Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January's Jumble of Books

It's the last day of the first month of a new year, so of course it's the perfect time to give my first-ever monthly update! A reading update, that is. Here's a list of all the books I finished in January, and a little bit of what I thought of them.

The Story of the Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke

Rather beautiful little book. Finished in January; favorite character...Artaban, I suppose, since there's no one else.:

It was Christmas at the beginning of this month, you know--strange thought!--so I started the year with a Christmas story. I think this was the first time I'd read it all the way through. Although I enjoyed it--it was full of lovely descriptions and had a good theme--I can't say I was very deeply moved by it. Artiban was my favorite character by default.

How close, how intimate is the comradeship between a man and his favorite horse on a long journey. It is a silent, comprehensive friendship, an intercourse beyond the need of words.
--The Story of the Other Wise Man

The Song of Roland, translated by Dorothy Sayers

My Roland! And Oliver! Finished in January; favorite character, Roland.:

This was my favorite book in literature class during my freshman year of high school. Oh, what a joy it was to revisit it! At first, I was almost disappointed by the simplicity of it--found it hard to really get invested in the story. But I got over that soon enough. As Dorothy Sayers says in her introduction, The Song of Roland isn't literary, but it's great literature.

At first, Roland's rallying cry "Paynims are wrong! Christians are in the right!" seems shallow and petty. But if you think about it, it's really not. Roland is concerned, first and foremost, with rightness and wrongness--with the truth. Truth is so important to the heroes of this epic that they are willing to suffer and bleed and die for it. That's an admirable thing. To be sure, baptizing Muslims at sword-point as Charlemagne does is not the way to go about evangelization. But our relativistic society could take a lesson from the characters' dedication to truth.

Speaking of the characters! Oh, they're delicious. The action and dialogue seesaws between the hilarious and the heartbreaking. From Charlemagne's blunt ordering of his men to "sit down on that carpet and be quiet" when they displease him to Oliver's desperate attempts to pound some sense into Roland's thick skull, there are plenty of humorous lines in this epic. But oh, the characters run deep, too. Roland and Oliver's friendship leads to some of the most heartrending, touching scenes I know of, and as for Roland'd development as a person--well! You'll have to read it and see for yourself.

Roland is fierce and Oliver is wise, and both for valour may bear away the prize.
--The Song of Roland

Quoth Roland: "Why so angry with me, friend?"
And he: "Companion, you got us in this mess."

--Roland and Oliver


The Man Who Knew Too Much, by G. K. Chesterton

Anything by Chesterton gets five stars. But--but the ending! Horne Fisher! Harold March! Chesterton! What have you done? Finished in January; favorite character, Horne Fisher.:

I picked this up back in October because 1) it's a Chesterton book, and 2) it was free on Kindle. Originally I was expecting it to be a novel. Which was a tantalizing thought, since I'd never read a Chesterton novel and always wanted to. Then I got to Chapter Two and realized, "Oh it's not really a novel, just a bunch of mystery stories like the Fr. Browns." Which was a trifle disappointing, but, pfft, it's a Chesterton book, I'm gonna love it no matter what. 

And lo and behold! The final story actually acted as a conclusion to the entire thing and tied it up with a neat little bow. And a bittersweet one...*sniff*

Horne Fisher, the amateur detective, was an interesting character--almost like Fr. Brown without a backbone. At first I didn't like him very much, but by the end I had developed quite a fondness for the listless old fellow. And he grew at the end in ways that--well, spoilers. Let's just say he showed some real sparks of life and even heroism for once.

"He may be mad, but there's a method to his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It's what drives men mad, being methodical." -- Horne Fisher

"I dare say every cigar I smoke and every liqueur I drink comes directly or indirectly from the harrying of the holy places and the persecution of the poor."--Horne Fisher

"Blackmailers do not always go to jail. Sometimes they go to Parliament." -- Horne Fisher

Manalive, by G. K. Chesterton

Oh what a delightful book! I love seeing Chesterton's philosophy in novel form. Finished in January; favorite characters, Michael Moon and Innocent Smith.:

Seconds after finishing The Man Who Knew Too Much, I was so hungry for more of Chesterton's scrumptious prose I jumped right into Manalive (which was also free on Kindle). I think I enjoyed this book more than any other I read this month. Chesterton's style is just delicious--so colorful, and fresh, and witty, and beautiful, and full of deep insights and fun paradoxes. 

This book actually was a novel, to be supreme delight. And what a delightful novel! It's all about this eccentric man (named Innocent Smith) showing up at a boarding house and bringing all the people there to life with his strange behavior--and then being accused of murder. It was so much fun! 

And now I must take a moment to squeal about that cover. Just look at that cover for a minute. It's so beautiful I might just flail. The gun is exceedingly significant--it's the gun Innocent Smith "deals life out of"--and that hat in the background blowing away makes me insanely happy, because there was a hat motif in the book. Of course the London-ish buildings and skyline in the background fit the setting perfectly. And look at that tagline! "A Comic Novel by G. K. Chesterton about Murder, Bigamy, Burglary, Insanity, and Truth, Beauty, and the Goodness of Life." It sums up the whole thing masterfully with a real dash of Chesterton-esque humor. (Whether Chesterton wrote that tagline or not I have no idea, but it delights me.)

This book included so many quotes that I'd heard before and even collected on my Pinterest board of Chesterton quotes, but which I'd never known were from Manalive. At one point my favorite character, a stormy Irishman named Michael Moon, opened his mouth and said, "Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honor should refuse"--and I about jumped off my chair squealing, "I know that quote! I know that quote!"

Speaking of favorite characters, Michael Moon was my favorite one for a good deal of the book...most of the best quotes and most hair-raising scenes were due to his bursts of passion. But by the end of the book Innocent Smith had wormed his way into my heart to such a degree as to push Michael Moon aside.

If I was going to complain about one aspect of this glorious book, it would have to be that Part 2 is primarily a court scene with most of the action taking place in letters from the witnesses which act almost like mystery stories on their own. I tend to like it better when the action is in real time. But this is just a picky thing and in no way takes away from the overall delight of the novel. (Have you noticed that Chesterton can do no wrong in my eyes?)

"Unless you marry God, as our nuns do in Ireland, you must marry Man--that is Me. The only third thing is to marry yourself--yourself, yourself, yourself--the only companion that is never satisfied--and never satisfactory."--Michael Moon

"I am going to hold a pistol to the head of the Modern Man. But I shall not use it to kill him--only to bring him to life."--Innocent Smith

"If one could keep as happy as a child or a dog, it would be by being as innocent as a child, or as sinless as a dog."--Michael Moon

The Secret of the Old Clock, by Caroline Keene

So nice to revisit Nancy! Gosh, she's gutsier than I'll ever be. Finished in January; favorite character, Nancy Drew.

My sisters have been into the Nancy Drew mysteries lately, so I reread this. It was fun. Rather embarrassingly (except, I'm not really embarrassed, just amused), Nancy has become a sort of confidence-booster to me. Last time I read about her she was a grown up and I was a little girl, so her pluckiness was all accounted for. But now I read it and I'm like, "This girl's my age and she's doing what?"

It's not so much her bravery when it comes to facing thugs and thieves that I admire. It's her lack of shyness. Nancy is the opposite of me when it comes to social encounters. If I find out I have to make a phone call to someone I barely know, I squirm inside and desperately look for a way to wriggle out of it. Nancy would make a phone call in a heartbeat just to ask a stranger some questions. Silly as it sounds, thinking "If Nancy can do it, I can" has actually given me a couple doses of bravery recently.

"Let me out!" she pleaded. "I'm not one of the thieves! If you'll only let me out of here, I'll explain everything!"

There was silence for a moment. Then the voice on the other side of the door said dubiously, "Say, you aimin' to throw me off, imitatin' a lady's voice? Well, it won't do you any good! No, sir. Old Jeff Tucker's not gettin' fooled again!"

Nancy decided to convince the man beyond a doubt. She gave a long, loud feminine scream.
--The Secret of the Old Clock

Cinderella, by C. S. Evans

It's amazing, the delight a simple fairy tale can bring! Finished in January; favorite character, Cinderella...although I loved the Prince and the Fairy Godmother, too. And I don't think I've ever seen the stepsisters handled so well.:

I found this (a different copy of it) at Half Price Books and couldn't let it sit. An old chapter-book version of Cinderella that didn't attempt any twists or changes? It was the version I'd always wanted to read! I ended up giving it to my sister for Christmas. When yesterday I finally sat down and read it all the way through in one or two settings, I was enchanted. It's amazing how much enjoyment a simple fairy tale can bring.

I think my favorite part about this version was Cinderella's treatment of her stepsisters. She's sweet in every true-to-the-original retelling, and forgiving in most of them, but "do good to those who hate you" was never so explicitly obeyed by any other Cinderella I've ever met.

"Tell me, Prince, who are those two ladies sitting over there in the alcove by the pillar? Poor things, they have not been asked to dance once the whole evening. I feel quite sorry for them."--Cinderella

The Complete Father Brown Stories, by G. K. Chesterton

How dare I finish this?? I've been reading it for years and enjoying all the twists and surprises! I wanted it to last forever! Finished in January; favorite character--oh please don't ask me to choose between Fr. Brown and Flambeau, they were both stupendous.:

Yes, another Chesterton book. I've been reading this for the past three or four years. Finishing it is slightly sad. It was these stories that really introduced me to Chesterton. Again and again the riddles perplexed and the solutions flabbergasted me. Several times I nearly fell out of my seat. Once or twice I had part of the mystery figured out and felt like Sherlock Holmes for the rest of the day.

Fr. Brown has been a good friend, ever kindly and fanciful and wise. Flambeau has been just as lovable--it was always a delight to see that old rogue pop up in a story, especially when he'd been absent for a good long while.

Now, there are no more surprises left for me in the Fr. Brown stories, unless I can learn to forget. But the settings and the adventures, the colors and the conversations, will still be there for me to wander through...and I'm sure Fr. Brown won't object if I ask to go strolling about with him through the English countryside.

A stormy evening of olive and silver was closing in, as Father Brown, wrapped in a grey Scotch plaid, came to the end of a grey Scotch valley and beheld the strange castle of Glengyle.
--The Honor of Israel Gow 

"Stand still," he said, in a hacking whisper. "I don't want to threaten you, but--"

"I do want to threaten you," said Father Brown, in a voice like a rolling drum, "I want to threaten you with the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched."

"You're a rum sort of cloak-room clerk," said the other.

"I am a priest, Monsieur Flambeau," said Brown, "and I am ready to hear your confession."
--The Queer Feet

So there it is! The seven books I finished this month. Have you read any of these? What kind of reading adventures did you have in January? Do you like fairy tales? Mysteries? Chesterton quotes??  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Abortion: A Struggle Against the Powers of Darkness

Today is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Forty-four years ago, the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade led to the legalization of abortion in the United States.

Forty-four years, and counting. 59,742,440 babies, and counting.

Take a look at this abortion clock that tracks the number of unborn children being slaughtered each day. It's sickening. Truly and utterly sickening.

How can we have let this go on for so long? How can we let it go on for another minute?

Please don't end your baby's life,that is the truth.:
Image not mine.

This morning, my family and I attended daily Mass. As I thought and prayed and listened to the readings and homily, it became increasingly clear to me that this is a spiritual battle.

It isn't just a political issue.

It isn't just a civil rights movement.

It isn't just the crusade of a select group of religious fanatics.

It is a struggle between good and evil. It is a war threatening all things good and innocent and beautiful. It is a battle more epic than anything in the Iliad or The Lord of the Rings

They are killing our children! They are tearing the hearts of our young women! They are hacking apart our families! They are draining the life from our country!

Let me ask you a question. Who are "they"?

They aren't just the abortionists, or the pro-choice politicians, or the liberal-minded masses. No, abortionists and politicians and your average liberal Joe is just as much a victim in this as anyone else...more a victim, from a spiritual standpoint.

The "they" in question are the powers of darkness.


"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the directors of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places." -- Ephesians 6:12

Is there anything more evil than the slaughter of innocent children?

G. K. Chesterton doesn't think so. In his book The Everlasting Man, he envisions the enmity between Rome and Carthage as springing from an incompatible difference in worldviews. Rome represented honor and heroism and truth; out of all the ancient pagan civilizations of the world, Chesterton says, it was the only one that approached something like chivalry. Carthage, on the other hand, was based on something dark and sordid; it was a nation that had never quite let go of the old demon-worship that plagued the dawn of recorded history. It was this difference, this fundamental difference, that made Rome hate Carthage with an undying hatred.

And how did Carthage most clearly manifest this difference in worldview?

With the same heinous practice that made the false god Moloch so utterly hideous to God's people, with the same atrocity that an insecure Pharaoh unleashed on the Hebrews, with the same crime that plunged Herod into eternal disgrace in the eyes of the world.

Child-slaughter.

To a modern American reader, Chesterton's treatment of this issue is chilling. Had he been a pro-life activist, that chapter of The Everlasting Man could not be more eloquent a testament to the horrors of child sacrifice. Yet Chesterton wrote in the early twentieth century, long before abortion reared its ugly head as a formidable dragon in England.

What would Chesterton say if he could see the situation today?

In the several hours since I first sat down to write this post, 241 American babies have lost their lives to abortion.

Worldwide today, 79,989 babies have been lost--and the number rises every second.

What have we done?

What have we done?

Prayers, Quips ane Quotes:  The Holy Innocents, Feast Day December 28:
Image not mine.

After we have asked this question, there is only one question left to ask.

What are we going to do about it?

A spiritual problem requires a spiritual remedy. Jesus said of certain demons, "This kind is not cast out except through prayer and fasting."

If we really care about these unborn children who are being killed, we will exhaust every effort to save them.

And we have not exhausted every effort to save them until we have actually made a concerted effort to pray and fast.

Maybe it doesn't feel like much when we're doing it. Maybe we feel that we can't be making a difference by picketing abortion mills or volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers or exposing the horrors of Planned Parenthood to the world.

But do you think that because a good action isn't visible, it doesn't have great merit? Do you think a deed of heroism is any less valuable because it is unseen?

Quite the opposite.

“A time may come soon," said he, "when none will return. Then there will be need…:

Imagine for one moment the thousands and thousands of contemplative religious in the world. Think of the silent nuns in black or brown or white habits who spend their days kneeling before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, pouring out their hearts in love of Him. Think of the ascetics in the desert, dead to the world but alive in Christ. Think of a hermit on a mountaintop, spending his life in prayer and sacrifice.

Do you think these sacrifices go unnoticed? Do you think these prayers go unanswered? Do you think these praying people aren't making a difference?

Such a great read for parents and teachers! Read this if you need a reminder that your story matters. "Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.":

Maybe we can't give our entire lives to constant prayer and extreme sacrifice any more than we can be generals in the front lines of this war against evil.

And yet...yet... We mustn't think our sacrifices and prayers are in vain. We must first realize they have merit, and then dedicate ourselves to them with renewed vigor.

The endangered Innocents of this age are counting on us. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The First Fatima Apparition: May 13, 1917

Today's italicized quotations are once again taken from Fatima: A Message More Urgent than Ever, by Luiz Sergio Solimeo.

It was May 13, 1917. Three shepherd children were watching their sheep in the Cova da Iria, a piece of land near Fatima, Portugal. It was a beautiful morning, and Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were busy playing. Suddenly, they saw a flash of light. Thinking it was lightning, Lucia, the oldest, recommended that they go home. Her cousins, who were nine and seven years old, agreed.

They began to drive the sheep back home. But as they neared a young oak tree, there was another flash of light; and there, atop the oak tree, stood a beautiful lady, shining like the sun.

fatima2.jpg (685×1069):

Years later, Lucia reported the words the lady spoke to her:

Then Our Lady told us, "Don't be afraid. I will not hurt you."

"Where are You from?" I asked.

"I am from heaven."

"And what do You want from me?"

"I came to ask you to come here six months in a row on the thirteenth at this same time. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Then I will return here a seventh time."

Lucia asked the Lady whether she and Jacinta and Francisco would go to Heaven. The Lady replied that they would, although Francisco would have to say many rosaries. Lucia then asked whether two young ladies who had been her friends and recently died were in Heaven; the Lady replied that one of them was, and that the other was in Purgatory. Then the Lady said,

"Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to bear all the sufferings that He may wish to send you, in reparation for the sins with which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?"

"Yes, we do."

"Go, then, for you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort."

It was on pronouncing these last words that She opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense, like reflections from her hands, that penetrated our chests and the innermost part of our souls, making us see ourselves in God. God was this light, making us see ourselves more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors. Then, though an intimate impulse also communicated to us, we fell on our knees and repeated in our minds, "O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee. My God, my God, I love Thee in the Blessed Sacrament."

The first few moments having passed, Our Lady added, "Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the [First World] War."

She then began to rise serenely, ascending toward the east until she disappeared in the immense distance. The light that surrounded her, as it were, gradually opened a way amid the stars, and this is why sometimes we said we have seen heaven opening up."

It's a rather wild story, isn't it? Sometimes I think those of us who are cradle Catholics have heard it so many times we forget how remarkable it is. We might inadvertently fall into a way of thinking similar to this: "Oh, yes, Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima a hundred years ago. Such a nice story. Ho-hum."

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us and peace.  Feast Day May 13.:

But when I read the account of the apparitions that comes from Lucia's own pen, I find that it sends a shiver down my back. There's something almost frightening in the paragraph about the light Our Lady communicated to the three children. The whole thing is so supernatural. I think it's important for us to remember that what we're dealing with here is not just a sweet story for children. It is sweet, and it is for children--but it's also very, very serious.

At the same time, I think there's a danger that we lose the real significance of Our Lady's visits by focusing too much on the extraordinary phenomena that occurred. Our Lady didn't come to Portugal just to dazzle us the light surrounding her or amaze us by floating back to Heaven. Rather, she dazzled us with light and amazed us by floating back to Heaven to get our attention. She had something to tell us. More accurately, God had something to tell us. And that something is what we should be really concerned about.

What is really important about Our Lady's first visit? I think we should focus on the following things.

  • Reparation and conversion. Our Lady asked the children if they were willing to offer up all the sufferings God sent them for two purposes: in reparation for the sins committed against him and for the conversion of poor sinners. These two intentions, which are closely linked, should be intentions close to our heart, too.
  • Sacrifice. Mary promised the three children that they would have much to suffer, but the grace of God would be their comfort. Her promise would certainly come true; these three little children would go through more suffering in their lives than we can imagine. Even if we don't suffer to the extent they did, we, too, are going to have suffering in our lives. It's part of the human condition. We can't escape it. When we encounter it, the best thing we can do is offer it to God and suffer bravely for love of him.
  • The Rosary. On her very first visit, Mary tells the children to pray the rosary for peace for the world. We all want world peace. Through Mary, God is telling us how to attain it: through prayer. Prayer and only prayer, especially the rosary, will bring peace to the world.  
fatima | Los tres niños de Fátima: Lucía Santos, 10, en el centro, con sus ...:
From left to right: Jacinta, Lucia, and Francico

These three themes, as we will see in the following weeks, come up again and again and again throughout the Fatima apparitions. 

As basic and simple as these things are, there is something even simpler which lies at the very heart of the Fatima message. At the core of Our Lady's plea is one infinitely simple and infinitely crucial thing: love of God. It is only love of God that could give the Fatima children strength to do what they would have to do, and it is only love of God that gives prayers and sacrifices any merit. Love of God is the most important part of the Fatima Message. It's what the entire thing, complete with dancing suns and heroic shepherd children, really boils down to. 

My Fatima resolution for the week: Find at least one time each day to offer up some little sacrifice for love of God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Meet the Books! Lillian

So, ever so long ago Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper began a lovely feature called Meet the Books! As soon as I saw it I thought, "Oh, how delightful! I shall participate in this, yes I shall."

And then, of course, I procrastinated.


But the reign of procrastination (over this matter at least) has come to an end! And for this first Meet the Books! post, I thought I should take the opportunity to talk about my current project, Lillian, in detail. So here you go.

love, protection, healing, sleep, purification, and peace. Promotes healing from depression.:

Who are the characters?

There are lots of them! Here they are, roughly in order of appearance.

Lillian: the protagonist, a Lillidy raised by mice in the very much mistaken belief that she is a mouse

Mrs. Mouse: Lillian's bustling, capable, emotional mother


fb31e87b41d285e490be8aa73ed4dee8.jpg (564×976):

Mr. Mouse: Lillian's quiet, sensible, ever-so-slightly-henpecked-husband father

Melissa: the oldest of the Mouse children, a lovely and sweet young lady

Andrew: Lillian's older brother

Clarksie: Lillian's mischievous best friend

Trinket: Clarksie's weak-willed little sister/henchman

Tipperkik: Melissa's beau

The Turvy Prince: roguish ringleader of the Turvies, dedicated to turning everything "inside out and upside down"

Pep: spirited princess of the Fairies, determined to lead the charge for order

Tuttlebee: a friend of Pep's, sometimes a little too candid


Love this vintage fairy artwork for a little girl's room!:

Fyria: Tuttlebee's fearless twin

Minnie: another fairy friend of Pep's, sweet and shy

The Fairy Queen: kind, wise, and weary ruler of the Fairy kingdom

The Attic Mice: new neighbors who arrive in the house and promptly drive Mrs. Mouse nuts

Mrs. Brown: the mistress of the big white farmhouse (very minor character -- I think her feet make an appearance once)

Dorothy: the naive, talkative, and well-meaning little girl who lives in the big white farmhouse

Mr. Chesterton: an old cat

Louisa May: a young cat

Shadow cat:

Roland: a red-winged blackbird and proud member of the Redwing Corps

Sam: Lillian's long-lost brother (shh!), a dear, goodhearted boy

Tom and Bluebell: Sam's younger brothers

What does the plot consist of?

Must you ask me this when I haven't an official blurb, Belle? Ah well...

The story begins when the mice discover an infant Lillian on their doorstep and decide to raise her as their own. Despite her human appearances, Lillian grows up believing she is as "mousely" as her family and friends. Yet, she has always felt a strong fascination for the wood just outside their house. She isn't allowed to explore the wood...but then one day she hears someone calling her name from its depths, and can't resist the temptation to disobey anymore. She discovers in the wood a world where fairyland vies with topsy-turvydom--a world that might force her to face the truth about herself.

Lillian tries to forget what she glimpsed in the wood. But then the newly-moved-in Attic Mice begin taking advice from the Turvies, and the consequences of their rowdy actions could ruin the peaceful life the mice have always known. Lillian must make a choice: either she stands with the Fairies, saving the mice and losing her most deeply held beliefs about herself; or she lets the Turvies have their way, keeping her identity but leaving her world to destruction.

What is the setting?

The big white farmhouse where the mice live and the surrounding wood.

Who are the favorite characters in it?

Hmm. Well, I think readers tend to be very fond of Pep, and I don't blame them--I've had so much fun with her!

Pep:

One of my little sisters really likes Clarksie. Her mischievousness is amusing, I suppose.

I'm rather partial to the Turvy Prince, myself. Yes, he's the bad guy, but...he's so fun to write! And, conversely, there's Sam. Sam barely comes in at all, but I know him from earlier drafts and short stories and such, and he's just the best. :)

What is the favorite scene?


Interesting question...I don't know. I've not shared the entirety of this book with very many readers; I think my little sister is the only one besides me who's read it all the way through. When I asked her to draw a picture of her favorite scene she drew the Prologue, with a baby Lillian left on the mice's doorstep. I'm pretty fond of that scene, but mostly because it's been there from the beginning. My critical side denounces it as cliche.

Thumbelina - Petra Brown, Children's Book Illustrator:

All the Turvy scenes are among my favorites. Also -- ooh, the scene where Mr. Mouse calls on the Attic Mice is fairly satisfactory. It was so much fun to write!

Any snippets?

Oh, snippets! Snippets are so much fun. :)

***
            "Trinket! We're going to have a birthday party for you."
            "We are?"
            "Yes, in the strawberry patch, and we'll invite all our friends and have games and - ooh! It should be a surprise party."
            "How could it be a surprise party when you just told her about it?"
***
            But when she found herself seated beside the Turvy Prince at what seemed a place of honor, she forgot she wasn't hungry. She'd never had such a meal before - fresh and clean and raw, as though pulled straight from the heart of the wood. The Turvies ate nuts and blackberries and mushrooms with the earth still clinging to their stalks; they drank clear cold water fresh from a woodland spring.
            "We eat the fare of the forest-kings," said the Turvy Prince. "We are the forest-kings. Every one of us, all of us. I am the prince of the kings."
***
             "Gee, Pep," he said, with a whine in his voice. "Why'd you do that?"
            "You deserved it! And I'll punch you again--I'll punch all of you--if I ever find you treating anyone so again."
***
             "How lovely to meet you, Lillian!" she said. "Do have a seat. I hope the Turvies were not too hard on you?" Real concern edged her voice and glowed from her face.
            "No, ma'am," said Lillian, sitting down in a chair between Pep and Minnie (the twins were sharing a settee across the room). "That is - not very hard."
            "What a polite little liar you are, Lillian!" exclaimed Pep teasingly. "You know that's not true."
***
"Mr. Mouse," said Mrs. Mouse, late that evening when all her children had gone to bed. "Something simply must be done about those attic mice."
            "Oh?" said Mr. Mouse, never looking up from his paper.
            "Yes, indeed. Have you seen the mess in the big kitchen?"
            Mr. Mouse did not answer.
            "Have you seen it, Mr. Mouse?" asked Mrs. Mouse, a little more shrilly.


Beatrix Potter:

***
           It was a long way to the attic. And Mr. Mouse was not alone in the dark. Other living things moved and breathed and peeped out with sharp invisible eyes from the shadows - mainly little spiders whose cobwebby homes Mr. Mouse sometimes stepped into.
***
            Clarksie waved a careless paw. "Oh, it slipped my mind."
            Things slipped Clarksie's mind fairly often.
***
            "Oh, Mr. Chesterton used to be a ferocious cat," she said, scratching him fondly behind the ears. "But now that he's old and fat, and lame in one leg, he's nothing to be afraid of at all."
***
             Mr. Mouse put down his cup of coffee and looked at Lillian over the breakfast table. "Lillian," he said. "You are beginning to sound like your mother."
            "Why, Mr. Mouse!" exclaimed Mrs. Mouse, pretending to be offended.
***
            "Especially from mouse traps," said the Turvy Prince. "And I'll show you why. I have here a long wire with a hook on the end — a clever contraption of Turvy make. Examine it, if you will. It's really quite simple. It's fashioned from a paper clip found on the kitchen floor, unbent and twisted into the proper shape for our purposes. Quite sturdy. With this hook I propose to retrieve the cheese without causing any harm to myself. Stand back, everyone."
***
            "All right," said Dorothy. "Well, I'll go clean up my dollhouse town, just in case you change your mind." And she jumped lightly up and tripped away, glad with the sure and certain confidence of childhood that the mice would soon live in her dollhouse town.
***
            "I think Lillian's right," said Pep. "The attic mice are the root of the problem, but the cat's more pressing right now."
            The Fairy Queen smiled. "The root of the problem," she said, "is a disregard for order and decorum. But you're right, Pep. Something should be done about the cat first."
***
            Again, the redwing's beak opened - much more widely this time.
            "The Fairy Queen!" he cried. "Well — well — well! If she's gone wrong, then the Turvies must have won the day! There's no authority to report to, if the Fairy Queen's gone wrong!"
            "Oh, yes there is. But calm down, Rol. The Fairy Queen has her reasons. She always does."


Redwing Blackbird - by jeremyjonkman:

***
If you ever want to visit the Fairy Queen, then I highly recommend getting to know the Fairy Princess. It makes things so much easier, for the fairy guards let you though without asking any questions, and no matter what the Fairy Queen is doing, she always has time for a visit with her little heiress.
***
            That evening Pep paid her promised visit. She came in the hours of very early evening, when the glow of day had grown soft and golden. 

So there it is! My first ever Meet the Books! link-up with Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper. What do you think? Do you like stories about fairies and mice and such things?  Do you like red-winged blackbirds?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Angel of Fatima

Hello, everyone! It's time for our second Fatima post. Today we're going to talk about the Angel of Fatima, which appeared to the Fatima Children in 1916 to prepare them for Our Lady's visits.

Before we begin, I have exciting news: Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper has agreed to take over Catholicism Explained. I still may do CE posts with her on occasion, but in general I'm going to focus on these Fatima posts while she covers Catholicism Explained. So keep an eye on her blog for some interesting discussions about Catholic theology!

And now, on to our Fatima post. Much of this information is drawn from Chapter Two in the book Fatima: A Message More Urgent Than Ever by Luiz Sergio Solimeo. All italicized passages below are taken from that book.

Five Prayers Taught at Fatima by Mary & the Angels | The Catholic Company:

The Fatima apparitions which took place in 1917 actually began in 1916.* One day in this year, Lucia and her two cousins Francisco and Jacinta were watching their sheep in the hills surrounding Fatima. Since it had been drizzling, they were taking shelter in a grotto. They had just finished their rosary.

*Actually, I just learned today from Fatima: A Message More Urgent Than Ever that even earlier, in 1915, Lucia and a group of friends saw several times a white figure above the trees. This would seem to be the very beginning of the apparitions. 

In Lucia's own words (I've put the angel's prayer in bold):

We had been playing for a few moments when a strong wind shook the trees and made us raise our eyes to see what was going on, since it was a calm day. We then saw that above the olive trees the figure I've already spoken about was walking toward us. Jacinta and Francisco had never seen it, nor had I ever spoken to them about it. As it drew nearer, we could make out its traits: It was a young man 14 or 15 years old, whiter than snow whom the sun made as transparent as crystal, and of a great beauty. When he got near us he said, "Fear not! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me."

And kneeling down, he bowed his head all the way to the ground and made us repeat three times these words, "My God! I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I ask Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee."

Then, rising, he said, "Pray like this. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications."

His words were so engraved in our minds that we would never forget them. And after that we spent a long time prostrated, repeating them until we got tired. I soon recommended that we should keep it a secret and this time, thanks be to God, they did as I asked.

Being in the angel's presence exhausted the children. Lucia described the feeling he brought on as one of "annihilation." But his visits also brought them profound joy and peace.

The next time he appeared to them, they were at Lucia's home, playing by a well. This time he said,

"What are you doing? Pray, pray a lot. The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy upon you. Constantly offer prayers and sacrifices to the Most High."

"How must we sacrifice?" [Lucia] asked.

"In all that you can, offer God a sacrifice in reparation for the sins with which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus attract peace upon your country. I am the guardian Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering that the Lord sends you."

The angel appeared to them one last time in an olive grove while they were watching their sheep and praying the prayer he had first taught them -- "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I ask Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee."

Lucia says,

I don't know how many times we had repeated this prayer, when we saw an unknown light shining upon us. We arose to see what was happening and saw the Angel, holding in his left hand a Chalice over which was suspended a Host from which a few drops of blood were dripping into the chalice. The Angel left the Chalice suspended in the air, knelt next to us and made us repeat three times:

"Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly and offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles on earth in reparation for the insults, sacrileges and indifference with which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I ask Thee for the conversion of poor sinners."

The angel then offered the children Holy Communion, saying to them, "Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God."

It was only the beginning of the apparitions, only the prelude to Our Lady's urgent message to the world. But already the message is clear. The major points of Our Lady's plea appear in the Angel's words:

Pray. Pray to console the good God who is so offended by sin. Pray for the conversion of poor sinners. Pray to make reparation for their sin. Make sacrifices and offer up your sufferings for these intentions, and for peace in the world.

It's a clear message, a simple message, one anyone can obey. In this year that is the Centennial of Fatima, we must make a conscious effort to obey it. We must make time for prayer. We must offer up sacrifices, even and especially by taking all the trials of daily life with a smile for the love of God.

It's a simple request God is making of us, ever so simple. How hard could it be to obey?


Angel Of Fatima:
The spot where the Angel last appeared to the children
is now marked with a statue portraying that final visit.

My Fatima resolution for the week: Get into the habit of making a good morning offering, accompanied by the Angel's prayers and the general intention of offering every moment of the day to God in reparation for sins. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sam Gamgee Character Study

As you may know by now, I love Sam Gamgee. Out of all the characters in The Lord of the Rings, he is my absolute favorite. Indeed, I would go so far as to say he is my favorite character ever. From the moment he leaped up "like a dog invited on a walk," said "Hooray!" and promptly "burst into tears," there's been something about him, something that took a hold on me and hasn't let go.

And I'm not the only one who feels that way (although whether or not anyone can match my love of Sam remains to be seen). Recently, I've talked to several good souls who claim Sam as one of their favorite Middle Earth characters.

What is it about Sam that makes him so appealing? Why does he seem, to me at least, to embody the heart and soul of The Lord of the Rings?

While puzzling over this, I've put together a list of some of Sam's distinctive qualities. Here it is.


1. Simplicity

Sam by Soni Alcorn-Hender:

Sam is simple. His background is about as commonplace as it gets. He lives in Bagshot Row with his family, and now that "his old dad the Gaffer" is old and stiff in the joints, he takes care of most of the gardening.

The Lord of the Rings is primarily about simple folk -- the hardworking poorer classes, just toiling along day by day and trying to live life as best they can. It's against simple folk that Sauron has waged his war. It's they, the normal people, who are threatened. All the glittering heroes are only there to protect him, and they know it -- and that's what makes them so truly great. The heart of chivalry is standing up for the weak.

2. Love of Simple Things

Sam & Frodo in the Shire :3:

Sam not only knows he's simple, he loves being simple. There's nothing so dear to his heart as all the little things that make life in the Shire worth living. Flowers, mushrooms, beer, strawberries, trees, water, laughter. Sam loves these things. He sees beauty in them. This fascination with all good things, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is what makes him care about things other characters don't seem to -- like rope and Bill the Pony.

It's this love of everything good that gives Sam -- and everyone else -- the courage to do what needs done. One of Tolkien's great themes comes most clearly from Sam's mouth: "There's some good left in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for."

3. Love of Great Things

by Soni Alcorn-Hender:

It might seem out of Sam's simplicity that he's so everlastingly interested in things most hobbits consider too highfalutin for them -- things like elves and poetry. (Sam not only memorizes poetry, he writes it!) But really this love of "higher" things is a natural result of Sam's love for "lower" -- that is, simpler -- things. We might almost say Sam is the simplest and therefore most hobbit-like of all the hobbits, and because of that perfect simplicity he has a better appreciation for poetry and such. Poetry and grandeur and magnificence are all very human (or very hobbit) things, as highfalutin as they might seem. There is a whisper in every human heart, as there is in Sam's, for something grand and glorious, something bigger than us.

That grandness is a huge theme in The Lord of the Rings. Good and evil are pitted against each other very clearly, and it is seen that there is no struggle more fierce and epic. There is nothing darker than sin, and nothing more glorious than Goodness.

4. Loyalty

Sam & Frodo:

You won't come across a character more loyal than Samwise Gamgee. It's his loyalty that really stands out to me, that seals his fate as my favorite character in the history of literature. He stands by Frodo like a dog by its master, and every time he grieves over Frodo's sufferings, or makes some little sacrifice for Frodo, or gives someone the evil eye for slighting Frodo, my heart melts. 

But why is that? What is it about loyalty that is such a desirable character trait?

If you think about it, there are a lot of virtues required to be as loyal as Sam is. 

Sam's focus on Frodo means he's not focused on himself. He knows he's not the top dog; he knows the story isn't about him. He's humble.  And because he's humble, he can find the strength to be selfless. He knows that in the big scheme of things, his own sufferings and trials and triumphs are insignificant. He never thinks about himself. When he and Frodo come across water in Mordor, he begs that he be allowed to drink first -- not because he's parched with thirst, but because he wants to be the guinea pig and test the water's safety. Sam's selflessness gives him a marvelous courage, one that gives him the strength to go on when things look blackest and bleakest. 

And on an allegorical note -- aren't we all supposed to be as loyal to Christ as Sam is to Frodo? Aren't we supposed to weep over His wounds? Give up comforts big and small for Him? Feel insults to Him more deeply than we feel insults to ourselves?

5. Cheerful Hope and Hopeful Courage

Sam, Lord of the Rings, by Soni Alcorn-Hender:

Sam's a cheerful character. If I ever find myself stuck in a barren mountain range cut off from the rest of the world by deserts and infested with crawling evil creatures, I hope I'll have someone like Sam with me to sing a song or tell a story or talk about strawberries. 

Sam's cheerfulness is the sign of a good heart. Anyone can be grim and grave in a tough situation. But it takes a mighty special person to smile in the shadow of Mordor.

To be sure, Sam can't always smile. There comes a time when even he feels the cold clutch of despair on his heart and glances at Sting's blade in frantic desire to escape. But because of Sam's deeply-held and delightfully simple belief that there's good in this world, he doesn't go through with suicide. He holds on. He holds on, even when Frodo seems dead and there's darkness all around and everything he sacrificed himself for seems utterly lost. Hope is the source of his courage. Even that grim, dogged courage he has to dig deep for in the very last stretch of the journey is a result of his cheerfulness -- his optimistic view of things, his belief that life is worth living and the world is good.

There is light and beauty up there that no shadow can touch Mr. Frodo.  *crying*:

That belief -- that there's good in this world, and it's worth fighting for -- is an incredibly simple one.Which brings us back to point 1. It's that simple goodness that's the source of everything wonderful and lovable about Sam.

So! There's my shortlist of Sam's best qualities. What do you think? Is Sam your favorite LoTR character?? What's your favorite part about him?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Beautiful Books: 2017 Writing Goals

It's time for January's link-up with Cait and Sky! Guess what. It has now been one entire year since I began participating in the Beautiful People/Beautiful Books link-ups. Every minute of it has been stupendous, and I would like to thank the wonderful hosts for, well, hosting it.

And now! On to the questions.

beautiful books

What were your writing achievements last year?

2016 was a very productive writing year for me. Or at least, it was very productive first-draft wise.

At the beginning of the year, I drafted the second book in my space trilogy, tentatively entitled The Prince of Erdania. (Haha, that's funny. That space trilogy seems so far away and long ago. Oh, those characters...I love them still, but I'm in the habit of forgetting they exist, in a way.) That draft turned out to be 40,931 words. And it's messy. Very very messy. That entire story world is messy. Let us move on.

After finishing (ha! "finishing") The Prince of Erdania I started "pantsing" a fantasy story, which became my project for Camp NaNo in April. This story, at one point entitled Ellen of the Wildlands and now dubbed The Pearl and the Horn, turned out to be 61,725 words long and is also hideously messy. And cliche. And messy. Like, I-cringe-when-I-think-about-it messy. Maybe someday I'll go back and try to coax it to life.

Over the summer I kinda took a drafting break. I did, incidentally, write (chiefly for the enjoyment of myself and my siblings) a really long and extremely silly fan-fiction. Usually I call these sorts of things "Tintin Stories;" this one was the "Tintin Book." It's 13,682 words long, and mixes characters from The Lord of the Rings, Tintin, The Great Gatsby, Tom Playfair, and Hogan's Heroes, among others. Even though it was incredibly silly (the authors of the original characters are probably rolling over in their graves), I feel like writing it gave me some experience in drawing two plot-lines together towards one climax.

Sometime during the summer -- towards the end of it, I suppose -- I started yet another rewrite of Lillian, the fairy tale I first started work on some ten years ago. (It's actually probably more like nine years, but ten years sounds cool.) And this time, I honestly think it's going somewhere. This most recent draft is only 32,362 words, as opposed to the last draft's 69,613 words, but it's by far the best.

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever and actually managed to win! The Time Traveling League's finished word count was 55,009 words, and I'm mildly pleased with it overall. Of course, it needs work. Maybe it needs ten years of work. But I rather like it.

Nieuport 11 & 17 Escadrille N.3 'Cicognes', by Martin Novotny:

I spent December writing more "Tintin Stories" for sibling Christmas presents, a short story for a contest, and, at the very end of December, reading through Lillian once to my little sister and again with a pencil.

What's on your writerly "to-do list" for 2017?

Agh! To-do list for 2017! *jumps around in a tizzy of mixed feelings for a minute*

My first priority is Lillian. I really, really, really want to edit Lillian, and rub it down with a polishing-cloth until it shines. After that....I don't know. I've got a sequel for Lillian in mind, and I'm kind of impatient to get started on that. But I might decide to go back and work on, say, The Time Traveling League.

I'd also like to draft the third book in my space trilogy, if only to make one of my sisters happy.

And ooh! April is blocked off as the month Anna Deubell and I finally write a story we've been planning on for forever -- a retelling of Cinderella/The Wild Swans. Camp NaNo will hopefully ensure that that gets done.

Then there are all the story ideas I'd like to start drafting...mainly historical fiction. Oh, drafting is just so tempting for me. Maybe I'll have to save one of these ideas for NaNo 2017, although whether or not I'll be able to do NaNo with college coming up is questionable.

stories yet to be written:

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

I suppose I've already done that a bit, haven't I? Well! I'll blabber a little more, because it's fun.

Lillian has me extremely excited. It's the oldest of my surviving story-children, so the story is quite close to my heart. But it's changed a lot in the last year, so it feels new and exciting at the same time. Because I've finally accepted that it's meant to be middle grade and not YA, it feels nice and small and manageable, not like some stories I could mention (*cough*myspacetrilogy*cough*). I know I can make it into something really worth reading, if I try hard enough. So I'm gonna try.

And oh! The characters and settings I get to write about in it! The fairies and lillidies and turvies and mice and redwing blackbirds! The woods and mouse holes and dollhouses! It's just so much fun -- like a trip into my childhood imagination.

As for that Cinderella/The Wild Swans retelling. I really don't know much about it yet, but it's been hovering on the edge of my imagination lately and it's going to be fun. I just know it is.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

Well, I know I want to work on editing. That's my #1 area of intended improvement this year. And then...I don't know, I want to improve on every front.

I've been letting myself fantasize about publication for Lillian sometime sooner than later, so that's one hope (however unlikely) for the end of 2017. Who knows? Maybe by the end of 2017 I'll have my first rejection letter!

So true!:


Describe your general editing process.

My general editing process.

It...isn't.

Okay, okay, I've edited short stories before. Kinda. And written second drafts of novels/marked finished drafts up. But really I don't have enough experience with editing to tell you what my editing process is like.

I plan for it to be something like this:
1. go through current draft with pencil
2. fix glaring plot holes/make major changes that can be fixed by rewriting one or two scenes
3. write way through draft working on characterization
4. read through again to make sure everything makes sense in the major areas
5. go through with a fine-toothed comb fixing wording and stuff
6. start over

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

The Time Traveling League: Oh, about a six. I'm being generous because it's a first draft and, what with writing it so quickly, I really can't expect it to be pretty. There's a ton of stuff that needs improvement -- characterization (especially for the main character), plot twists, character motivation, world-building/story-world rules, historical accuracy, and the list goes on. Overall I think it's a decent germ to start from, though.

Lillian: About a nine. The biggest problem is Lillian's characterization. Besides that I'm thrilled with it -- the plot, the story-world, the supporting cast. After ten years, the whole thing is finally starting to bloom! *deep sigh of writer contentment*

Reminds me of the adorable Bonet my grandma Bernie made Marisa. So cute.:

What aspect of your draft do you think needs the most work?

The Time Traveling League: The bad guys. They're still as boring as mashed potatoes without any salt or butter, and, as a result, the conflict is quite lacking. Another big issue is my protagonist -- she isn't involved in the story as much as she should be. I guess you could say the whole thing needs more centralized.

Lillian: Lillian's characterization. She's not sympathetic enough, mainly because I haven't shown why she's acting the way she's acting -- what she loves, what she fears. And her personality/quirks are kind of all over the place. On one page she's dreamy and sweet and obedient, on the next she's feisty and adventurous and giggly. I conjecture that this is from having so many different drafts and different versions of Lillian vying for dominance. I know all her current character qualities could fit together somehow and make her a really interesting character. But right now she's just plain inconsistent instead of interesting.

What do you like the most about your draft?

The Time Traveling League: The ending. I feel like there's a nice mixture of merriness and optimism at front and center with strains of wistful heartbreak running through it.

Lillian: The conflict/plot. The turvies never came in before, and now that they have it's like they've fixed everything that was wrong with the book (by causing all the problems in it, of course). And I like the setting/world-building. It's fun. :)

Snoopy:

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

The Time Traveling League: I haven't even thought as far as editing it yet, really, so probably hiding it in a dark hole forever. :)

Lillian: First round of edits will probably be followed by beta readers. Then more edits. Then more beta readers, I suppose. And then hopefully querying. And a sequel at some point. :)

What's your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Don't beat yourself up for it not being perfect, because first drafts are never perfect. If you get critical about your first draft, you're running the risk of getting critical about the entire story and possibly dropping it.

(And if you're like me, embrace the fact that it might take ten years for an idea you like to turn into a draft you like. I'm starting to think all my stories need to simmer for a decade before spreading their wings.)

Well! What about you? What kind of writing adventures did 2016 hold? What kind of writing adventures are you setting out on in 2017? Are you participating in Beautiful Books this month? (If so, leave me a link to your post so I can read it!) 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Entering 100 Years of Fatima

It was the year 1917. World War One raged elsewhere in Europe, but for three young children of Portugal, life consisted mainly of watching their family's sheep. The oldest was named Lucia Santos; she was ten.  The other two were her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto; they were nine and seven.

Los niños de Fátima: Jacinta, Francisco y Lucía Quiénes tuvieron la visión de Fátima de 1917, en Portugal.:


From May through October of 1917, these children caused quite a stir in their hometown of Fatima and the surrounding lands. They reported that they had been visited by "a lady from Heaven," a beautiful lady who first came to them on May 13, while they were watching their sheep. She had asked them to pray the rosary, pray and make sacrifices, and to come to the Cova where they had seen her on the thirteenth of each month. The children had wanted to keep these visits a secret, but little Jacinta let the story slip, and it was impossible to keep the news from spreading. 

Some believed the children were telling the truth, that they really were favored with visions from Heaven. Some accused them of lying. Others believed what they saw was a deception of the devil. 

Despite the doubt and criticism of others, the three children kept their promise to the lady and came to the Cova on the thirteenth of every month -- except for once, when anti-Catholic authorities captured and detained them, and then the lady came on a different day. Large crowds of people began to follow the children to the Cova. They could not see what the children claimed to see, but they could see the children kneeling and gazing at their apparition and watch Lucia's lips move as she conversed with the mysterious visitor.

The 3 children of Fatima  Francisco, Lucia and little Jacinta:

The lady, Lucia said, never wavered from her message: pray the rosary and make sacrifices in reparation for the many sins committed against God. She also gave the children three "secrets," which they refused to share with anyone.  

And she promised to give the world a miracle on October Thirteenth -- a miracle that would show everyone the children were telling the truth. 

On October Thirteenth, the crowd that followed the children to the Cova was larger than ever before, despite the fact that it had rained the night before and everything was sopping wet. 

Jacinta - one of the Fatima seers.:

At this final apparition, Lucia said, the "lady from heaven" revealed her true identity as that of Mary, the Mother of God.

Then the lady gave the world her miracle: the Miracle of the Sun.

Before the eyes of the amazed crowd, the noon sun became a pale silver disc that could be looked at without hurting the eyes. Then it began to spin and dance and shoot forth colors. 

Eyewitness accounts of the phenomenon can be read here

Miracle of the sun October 13 1917, Fatima, Portugal.:

In the years since that day, many have come to believe in the apparitions at Fatima. The Cova where the visions took place has become a great pilgrimage site. The messages which Our Lady gave to Lucia, along with the three secrets which were eventually revealed, have been taken to heart by many. 

What was this message? Who was it for? Why did God give it to the world at this time and in this way? Who were these little children deemed worthy to carry the message?

As we enter 2017, the year that will see the centennial of the Fatima apparitions, we may well ponder these questions and many others. And so, this year on this blog, Saturday is Fatima Day. Please join me each week, especially on the First Saturday of each month, in exploring different aspects of Fatima -- the children, the lady, and, the message from God.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year's Plans

Happy New Year, everyone! And Merry Christmas, too, since it's still the Christmas season. :)

So, I thought it was high time I made some New Year's plans concerning this blog. Here's a list of things I want to do/continue.

Spread the Fatima Devotions
    This year, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of the appearances of Our Lady to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Ever since I was a little girl, I've really loved this story, and for the last few years I've felt there must be a way for me to help spread the Fatima devotions. So, why not try on this blog?
     I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing with regards to this, but here are some ideas:
     - a monthly First Saturday post, possibly in the form of a meditation on one of the mysteries of the Rosary
     - weekly Saturday posts, just little snippets of things about prayer and sacrifice and the Fatima message, and things like that
     If you've got any ideas, please share in the comments!


Our Lady of Fatima........absolutely beautiful:

Continue Catholicism Explained
     This feature went strong for a couple of months and then kinda fell to the wayside towards the end of 2016. I'd really like to start it up again, possibly on an every-other-week schedule rather than a weekly schedule. Possibly on a day of the week besides Sunday.
      Any ideas on that front, dear readers?

Writer Stuff
     More of the same! 2017, like 2016, will probably mean lots of character interviews and Beautiful People posts for Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings. I'd also like to try that weekly writing update thingy-ma-jig again.


On a small table was produced great books. The photographer shot this in Jane Austen's house in Chawton, England.:

Bookworm Stuff
     What would you think of an occasional book review? Perhaps a book of the month? Or a worst book of the month? I suppose tags would often fit into this category. :)

Miscellaneous Thoughts
     You never know what I might feel like scribbling about on this blog. :) Be prepared for rants about history, pro-life poems, fangirling over Chesterton quotes, and lists of fun facts about chickens.

So basically, everything's pretty much the same. :) I do want to start posting more frequently...or at least more consistently. Maybe I could even come up with a real schedule! ...What's that? You don't think I could stick to it? You're probably right. :)

So what are your New Year's plans?? Any ideas for Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings? What's  your favorite part about a brand-new year?