CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 30, 2017

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

1 Kings 3:5, 7-12

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

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

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

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 30, 2017

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 23, 2017

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

Romans 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

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

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

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 23, 2017

Faith and Comfort

So, where is it you want to go? Where is it you expect your faith to take you in life?… .or maybe faith is an accouterment , something you coyly admit to when you’re at a party?  Truth is, you really hope that people, especially strangers are impressed by your admission! Seeking order and comfort, right?   Surely a deeply rooted faith provides a comfort in life that is unattainable any other way. Maybe.  I guess that depends on what your concept of comfort is.

If we study the scriptures closely we see that the idea of comfort for Jesus as well as his followers is way down on the list.  They walked everywhere. They rode uncomfortable beasts. They were subject to weather, and they never stayed in five-star accommodations.  Think nativity!  There were things that were simply of more importance in their ministry.  Jesus never taught that faith would bring comfort in the way we think about it as modern believers.  I have had the experience of some who actually equate the level of comfort in their lives as a demonstrated witness to their level of faith.  I bet you have had that experience too.  You know, those who teach things like: “This is going to be a changing day in your life.” ” Jesus tells me, you are the one to be healed, right now.”, and so on.

It’s not that all of scripture does not point to God’s desire for our personal prosperity.  It does.  God’s definition of prosperity, though, is focused on giving us the ability to live with him in perpetual bliss forever.  A physical prosperity might be part of that or it might not.  God wishes for us, rather, a prosperity of desire that drives everything we do.  Long before Jesus came to us God revealed His heart’s desire for the human race.  He has been doggedly working with us ever since to accomplish His goal.  Unfortunately, we have a great capacity to ignore or dismiss His hopes for us. In this stunning quote from the Old Testament we see that God’s hopes for the City of God preceded, by centuries, Aquinas’  discernment:

Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people; Leviticus 26:12

Comfort,  in the light of God’s faith in us, takes on a completely different dimension. It’s easy enough to be romanced

© 1986 Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons), 1986 / , via Wikimedia Commons

© 1986 Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons), 1986 / , via Wikimedia Commons

by the idea of a space of our own that is always abundant, always safe and always happy.  The truth is we do not have the ability to make that a reality in a world where sin exists.  We can aim at a nice home and good job and a happy family, but circumstances happen.  Our ability to hang on to or establish comfort in this world is really an illusion.  It has nothing to do with the results or fruit of our own personal faith.  Looking at the  truth of that can be a scary possibility but there’s also wisdom in facing that:

“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.” St. Theodore Guerin

Mother Guerin teaches us how to expand our faith to a place of invulnerability  The idea of comfort as a barometer of faith takes on a completely different dimension.  Like Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Damien of Molokai and all of the early martyrs,  we need to develop a more discerning eye when it comes to spotting faith  Maybe that Rolex, Coach Bag, custom tailored clothing and big house are not all they are cracked up to be? Hmmmmmm!

Copyright © 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Posted in Beauty, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Hope | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 16, 2017

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

Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

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

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

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

Facebook to Faithbook?

faithbookIn case you missed it, the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, made a couple of interesting statements last month. He claimed Facebook is “the new church” and the social network can take on the role that religion once did in giving people a sense of community. He also went on to say groups on Facebook could give people a sense they are part of “something bigger than ourselves” akin to a religious congregation. People on both sides of the fence immediately took to the blogosphere and vilified or congratulated the billionaire. I am not here to do either. I am here to examine his words to look at where we are as Christians and where we could be if we used Facebook to its full potential.

First, where are we as a church that Mr. Zuckerberg would feel confident enough to say that Facebook could be “the new church?” Has the old church passed away in the minds of the younger generation? Staying rational and trying not to take it personally, I thought about what my younger Zuckerberg-aged friends and co-workers do on Sunday mornings. Well, for the most part they are not at church. My wife and I got married at twenty-three. Marriage that early is very rare among twentysomethings, who also tend to have babies later. The latter occasion is usually a natural time for couples to return to the Church if they have taken a break after confirmation. Young people go from their high school community, to a college community, to a work community with probably little continuity besides a few close friends. It is certainly true that Facebook could span those time periods and give people comfort and a social connection. In my opinion, the church is not intentionally and convincingly creating a way for individuals to feel this communal presence during these transition periods. Sure, when you are established in a parish you begin to take ownership and feel like you are part of a community, but until then, church isn’t always a welcoming place.

Second, Zuckerberg says that Facebook groups can give people a chance to feel “they are part of something bigger than themselves.” This is readily apparent when you look at how easily people get hooked on the internet fads. Millions took part in the “Ice Bucket Challenge,”, the “Mannequin Challenge” or any of the dozens of others like them. People want to be part of something. They long for that feeling. One thing an old parish priest used to say was, “Thank you all for coming to Mass. The body of Christ is not the same without you.” To be honest, I didn’t need to hear those words to make sure I came back next week, but it sure was nice and probably was needed by some. There are large numbers of non-practicing Christians that have not heard that they are part of the Mystical Body of Christ. Mark Zuckerberg might not agree, but there is nothing bigger to be a part of. This mystery is not preached about enough, written about enough, or shared interpersonally enough. We are all lesser when one of our brothers or sisters is missing. Can I get an “Amen”?

I have tried to make it clear where I think we are. Where can we go? Last year, I went on a spree of unfollowing all of my friends on Facebook. I didn’t unfriend them, I just blocked their posts from showing up on my news feed. I still get their birthday notifications, but I don’t get to see what they drank at Starbucks or what their kids doodled. I then joined multiple Catholic Facebook groups. Some of my favorites are Catholic Writers Guild, of course, Forming Intentional Disciples Forum, and Catholic Geeks. I also follow Bishop Barron, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and Saint Josemaria Escriva. This keeps me immersed in Catholic thought all day. I really get a sense of being part of the universal Church. I truly feel like Facebook helps me be a better part of the Body of Christ. I know our parishes and diocese could make big gains in discipleship if we convinced people to harness the power of technology to intentionally improve their own discipleship.

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CWG Book Blast! Jeanie Egolf’s “Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper”

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Jeanie Egolf’s book, “Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper.” It is a CWG Seal of Approval winner! Follow the adventures of Jeanie Egolf’s little nun-wanna-be!

Mollie McBride and the Plaid Jumper

Summary:

Molly McBride is back and she is as stubborn as ever about her purple habit. She will wear nothing else! She’s managed to keep it on for her sister’s Big Day, but now the faith-filled five-year-old has a whole new wardrobe worry: kindergarten! Join the McBride family and the kindergarten class at Holy Trinity School as Molly and her loyal wolf-pet, Francis, discover that what we wear isn’t as important as what God sees inside of us.

Website: http://www.mollymcbrideandthepurplehabit.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MollyMcBrideandthePurpleHabit/
Twitter: @jeanie_egolf

Instagram: @jeanieegolf

Bio:

Jean Schoonover-Egolf is a retired physician-turned-homeschooling mom/author/artist. She resides in Central Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her handsome hubby, 2 darling daughters, and 1 very lovable rescued “Huskador.”

Buy Link:

http://amzn.to/2tffyT6

Tweet:

Follow Jeanie Egolf’s little nun-wanna-be! “Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper.”
http://wp.me/P7mYzG-1  pic.twitter.com/CQkHrO4IwK

Posted in Catholic book blast, Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Family Life, Fiction, fiction, Hope, Humour, Inspirational, Juvenile fiction | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, by T.M. Gaouette

 The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch by [Gaouette, T. M.]

At age ten, Benedict carries massive chips on both shoulders. Having passed from bad foster homes to worse, he dreads the uncertainty of new surroundings and new rules. When he arrives at The Sunshine Ranch, he doubts the sincerity of his new foster parents, David and Martha Credence and withholds his affections lest he be ripped again from friends and security. Benedict sees the other foster children as rivals and doubts that his good fortune will last. Over the next four years, he remains aloof, not daring to trust that he has found a home and family.

When foreclosure threatens The Sunshine Ranch, Benedict’s doubts seem to be confirmed. Although David and Martha ask Benedict and their other foster kids to have faith that God will provide, Benedict refuses to believe. But Micah, Benedict’s roommate, and chief rival, keeps the faith. Eventually, Benedict realizes that The Sunshine Ranch gives him the only happiness that he has ever known, and that his constant worry and fear prevent him from enjoying it.

David and Martha Credence, and their many foster children embody generosity and unquestioning faith. Theirs is an impossible task — they welcome hard-case kids like Benedict and scrape together the resources to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Benedict, on the other hand, provides a counterpoint to everything the Credence family attempts to share. Too wounded by his early life experiences to accept the healing they offer, he’s likely to reject them and run away into the night. Micah, the optimist, has suffered as much as Benedict, but he always sees the bright side and attempts to wear down Benedict’s rough edges.

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch appealed to every emotion: there is joy and sadness, richness and loss. T.M. Gaouette delivers a powerful story with an emotional wallop, filling her pages with surprises and suspense, mystery and romance, pain and growth. Unquestionably, this novel is a page turner.

I would recommend this book for family reading. Biological progeny and foster children, biological and foster parents can see themselves somewhere in the pages of this book. It will especially benefit students preparing for careers in social services. I enjoyed reading this story because its characters deeply touched me. I pray that many couples will follow the example of David and Martha Credence and provide a loving home for foster children.

Posted in Adoption, Book Review, Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Faith, Family Life, fiction, Hope, Mercy, mystery, Novel, Pro-life, romance, Spiritual Life, suspense, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, by T.M. Gaouette

Beyond the Fear

heart-81207__480[1]But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong.” 1 John 1:9

Most of my life, I viewed confession as a burdensome part of being Catholic. I used to be afraid of going.  Mainly I felt dread. Facing the priest with the same sins over and over again, or giving voice to any sin at all felt awful. But a simple incident reminded me of a key life lesson–we fear what we don’t truly know or understand, and Jesus always removes that fear.

When one of my sons moved back home with his American Pit Bull Terrier, I was mildly fearful around her. Dallas had an imposing frame and thickly-muscled broad head.  One day as I came through the front door tired from a long work day, Dallas greeted me with bared teeth and heavy breathing back and forth through her menacing canines.  Unsure I stood near the door calling for my son. He laughed when he saw me standing, briefcase still in hand, with Dallas “smiling” and eager for me to greet her.  My son explained she was not baring her teeth to scare me; she was smiling because I was part of her pack and she was happy to see me.

With my son close by, I stooped down and grinned back at Dallas, pushing air back and forth through my teeth following her enthusiastic example.  Her tail gyrated at hurricane force. I never feared Dallas again and now that I understand her intent we “smiled” at each other on a regular basis. We are friends and family.

I do not tell the story of a menacing dog with bared teeth to mean it is the same as facing a priest in the confessional. Rather, I share this to illustrate a point. Once I understood what was really going on with Dallas, my fear of her left me.

Understanding confession made a difference in my life too. Growing up I knew confession was good for me, but I was fearful. I knew it provided sacramental grace by lifting the burden of guilt from my soul, yet the dread persisted. But through a parish presented retreat program, Hearts Afire, fear really left me. At last I understood confession and was aware of Jesus’ intent; his intense longing for friendship and union with us – his body, the branches of his vine.  Jesus is rooted and waiting at the threshold to embrace, forgive, love, console, and commune with us–with me!

Hence, declare your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may find healing.”   James 5:16

Its been a journey to embrace confession and appreciate Our Lord’s wisdom in this sacramental gift.

Early in the retreat materials Father Michael Gaitley so beautifully writes,

Wonder of wonders”  Jesus remains truly with us, not just in our minds through his Word, not just in our souls through faith and grace, but also bodily present with us in his Sacraments, where he continues to bless, forgive, cleanse, unite, heal, strengthen and make all things new. (The One Thing is Three “ How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything; Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC).

Just as understanding Dallas’ intense greeting allayed my fears, understanding Jesus’ intention for us through the miraculous sacrament of Confession changed me. While I don’t pretend to understand it all, I know in my heart that Jesus gave us confession as a means for us to grow closer to him, to keep getting up from the depths of the fall, and continue reaching upward toward his light.

Confession is still a bit uncomfortable for me. But I know Jesus’ ocean of mercy covers all. And for the repentant heart, then comes intimate communion through Jesus with God by the loving bond of the Holy Spirit.

Confession

~ Paula Veloso Babadi

In sunless depths, my wreckage

In darkness lies

In cold silence

In repressed screams

Scattered below the sandy floor.

.

Metal hull

Hides from sonar waves

Skeletal remnants,

Sins buried beneath

Photosynthesis reach.

 

I have evaded anchor’s curves

Trolling lines

Rescue from tumult

Light’s warmth

Long enough.

.

“Bless me father, for I have sinned,”

It seems an eternity since my last confession

“And these are my sins.”

His mercy is an ocean.

His light pierces darkness

His love reaches down,

Pulls me to his arms

Where I rest inside his heart

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee.”

.

His mercy is an ocean

Offering respite on glassy surfaces

Reflecting sky of balmy summer days

Beckoning upward a true and steady course

Back to the sun

Promising purity

Breathing spirit and life that

Once I knew.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 9, 2017

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

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

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

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

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

How to Benefit from a Critique Group

CWCL Non-Fiction Workshop 7-28-16 (photo by CWG Staff)

CWCL Non-Fiction Critique Workshop 7-28-16 (photo by CWG Staff)

I’m excited about presenting the Non-Fiction Critique Workshop at the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference, July 18-21, for the fourth year. I draw from my experience as facilitator and co-facilitator of two different critique groups to demonstrate how a critique group works. Here are some guidelines on the whys and hows of critique groups.

Why a critique group?

No one can relate to our struggles like another writer. We all need the motivation to persevere. We take time from our writing because we need:

  • Deadlines and accountability. A commitment on the calendar to submit something of ours to other writers helps us become professional.
  • Feedback. This is the basic benefit of a writers group. On our own with no input from other writers, we have little direction and little confidence in our work. When we invest ourselves in others’ work we gain insight into our own.
  • Advice. Writers groups are the place to go for all kinds of resources. The Catholic Writers Guild exemplifies this. Be open to sharing what websites, seminars, articles and books help you with your craft and marketing. In both the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and the Catholic Writers Guild Non-Fiction Critique Group we have writers seeking traditional publishers and self-publishing opportunities. Suggestions range from structural changes to lack of clarity as well as format and design ideas. We use the Chicago Manual of Style as our standard.
  • Support and camaraderie. No one can relate to our struggle as a writer like another writer. Although writers groups are not designed as emotional support groups, the community of friendships we form by sharing our writing projects is invaluable both personally and professionally. It’s vital to keep the critique meeting focused on writing, but once it’s over, we can regroup and meet our writing friends for personal conversation and enjoy leisure time together. We encourage others because we care about their success.
  • Marketing connections. We naturally promote one another’s work on our blogs and social media. We help with book launches, attend book signings and write reviews. We introduce our writing group friends to anyone we know in publishing and marketing such as bookstore owners, radio commentators, newspaper and magazine editors and website columnists.

CWCLive Non-Fiction Critique Workshop 7-24-15 (Photo by Deanna Klingel)

CWCLive Non-Fiction Critique Workshop 7-24-15 (Photo by Deanna Klingel)

Giving and Receiving Critiques

Do you ever wonder just how to give a critique or how to receive one? I mean gracefully and honestly! On 6ftFerrets.com, I found critique tips excerpted from the book Don’t Forget to Write! A guide to building and maintaining a lasting writers’ group by D. M. Rosner. These tips are organized into two categories: giving critiques and receiving critiques, and help us focus on speaking and receiving the truth in love.

More tips like these are used in the workshop and incorporated in the guidelines for the CWG Non-Fiction Critique Group. The deadline for submitting your work for the critique at the conference workshop  is July 8. Come join us  on Thursday, July 20. Even if you have not submitted something to for us to critique, I invite you to listen in on the Non-Fiction Critique Workshop and see if you are ready to join a critique group. To join the CWG Non-Fiction Critique Group, contact me: editor@joyalive.net.

Building the critique community builds our craft and long-lasting relationships. I encouraged you as writers to join or form the critique groups you need. Attending the workshop will help you decide what you need to do to accomplish your writing goals.

The Catholic Writers Guild is all about networking, honing our craft and supporting other Catholic writers. The critique groups do all that – and more! They inspire us to be better writers and better Catholics.

Copyright 2017 Nancy HC Ward

Posted in Catholic Writers Conference Live, Catholic Writing and Publishing, non-fiction, The Writing Life, Writing Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment