Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flooding, Phones and Finishing

You all might have known about the dreadful flooding in SC. We've been unscathed, just watching the levels rise in our yard with high tide since we're right next to the marsh and less than half mile away from the Cooper River. Schools reopened today, though many counties are still not in any shape. Please pray for all the victims.

The kids and I have been monkeying around with my new phone and since I couldn't seem to make any headway with the novel revisions, decided to pull a couple of all-nighters. I've not done this since graduate school. Even when I had newborns, I got a little bit of rest in between all the feedings. So I am happy to report that I am done with this round of revisions on my YA contemporary novel. Of course, the moment I printed it out, I thought about some things I need to add/change/clarify but that will have to wait. I'm taking a week off to clear my head. Then I need to go with a fine-toothed comb and get ready to send it out again. Wish me luck! I'm really hoping I've hit the mark this time.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Blood Moon, Beer and the Benedict Option

If Max ever makes a time-lapse of the lunar eclipse, I will share it. Alas, he's been busy with school and football and robotics and enjoying it all thoroughly. What a sight to behold, the moon so close to us, and the earth's shadow darkening it. And the more the moon was shadowed, the greater its reddish hue. Although we had clouds flitting about, we had a wonderful time hanging out on our porch watching this celestial event. I still remember the time when our kids were little and we brought our sleeping bags outside so that we could watch the meteor shower. To see dozens of them one after the other, well, we don't even have that many wishes!   

I didn't make my goal of finishing up the revisions by the end of the month, but what a glorious month nonetheless. But we had birthdays, saints and angels to celebrate. I didn't realize how busy these past two weeks were with extra choir practice because although I thought I'd get back to my novel, I've been spending a lot of time relaxing on my back porch, soaking up the beauty and songs of the birds. With high tide and Joaquin pounding us with rain, the water level is right up to our grass. It's beautiful ... and I find myself humming the Kyrie and Agnus Dei (my two favorite movements) from St. Bruno's Mass. We had a soprano soloist to sing the Benedictus and truly, truly what glory she gives to God with her voice! Just heavenly.

Mass gives us a taste of heaven here on earth. So briefly I will share what Fr. Folsom had to say.

The homily was on the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel composed by Pope Leo XIII with the many Scriptural references (Daniel, Jude, Ephesians, Revelations). Fr. Folsom recounted how the angels were all created good, but by their own choice, some of them rejected God. "I will not serve." And so they cannot be in heaven. Hell is their dwelling place, a place completely devoid of God. I've always wondered why God did not destroy the bad angels given the horrors they have produced for mankind, but God permits them to live and allows them to test us. We too have to make a choice. Whom shall we serve, God or the devil? And even if we choose God, the Christian life is a constant struggle because of our fallen nature. We seek help from the good angels because we cannot do it ourselves. It's too dangerous. It's spiritual warfare, folks.

It's worthwhile to remember all of Ephesians 6, but especially verses 11-17:

After Mass, we had a wonderful potluck supper with the monks providing the beer. Michael said it gave him flashbacks of living in Belgium, where they make 300 varieties of beer. I never did develop a taste for it but from all the approving looks I could tell it was pleasing to all. I was most excited when I heard we'd get to bring the glasses home as a gift from the monks! 

Fr. Folsom spoke about the Benedict Option. Rod Dreher coined the term as a response to "pioneering forms of dropping out of a barbaric mainstream culture that has grown hostile to our fundamental values." However, there has been some confusion about what this really means. Does it mean to retreat from society? Yes and no. For a monk, yes. But not for the lay-people. In short, it is about following in the footsteps of St. Benedict and following his rule: ora et labora. It is a grassroots movement where Catholics endeavor to live in a community where Christian moral life can flourish in a post-Christian world.

There is a fundamental tension of a Christian living in the world. We are to live in this world but not be of it. It is a nice saying but how do we achieve this? Ideally, it would be a Catholic society governed by the Gospel. In the middle ages we see the joining of Church and State and all the benefits it provided. Life, liturgy, schools, hospitals. That no longer exists anywhere. 

There are places where Catholics can reside peacefully. The Church is the heart of a town. But more and more, there are conflicts. There are laws banning manger scenes at Christmas. Or banning of crucifixes in Italian public schools. From hidden persecution, you can have overt persecution, such as in the Middle East, where you will be martyred for your faith. If martyrdom is a real possibility, many Catholics go underground.

Right now, it is difficult to judge what will happen in our country but in both Europe and America, there has been a silent apostasy through absorption into the culture that no longer holds Christian values.

Fr. Folsom said everywhere that a monastery has sprung up, it is a place where Catholic culture and tradition is preserved. People are attracted to the orderly life in stark contrast of a chaotic society. Families form small communities around the monastery to join them for Mass or other devotions. It's real, genuine and of God because it is Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

Here's an interesting article that quibbles about the terminology but in reality is exactly what people are speaking about when they talk about the Benedict option: following in the footsteps of St. Benedict.

We ended with a chanting of Salve Regina. I love our parish -- it's a little oasis where Catholic faith and traditions are flourishing -- where Christ is King!  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Novena in Preparation for Michaelmas

I well remember two years ago, my friend Deana and I  rushing back from the Carolinas SCBWI conference so that I could make it to Mass. It was a High Mass in honor of St. Michael the Archangel. I brought my music with me to the conference so that I could practice in my hotel room and I was so grateful to have a comfortable room all to my own (one of the perks of being a speaker). It was that same Sunday we joined the Angelic Warfare confraternity. I cannot express how many fruits have come from this. By ourselves, we cannot fight our sinful nature, but with the help of good angels and saints, we can resist evil.

This year is even more special. Fr. Cassian Folsom, a priest/monk from the Benedictine community of Norcia, Italy is coming to celebrate Mass. Did you all know their album hits #1 in religious music? Who would've thunk in today's world? The human heart longs to be united to God and this music lifts our hearts and minds to Him. The chant is DIVINE. That's one of the reasons we are not singing a chant Mass, as much as we love it. We wouldn't want his ears to hurt with our poor chanting. Instead we will sing the Sir Richard Terry Mass written in honor of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians. It's lovely but I just realized it's only nine days away! We have much work to do to give honor and glory to God.

The good monk is bringing beer too! We expect a packed church. It might be for the beer, but I am sure it is to listen to Fr. Folsom, who will discuss the Benedict Option. So, if you are in the Charleston area, Sept. 29th, come join us for Mass (6 pm) and stay for the potluck at Stella Maris Catholic Church.

Please, pray with us this Novena to Saint Michael the Archangel for Holy Mother the Church, the Holy Father Pope Francis, for ourselves, our families, and our country. We pray the short form above daily but I've swiped the longer form from Rorate Caeli.

PRINCEPS gloriosissime caelestis militiae, sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio et colluctatione, quae nobis adversus principes et potestates, adversus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritualia nequitiae, in caelestibus. Veni in auxilium hominum, quos Deus creavit inexterminabiles, et ad imaginem similitudinis suae fecit, et a tyrannide diaboli emit pretio magno. Proeliare hodie cum beatorum Angelorum exercitu proelia Domini, sicut pugnasti contra ducem superbiae luciferum, et angelos eius apostaticos: et non valuerunt, neque locus inventus est eorum amplius in caelo. Sed proiectus est draco ille magnus, serpens antiquus, qui vocatur diabolus et satanas, qui seducit universum orbem; et proiectus est in terram, et angeli eius cum illo missi sunt.
O GLORIOUS Prince of the heavenly host, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and fearful warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come thou to the assistance of men, whom Almighty God created immortal, making them in His own image and likeness and redeeming them at a great price from the tyranny of Satan. Fight this day the battle of the Lord with thy legions of holy Angels, even as of old thou didst fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud spirits and all his rebel angels, who were powerless to stand against thee, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast forth, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and satan, who seduces the whole world; and he was cast forth upon Earth, and his angels were sent with him.

En antiquus inimicus et homicida vehementer erectus est. Transfiguratus in angelum lucis, cum tota malignorum spirituum caterva late circuit et invadit terram, ut in ea deleat nomen Dei et Christi eius, animasque ad aeternae gloriae coronam destinatas furetur, mactet ac perdat in sempiternum interitum. Virus nequitiae suae, tamquam flumen immundissimum, draco maleficus transfundit in homines depravatos mente et corruptos corde; spiritum mendacii, impietatis et blasphemiae; halitumque mortiferum luxuriae, vitiorum omnium et iniquitatum.
But behold! the ancient enemy of mankind and a murderer from the beginning has been fiercely aroused. Changing himself into an angel of light, he goes about with the whole multitude of the wicked spirits to invade the earth and blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to plunder, to slay, and to consign to eternal damnation the souls that have been destined for a crown of everlasting life. This wicked serpent, like an unclean torrent, pours into men of depraved minds and corrupt hearts the poison of his malice, the spirit of lying, impiety and blasphemy, and the deadly breath of impurity and every form of vice and iniquity.
Ecclesiam, Agni immaculati sponsam, vaferrimi hostes repleverunt amaritudinibus, inebriarunt absinthio; ad omnia desiderabilia eius impias miserunt manus. Ubi sedes beatissimi Petri et Cathedra veritatis ad lucem gentium constituta est, ibi thronum posuerunt abominationis et impietatis suae; ut percusso Pastore, et gregem disperdere valeant.
Be favorable to Thy Church, the Bride of the Lamb without spot, whose enemies have filled to overflowing with gall and inebriated with wormwood. They have laid profane hands upon Her most sacred treasures. Where the See of the most blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth has been constituted as a light to the nations, there they have placed a throne of their abomination and impiety; so that with the Pastor struck, they may prevail to disperse the flock.
Adesto itaque, Dux invictissime, populo Dei contra irrumpentes spirituales nequitias, et fac victoriam. Te custodem et patronum sancta veneratur Ecclesia; te gloriatur defensore adversus terrestrium et infernorum nefarias potestates; tibi tradidit Dominus animas redemptorum in superna felicitate locandas. Deprecare Deum pacis, ut conterat satanam sub pedibus nostris, ne ultra valeat captivos tenere homines, et Ecclesiae nocere. Offer nostras preces in conspectu Altissimi, ut cito anticipent nos misericordiae Domini, et apprehendas draconem, serpentem antiquum, qui est diabolus et satanas, ac ligatum mittas in abyssum, ut non seducat amplius gentes. Hinc tuo confisi praesidio ac tutela, sacri ministerii nostri auctoritate [si fuerit laicus, vel clericus qui ordinem exorcistatus nondum suscepit, dicat: sacra sanctae Matris Ecclesiae auctoritate], ad infestationes diabolicae fraudis repellendas in nomine Iesu Christi Dei et Domini nostri fidentes et securi aggredimur.
Therefore, most invincible Leader, be with the people of God against this spiritual wickedness and bring about victory. Thou art venerated by Holy Church as Her guard and patron; Thou art glorified as our defender against the impious powers of earth and of hell. Unto thee the Lord hath handed over the souls of the redeemed to be placed in happiness above. Entreat the God of peace, to obliterate satan beneath our feet, lest he prevail further to hold men captive, and to injure the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that the mercy of the Lord may swiftly overtake us, and apprehend the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and satan, and send him bound into the abyss, so that he may seduce the nations no more. Henceforth having been confided to thy escort and protection, we sacred ministers by our authority [if recited by a layman, or cleric who has not yet taken up the order of exorcist, say instead, "by the authority of Holy Mother Church ], do undertake to repel the infestations of diabolical deceit in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our God and Lord.
V. Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversae.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, depart from us, our adversaries.
R. Vicit Leo de tribu Iuda, radix David.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, root of David, has conquered.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
V. Let Thy mercy be upon us Lord.
R. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.
R. As much as we hope in Thee.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Deus, et Pater Domini nostri Iesu Christi, invocamus nomen sanctum tuum, et clementiam tuam supplices exposcimus ut, per intercessionem immaculatae semper Virginis Dei Genetricis Mariae, beati Michaelis Archangeli, beati Ioseph eiusdem beatae Virginis Sponsi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum, adversus satanam, omnesque alios immundos spiritus, qui ad nocendum humano generi animasque perdendas pervagantur in mundo, nobis auxilium praestare digneris.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Let us pray
O God, and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we invoke Thy Holy Name, and we humbly implore Thy clemency so that, through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate ever-Virgin Mother of God, of blessed Michael the Archangel, of blessed Joseph, the Spouse of the same blessed Virgin, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the Saints, Thou may deign to offer us aid against satan, and all the other unclean spirits, who wander through the world to injure the human race and to destroy souls. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Library Display -- Harvest Tour of Homes

A friend sent me this library display! Do you see what I see? I've been invited to be part of the annual Harvest Tour of Homes. It's a very unique way to raise money for our local library. Four beautiful homes are featured and in each home there is a local author. I am so honored to be amongst these wonderful authors who write about food, culture and history. I have a feeling my Michael is going to be very interested in Robert Moss's books on Southern food and especially barbecue! If you either watched or read and enjoyed The Help, you will love Angela William's memoir: Hush Now, Baby. I suspect that many such stories are just waiting to be told. And for the history buffs: a novel set in antebellum Charleston by Ben Pogue.  If you're in the Charleston area Oct. 24th, come see me and these amazing writers and support our local library!

I wonder whether some day I can get our home in good enough shape to be *shown*!!! Alas, the writing life means that I am not the best housekeeper. We have books not only on the shelves but piles of them in every room. And papers. Our formal dining area is actually a computer and art room. We pretty much live in the kitchen and back porch. It is a writer's dream home -- tranquil. Perhaps I'll leave behind a legacy of great books and someone else will keep house for me. Or maybe long after I'm dead, people will come to see where I wrote. Ah, one can dream.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Seven Sorrows of Mary

The rosary is my favorite meditation. It is like looking at Mary's photo album of the life of Jesus. But there are other meditations as well -- Divine Mercy being a huge one, especially for those who are dying.

Today the Feast of our Sorrowful Mother. As you might guess, there is a chaplet to meditate upon Mary's seven sorrows:  

The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34–35) or the Circumcision of Christ
  1. The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
  2. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43–45)
  3. Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary.
  4. Jesus dies on the cross. (John 19:25)
  5. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary's receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57–59)
  6. The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb. (John 19:40–42)

But in the end, Our Lady of Sorrows is the Cause of our Joy. With her Fiat, she brought Jesus to us ... and as He hung upon the Cross, dying, He gave her to us from the Cross. She prays for us constantly. Truly, it was her pierced heart that melted mine. In Rome, when I was a young bride without children of my own, and unbelieving, I fell to my knees at this Pieta. This is the power of her sorrow and of great art.

After I discovered the seven sorrows of Mary, I naturally wanted to know whether Joseph too had sorrows that are commemorated. Indeed he does, and his every sorrow is turned into joy. Here are the meditations. I've copied them from the Via Rosa website.

St. Joseph Rosaries and Chaplets
Seven Sorrows
Seven Joys
The doubt of St. Joseph. (Matt. 1:19) 1 The message of the Angel. (Matt. 1:20)
The poverty of Jesus' birth. (Luke 2:7) 2 The birth of the Savior. (Luke 2:10-11)
The Circumcision. (Luke 2:21) 3 The Holy Name of Jesus. (Matt. 1:25)
The prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34) 4 The effects of the Redemption. (Luke 2:38)
The flight into Egypt. (Matt. 2:14) 5 The overthrow of the idols of Egypt. (Is. 19:1)
The return from Egypt. (Matt. 2:22) 6 Life with Jesus and Mary at Nazareth. (Luke 2:39)
The loss of the Child Jesus. (Luke 2:45) 7 The finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:46)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering 9/11

It is a bittersweet day for us because this tragedy set my husband upon a spiritual path that led us all to the Catholic Church. We felt so helpless. And we turned our faces to God. As ISIS marches across the Middle East, destroying churches and beheading and murdering Christians, in my sorrow, I remember the new saints in heaven. The Church Triumphant. ISIS is clearly evil and they can destroy our human bodies and places of worship, but they cannot destroy our souls. In fact, as Saint Junipera Serra said when one of his fellow brothers was brutally murdered by the Natives, "Thank God! The seed of the Gospel is now watered by the blood of a martyr; that mission is henceforth established."  He later protected the repentant Natives from being executed by the Spanish. 

Protus hyacinth.jpgI just discovered that Sept. 11 is the feast day of Saints Protus and Hyacinth, brothers who were scourged and then beheaded for their faith around AD 260 under Valerian (St. Andrew Daily Missal). It reminds me to not focus on the things of the earth, but of the heavenly kingdom.

Pax Christi.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Catechesis Resources

Michael bought THEOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS a couple of years ago and I've only now picked it up. What a GEM. I recommend this to all Christians, whether or not they think they already know and understand the mysteries of our faith.

So imagine my surprise when Michael -- and by now you must realize he is very good at digging up stuff! -- found a wonderful website with this very charming woman giving catechesis that even a second-grader can understand but with such depth, you will not be disappointed. It's no surprise that Daphne McLeod was a student of Sheed's. 

Michael had been looking for a resource for our Sunday Lectio Divina for the traditional calendar. I'm so glad he likes poking around the interwebs! My St. Andrew Daily Missal is a lot like this but it's hard to read because the print is so teeny.  Still, I love it. No more throwing away or recycling the Word of God as I've been doing the past couple of years with the Magnificat. I have something I can use year after year.  

I have a writing assignment (my first Catholic one!) and was looking for some resources online and hit the jackpot! St. Thomas Aquinas' commentary on the Gospel of John. Holy smokes!

Anyhow, I hope you will give the book a try and the links a look-see and listen. You will not be disappointed. Remember, the first spiritual work of mercy is instructing the ignorant! I do thank these wonderful teachers.