Thursday, November 10, 2016

Beautiful Books - November


Actually it has been for about ten days now. BUT STILL. It's November. The month all NaNoers simultaneously love and hate has come.

So it's also time for the Beautiful Books link-up with Cait and Sky. Be sure to check out their blogs and join in the fun!

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Overall, I'm good! I was pleasantly surprised to find that writing 2,000 words a day is actually doable, and I'm thrilled to be (pretty much) on target regarding word count. My novel is going swimmingly. Except for the fact that I my bad guys are about as boring as mashed potatoes with no salt or butter.

(That's okay in a first draft, right? Tell me it's okay in a first draft!)

Evergreen Plantation:

What's your first sentence (or paragraph)? mean I have to show it to you? Okay fine. If you're a writer you'll understand what first drafts look like. :) Here's the first paragraph.

Alice and Jeanie were at their usual table eating ice cream when the cowboy walked in. He wasn't a real cowboy — Alice knew that from the moment she saw him — but he had the best outfit she had ever seen. His hat had a battered, busted look about it, but it hadn't lost its shape. And his boots — well! The floorboards creaked when he walked. The cowboy himself looked only nine or ten years old, though. So he couldn't have been real.

That's probably not going to be the real opening. A lot more needs to be established in the first scene than I thought. So that cowboy might not make his debut appearance until page 3 or so.

(You know what else? That opening line might just be vaguely copied from If We Survive, which is a book I've never ever read but which opening line Anna Deubell has marveled at...)

Who's your current favorite character in your novel?

My current favorite character? Golly, that's a hard one. Well, I really like Trick, the little cowboy at the very beginning. He made things really interesting really fast, and he's such a naughty little stinker, and the soft spot he's got for Jessie is just cute. I like Trick. :) Except he's been using rather modern phrases lately. Tsk tsk tsk. Don't you know you're from the 1800s, kid? You shouldn't be saying the villains are "bad news" and telling people to "grow up."

I remember opening and closing our barbed-wire fences like that on our…:

But then I'm also very pleased with Alice. She may be the first main character I've had that is actually in the running for favorite character.

Michael and Ricky have been disappointing. (Which is probably good, otherwise they'd hijack the story.) Same with Jessie, who is turning out exactly like the Fairy Queen in my middle grade fantasy Lillian. I haven't really gotten to Sophia yet, but I'm hoping she'll live up to my ideas of her and not fall flat like all these other mischievous children of mine.

What do you love about your novel so far?

It's so much fun! It's like writing silly fan fiction with my own characters. There's so much room to play! I get to experiment with about three dozen different settings and a million different characters. And I keep discovering little connections and twists around every corner. It's very fun to decide an insignificant little guard is actually the son of an important someone. :)

The iconic America!we grew to greatness amongst the world in this time and now just look around at this dilapidated country :( Detroit is a perfect example.:

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Uh...well, there was this sentence:

"Yeah!" Trick sat up, showing his freckled face for the first time in several minutes. 

The first time I typed it it turned out like this:

"Yeah!" Trick sat up, showing his freckled face for the first time in several months.

As Trick isn't exactly the Sleeping Beauty type, that made me chuckle. :) Also, I accidentally typed "jumple" instead of "jumble" a couple of times. "Jumple" is a fun word, isn't it? I should name somebody's pet "Jumple" in this book.

What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end - and why?

Eh, I know not. I supposeth the beginning. That's when the story seems to have the most potential and when it's most free of tangles and blank spaces and plot holes. The middle is fun for awhile when I've still got a lot of juice in my creativity tank. It's exciting, then, to see ideas for scenes develop just where and when I need them, like landmarks appearing on a blank horizon as I drive closer to my goal.

The end always sounds fun to write. Towards the end of the middle I rush through my story in an attempt to get to my climax, and then I usually make a jumble (or is it jumple?) of my climax in my eagerness to reach the denouement. And then by the time I get to the denouement I'm ready to slump over the keyboard and pound out "THEN EVERYBODY DIED THE END" just to be done with it.

Create a feeling of serenity in your space with this oversized gallery-wrapped canvas, featuring a peaceful view of the ocean with two wooden boats in the foreground. A pristine white beach drifts int

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I write whenever I can squeeze in the time. Lately I've been trying to get all my schoolwork done and then tackle those 2,000 words; but between geometry, Latin, history, chemistry, literature, philosophy, six little siblings, and dirty dishes that doesn't always work out. Usually I get most writing in sometime in the afternoon.

There's no specific writing space I cozy up in; most of my writing time is spent at the family's computer desk or on a couch or outside with a notebook in my lap. Mom bought me a wonderful little pack of mechanical pencils the other day with beautiful soft smooth leads, and I have been reveling in those. And I finally found a use for the notebook my grandma got me last Christmas! Sometimes I make myself a cup of tea if I'm bored. And once in a while I'll listen to Les Miserables or classical/band music or something to pass the time while I'm typing up what's already in my notebook.

How private are you about your novel while you're writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I'm not private about my WIPs at all. I might try to be at first, but I always end up spilling some or all of the beans to my siblings and/or writer friends. It's just to fun to chatter about characters, and too tempting to groan about plot holes. I think a cheer squad really helps me. (If you need a cheer squad, I highly recommend getting a little sister. If she doesn't seem interested in your current book and is stuck on an older manuscript, give her a character of her own to design in your new one. That should work.)

Nieuport 28 Rickenbacker BFD:

And what's this about Batman working alone? What happened to Robin? (Can you tell I've only seen the old Adam West Batman show?)

What keeps you writing even when it's hard?

My word count. I don't like being behind. (Although I am, currently. By about 2000 words. Must needs fix that.) Also my encouraging siblings and friends. And being able to jump to a different scene when one POV/conflict/setting isn't working out. *glares with author's exasperation at Michael Mulligan, who just had to stumble into a conversation with the most underdeveloped bad guys in the history of writing*

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

The advice I've been telling myself lately includes:

1. Make writing a priority, but not the priority. Your identity as a writer isn't as important as your identity as a daughter/sibling/student/friend/etc. Take the time to help around the house and spend time with your family, and the time to write will come.

2. Don't think "I've got to follow the writing rules," think "I've got to make something beautiful." Writing advice is great, but there's a danger (at least for me) of falling into a mindset that you have to write the way other people are writing. This mindset can lead to writing in a way you don't really find beautiful -- that you don't really care about. Work hard to make something you think is good, true, and beautiful.

3. Have fun! Lots and lots of fun. Love your characters, love your setting, love your premise, and run with it.


Yeah <3:

Especially since I'm behind in my word count! Oh...wait...I have homework. That's right, I have homework. Darn.

Well! How is NaNo going for you, my friends? Do tell me I'm not the only one who has been utterly neglecting things like email and schoolwork for the sake of storytelling. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Catholicism Explained - Praying to Saints

I fully intended to put this up on Sunday. My excuse for tardiness this week? National Novel Writing Month. Not that that's a great excuse, but...

 Writers can be a lonely bunch.:

Our previous Catholicism Explained posts have included:

The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
Is the Eucharist Literal or Symbolic?
Mary Ever-Virgin
The Immaculate Conception

And today we're talking about praying to saints.

Basic Theology

St. Paul famously said that the Church is the body of Christ. He taught that we are all connected -- that we can't get along with each other, any more than feet can get along without hands or ears can get along without eyes. 

In Luke 20, Jesus teaches that God "is not the God of the dead, but of the living." All those who have died in God's love are still a part of the Church -- still a part of the body of Christ. And so, we're still connected to them.

In Revelation 5:8, St. John tells us of saints offering the prayers of the faithful to God: "Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people." 

So the Church has always seen prayer to those in Heaven as quite in keeping with Biblical truth. 

The Communion of Saints:
Here's a lovely little illustration of the Catholic doctrine
of the Communion of Saints! Up in the sky is the Church
Triumphant, the saints with God in Heaven who have
fought the good fight and won. Down around the altar offering
their prayers and sacrifices in union with the priest is
the Church Militant, the saints-in-the-making who are
still fighting the good fight. And down underneath the
altar in the refining fire are the holy souls in Purgatory,
the Church Suffering, who have fought the good fight
and won but who still have sins to be purged away.
(We'll talk about them one of these times.)

Forbidden contact with the dead?

Once concern non-Catholics may have concerning prayer to saints is that it is forbidden contact with the dead. However, the saints aren't dead. They're alive with God forever -- more alive than we are, in a way. 

Praying to saints isn't at all like contacting the dead through a medium. When we pray to saints, we aren't talking to them through our own power, or some kind of dark magic, or even their own power, but through God. It's only because God allows us to talk to each other that we can do it. If God didn't allow the saints to hear our prayers, they couldn't hear our prayers.

St. Bernadette of Nevers, France. She is an incorrubtible having died in 1879; she looks the same as the day she died.:
St. Bernadette's incorruptible body.

Praying to saints is not idolatry, because "praying to" and "worshiping" are two different things. When we pray to saints, we aren't giving them the glory due to God alone. Instead, we're asking them for their prayers, just as we might ask other Christians on earth for prayers. 

Free Catholic Holy Cards - Catholic Prayer Cards - St Therese of Lisieux - St. Joseph - Our Lady of Guadalupe - Sacred Heart of Jesus - John Paul the Great - Support Missionary work:
St. Anthony's a buddy of mine...
the lost articles he's found for me!

Why ask the saints for prayers? Because the saints' prayers are totally awesome! They're closer to God than anyone else is. They see Him as He is, and so they are like Him. And because they've been through the same earthly struggles and temptations and sins that we're going through, they take pity on us. They want to help us in the fight they've fought and won. They're powerful intercessors before the throne of God. 

And yes, we do praise the saints in prayer. But not all praise is worship. As we talked about in our last Catholicism Explained discussion, it's good to honor honorable people. 

I'm not catholic but I like this!:


In case you're wondering what Catholic prayer to saints looks like, here are some examples. I'll scatter the prayers to saints with prayers directly to God Himself, so you can get an idea for the differences between them.

The Hail Mary (a prayer to Mary, the greatest of saints)
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. 

The Glory Be (a prayer directly to God)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

Holy card of the Holy Trinity:

The St. Michael Prayer (to St. Michael)
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do oh thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. 

The Archangel Michael defeating Satan - Guido Reni:

The Our Father (directly to God)
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. 

The Guardian Angel Prayer (to a guardian angel)
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love entrusts me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Angel Prayer:
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom His love
commits me here,
ever this day (or night)
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Amen. :

Prayer Before a Crucifix (directly to God)
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Your face I humbly kneel and, with burning soul, pray and beseech You to fix deep within my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; while I contemplate, with great love and tender pity, Your five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me and calling to mind the words which David, Your prophet, said of You, my Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have numbered all my bones." Amen. 

~J   this little boy ...ponders the sacrifice of the love Jesus has for us....beautiful:

Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas for Purity (said by members of the Angelic Warfare Community)
Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas, who kept white the robe of Baptism and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels, I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb, and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins. Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I, who wear the sign of your victory over the flesh, may share also your purity, and after imitating you on earth, may at last come to be crowned with you among the angels. Amen.

Saint Dominic encouraged a religious community in Toulouse in 1214, to be governed by the rule of St. Augustine and statutes to govern the life of the friars, including the Primitive Constitution. (The statutes borrowed somewhat from the Constitutions of Prémontré.) The founding documents establish that the Order was founded for two purposes: preaching and the salvation of souls.:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit (directly to God)
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only do Your will. Amen.

Holy Spirit:

What are your thoughts on praying to saints? Do you have any questions? Comments? Concerns? Criticisms? Let us discuss! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Catholicism Explained - Veneration of Saints

Well, I felt really bad that I missed yet another Catholicism Explained post last Sunday...but then I realized that since today is the Feast of All Saints, it's the perfect day to talk about veneration!

If you're just dropping by, this is Catholicism Explained, the part of the blog where Lucy Agnes comes out and explains....never mind, that Veggie Tales reference isn't working.

Our previous topics have included:

And today we'll be discussing veneration of saints.

Veneration basically means "honor." Google defines it as "great respect; reverence." Catholics venerate saints because, as those who are closest to God, they deserve a great deal of respect, admiration, and love. 

As with the honor we give Mary, the honor we give the saints is very different from the worship we give God. In fact, it isn't very different from the honor we give lots of other people. 

George Washington, the first President under the Constitution as drafted in 1787 [Previous Presidents served under the Articles of Confederation and prior to that under the Articles of Association]:
George Washington
Americans, for example, love George Washington. And that's as it should be. We owe a debt to him, as to all our Founding Fathers, for starting the country we know and love today. There would be something wrong if we didn't give him a certain place of honor - a certain veneration.

The same could go for any noble or admirable figure in history.

Always forgive yourself, learn from your past and achieve a brighter & better future. The ones who linger in sorrow lose sight of hope.:
Mahatma Ghandi

Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner on 8 November 1863 (Library of Congress):
Abraham Lincoln

Churchill making his famous "V for victory" sign in 1943.:
Winston Churchill

Aristotle, philosopher, teacher of Alexander the Great, (384-332 BCE). Roman marble copy of a Greek bronze.  Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome, Italy:

We also venerate people in positions of authority, such as our parents.

A Simpler Time...Stanley, Jeanette, Dean and Debbie. 1960 Gifts for Dad - Ruby Lane @rubylanecom antiques vintage collectibles mens fashion jewelry:

In the Bible, great veneration is shown to the Patriarchs, Prophets, and other heroes of the Bible. The Jews revered these holy men and women, and this was right and fitting.

About 4,000 years ago Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism migrated from Iraq to Canaan along the Fertile Crescent. The name Judaism derives from 'Judah' one of the patriarch Jacob's 12 sons, Israel is another name. descendants of 10 of Jacob's sons, plus two of his grandsons made the 12 tribes of Hebrews who emigrated from Egypt according to Exodus. Ten of the tribes were lost after they were conquered and forced to migrate to Assyria in 721 BC.:

Veneration, then, is a natural human thing, allowed by and pleasing to God. There's nothing wrong with showing honor to honorable people, nor is there anything wrong with praising them in word and art and looking to them for inspiration.

If we show honor to great statesmen, military heroes, inventors, and authors, then why shouldn't we show honor to holy people? After all, doing God's will is a much more important and admirable thing than merely doing something splendid. 

Catholics honor saints in much the same way that we honor anyone else: by praising them, whether through artwork or words, and by looking to them as role models. 

(There's no better role model than someone who lived and died for God!)

I. Can't. Help. Myself. His Love oozes out of every pore when I stay in tune with His Spirit. :D ♡♡♡♡♡♡:

Of course, Catholics' veneration of saints is different from our veneration of secular heroes in some rather significant ways. We don't pray to George Washington, for example. 

That topic is worth discussing, but it'll need it's own post.

That's why next week's Catholicism Explained will be all about praying to saints!

Sorry once again for my tardiness, dear readers. (I'm disgusted with myself sometimes, really I am.) So, what do you think? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions? Let us chatter away in the comments!

And Happy All Saints' Day to my Catholic friends! (Or should I say All Saints' Night at this point?) Who are some of your favorite saints? Feel free to tell us a little bit about them! I'm particularly fond of St. Lucy, St. Agnes, St. Germain, and St. Augustine myself. :)