes a children’s series for Chesterton Press

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 29, 2014

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

Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.
ENCOURAGE me to walk in your truth and teach me since you are the God who saves me. FOR my hope is in you all day long — such is your generosity, Yahweh.
GOODNESS and faithful love have been yours for ever, Yahweh, do not forget them.
HOLD not my youthful sins against me, but remember me as your faithful love dictates.
INTEGRITY and generosity are marks of Yahweh for he brings sinners back to the path.
JUDICIOUSLY he guides the humble, instructing the poor in his way.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying

SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

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.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

Great Expectations Time After Time

One of my GoodReads friends said that watching me try to force myself to finish Great Expectations was better than the book itself. I feel rather proud actually as my usual practice is to just toss a book when it’s not working for me. Even the classics (especially Russian classics).

But this is Charles Dickens who I learned to love with A Tale of Two Cities, and who left me awestruck after reading Bleak House and Little Dorrit. And I am now quite glad I did. If you’re interested, a tale of my trek through Great Expectations follows.

Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A kind friend gave me the Blackstone Audio read by Simon Prebble, a narrator whose shoes other readers are not fit to touch.

I’ve never really been interested in reading Great Expectations. However, it’s been too long since I’ve had any Dickens in my life. At least a month or two. And that’s too long.

Oh Dickens, Dickens. I’m still in the very early pages but already his little observations are making me laugh.

UPDATE
I really hate Pip. Really, really. However, I had a great breakthrough when I went and read G.K.Chesterton’s introduction to this novel. It made me realize Dickens’ boldness in writing a novel with an antihero. I realize he is far from the first to do so, but I really hadn’t expected it since his other books that I’ve read have all had at least one likable heroic protagonist. This accounts for my difficulty in connecting with the book, which I’m a third of the way through. And it helps me to reorient mentally on the story.

Secondly, something Chesterton said made me go look at GE’s chronology. I hadn’t realized it was the next to the last finished novel Dickens wrote, thus making it more a more mature work. I realized that I needed to trust this author to show me something new, to sit back and let the story sink in, rather than to rush to judgment because I would like to give Pip a good smack.

Chastened … I continue …

UPDATE THE SECOND
Just can’t make myself go back to this book after I stopped to read something else. Even fantastic narration can’t make up for the fact that I’m just not into the story. If I pick this up, and anything is possible (!), it will be in print because that will go much faster than audio.

BEGINNING AGAIN and ENDING

Having finished all the Jane Austen books and casting around for a classic for “background” reading … I thought I’d give this book yet another try. My method was to skim the second half of the book from my Kindle as fast as I could (a couple of hours … I’m a topnotch skimmer). Naturally as the plot twisted and turned I found myself slowing down in many spots to enjoy the story’s development. Oh Dickens … you did it again. This is not Bleak House or Little Dorrit (or even A Tale of Two Cities) but the second half definitely redeemed the first half.

… AND ONCE MORE FROM THE MIDDLE
I am now listening to the second half in audio so I pick up the details I missed in my breakneck race through the print version. I picked up the library’s audiobook which is by Michael Page and I like this narration much better, though I couldn’t tell you why as Simon Prebble is a longtime favorite of mine. But, once again, it is making all the difference. Audio got me through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It got me through The Lord of the Rings. It got me through C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy. And now, it is redeeming Great Expectations for me.

I am really enjoying all the funny bits that Dickens includes in the midst of the drama, such as Pip and Bentley Drummle standing shoulder to shoulder refusing to give up the fire, or the Aged’s reading of the newspaper aloud.

I still feel all the mooning after Estella to be quite boring but am willing to put up with it based on the rest of what is happing.

I was interested to see that this book has two endings. The original and the one that Dicken’s good friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton asked for. I love that Dickens was so obliging as to write a second ending for him. My copy had both. I’m not sure which I preferred as both work well.

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The Catholic Fiction Critique Group

“I remember the trembling, nausea, and inability to focus that hit me when I first submitted a chapter to a critique group. That was many years ago. Those symptoms persisted for several years. Despite the agony, I continued to submit chapters and to give critiques on others’ work, because I love torture—no, no, no. Because the advice, comments and observations I received helped me grow as a writer. When I look back at my earlier work, I realize how far I’ve come. I’m not published yet (though I have a novel with a publisher—hooray!) but even when I am, I’ll still want to improve my skills. The need for critiques will never go away.

As a writer of Catholic fiction, I am glad to have writers who share my faith check out my work. My current story, Battle for His Soul, includes the viewpoint of a guardian angel and aims to bring an awareness of the violent spiritual battle going on over each one of us. It is a story to give hope to even the greatest of sinners. The critiques I’ve received since joining CWG Fiction Critique Group have helped me immensely. Members of the group have given me objective opinions on plot, characters, and voice. They’ve recommended stronger wording, caught overused words, and given me a feel for how a reader interprets something I’ve written. This story has sat idle on my computer for so long, but now, thanks to CWG Fiction Critters, I see it going somewhere.” Theresa Linden.

“The Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group is an answer to prayer. With four young children, it’s difficult for me to connect with a flesh and blood group. I searched around online for years and only recently connected with the CWG group. I am so grateful to have found a place where I can share my work with fellow Catholic writers who not only know their craft but also know their faith, giving me a “safe” place to share my Catholic-themed work. My learning pace has accelerated since joining the group. Not only do I benefit from others’ insights, but I learn from critiquing their work as well. The camaraderie and fellowship is an added bonus.” Carolyn Astfalk

You might want to join the Catholic Fiction Critique group because:

1)      The group actually exists, functions and welcomes CWG members.

2)      You read fiction anyway. Why not read fiction as a “work in progress?”  You’ll still have a chance to influence the end-product, and it’s free. Watch as your name appears in the “acknowledgements” of a host of best sellers.

3)      If you read my chapter or short story, I’ll read yours. You can contribute and respond at your own pace.

4)      Make friends who can suggest ways to improve your manuscript, to substitute stronger verbs and modifiers, to avoid structural, grammatical and typographical errors. These friends share your vocation, and will encourage your expression of your Catholic Faith.

5)      Make friends with an intimate knowledge of your work who can write reviews as you launch your opus.

 

Blurbs Follow:

Battle for His Soul, by Theresa Linden

Jarret West, a rich teenage boy, has been accustomed to having control over others and getting his way. When his life begins to fall apart, his guardian angel Ellechial hopes now is the time for his conversion. Jarret must be freed from the deep clutches of Deth-kye, the demon bent on seeing him in hell. The fate of several others depends upon Jarret’s conversion.

While Jarret gets ensnared in Deth-kye’s traps, Ellechial can provide little help since Jarret doesn’t pray, doesn’t believe, and hasn’t listened to him in years. Ellechial hopes Jarret’s twin brother, who has recently found God, will be able to influence him. But Jarret goes on vacation with his father and younger brother where temptations only increase. Meanwhile, Jarret’s twin and other teens form a prayer group and begin to pray before the Blessed Sacrament unaware of the power they provide the angels. Though Ellechial gains strength, Deth-kye wins victory after victory. His weapons: emotion, vice, and memories. Who will win the battle for Jarret’s soul?

“Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Mueller’s provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel Mueller, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side-by-side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

Summoned, by Gary Ludlam

When Father Salvato, an eighth century exorcist-in-training is mysteriously called to his mentor’s side, he finds himself battling alone in an exorcism gone horribly wrong. To cast out this demon and save the lives of both the possessed girl and his mentor, Salvato must untie the knot of sin and dark secrets that give the demon its power. But when the demon reveals that its true target is Salvato himself, Father Salvato must fight to save his own immortal soul.

Warrior’s World – Battle Rejoined by Dennis P. McGeehan

I currently have two books in the works, one a non-fiction work based on books that have received the Imprimatur, entitled The Diaries of Joseph and Mary. It records the events from before the Incarnation until after the Resurrection in the form of diary entries.  My second book I describe as the Catholic Faith on Steroids – its title is Warriors World – Battle Rejoined and it is about Spiritual Warfare and the people caught in it. Here is an outtake from it:

Theresa and Maximilian were now trapped in a vortex of primeval hate. The Noshtoc enveloped both beings of light smothering them in a cloak of thick, pungent vapor that burned as it made contact with their essence. He pierced their very being with countless tendrils of darkness, each oozing an acid of hate. His malice exploded inside their psyche, they felt his loathing for them, for humans and for the entire created universe because it did not serve him and him alone. He bathed them in a cacophony of sounds that pounded and pulsed and threatened to tear them to pieces.  They fought back with every fiber of their being but it was as if a lone ant was trying to pick up a Giant Redwood tree, it was not a possibility.

A Few, by Fr. Jim Tucker

I currently have three or four story ideas percolating, including 1) a Catholic Romance, 2) a thriller set during the Occupation of France during World War II.  Right now, I’m focusing on a fun serial mystery story in which a down-and-out zoo attendant and a Vervet monkey team up to solve mysteries and try to get out of nail-biting scrapes.  A mystery/thriller type of serialized story.   I plan to release episodes either on Catholic Flash Fiction or another of my blog sites.

Snapped Mackerels, by Donald J. Mulcare

The mirror-image Mayo twins—the dexterous, well-groomed, and optimistic Tim, and the sinister, disheveled, and gloomy Tom—survived their sub-marginal home situation, only because they thought as one, cleverly bending and breaking the rules and laws on their way to gathering the necessities of life. Their lives shattered when they discovered a vicious murder. Hunted by one or more assassins, their own relationship evolved as they recruited new allies among the two groups they previously shunned—teachers and the police. They morphed their street smarts and urban survival skills into sleuthing strategies to track the killer or killers before the killer(s) trapped the twins.

Posted in Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Editing, Fiction, Humour, Juvenile fiction, mystery, Novel, romance, suspense, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

From the President’s Desk – Courage and the Catholic Writer

photo by Josh Hrkach

photo by Josh Hrkach

As I write this, it is a gloomy, cold and wet day.  It feels more like the end of November than September. The Farmers’ Almanac and recent weather forecasts have predicted that Canada and much of the Northern and Midwestern states will be experiencing another brutally cold and snowy winter.  Upon hearing this, I groaned.

It’s good to be prepared, not only emotionally, but practically as well.  For our family, that means making sure we have enough logs for the long winter ahead to keep us warm and always having extra provisions in case we lose electricity.

In the grand scheme of things, a cold winter can be uncomfortable, but not usually life-threatening, especially for the vast majority of us who live in well-insulated homes and have warm coats and cars. In fact, a brutal winter has the potential of being a positive experience because it can build our character and increase our patience.

Right now, Middle Eastern Christians and others are dealing with worse atrocities than cold temperatures.

With Social Networking, many of us thought that genocides (like the Holocaust) would not be possible.  Instead, extreme Islamist terrorists are using Social Networking to boast about and to spread their evil through their graphic beheading videos (which admittedly, I have not watched). Christians are being murdered and persecuted not only in the Middle East but also in Africa.

So what does all of this have to do with the Catholic writer?  A great deal. 

Catholic writers must have the courage to speak the truth through their blogs, columns, books, novels and Social Networking. In fact, nowadays, that courage to write the truth has already resulted in the brutal deaths of several journalists. Jim Foley, a Catholic journalist, was one of those beheaded last month by terrorists.

I see this courage to speak the truth daily as I read the inspiring and no-holds barred posts of some of our members (Rebecca Hamilton and Elizabeth Scalia to name a few).

Elizabeth shares an Op-ed article, but also comments that the world situation is, in fact, as bad as we thought in this gripping post.

I know some of us don’t want to read the depressing realities.  But as Elizabeth writes, “Sadly, this is essential reading; this is essential thinking. The long sleep induced by prosperity and power must now be broken. The choice to remain unengaged, fully tricked out with technology, is coming to an end, as is the easy habit of playing partisan games at the expense of human lives.

We’re nearing the end of the Week of Prayer and Fasting for Peace so check out Lisa Hendey’s post for more information.

Finally, please take a look at this video from Cardinal Wuerl, “Where Are The Voices?”

We have no idea how this will play out for the rest of the world or, more specifically, for North Americans.  Right now, many of us are groaning and complaining about the impending cold winter.  But we are safe and we have freedom to practice our Catholic faith and freedom to live where we want.  This is not the time to be complacent or spend our time complaining. This is the time to prepare emotionally and spiritually for those difficult and challenging times ahead.  Let us offer our prayers, fasting and sacrifices for all those who are the victims of evil.  May God give us the courage to write about the truth. Amidst the darkness, Christ can and will be our light. As Catholics, we know that God’s goodness, love and mercy will triumph over evil.

Until next month, as always, please let me know if you have any comments, complaints or concerns.  You can email me at president -at- catholicwritersguild.com Please keep me in prayer as I keep you all in prayer.

In Christ,

Ellen Gable Hrkach
President, CWG

Posted in Blogging, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Inspirational, Journalism, Religious Liberty | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Monday’s Writing Tips by Karen Kelly Boyce

thumbnailrosarykeyboard     

What’s in a name? Well, for a writer a whole lot! Now that you have your character – what will you name him? or her? Picking out a name for a character is extremely important and there are certain tried and true rules that authors swear by.

Naming a character that fits their personality or role - In Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men, the reader is introduced to the character Lennie Small. His name has both literal meaning and irony. Lennie is an overly-large man with a large heart. However, his mental capabilities are small. He is mentally disabled. See how the name fits so well. The name becomes memorable. Yet it is not overpowering – hitting the reader over the head. Look at your character’s appearance and personality and take all of that into account. Is your character blonde – how about the name Blanche? Or is he handy around the house – how about Jack? Is he over-bright? Try Lucas. Think about the character Hans Solo from the movie Star Wars. A handy adventurer who is independent, a loner. His name fits perfectly. However, certain names like Adolf or Elvis are so indicative of famous or infamous people that they immediately create a wrong image in your reader’s mind. Best to avoid them.

Naming a character according to the original meaning of the name - Even if you don’t pick your character’s name according to the original meaning of the name, you should always look up the meaning of your character’s name. In my children’s series the characters are named almost exactly according to their personalities or faults. Hence – Mr. Lemon is the sourpuss who lives next store and Sister Wanda is the nun who always gets lost. But it is not just in children’s books that this can work. For instance, if you have a regal, legalistic female, her name can be Regina – meaning Queen. If you have a well-mannered, chivalrous male – the name Arthur (as in King Arthur) may suit him. See how it works.

Names that fit the nationality or country of the character.  Always double-check the national source of your character’s name. Especially the last name. Authors have made insulting errors by giving a Chinese character a Japanese name by mistake. Your readers are savvy. They create images of your character just by the name. If you don’t think so, ask someone to describe the character you just named. Does it fit? Did you give your Indian national an English name? Did you spell your Irish character’s name in the Scottish fashion? Believe me, someone will notice.

Names that are cumbersome, odd, or hard to remember - I once had to write a review for a fantasy novel that I loved. I loved the alternate world the author created. I loved the plot, the setting, the characters, etc. However, he used names that were so odd and hard to pronounce that they caught me and stopped the action in its tracks. Not only were they hard to remember, many of the characters’ names began with the same letter or were so similar that I got confused about who was speaking or thinking. Don’t do this to your readers. Give the characters distinct names that all begin with different letters. Don’t over-complicate the name. My rule of thumb is a short first name to a difficult last name or a unique first name to a common last name. Yeah! like Indiana Jones or Dorothy Gale!

Naming a character after someone you know - This can be a lot of fun or turn into a nightmare. I like to name characters after people I know. In my first novel I named a minor female detective after a friend. The trick is to either ask your friend if it is alright or know your friend well enough to know that she would be thrilled. Another trick I use is to pick a character who is so unlike your friend that it will tickle their fancy. My friends delight in looking for themselves in my work. However, especially if you are creating an evil or villainous character, you should check with them. Writers have been sued for using a character who too closely resembled a live person. I once loved a name for a lost soul in my second novel, but it was the same first name as a close friend’s son. I asked her and she asked me not to use it. Naturally, I honored her decision. Have respect for your characters and start by having respect for your friends. That being said, like Hitchcock appeared in each of his films, my friends will continue to make appearances in my novels.

Use a name that fits the time period of your work – If you are writing a period piece (and we all are – even if we use the present) it is important that the names you give your characters fit. Names come and go into fashion with the times. The name Myrtle or Ethel wouldn’t fit a modern child – not anyone after the 1940′s. Someone in the seventies would more likely be named Jennifer, not Riley. How do you check this out. I knew a writer who frequented graveyards and gleaned the names she needed off gravestones, names that encompassed her book’s time period. No need for this, however! Just go to the Social Security Name Popularity List and check out the popular names for your time period.

Now have some fun. Picking names should be fun!

Karen Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in NJ with her retired husband Michael. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. She is an award-winning novelist and writes a children’s series for Chesterton Press.

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 21, 2014

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

Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek out Yahweh while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked abandon his way and the evil one his thoughts. Let him turn back to Yahweh who will take pity on him, to our God, for he is rich in forgiveness; for my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh. For the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying

SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

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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The Feasts by Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Aquilina

The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as CatholicsThe Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics by Donald Cardinal Wuerl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Church’s calendar is an intricate, complex, and beautiful technology. It is the work of many human hands and human minds trained to deal with holy things. The seasons turn and the feasts interplay like the gears in a priceless clock. They regulate our religious life and enrich our spiritual life.

They seem to happen automatically, but only because the Church oversees the apparatus, averts temporal collisions, and finely tunes all the components to make the year as festive as it can be.

I am not sure exactly why but one of the things I have always loved about the Church is the liturgical year. The idea that there are a steady series of seasons and feast days linked with our calendar year enhances the richness of my life. Perhaps it is because my mother taught us to love nature and the turn of seasons simply because she herself loves them so much. Perhaps it is because, long before I was a Christian, I read and reread Rumer Godden’s masterpiece In This House of Brede where the liturgical year is a continual background to the story.

“Don’t you see, it’s like a pageant. Our Cardinal has said the liturgy entertains as well as feeds us … Yes, we’re not angels but humans,” said Dame Clare, “and human nature is made so that it needs variety. The Church is like a wise mother and has given us this great cycle of the liturgical year with its different words and colours. You’ll see how you will learn to welcome the feast days and the saints’ days as they come round, each with a different story and, as it were, a different aspect; they grow very dear, though still exacting.”

Having unknowingly absorbed all that I suppose it is only fitting that I really enjoyed The Feasts. It covers the background and reasons for feast days, the liturgical calendar (and our calendar in general), and how these enrich our Christian lives. Even those of us who are well informed on the subject will find new information as well as good reminders of things we may have forgotten. For example this is supremely logical but just never occurred to me:

Sunday did not become simply a Christian version of the Sabbath. Christians were wary of enforcing a day of rest, as such enforcement had been turned on Jesus during his earthly ministry (see, for example, Mark 2:23-27). In any event, most Christians could not refrain from labor on Sunday because it was an ordinary workday in the Greco-Roman world.

Christian observance centered on the Mass, which was in most places offered very early in the morning (before work), but sometimes also in the evening (after work). …

Certainly The Feasts is a worthy accompaniment to Cardinal Wuerl’s and Mike Aquilina’s previous two books, The Church and The Mass. Taken all together they provide a thorough, accessible, and much needed look at aspects of the Roman Catholic faith which seem very mysterious to outside eyes.

Tomorrow, I’ll participate in the Blog Tour for this book by looking more closely at a particular feast. In this case, it will be that for The Holy Angels (which will surprise no one who is a regular reader of this blog).

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Special

In the Catholic community many forms of praise and worship exist.  Of those that I am very familiar with is the Charismatic style of worship.  Charismatics live the reality of all the spiritual gifts mentioned in 2 Corinthians.   There is no denying the blessings and enthusiasm that the Charismatics bring to the Church.  Even John Paul II gave them personal recognition and a conference for Catholic Charismatics met in Rome just this year.  Did you know that the current preacher to the papal household is a Catholic Charismatic?   In the Charismatic Style, members of the community may receive a word from the Spirit that everyone calls “prophecy”.  As the bible teaches the last true prophet was John the Baptist.  But these modern day words of encouragement either reinforce the teachings of Jesus and/or offer encouragement to the community at large.  In this  post-crucifixion age, true prophecy does not supply predictions, dates or intuitions, it’s not supposed to.  This beautiful prophetic word is “almost poetry” and leaves us with plenty to think about…….which is the purpose of prophecy in the first place.

 

 

St. Vincent Ferrer Chapel

7/28/14             10:45am

          Once there was a time before time.  God beheld a black void.  The universe that was to be was not yet.  On His Heart was the vast sea of humanity that He had yet to will into existence.  In that sea was a single special soul.  It was a single, but very special star in space.  A single spark of light among billions.  It was a tiny speck that would shine for a short time among men and then be gone.

           “You will be My special one,” He said to the soul who could not yet hear Him.  “You will be born and live in a world of great stress and chaos.  You will know love and loss.  Illness and recovery.  Hate and injustice.  Rejection, failure, hunger, heat, and cold.  The world will see you as a thing of no value and they will say they can go on without you; for your life had no purpose, direction, or hope.”

          But God saw that tiny speck from far off and said again: “You will be My special one for I will call you to Myself.  My Grace will be upon you even from eternity.  You will know Me and My Word will shape and form your heart.  Although the world will bring stress, I will bring peace.  The world will attack and bring destruction, but I will bring life.  The world teaches hate, but I will teach love.  The world brings despair, but I will bring hope.  What the world teaches as failure are the platforms for My Victory.  The seeds planted in one heart, by the Grace of God, will bear fruit in many.  Through My chosen one, the world which is committed to its own destruction will behold the Glory of God.”

 Jn 3:16-17

 In the author’s own words we get a glimpse of his quick wit: 

My name is Lawrence Edward Strawn. I was born at a very young age in Cincinnati, Ohio during WWII the son of my father and mother. In grade school people began noticing that I seemed to have a bit of a literary gift although no one seemed to know where it came from. Many years later I came across some letters and other items from my ancestry and found out for the first time that my grandmother was an amateur poet and my great-grandmother was a published poet. My apparently inherited literary gift never developed into the professional realm, but upon entering the Catholic Charismatic Renewal this became a gift I cherished as I began to use it for the Lord’s service.

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