Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Spring!

My azaleas have dropped off, but I am enjoying our neighbor's flowers :) The penitence of Lent gives way to Easter joy that can hardly be contained as we sing Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!!! Not even a week of wonky weather that wreaked havoc on my head can mar my joy, though today's reprieve was most welcome! Went to Mass to give thanks and then sat out on my porch to listen to the birds, read and write. No deadlines to speak of, just a few self-imposed ones if I'm to be productive. I was thinking of how the productive writers all write first thing in the morning. I've tried many times but except for throat-clearing, random thoughts, and dreams I don't write all that well in the morning. But I try to do "morning pages" for tapping into the subconscious. My best time is in the afternoon and in the evening after supper. Sometimes I get a burst of energy at night and can stay up well past midnight. I'd tell the kids to go to bed but stopped because they were following my example. What's that saying: do as I say, not as I do? Still, they are the ones who changed my habits from an early morning prowler to a night owl. And Michael became a family man, rising early to go to work so that he could spend more time with us in the evening. And I'm thinking, once we are empty nesters, I'm totally sleeping in every. single. morning :) 
 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Nine Years!

My reflection is up on Catholic Mom today. Imagine having to say something about John 3:16. Entire homilies have been written about...for God so loved the world. We sing this on Good Friday. Yet, I cannot fathom the depth of His love. Only that I am immensely grateful that Jesus is with me and will be with me forever, that each passing day I am a step closer to Him. I'm so young...but no longer a neophyte! I love this life so much, yet death holds no fear nor sorrow. Only the joy of knowing I will finally be home, reunited with beloved family and friends as well as the new friends, like St. Gemma, St. Stanislaus, and more. When I was searching for a picture of St. Stanislaus, I came upon this beautiful reflection at Vultus Christi. Oh, to see Gemma's face there...to think I had one thought in common with these monks! I am on the right path. Oh how my heart beats with love for these saints who show me how to live! Pray for us, St. Gemma and St. Stanislaw.
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Monday, April 9, 2018

Picture Books by Demi

 
I discovered Demi many years ago when my kids were little. We loved her folk tales, but especially her art. It is so distinctive and fine and we'd spend hours just looking at the pages. I was working on a folktale and decided to revisit her books and again, I was lost in them. She's got the rhythm of the stories just right. When she writes a biography, she chooses the best details. Even her endpapers are gorgeous! If you write picture books, biographies or folk tales, she's an artist to study. And one can only hope that the work is so good that a Pope will give his Apostolic Blessing. Wow!  

 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Adoration--Stirring Slumbering Souls

Jesus my Lord, my God, my all.

I am so grateful to have Adoration right here on Daniel Island. Today was the first time in several years that I came close enough to the altar to really see the lovely monstrance and the small consecrated Host within. I know it must sound strange--transubstantiation--how we Catholics worship. I think of Mary cradling Him in her arms, of Mary washing His Feet with her tears, anointing His Feet in sweet perfume, and this is the same Jesus now enclosed in all the tabernacles in the world. And I *feel* His gaze upon me. It is indescribable.  

A couple of months ago, I received my very own copy of Stirring Slumbering Souls: 250 Eucharistic Reflections by Michael Seagriff and it's been my companion whenever I make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. I'm so grateful because I can mark it up as I wish :) I only use it at Adoration to make it last. 

Here are some quotations:

"...I remember once having two hours between trains in Paris. I went to the Church of Saint Roch to make my holy hour. There are not ten days a year I can sleep in the daytime. This was one. I was so tired, I sat down at 2:00 pm--too tired to kneel--and went to sleep. I slept perfectly until 3:00 pm. I said to the Good Lord: 'Did I make a holy hour?' The answer came back: 'Yes! That's the way the Apostles made their first one.'" ~ Blessed Ap. Fulton J. Sheen.

I loved this so much because I confess to having dozed too many times during Adoration, but if I can't rest in Him, then when? I love knowing that I'm surrounded by holy angels who are all adoring our dear Jesus.

"...You see the same Body, not in a manger, but upon the altar; not carried in His Mother's arms, but elevated in the priest's hands. Let us, therefore, be roused, and tremble, and bring with us more devotion to the altar than those Eastern kings did to the manger, where they adored their newborn Savior." ~ St. John Chrysostom.

 Today, the two of us were together alone for a while (usually there are 2 or 3 more adorers at any time) and I read this: "Here--all alone, He and I--He with all His greatness, and I with all my miseries--He, all fire; and I, burning in the midst of His Divine Passion!...My darkness is lost in the midst of His light...and my icy heart melts inside of His. Here my sins are forgiven and my sorrows--O! my sorrows are united to His own, giving them value...How many treasures are enclosed in this holy place, consecrated through the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament! Heaven is here, because He is here!" ~ Concepcion Carbrera de Armida.

This is a gem of a book! Truly, these reflections do more than stir this slumbering soul; they set my heart on fire. I thought I'd write a while with Jesus but I was lost in my daydreams, just the two of us together, the only necessary thing. Because Seagriff has compiled these reflections from many, many sources, I now have a bibliography of over a hundred saints or saints-in-making. For instance, the author of the third quote is a new discovery. I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Octave

This entire week is Easter and the season will last 50 days until Pentecost (again borrowed from our Jewish ancestors). I'm loving the warm weather, azaleas in bloom, birds and squirrels singing with me: Exultate justi in Domino 

I did Storytime at B&N on Easter Vigil and although I only had two children show up, it was still fun to read with them and visit with the parents later. And then I signed stock so if you're local and want signed copy, head on over to Mt. Pleasant B&N. 

 
 
And I love seeing my friends' books in the wild. Here's Jody Jensen Shaffer's new book: A Chip Off the Old Block, a story about a pebble and his various adventures. Rocks lead such interesting lives! The illustrations by Daniel Miyares are gorgeous! Jody was kind enough to send me some postcards (she knows I'm old fashioned and mail hand-written notes) so a few of you will receive them.
 
 
After all the busyness of Triduum, it was wonderful to hear the quiet and beautiful, low Latin Mass Sunday evening. Afterwards, a picnic on the beach. You just can't beat this life. Wishing you all a very happy and blessed Eastertide.
 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Christ is Risen!!!

I love Easter Vigil beginning after sundown, the faithful in the darkened church and the deacon singing Lumen Christi as the Paschal candle is lit and the light spreads! Darkness isn't some thing. It's the absence of light. In candlelight, he chants the Exultet!!! I love all the readings telling the greatest story in the world--I will never tire of all the marvelous things God has done for us. I cannot get through this night without crying because to have personally experienced the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, to remember that I was dead and now I'm alive, cannot be contained. It harkens to an office reading from Holy Sat. “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
 
Msgr. McInerney spoke about the shape of our baptismal promises. Before professing our faith, we must first reject Satan and his works--sin, dysfunction, division. He made a very interesting observation. The greatest obstacle to faith isn't intellectual, rather behavioral. People simply do not want to change their behavior. We cling to those empty promises of the devil.

Matt Maher's song Christ is Risen is a great encouragement.

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You've bled for us
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave ...
 
My friends, have a very happy and blessed Easter!!! Here's a link to many of my favorite Easter hymns. It's a marvel to have such good theology in rhyme and song :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Holy Week Reading

Apparently, blogging is dead. I will miss Blogging for Books as it moves to other platforms, which I'm loath to join. In any case, I am grateful to Blogging for Books to have snagged a last book: a copy of Scott Hahn's The Fourth Cup: Unveiling the Mystery of the Last Supper and the Cross. He digs deep into our Jewish roots of the Passover and applies them to the Paschal Mystery. Our redemption has been thought of from the "very foundations of time." I raced through this book even though deadlines are pressing me from all sides. As always, Dr. Hahn makes history and Scripture accessible for the layman and does so in a highly entertaining manner. Here's a sampling of his sub-heads: Pasch, Presence, and Future; Sealed with a Curse; Seder Rite Words; The Roast is History; Ready, Willing, Abel; Cups and Downs; Faith Up to the FAQS; Marquette Value. He keeps this up, folks. But it's in no way shallow. There's a LOT of theology in this book and it's presented in the order that Dr. Hahn himself studied on his own, based on a little question: What exactly is finished when Jesus says those words from the Cross? Read this book to understand the most central belief of our faith: Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. 

Dr. Hahn also shares his own history of his conversion. He practically re-invents Catholic rites in his Presbyterian Church the more he studied the Church Fathers. The Bread of Life discourse (John 6) frightened him; he could no longer continue to be a pastor; he couldn't accept the position of Academic Dean even though this was what he'd dreamed about. He writes, "I was not yet ready to take up the cup with Catholics. But I was more than ready to read the Bible with them."

Hahn became a doctoral student at Marquette. "There comes a time when a critic must turn his criticism upon himself." He consulted the Baltimore Catechism about the nature of Mass. "If Catholics were right about the meaning of Mass, mere attendance was a potentially seismic event in the spiritual order. Was I ready for that? If the Catholics were wrong, of course, then their Mass was the greatest blasphemy possible--and I wanted no part of that. In thinking about the Mass, there was no safe middle ground." When he went to his first Mass he wept. "I realized it was really Jesus, and he was offering his own flesh to me as "living bread come down from heaven.""  

If you don't have time to read the book, do get the 1-hour lecture on this on Formed or from Lighthouse Media. You will not be disappointed.

ETA: a short article by Scott Hahn that explains the parallels between Passover and Easter.

I'm also enjoying Hahn's The First Society: the Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order. Again, he explains simply and clearly how if we get marriage right, society flourishes. He recalls a lecture in which a priest mused, "If Catholics would simply live the Sacrament of Matrimony for one generation, we would witness a transformation of society and have a Christian culture." Wow! It's both that easy and that difficult. It's a must read given how confused modern society is about marriage. Get your free copy from the St. Paul Center.

The Friday morning men's group is reading Flannery O'Connor so Michael is bringing lovely insights from Msgr. McInerney about the stories. I'm re-reading some of my favorites in light of them. One thing that struck us both is how we see ourselves in those stories. We are so aware of our sinful nature, yet where sin abounds, so does grace, and Flannery captures those moments so eloquently. By the way, if you are a writer, I highly recommend Mystery and Manners. It's a book I have to read periodically to get my head straightened out, given that I write for the educational market.

Great books are our best teachers. I am thankful for them. Happy Reading!!! Please share some of your besties. And have a very happy and holy week. God bless you.  
NB: Paul, Apostle of Christ is a fantastic movie! It's about the early Christians in Rome and centers around the last days of St. Paul. Much of what we know about him comes from St. Luke and vice versa. It was so lovely to see their bond of love. And the filmmakers bring to life Priscilla and Aquilla from Acts, how the Christian community loves each other, how they are martyred. We had a chance to see it last week at the Citadel Mall and it's playing there still. Don't miss it.


And please come see me at Mt. Pleasant Barnes & Noble on Sat. 11 am. I'd love to see you.