CWG Prayer Chain Post: August 20, 2017

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

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants—all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


AUGUST INTENTION PRAYER 

PRAYER FOR ALL NEEDS
We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed.
Pity the insignificant.
Raise the fallen.
Show yourself to the needy.
Heal the sick.
Bring back those of your people who have gone astray.
Feed the hungry.
Lift up the weak.
Take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus is your Child,
that we are your people,
the sheep that you pasture.
Amen.
-Clement of Rome

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

CWG Book Blast: “Broken Brain, Fortified Faith,” by Virginia Pillars

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Virginia Pillars’ book, “Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness.” It is a CWG Seal of Approval winner! Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is the story of one family’s journey through schizophrenia, navigating the uncharted waters of mental illness to find help for their daughter, Amber, and support for their family. 

broken-brain-fortified-faith-book-cover with Selah SOA winner

Summary:

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is the story of one family’s journey through schizophrenia, navigating the uncharted waters of mental illness to find help for their daughter and support for their family. This memoir is an honest look at the stress, anger, education, and finally, hope experienced through eyes of a mother. Along the way, she questions her trust in God as their family encounters setbacks, inadequate treatments, and additional family health crises, but with the help of trusted family, friends, education, and support groups, author Virginia Pillars learns to rely on her faith as she faces the challenges that often accompany mental illness.

Excerpt:

I backed out of the garage and turned on to the road. I inhaled sharply and stomped on the accelerator pedal. Amber was not an emotional person. She had never done this before. I drove the familiar route and thought back to her sobs. My right foot pressed down harder. I looked ahead and then glanced into the rear view mirror.

I’m the only one on this road,” I whispered. The wheels gobbled up the gray pavement and the fence posts became a blur.

How fast I’m going? My eyes flitted to the speedometer. “Ninety,” I gasped. I eased off the accelerator while I reached for my purse on the front seat. I grabbed the handle and pulled it closer. My fingers explored the outside pocket to find my cell phone. Balancing it on the steering wheel, I punched nine on speed dial – it belonged to Brooke, Amber’s best friend. They had met in college and the two girls had spent many weekends together with us.

Brooke, I need you to do something for me. Can you call Amber? I think something’s wrong.” I took a short breath. “Keep her on the phone with you until you know I am there. I talked with her earlier today and I am really worried about her. Can you do that?”

Website: http://www.virginiapillars.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/VirginiaPIllars and Facebook.com/VirginiaPillarsauthor/

Twitter: @VirginiaPillars

Bio:

Virginia Pillars lives on a farm, along with her husband of forty-two years. She is the mother of four, one of whom suffered from a mental illness, and a grandmother of four with a passion for reaching out to families who are also affected. Virginia writes and speaks on mental illness, along with its effect on families. She volunteers both as an educator and support group leader for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Virginia became certified in First Aid for Mental Health in 2014. She has also contributed to themighty.com, joyalive.net, and The Grief Diaries Poetry, Prose & More.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://a.co/8nFIz4Y

or

The Publisher: http://www.familius.com/SearchResults.aspx?q=Broken+Brain%2c+Fortified+Faith

or

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/broken-brain-fortified-faith-virginia-pillars/1123463756?ean=9781942934745

Tweet:

#mentalillness affects families and individuals. #nami supports both. Broken Brain, Fortified Faith-1 family’s life: http://amzn.to/2vYB6IJ

Special Considerations:

Virginia donates profits from each book sale to her local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for education and a portion to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to fund scientists in order that they may discover further knowledge of the brain in order to help those effected.

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith also won the 2017 Selah Award for memoirs.

Posted in Catholic book blast, Catholic Writing and Publishing, CWG Seal of Approval, Faith, Family Life, Hope, Love, Mercy, non-fiction, Prayer, Spiritual Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Assumption: A Promise to Disciples

JMJ

On August 15th, Catholics around the globe celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. Since the earliest days of Christianity, we have believed that Our Lady was assumed body and soul into heaven. If you are unfamiliar with the history of the Assumption you can read about it, here and here. Catholics and Protestants can argue about the doctrine at great length, but my interest in this article is to examine the implications of the Assumption on our faith and lives. Instead of trying to use scripture, tradition, early Christian writings, and historical texts to try to convince others of this truth, let’s look at the beauty of what it holds, if we accept it at face value.

Our Lady was the first and best disciple of Jesus Christ. She loved Him before any other person and was with Him until the very end of His natural life. Who would Jesus have loved more than any other? I shudder to think what Mary’s heart felt when the young Jesus remained in Jerusalem after the Passover celebration. Consider the connection that event had to the time Our Lord spent in the tomb. Jesus was lost to Mary and Joseph for three days. They shed many tears and called His holy name for countless hours before finally finding Him in the temple. Go forward twenty years. Mary stands by the foot of the cross, speechless, breathless, watching her child die, watching her savior die. He would soon be gone to her for three days again. She gave her life to Him when she told Gabriel, “Let it me done to me according to your word.” I have consoled parents who have buried their child. There were no words, only hugs and shared tears. Mary lost her child again, except this time to death on a cross, and He was God incarnate!

Gloriously, the Lord rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Before doing this, he left the church in the hands of St. Peter with, “You are the rock,” and His mother in the hands of St. John with, “Behold, your mother.” The growth of the church is chronicled in the Acts of the Apostles without mention of Mary’s activity or role. That doesn’t mean she didn’t have one and that we can’t use reason and contemplation to consider how she lived among the apostles. There is a beautiful movie called Full of GraceSOD-0815-SolemnityoftheAssumptionofMary-790x480 which considers what Our Lady might have meant to St. Peter and the apostles. If you don’t have time to watch the whole movie, skip to the end and watch a dramatization of Mary’s death. The writer and director did a great job convincing the viewer that all Mary ever wanted was to be with Jesus. That is what we are called to feel.

I feel great comfort in the doctrine of the Assumption. How could Jesus not receive His beloved mother into His arms at first chance considering their lives together? Emulating the love of Mary for Jesus, I feel He will claim me after death as well. Not being sinless like Our Lady, I understand that purgation will come first, but the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption gives me great hope that I, like Mary, will be with Jesus in heaven, body and soul. That is why I call it a promise to disciples. Be not afraid.

Copyright 2017 Mark Andrews

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

What a Mess!

I must admit that as time passes I have become fonder and fonder of our current  Pope Francis.  It has nothing to do with the fact that he is smart enough to tell people the exact same things that I have been telling friends and directees for years.  Things like: Read scripture every day or memorize a bible passage.  His Wednesday catechesis has pretty much mirrored my thinking and speaking. LOL! So I really like him!
One of the themes that he weaves through all of his teachings and catechesis is the idea that as we go forward day by day nothing is perfect and few things will ever fall into perfect order.  In other words: “Life is messy.”  He has said this directly and indirectly many times.
Recently I have been taken by a devotion that many people just love and I have even had an inkling of how this particular devotion validates and supports this particular Pope even though it was a devotion before he ever came to be Pontiff.  As a matter of fact this particular prayer started getting popular around the 1930’s. The devotion is the Divine Mercy.  It is a particularly potent devotion that is not hard to do.  The entire prayer takes less than fifteen minutes.  However, it’s the promises of the devotion that amaze.  If you follow the Divine Mercy web site you can really learn quite a lot in a few minutes daily.   In a nutshell the Devotion teaches over and over how generous God is and how he desires, every second, to be near us, heal us, and show us mercy in a million ways.  This desire never stops and may even become more urgent as we age.  But more than anything the Devotion, along with daily readings from Sr. Faustina’s diary teaches us that God’s biggest heartbreak is when we do not trust Him.  If you recall the Divine Mercy image that Faustina commissioned after her visions, Jesus specifically told her to inscribe: “Jesus I trust in you.”  on the painting itself.  She did as requested.
One could write volumes about this devotion but that’s not the point of this particular piece.  Instead I have found a stunning confirmation between the work of our current Pope and this one devotion.  In Charismatic parlance, this is a kind of confirmation of the idea that He is right on target for implementing the completion of ministry and teaching that was set in motion for our particular society and times almost a century ago.  As they say, the Lord’s timing is perfect.
The clue to that lies in the beginning of the Divine Mercy Prayer.  It goes like this:search
  “Oh blood and water that gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a font of mercy for us, I trust in you.”
   If you think about it, the prayer is gruesome.  Isn’t it interesting that when God gave this prayer to Faustina he chose such vivid language.  The thought of blood and water gushing almost makes my stomach flip.  This is no soothing poetry:  Oh blood and water that flowed or seeped, or ran or trickled.  No the verb is “gushed”.  This fully forms the picture of something violent, soaking, sticky, staining, and messy and unable to wash away!  This an age where shocking language and insult are simply part of the public discourse. We have become crude and uncompassionate in this particular age.   Messy, life is messy. Amen!
Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham
Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

Where Daniel Prayed

painting-754831_1280Paula Veloso Babadi
The Example
Standing at the tomb of Daniel the Prophet in the ancient, dusty town of Shushtar, Iran, I had a profound experience. Across the street from the ornate, blue-mosaic, silver-gilded mausoleum and plaza stood the ruins of King Cyrus’ winter palace. Weathered stone lions caught my eye in the distance–whether or not they represented the lions to which King Darius sent Daniel is irrelevant. I was humbled and awestruck at the thought of Daniel, thousands of years ago, walking on the same ground. Daniel’s trust in God amidst danger and persecution remains an inspiration. God answered his prayers, rewarded his faith and was pleased with the fruit. King Darius, Cyrus’ predecessor wrote to the nations:
“All peace to you! I decree that throughout my royal domain the God of Daniel is to be reverenced and feared: For he is the living God, enduring forever; His kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be without end. He is a deliverer and savior, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, and he delivered Daniel from the lions’ power. So Daniel fared well during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Daniel 6:26-29
The Suffering
A rich spiritual heritage lies in that part of the world foreign to so many Christians today– Iraq, home to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and often thought to have been near the Garden of Eden; modern day Turkey where the Blessed Mother lived out her life in Ephesus; and Syria where St. Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. I mention places where the apostles spread our faith among the nations because our Catholic/Christian brothers and sisters are suffering so severely.  “Simply because these Christians make the Sign of the Cross, there is a price on their heads. “says Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Martyrdom is as real now as it has been through the millennia, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the modern world. I am confident God hears the cries of his persecuted people destined for great reward in heaven, just as he heard the prayers of Daniel facing ravenous lions.
At the tomb, among other devout women cloaked in their chadors, it dawned on me we were united in our reverence and awe—a far cry from the disturbing reality of persecution.  It all seems so distant from the safety and comfort of my daily life. Would I be as brave if my parish was being burned? Would I be unwavering? I only hope to stay the course, to unite now with the suffering body of Christ in prayer and sacrifice, to stand firm should that day come for me.  Until then, hope ever rises in the words of Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount,
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5: 11-12
The Call
I believe we are called to stand fast in our faith in both small and large ways, no matter where we live. Who knows what seeds are planted as people see Catholics praying the rosary on street corners during Forty Days for Life, or handing out food to the homeless, or sheltering unwed mothers with no place to go?
The fruit blossoming from Daniel’s deep faith pierced the heart of a mighty king, a non-believer moved to acknowledge our living God. Might not God’s children who are unbelievers or persecutors today be also moved?  Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need once said, “The suffering are being tested in faith…but we are being tested in love.  Will you respond?”  Let us love and pray then, unceasingly.
Where Daniel Prayed
~ Paula Veloso Babadi
Where Daniel prayed I stood in awe-
holy ground,  ancient dust,
reverent air, silent prayer.
Where Daniel prayed I only saw
heads bowed, pilgrim vows,
hearts raised in God’s praise.
Where Daniel prayed there was no war.
Palace ruins, ancient museum,
God and me and history.
Today my brothers hide in rubble-
holy ground, ancient dust,
acrid air, desperate prayer.
Aleppo and Damascus roads
once walked by Paul as faith spread,
now bear the dead
as bullets raze Christian ways.
Body of Christ wracked in pain,
trust there’s reward;
deliverance claimed,
rich fruit,
the same as when Daniel prayed.
If you or someone you know is suffering, this article does not give easy answers, but may be helpful: “Why Does God Allow Us to Suffer?” by Father Hugh Barbour Article on suffering
Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: August 13, 2017

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

First Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


AUGUST INTENTION PRAYER 

PRAYER FOR ALL NEEDS
We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed.
Pity the insignificant.
Raise the fallen.
Show yourself to the needy.
Heal the sick.
Bring back those of your people who have gone astray.
Feed the hungry.
Lift up the weak.
Take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus is your Child,
that we are your people,
the sheep that you pasture.
Amen.
-Clement of Rome

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

Catholic Teen Books

Rightfully Ours (cover), by Carolyn AstfalkMagnusFrontCover (2)Fight for Liberty by Theresa Linden, cover art

Guilds with a small “g” serve as the organs of The Catholic Writers Guild. Small “g” guilds include critique groups, chapters, committees, conference gatherings, and other community-building entities. They encourage the vocation of writing among the member and sometimes, the members venture into parallel enterprises, for example, the organization known as Catholic Teen Books.

CTB authors—the majority of whom belong to the CWG— write exciting novels for Catholic teens, in the hope of counteracting the anti-God culture that permeates society today and leaves young adults with very few wholesome literary choices. Every book on the CTB site is written by a Catholic, has a Catholic publisher, or contains Catholic characters or a Catholic message. CTB “provides teen readers, parents, catechists, homeschool co-ops, youth ministers, teachers and others with direct links to exciting, well-crafted books that raise the heart and mind to God and reflect the fullness and beauty of the Catholic faith.”

Their website organizes their books by genre, author, and alphabetically. It cites the awards garnered by the authors over the years. The extensive teacher page lists the themes for each book, information on obtaining free teacher copies, and discussion questions. The CTB plans a newsletter and is currently building a mailing list for that purpose.

This powerful, expanding, technically-savvy group is for team players only. For membership consideration, candidate’s books must not only be Catholic in content, but enjoyable, well-written, appealing to teens, and have story lines that both engage and inspire.

I’ve read and reviewed books by six CTB authors. The links connect to their reviews.

Carolyn Astfalk: Rightfully Ours.

Theresa Linden: Roland West, Loner; Life-Changing Love; Battle for His Soul

Susan Peek: Saint Magnus, The Last Viking; The King’s Prey; A Soldier Surrenders

Carmela Martino: Rosa Sola

M. Gaouette: The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.

Leslea Wahl: The Perfect Blindside

Cynthia T. Toney: 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Posted in Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writers Guild, Christian education of youth, CWG Member News, Faith, Fiction, fiction, Juvenile fiction, Reviews, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Circle of Good

This story came to me as a tweet. It haunted me for a day and a night, compelling me to share it.

"Jesus Love" via Dollar Photo Club. Licensed by author.

“Jesus Love” via Dollar Photo Club. Licensed by author.

The author is unknown. The facts cannot be authenticated, although feedback on this post indicated that it refers to the Babemba Tribe of South Africa and their “Circle of Good.”

Like a Biblical parable, the message touches my heart and causes me to think — and perhaps change the way I react to the mistakes of others and the ones I make.

In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds him.

For two days they will say to the man all the good things he has done. The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes. The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he has been temporarily disconnected: ‘I am good.’

In the compassion shown to others in their tribal family, these people display the teaching St. Paul gives to us in Colossians 3:12-14:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

How can we change our response to the sinners in our families, churches and communities by meditating on the truths in this story? How can we change how we treat ourselves when we repent?

Copyright 2017 Nancy HC Ward

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: August 6, 2017

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

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched: Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw: One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


AUGUST INTENTION PRAYER 

PRAYER FOR ALL NEEDS
We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed.
Pity the insignificant.
Raise the fallen.
Show yourself to the needy.
Heal the sick.
Bring back those of your people who have gone astray.
Feed the hungry.
Lift up the weak.
Take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus is your Child,
that we are your people,
the sheep that you pasture.
Amen.
-Clement of Rome

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

Remembering Alzheimer’s Patients and their Caregivers

"Alzheimer's Patient" by Gelonida (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“Alzheimer’s Patient” by Gelonida (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Remembering Alzheimer’s Patients
and their Caregivers

The poem below is NOT from an unknown author, as the graphic indicates. The writer of the poem is Owen Darnell. I am certainly not looking to NOT give credit where credit is due. Thank you, Mr. Darnell–your poem was a great comfort to me and others who have lived with Alzheimer’s patients on a 24/7 basis.

Image may contain: text

 Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Family Life, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment