Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thirteen Black Cats on Friday the Thirteenth


 
Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth –
Now what is more hapless than that?
In front of Jack Jumper they crossed the street -
Crossed calmly, and that was that.

Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth -
What else but bad luck could follow black cats?
“I musn’t stay out – some misfortune I’ll meet,”
Said Jack Jumper; and that was that.

Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth
Forced Jack Jumper to stay home all day;
Yet the next morn he found he had reason to weep -
Missing work had cost him his pay.

“Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth!
Oh, bad luck is not to be evaded;
For though I did my best,” he groaned through his teeth,
“My luck’s dashed and my hopes have faded!”

Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth
Made the fourteenth all dismal and gray;
When an old man asked Jack what had caused him such spleen,
Mr. Jumper had one thing to say.

“Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth!
They’ve caused me such sorrow and strife.”
And he poured out his tale to this man on the street
Of the cats that had ruined his life.

“Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth,”
Mused the wise old man with a smile,
“I see; but I can’t say I agree in the least
That it’s their fault your luck’s hard for awhile.

Thirteen black cats on Friday the Thirteenth!
Blame them, if you must, for your fall;
But in this sorry matter all the bad luck I see
Is that you trusted bad luck at all.”

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cinderella Saint

Did you ever hear of St. Germaine of Pibrac? She's quite fascinating and inspiring, but not quite as popular as saints like St. Agnes or St. Clare. Here's an essay I wrote about her some time ago. Maybe you can learn something from it. :)
     
 The story of Cinderella has been around for hundreds of years. There are many versions of the story, and of course there's the Disney movie. Nearly everyone knows the story of the scullery maid who became a princess. But how many people, I wonder, know that there is a true story about a shepherdess who became a saint?

 At first glance, this true story does not seem very much like the story of Cinderella. Instead of beginning once upon a time in a land far, far away, it begins in 1579 in Pibrac, France. That is the time and place of our little princess’ birth.

 Her name was not Cinderella, but Germaine Cousin. And she did not look much like a princess. Her right arm was deformed and her neck disfigured by the disease of scrofula. No one would have thought that this small daughter of a poor French man would ever amount to anything.

 But Germaine and Cinderella had something very much in common: a wicked stepmother.

 Her name was Hortense, and she was as cruel to Germaine as Cinderella’s stepmother ever was. Using the sickly child’s scrofula as an excuse, she sent Germaine out to the barn to live. There, the poor girl suffered through winter cold and summer heat with the animals as her only companions. She slept on a sorry bed under the barn steps and ate what scraps the family saved for her. Every day, she drove the sheep out to pasture far from the house, and there she spent her days, whether the weather was driving rain or merciless snow, blistering heat or biting cold. It was a lonely life she led, out there in the woods and pastures of France. Yet, like Cinderella, she never complained or despaired, but remained joyful and kind – even towards her spiteful stepmother.

 Why? Why was she so loving and gentle, when the wind and sun and snow and rain and loneliness of a shepherdess’ life should have hardened her heart and sharpened her tongue long ago? How could she have survived? Certainly her stepmother’s abusive treatment and her father’s neglect to protect her should have broken her spirit long ago. Why didn’t she give up and pray as she fell asleep to never wake again? Wouldn’t her hard life have killed her? It could have. It should have. But it didn’t.

 Germaine had something that Cinderella didn’t. She had her Faith. She had her Church. She had the Mass. And these things strengthened her. They made her life worthwhile, worth suffering, worth loneliness. Every day when the church bells rang for Mass, Germaine longed to rush to the church to her Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. He was her Prince Charming, and one Mass was better than a thousand royal balls.

 But a shepherdess cannot leave her sheep, and anyone would have advised Germaine not to abandon hers, even for a short while.  The wolves that prowled the forests would certainly attack and kill them. And what would her stepmother think of that? Surely it would mean more beatings for Germaine if she lost even one lamb. But beatings were a small price to pay in order to attend the greatest event on earth. God was more important to Germaine than anything else in the world. So, she appealed to her Fairy Godmother – that is, her Guardian Angel. She prayed that he would keep the sheep safe. Then, trusting that her prayer had been heard, she set her shepherd’s crook in the ground, told the sheep to stay, and hurried to Mass. When she returned, she found the sheep perfectly safe. This she did every day after, and although every time her sheep were left with no earthly shepherd to protect them, not one of them ever strayed or was killed by wolves.

 Even rushing rivers could not hinder Germaine from visiting her True Love. Several times a certain stream she had to cross became swollen with rain, so swollen that no one dared to cross lest they be swept away. But Germaine was not afraid. She calmly made the sign of the cross and prayed for help. Then, the waters divided, allowing Germaine to cross safely on dry ground.

 Another time the stepmother chased Germaine, accusing her of stealing food. When she caught her, she made her open her apron, which she supposed held the stolen goods. But there, in Germaine’s ragged clothes, were beautiful flowers, unknown to the region; and this was in the midst of winter’s chill.

  All the long years that Germaine lived in the wretched shed, no one but the village children understood how special she was. They would come to her and listen as she spoke of God. She loved Him so, and she knew Him well, for all those lonesome hours spent watching sheep and spinning wool were spent mostly in prayer. She had made a rosary for herself, and this she prayed often. Also, she went to Confession regularly. It is no wonder she became so familiar with heavenly things.

 Germaine had been as holy as a shepherdess can be for a long while. She was 22 years old. Cinderella didn’t have to wait so long for her happily ever after. Where was Germaine’s?

 One quiet night, in the year 1601, a priest and two religious were traveling through the woods near Pibrac. They were surprised to see a chorus of shining maidens in white dance through the forest. They went on towards Pibrac, but soon returned. This time they were even happier than they had been the first time, for they had been joined by another maiden.  It was Germaine. The virgins had come to take her to heaven, which is far more wonderful a palace than Prince Charming ever offered Cinderella; they came to lead her to her bridegroom, who loved her more than Prince Charming ever could have loved Cinderella; and He gave to her the heavenly crown she so deserved, the crown of virginity, adorned with the jewels of all her good works on earth, which is more beautiful than any crown Cinderella ever wore.

 And she lived happily ever after.  



Friday, July 24, 2015

One Touch of Rosy Sunset

G.K. Chesterton once said, “If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.” What a beautiful goal. In his lifetime, G.K. Chesterton wrote oodles of wonderful things, from the Fr. Brown mystery stories to poetry to philosophy to an essay in the defense of Santa Claus. What with all those masterpieces he left behind, I'm sure he's put a touch of rosy sunset into somebody's life.

As a matter of fact, I'm 100% certain that he has. I'm 100% certain because at least one of those somebodies is me.

Chesterton's poem The Battle of Lepanto is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature I have ever come across in my life. Admittedly, the first time I read it, I had positively no idea what it was about. It went right over my head. A year, or a few years, later, I came back to it. This time it made a little more sense. When I tackled it line by line, I could actually understand it - and I found that it was quite beautiful. The next thing I knew, I wanted to memorize it. And I did. I spent a couple of days last summer reading it over and over again, verse by verse, repeating it to myself until I knew it by heart.

I've never regretted that use of my time. In the year since I've memorized that glorious poem, I don't know how many times I've recited it to myself. How many times it has lifted me from the depths of apathy into the heights of elation. How many times it has soothed by rumpled spirits and brought a smile to my face. How many times it has lulled me to sleep on a restless night. How many times it has occupied my mind and kept me from slipping into less edifying thoughts that may well have harmed my soul. How many times it has reminded me that life is worth living, that the world is brimming with hope, that no matter how bad things get good will always triumph over evil.

There are a dozen things about this poem that never fail to make me see all the world in a rosy and glorious light. Sometimes it is the rollicking rhythm dotted with delightful snatches of alliteration-
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold,
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper-kettle drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes!

Sometimes it is the vivid imagery all brimming with bright colors -
They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;

Fallen skies! Evil hues! Eyeless creatures! I could sit there forever just picturing what that looks like! The entire poem is just teeming with interesting wordings and imaginative takes on the world; even if I don't understand exactly what's going on, I can still take immense pleasure in the very way the words sound. And speaking of the sea's green hells, not to shock anyone reading this, but sometimes the very strong and even gory words Chesterton uses add a whole lot of vigor and fun to the poem -
Don John pounding on the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting in of holds...


But I think the very best thing about this little masterpiece is its theme (which could not possibly come out so beautifully if there weren't so many glittering jewels of phrases and sentences in it). At the climax of the story, our hearts soar high as we hear the triumph of nobody over sultan, Christian over infidel, good over evil, worded in exultant bursts of poetry like the pealing of a clear gold bell -
Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!


It is a glorious resolution of an epic conflict, one that always makes me feel better than I did at the beginning of the poem.

One touch of rosy sunset? G.K. Chesterton has put far more than one touch of rosy sunset to my life. I wonder if he had any idea, when he wrote that poem so long ago, how much it would mean to one little girl nearly 80 years after his death.

We might never know how the good things we do affect those who come after us. It could be that some achievement of ours which seems trivial at the time will have a great impact on the life of someone we will never know. And this is one of the reasons we should strive for beauty: we never know who else may profit from our chase after loveliness.

This realization can change the way we live. Something which has no beauty, no truth, no goodness in it is not worth our time or effort. But if all we do is motivated by a search for and love of the higher and better things, then who knows? We may very well be responsible for putting a touch of rosy sunset in someone's life.

And, as G.K. Chesterton says, anyone who has done that may rest assured with the knowledge that he, a simple member of the human race, has worked with God.



(Oh, and by the way, you really must read The Battle of Lepanto if you haven't already. Here's a link:
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177439
Do, do, do give it a try. You may have to read it ten times before it makes sense, but, if you ask me, it's worth it.) :)


Ada's Bio

Alright, so today I'm going to post Ada's bio. Ada is a rather important character - as a matter of fact, she started out as my protagonist. Not sure if that's going to work anymore, as I haven't really found anything for shy quiet her to do...but she works as a nice point of view character. :)

Ada Albers
 
Ada Albers is fourteen years old, with a shy, quiet, gentle nature. The first years of her life were the happiest; she lived in a simple little cottage on the planet Erda under the care of two loving parents, whom she adored with all her heart. When she was seven years old, however, her parents were killed in a tragic and devastating hotel fire, the origins of which no one has ever discovered. (Ada was in the building, too, but she was rescued by a fireman. The memory of that night accounts for her horror of fire.) After this terrible event, Ada was brought to live with her rich, well-meaning, and slightly worldly Aunt Angela, her father's sister. Aunt Angela tried her best to provide a loving home for the lonely little girl, but Ada was perfectly miserable in the big empty city house. As soon as she was old enough, Ada was sent to Star of Heaven, which is in a different solar system. The busyness of school and the companionship of other children, particularly Timandra and Eldon Clemmons, worked wonders for her. Still, she never lost her timid, quiet ways, and is a pensive and rather melancholy girl. She would be content to never leave her unadventurous life; but at the end of the school year in the year 9000, the appearance of a sinister stranger and a series of mishaps and coincidences whirls her off into dangers and escapades she never would have dreamed of.
 
Please, go ahead and post any questions you have for Ada in the comments. :)
 
Oh, and by the way, in case any of you were wondering what Timandra looks like, here she is. I'm not exactly Michelangelo, :) but I finally figured out how to work the scanner. And at least this'll give you some idea of what they look like. :)
 
 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grace's Triumph


He stood outside the church, that man,
And paced, and paused, and paced again;
He’d not gone through that ancient door
In nine long years, or maybe ten.
The chapel now he longed to see,
And loathed, and longed still, all the same;
The age-old boards where incense sleeps,
The faces in the candles’ flame.
The silence of that silent room
Was one that probed his very soul;
He loved its peace, but hated more
To know it probed his heart’s dark hole.
And peace, and hate, and misery
Struggled now in anguished fight;
Until that fear which in all creeps
Fled from the whisper – “Do what’s right.”
With pounding heart and stricken soul,
He stepped into the church so dim;
He entered through the creaking door;
He yielded to fair grace’s whim.
Before the sacred screen he knelt,
And in the darkness, whisper-fringed,
He spoke these words, that long-lost sheep:
“Bless me, Father; I have sinned.”
And from heaven’s floodgates, an ocean streamed
Of grace flowing from a wounded Heart;
The blood, the water, forgiveness bore,
To mend what had long been torn apart.
The flood it roared in healing strength,
The force of love swept sin away;
And the White Dove of peace, whom all sainthood keeps,
Fluttered into that long longed-for soul, to stay.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Timandra's Interview

Alright, here's Timandra's interview. I talk in blue type. Timandra talks in red type. Sorry this is so long, but Timandra is talkative, and doesn't know when to be quiet. :)

Hey, Timandra, can I ask you some questions?

Right before history class? *laughs* 'Course. I can spare a minute. Why?

I am going to introduce you to the world.

*perks up* Really? *face falls a little* I'd planned to do that myself, as a Shakespearean actress.

Well, not really the world. More like a handful of friends.

Oh, alright. The rest of the world can meet me as Juliet. Well, go ahead, fire away! After all, "Better three hours too soon than a moment too late."

*smirks* Alright. What's your least favorite subject in school?

Now, that's an interesting question! I've thought about favorite a lot, but never least favorite. *thinks with finger on chin* I guess I could get along without geometry. I like algebra and seeing the numbers all pop together just like that, but geometry gets a little old after awhile.

Which is better, Julius Caesar or Hamlet?

Oh, gosh, you had to ask that! I was just talking to Eldon about this just the other day. I can't decide. I simply adore Hamlet's death scene - "goodnight, sweet prince! and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest" - and, ah! That ghost is rich. But Julius Caesar, gee! I have all Marc Antony's lines memorized. *puts hand on heart and half-closes eyes* "Oh, mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low? Are all the glories, conquests, triumphs, spoils, shrunk to this little measure? Fare ye well. I know not, gentlemen, what else -"

*laughing* Okay, enough, enough. What about The Taming of the Shrew?

Oh, that's a good one. They all are. But I don't like comedies as much as I like tragedies. Something about tragedies - they're just so dramatic, you know? You can put your whole heart and soul into reciting them. "Our enemies have beat us to the pit, and it is more noble to jump in ourselves than to tarry 'til they push us." Oh! poor Brutus!

What's one of your favorite hobbies?

*grins* Besides Shakespeare? Well, I really like horseback-riding. And studying history. And fixing hair. Ada's a great model. And writing snatches of epic stories. And memorizing poetry. And once Eldon or Jude finally gets around to teaching me how to fly, I just know that's going to be better than anything.

How many siblings do you have? Are you the youngest?

There are nine kids in my family, and I'm smack dab in the middle. First there's Jude, about 24 years old; then Catherina and Isabella, early 20s; Eldon's 17; and then there's me. After that there are the little girls - Rosetta, Cecilia, and Stella. And then there's Pio. He's three.

If you could have one wish, what would it be?

Hmm. I wish the whole world was as noble as all the knights of yore were supposed to be. *grins* I guess that's kind of a crazy wish. *laughs* I'd settle for just Jude being as noble as the knights of yore. *grows pensive* He's been getting kind of...distant lately. He used to be my hero, but now...*sighs* I don't know what's wrong with him. He's just different. I wish we could be as good of friends as we were before he grew up.

What's your greatest fear?

*laughs* I'm not really afraid of anything! *cocks head* Well, nothing physical, that is. *thinks a moment, then speaks decidedly* Mediocrity. At least, I don't know if I'm afraid of it, but I hate it. I never want to be good in a half-hearted way, and I never want anyone around me to be good in a half-hearted way. To see anyone being just sorta good, and not heroic, sort of tears at my very soul. And - I'm afraid - I get the feeling that Jude's been slipping towards that. It would break my heart if he stopped being a hero.

What makes you really sad?

Seeing Ada sad. She gets sad all the time, and there's nothing I can do to make her happy. Even if I cheer her up, she still misses her parents. And I don't blame her. I just wish there was something I could do to make that hurt go away - or bring them back for her.

What makes you really happy?

All kinds of things. Being around my friends, going really fast on pretty much anything, and poetry. Really strong, beautiful, rollicking poetry. Shakespeare, or something like G.K. Chesterton's The Battle of Lepanto. Have you ever read that?

Yes, I have. It's one of my favorite poems, actually. Do you have any enemies at school?

*thinks for a moment* Crispin. *bursts out laughing* Nah, I'm just kidding. Crispin and I pretend to hate each other, but actually we're really good friends. He's like a little brother to me. *shrugs* I guess I don't have any enemies.

Do you like animals?

Do I! I love 'em.

What's your favorite one?

Wisp.

Wisp?

*laughs* Eldon's and my dog. She's really cute.

You mean you didn't name your dog after a Shakespearean character?

Well, I wanted to, but Eldon wouldn't let me. And Wisp was a perfect name. She was just a little wisp of a puppy when we found her. But I guess you meant my favorite kind of animal. Well...I like horses.

Alright, one last question. What's you favorite color?

Red. Bright, crimson, rosy red!

Ha, that fits you. Okay, Timandra, that'll do. You can go back to history class now.

Okay! Wouldn't want to miss a word about ancient America. *grins* Bye!

Alright, so that's Timandra. Next character will be one of these three:

Eldon
Jude
Ada
Vote in the comments for whichever one you want to hear more about, and I'll get to work on their bio. :)





Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hail, Mary

 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
 
 
It is a prayer which has echoed through the ages with an innocent ring;
the prayer of little children lisping as they cling to their rosary beads;
the prayer of crusaders praying as they ride into battle.
 
 
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus. Sancte Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
 
It is a prayer which we have known for as long as we remember;
the prayer to which we cling when this life seems so void of innocence;
the prayer which we take up as our weapon when we ride into the battles of life.
 
 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chores

Saturday. Chore day!

I don't know about you, but there are times when I can't stand work. Whether I'm doing dishes, folding laundry, or cleaning out my chickens' pens, there are so many things I'd rather be doing - writing, reading, playing outside, swimming, emailing, algebra. Okay, maybe not algebra. But in any case, chores are a botheration and a bore, a trial and a trouble, and I'm glad to be done with them.

If I saw things as I should see them, though, that wouldn't be the case. Work is hard, but it can also be beautiful! The Catechism says, "Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work" (CCC 2427).

Even Jesus had to work. Sometimes thoughts like that help me see things in a different light. Chores don't have to be drudgery - they can be a gift, one of the many tanglewebs of life in which we see God's glory, and a way for us to grow closer to our Savior.



Here is a prayer to St. Joseph the worker which is especially beautiful. I found it quite thought-provoking and helpful, and hope you will, too!

 O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O Patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Timandra's Bio

Today I'm going to post a bio of one of my characters from The Prince's Pendant, Timandra Clemmons. Although she is not the protagonist, she has a pretty big role in the story. Please feel free to comment and ask questions about her, and I'll implement them into an interview that'll be posted later.
 
Timandra Clemmons

Lively and optimistic, fifteen-year-old Timandra comes from a loving and affluent family. Her earliest memories are happy ones, mostly consisting of tumbling about with boisterous brothers and spirited sisters. (She has quite a lot of them.) Since the age of nine, she has attended Star of Heaven boarding school, and she does very well in academic matters; some claim that she is brilliant, but Timandra laughs it off as well-meant flattery. With her witty mind and loving nature, it's easy for her to make friends, and she has very many. Her brothers and sisters are her oldest and dearest friends, particularly Eldon, who attends Star of Heaven with her and is only a year or two her elder, and Jude, her oldest brother. Timandra also has an especially close bond with sweet, shy Ada Albers, her roommate at Star of Heaven for the past six years. These two are practically sisters, Timandra cheering and encouraging her pensive friend whenever she has a chance. Miss Clemmons has many avid interests, especially in literary matters. Her favorite author of all time is Shakespeare, and she could literally talk for hours straight on Julius Caesar or Hamlet - just ask Jude. Of an enthusiastic, fearless nature, Timandra often comes off as brazen and imprudent, but she really is cool-headed at heart...when she needs to be.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Light in Life's Darkness

They glimmer, and they sparkle, and they twinkle, far away;
And we see them in the nighttime, but they're also there by day;
And no matter what our troubles are, they never go away.
 
Even when the clouds are thickest, and the strongest windstorms blow;
Even when the night is darkest, and the day has lost its glow;
Even then the stars are shining on this troubled world below.
They glimmer, and they sparkle, and they twinkle, far away;
Yet we know that they are mortal, no matter what poets say.
And, someday, they will crumble; even stars must end one day.
Yes, one day they will crumble, and their light will disappear;
But there is no cause for weeping, and there is no cause for fear.
The stars are not our source of joy as we live our exile here.
In the black of life's darkness, when the light seems all but gone,
And we cannot see the reason, but just struggle blindly on,
We must always look to Heaven as we wait for Heaven's dawn.
Even when the clouds are thickest, and the strongest windstorms blow;
Even when the night is darkest, and the day has lost its glow;
Even then the Help is shining on this troubled world below.
He glimmers, and He sparkles, and He twinkles, come what may;
And we see Him in life's nighttime, but He's also there by day;
And no matter what our troubles are, He never goes away.


 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

St. Lucy

It is such a comfort to have the saints as friends! Not only are they great intercessors on our behalf, they are also wonderful examples of how to live a holy life. One of my favorite saints is St. Lucy.


 
 
According to her story, she was a beautiful young lady promised in marriage to a rich young man. Her mother fell sick, and no one could offer her a cure. Lucy piously counselled her sick mother to seek healing through the intercession of the virgin martyr St. Agatha. Accordingly, mother and daughter went to St. Agatha's tomb to spend the night there in prayer. Through the night, Lucy had a dream in which St. Agatha appeared to her, called her "sister", and promised that she would soon join her in heaven with a martyr's crown. It was not the only miracle to occur that night; Lucy's mother was indeed cured of her malady through St. Agatha's intercession! The daughter now confided to her mother her greatest secret: she had taken a vow of virginity for the sake of Christ. Because of this, she could not marry the man who had been promised her hand. Thankful to St. Agatha for her cure, the mother accepted Lucy's resolution with an open heart.
 
It was not long before St. Agatha's words rang true. The suitor, furious at being refused, reported Lucy to the Roman authorities as a Christian. She was brought to trial, condemned to death, and, after many miracles, killed at the stroke of a sword. The martyr's crown promised her by St. Agatha was hers at last.
 
Her feast day is December 13, and she is the patroness of writers - one of the many reasons I find her so very wonderful!
 
Let us take the example of this innocent girl, so courageous, faith-filled, and pure, to heart, and someday, her faithful servant's crown can be our crown, too.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pretty Chickens

Tragedy! Tragedy, tragedy!

It's fair-time in Clinton County, and if you drive down to the fairgrounds, you'll find them abuzz with once-in-a-summer excitement. You'll be greeted by a host of fair-time glories - the rides spinning around in colorful whirligigs, the clatter of harnessed horses as they thunder down the track, the tantalizing scents of French fries and popcorn floating through the air.  If you walk through the various barns, you'll find hosts of animals - great lumbering cows with gentle eyes, fat lazy pigs shuffling about in their pens, soft little rabbits looking out of their cages with frightened composure. But one barn stands empty at the fair this year, and without it, everything seems a little less perfect.

The bereaved barn in question - bereaved due to the threat of Avian Influenza - is the poultry barn.

No chickens at the fair! For poultry showers like me and my siblings, it doesn't get much more tragic than that. :)

Because I miss seeing them at the fairgrounds, and because I want to share some of these surprisingly beautiful birds with you, I am going to post a bunch of pictures from the internet of some of my favorite chicken breeds. :)



Old English Bantam
I show this kind of chicken. A rather impressive physique, don't you think? :) 

 

Golden Sebright
If it weren't for my loyalty to Old English bantams, I do believe this breed would be my favorite.



Polish
Haha, look at that puffball of a head.

 

Lakenvelder
I have a few sisters who dream of showing this rare breed someday.



 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jesus' Passion: The Proof of Love

How much does God love us?
            This question cannot be answered in human words. God loves us more than we can imagine. He always has and He always will. There is no way we can begin to understand the love God has for us.
            Through the ages, God has proved His love for us in many ways - through creating the world, through creating us; through becoming man; through establishing His Church on earth that men of all times and places might come to Him. But nowhere has God proven His love so poignantly and so magnificently as in the passion and death of Our Lord. This is the proof of love which surpasses all proofs, the crowning glory of all God's marvelous acts of love. For death is a horrible thing. Who has not feared it? It is more dreaded than anything else in the world. We humans would do anything to avoid it. And here, in the Crucifixion, the only man in history who could have avoided it not only accepted death, but embraced it. This is love. This is love that cannot be compared with anything else in eternity.
            The very fact that Jesus chose death for our sake should be enough to bring us to our knees, but if we begin to think what kind of death Jesus died, we find an even greater mystery of love. Jesus did not just live a normal life and then die of something fairly soft and devoid of pain, as we certainly would choose had we the power to choose our own death. He did not choose a quick and easy passing at the stroke of a sword or the shot of a gun. The death He chose was slow, horrendous, and, at the same time, absolutely empty of worldly glory: crucifixion.
            It was probably the most dreaded form of execution in the world at the time of Christ. To the eyes of the Roman state, only slaves and the most detestable criminals merited this end; Roman citizens were not permitted to be crucified, because it was simply too horrible. It was extremely painful - so painful that the word "excruciating" is derived from it, and every victim was offered a pain-numbing drink of drugged wine before going to their deaths - a gesture of pity towards those whom the Romans deemed most worthy of pain. Iron nails were used to pound the condemned onto the cross. With his arms stretched out in an unnatural position, a crucified man could not get his breath without lifting himself, and he could not lift himself without causing unbearable torture to his legs and feet. He might hang on the instrument of torture for hours or even days before finally expiring due to asphyxiation. The prelude to crucifixion was nearly as bad as crucifixion itself, if such a thing is possible. It was usually preceded by scourging; and the scourge used by the Romans was not simply the flimsy whip we might be tempted to imagine at first. It was composed of a handle with several thongs attached to it; and these thongs, made of leather, were barbed with pieces of sharp metal. Scourging with this cruel object was such a brutal punishment that it could kill a man; a Centurion was required to give the order to stop, lest the criminal die before his time. On top of this, the victim was often required to carry the crossbeam of his own cross to the place of execution; this crossbeam could weigh up to one hundred pounds.
            It was this horrible form of death which Jesus chose to die. Why? Because He loves us. His death was necessary if the gates of Heaven were to be opened to us. Jesus could have chosen not to die, not to suffer; he was absolutely free in His choice to follow the Father's will: "Indeed, out of love for his father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: 'No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.' Hence the sovereign freedom of God's Son as he went out to his death" (CCC 609). This was hard for Jesus. He was truly man as well as truly God, and, as a result, He loathed death as any man does. "Jesus prays: 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me...' Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature" (CCC 612). And Jesus' death was a true death: he not only suffered, but suffered and died. "In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only 'die for our sins' but should also 'taste death', experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead" (CCC 624). The more and more we think about Christ's death, the more and more we realize what a momentous thing it is: God actually died for us. Even though our intellects can grasp this truth, our heart has no choice but to ponder it, to ask again and again the simple yet profound question, "Why?"
            Why all this suffering and disgrace and death? There is only one answer: "love". Love was what made Jesus accept God's will in the Garden of Gethsemane, what gave Him strength to endure the scourging, what comforted Him on the cross. Jesus tells St. Faustina, "Pure love gives the soul strength at the very moment of dying. When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself, but about poor sinners, and I prayed for them to My Father" (Diary 324). This love, which Jesus showed so gloriously for us on the cross, flows out into the entirety of God's will for us. "By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love..." (CCC 604).
            What now? God has shown us the most amazing love that will ever be - He has lavished it all upon us, saving us at the price of His own life. We deserved no more than Hell, and He gave us no less than all He had to give. What is our response? Should it not be a profusion of love in return? It should be; but it is not. Jesus laments to St. Faustina, "Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness, to so many proofs of love! My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world. They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces" (Diary 367).
            Oh, what a tragedy it is that so many souls do not understand how much Jesus loves them! How much God cares for them! What a sacrifice He made for them! Our hearts should break when we realize how the blood of Jesus flows out upon mankind, upon so many needy spirits, upon so many empty people, wanting to fill them up with grace and life and bring them to happiness eternal, wanting to shower them with love as a mother smothers her newborn child with adulation - and how many souls refuse this love. They need only to open their hearts to Jesus' love and mercy and grace, and instead they remain closed - cold, empty, and miserable. Oh, let us not be among these souls. Let us not be lukewarm and ungrateful. Let us let His remarkable love pour into our hearts - let the Holy Spirit burn a fire of gratitude in our souls - let the glory of God burst in on our poor sinful spirits and make them palaces of unending splendor. Let us act as kindling for the holy fire which God so wants to light in this empty and gray, sinful world - for  "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" (Luke 12:49).
 

Bibliography
 

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second ed. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Print.

 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Bishops' Committee. The New American Bible, Saint Joseph Edition. New York: Catholic Book Pub., 1970. Print.

 "Crucifixion." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

 "Roman Crucifixion." Roman Crucifixion. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

 "The Roman Scourge (Bible History Online)." The Roman Scourge (Bible History Online). N.p.,         n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

 St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.      Stockbridge: Marian, 2008. Print.

 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Prince's Pendant

     As some or all of you know, one of my favorite (and practically only) hobbies is writing. Snatches of poetry, half-finished short stories, and the confidant first pages of novels doomed never to be finished - I revel in it all. Currently, my biggest project is an action-packed space adventure set in 9000 AD. I've promised my siblings it'll turn out to be a trilogy...but we'll see how far that gets. :) Although I've messed around with several titles, I still haven't settled on one; for right now, I'm calling it The Prince's Pendant. Here's an introduction to the story world and plot.
 



     The Festerlonian Empire has been trying for years to conquer the universe - and, to all appearances, she should be able to. With excellent weapons, a committed army, and military leaders who could stand alongside Alexander the Great, Festerlon is in a prime position to dominate the world. Only one thing stands in its way: the Erdanian Empire.
     Erdania is the "mother" of all the kingdoms in the universe, for it is within her boundaries that civilization began to take root and it is back to her that every man can trace his history. Thousands of years older than any of her sister kingdoms, she is so advanced, wealthy, and well-organized that she would be able to crush Festerlon under her little toe if she had a mind. Fortunately, she hasn't a mind to crush anyone. She uses her power only for protection, and it is she who guards all the littler and weaker kingdoms from Festerlon's threats. Seethe as it might, Festerlon dare not raise its hand against the most powerful empire in the universe.
     That is, until now. At long last, the brilliant strategists and fanatic patriots of Festerlon have come up with a desperate plan. It is radical, but it will work. It must work. If it does not, all Festerlon will fall to ruin, to the shameful littleness that is worse than death.
     Their plan sets Prince Alphonse, the heir to the Erdanian throne, in mortal peril. To uncover the plot and save the prince will cost the efforts, devotion, and possibly even the lives of many innocent people.

     Next week, in copy-cat-ation of my friend Andrea Adams, :) I plan to post a bio of one of my characters - probably Prince Alphonse, seeing as he's so key. Then anyone who wants can ask questions about him, and I'll post an interview.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sisterhood Award


Well, I've been tagged for the sisterhood award by my good friend Andrea Adams, at http://andreasscribbles.blogspot.com. Thanks, Andi! Also, I'm tagging you back. You're going to have to serve as the ten blogs mentioned in the rules. :)

Alright, here are my answers to the ten questions:

If you had to go on an adventure with one book character, who would it be?
This is ever such a hard question. Well, let's see. I suppose it would be extremely egotistic of me to say Timandra from my book, but I do think it'd be fun to go on an adventure with her. :) I'd like to hang out with Anne of Green Gables, too, and Jo March - but I don't know if they'd be very useful on an adventure. Always getting into scrapes. :)

 What's your favorite musical?
Probably Oliver! The songs are so happy and fun.

What's your favorite movie?
Hmm.....I'm horrible at favorites. Right now, the movie I most want to re-watch is Gettysburg, based on the book The Killer Angels. It's not that it has the best characters or plot I've ever seen, but it is so well-done - it follows the book in such a perfect way. I don't just mean it doesn't change anything drastic - it keeps the feel of the book. Sometime I should do a post on how much feel means to me in a story.

 If you could meet one person from history, who would it be?
Ohhh, one of the early Roman martyrs - St. Lucy, or St. Agnes. I can't pick between the two of them. They must've been amazing. But, then, I can talk to the saints anytime...so maybe I should say Don John of Austria. If I'm going to write a novel about the Battle of Lepanto someday, I'm going to need to interview him. ;)

 Frozen or Tangled?
Frozen. It's so much more innocent or something. Flynn and Rapunzel's rocky relationship feels like a high-school romance; but in Frozen, you've got happy-go-lucky Anna, endearing Olaf, and lots of really great songs. Plus, the love between Anna and Kristoff is solid.

What's your favorite time of the year?
September, right around my birthday. :) The weather is so often lovely, with that afterglow of summer in the yellowing leaves and brilliant sky. I have some great memories of walking along the driveway and picking wild sunflowers in September.

Pie or cake?

Pie.

What's your favorite song to sing with a large group of friends?
Adoramus Te Christe. We did that one in choir, and it's ever so beautiful! It's fun to sing that with everyone and remember the fun we had learning it, while enjoying the harmonies and being moved with gratitude to Our Savior at the same time.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what?
Interesting question. I used to play the clarinet....but it's been so long since I've practiced, I don't know if you can really count that. I never was too good at it, anyway.

Who's your favorite character in the Narnia books?
Reepicheep. It's been a long time since I've read those (I really need to read them again!), but Reep has always stuck with me as one of the most memorable, delightful - and, dare I say? - adorable characters in literature. :)

And here are ten new questions:

Who is the most annoying character you've ever met?

Say you had to choose between a time machine that only traveled into the future and one that only traveled into the past. Which would you choose, and why?

Who is one of your favorite saints?

What are you more interested in, Arthurian legend or Robin Hood?

Cats or dogs?

What is your favorite genre to read?

What is your favorite genre to write?

Which of you characters you've ever invented are you the most proud of?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Suppose you have to be taken out of your family and thrown into one from a book. Which family would you choose?






Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings - A Poem :)

I live in pursuit of fairy rings,
Of tanglewebs, and pixie-wings;
I live in constant wondering
At gossamer and rain.
For in all things does magic hide -
In flower, in starlight - and I've spied
It peep from hollows where life has died,
From loneliness, from pain.

It creeps about in all I see,
This glorious secret, merrily;
It smiles and sighs and laughs at me
Who am so coarse and dull.
It laughs - but sadly - at the blind
Which lowers its nets about my mind
And 'round my spirit twists and twines
The befuddling smoke of the Fall.

And yet, I am not wholly dead
To roses' beauty, dewdrop-fed;
My faculties have not all fled
The knowledge nature would impart;
For whenever beguiling enchantment I read
In a pebble-stone, or a thistle-seed,
I sense that, where magic has been decreed,
A Wizard has wrought His art.