Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Second Fatima Apparition: June 13, 1917

Fatima posts are back! Even before I went on hiatus I was kind of neglecting them...but now I'm beginning again with renewed resolve. (If you're curious about what Fatima is or want more information, you can click on the "Fatima" tab above.) Back in February we talked about the first apparition of Our Lady to the three shepherd children; today, we're going to talk about Our Lady's second visit.

Credits: The information in this post is once again taken from Fatima: A Message More Urgent than Ever, by Luiz Sergio Solimeo.

Our Lady of Fatima -- Hymn:
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After the first apparition on May 13, 1917, ten-year-old Lucia implored her young cousins Francisco and Jacinta to keep the Lady a secret. However, little Jacinta was so excited she told her mother about their experience in the Cova right away.

Soon all the town of Fatima knew the story. Three shepherd children claimed to have seen a lady from Heaven! Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta soon found themselves the subject of much disdain and mockery.

Lucia's lot was the hardest of all. Francisco and Jacinta's family kept an open mind towards their report; but Lucia's family believed she was lying, even though she had always been a truthful child.

The parish priest was consulted. He thought it best to proceed with caution, and told Lucia's mother to keep a close eye on the matter. He also told her to let Lucia go to the Cova in accordance with the Lady's request.

The Lady had promised to come on June 13. Now, June 13 is the feast of St. Anthony, a day of great celebration in Portugal. Fatima in particular would be abuzz with festivities on that day. No one expected that the children would trade a day of processions and fairs for a lonely day in a sheep pasture.

And yet on June 13, not only the children but about fifty other peasants were there at the Cova, waiting to see if the Lady would keep her promise.

She did. As before, the children--and only the children--saw a flash of light, followed by the beautiful Lady standing on the same oak tree.

Lucia asked her, "What do you want of me?"

The Lady replied that she desired for Lucia to return to the Cova on July 13, to pray the rosary every day, and to learn to read. After telling her these things she said, "Later I will say what I want."

When Lucia asked to be taken to Heaven with her cousins, the Lady responded:

"Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. But you will stay some more time. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish his throne."

Lucia expressed sorrow at being left alone, and the Lady comforted her. Again she reminded her to offer up all her sufferings, and that God would strengthen her in all her trials.

Bit by bit, Mary was revealing to these three humble children God's plan--an emergency plan to restore a sinful world.

"He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world."

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart is a huge part of the Fatima message. It goes hand in hand with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Jesus gave to St. Margaret Mary in France in the 17th Century. Mary's heart is a model for ours. She is the human being who most perfectly loved God; all our hearts were meant to look like hers.

Let us love Mary's heart, then. Let us emulate and honor it--her humility, her faith, her charity. Let us make it our model. For that is what Jesus wants.

An early 20th century lithograph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.:
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Appealing Aspects of Charlotte's Web

I grew up on the 1973 movie adaption of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. It's nice to see my youngest siblings discovering it now.

The other day my mom remarked to me that she thinks there is "something attractive about that movie" to little kids.

Now, my mom is a wise woman. And this comment of hers set me wondering--just what is that "something attractive" about Charlotte's Web?

Whatever it is, other children's stories could probably benefit from emulating it. So I thought I'd make a list of some of the things that I see in Charlotte's Web that make it appealing to adults and children alike.

(And I'm sorry if I should be burned at stake as a heretic for doing a post on the movie rather than the book. But I was crying over Charlotte and laughing at Templeton long before I knew a book existed, so it's the movie that's really lodged in my heart.)

Charlotte's Web movie 1973:
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1. It has an original and interesting premise. Farm stories might be more or less commonplace. But giving the lead roles to a pig and a spider? To most people, in most situations, neither one of those animals comes off as endearing. Yet the unlikely friendship between them sets the stage for a wonderful story.

Charlotte's Web - I watched this movie over and over and over... long before they made us read it in class haha:
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2. The characters are delightful. Each one is unique and well-developed. You've got Wilbur, a polite and loving pig who is prone to fainting spells. You've got Charlotte, a sophisticated gray spider who is vain and selfless and has a splendid vocabulary. You've got Fern, the little girl who adopts a runt piglet and talks to animals. You've got Templeton, the barnyard rat, who somehow manages to be endearing in spite of his begrudging ways. And the list goes on.

charlottes web cartoon - Google Search:
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3. The songs are wonderful. From the comedy of "A Veritable Smorgasboard" to the spunky optimism of "Chin Up" to the gentle poetry of "Mother Earth and Father Time," you've got to admit that this movie has some delightful music.

Charlotte's Web (1973):
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4. It's serious. For all its gentleness and humor, Charlotte's Web deals with one of the heftiest subjects in life: death. The conflict revolves around saving Wilbur from an untimely end at the slaughterhouse. And the ending is bittersweet--even though the goal of saving Wilbur is attained, it comes at a high price: Charlotte's life.

Charlotte's Web!:
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We might be tempted to think that because children are young and innocent we shouldn't stain their entertainment with any mention of death. Children are deeply serious little creatures; they think about these kinds of things, and they deserve stories that address their fears and questions rather than running from or ignoring them.

5. There is a theme of sacrificial love. Charlotte spends the last of her strength so that Wilbur might live. She gives her life in exchange for his. It's beautiful and Christ-like.

Charlotte, Charlotte's Web (1973):
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6. It practically shouts that life is good. There's a feeling infused throughout the movie that it's good to be alive. We get it from the very first lines about "a farm in spring." Charlotte's song about Mother Earth and Father time highlights the beauty of nature and the precious gift of life: "how very special are we for just a moment to be part of life's eternal rhyme." The goodness of life is the reason Charlotte does what she does--why she sacrifices herself for Wilbur.

The original Charlotte's Web (1973):
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7. Every life is worth living. Wilbur's just a runt. He would have been killed if not for Fern's very pro-life protest, "If I had been very small, would you have killed me?" Runts pop up throughout the movie--after Wilbur comes the gosling Jeffrey, and then Charlotte's daughters Joy, Arania, and Nellie. So many of the characters should be insignificant: a barnyard spider, a barnyard rat. But they aren't. Every life is precious. Wilbur even sees value in a moth he begs Charlotte to let go.

Charlotte's Web. i used to love this movie as a kid:
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To sum it all up: Charlotte's Web is all about "the good, the true, and the beautiful." And if you think about it, any story that's centered around these three things is going to be a great children's story.

So what do you think, friends? You have seen this movie, right? Right??? ;) Assuming you have and you like it, what's something about it that you think makes it appealing? (And who was your favorite character? Did anyone else love Templeton for some inexplicable reason as a kid?) What are some other great children's stories? And what is it that makes a children's story a good children's story?  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Space Opera Snippets

Back in February I wrote a post introducing a my space opera novelette. I spent most of March writing that, and now I've got a more or less edited draft of it done! Yippee!

I thought I might as well celebrate by posting some snippets. So here ya go!

May you walk among the stars silversun.:
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            Dar's jaw slackened. He crossed his arms and gave a low whistle. "Why, you little anarchist." He glanced at Biff again and shook his head. Leaning over so he could look Crispin in the face, he said, "Crispin, we all hate the police, but you can't just throw rocks at their windows. When your brother finds out—"
            "It wasn't like that!" Crispin's little fists clamped with an unmistakable family resemblance to Cap. "They were being rough with Renna!"
            Dar jumped from the cockpit. The hangar, lit only by a wavering fluorescent light, was all but empty. A few fliers sat idle in the far corner. One was shaped like a swan, lifelike except for the deathly stillness of its elegant neck and eerie fixedness of its blank black eyes. An aristocrat transport—go figure. The other two were silver wasps, streamlined and stylized, emblazoned with golden fleurs-de-lis. Military fighter fliers.
            "Sixteen new messages?" A few feet away, Timandra squinted at her own companion and scrolled over its screen. She laughed. "Alphonse, our companions have been sending each other love sonnets again."
Standing out: The bright, pinkish-white star at upper left of Orion, known as the hunter, is Betelgeuse. AKA a red supergiant, Betelgeuse is in the last stages of its life; increasing in size and sending its stellar material into space at a tremendous rate. Image credit: ESO:
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            They rounded a curve. The indistinct haze of light became a concentrated peevish glow. It illuminated a spacecraft—a small thing, cowering beneath its own enormous shadow and pitifully tilted to one side like a broken toy. Dar's heart twisted. Mercury's Wings—their Mercury's Wings they'd slaved over and risked everything for, reduced to this.

            "You're right. They'd never let you do it." Turning back to the controls, Raphael groaned. "So I don't know why I am."

            The palace. It was so weird to be here again—walking along these carpeted halls, receiving salutes and curtsies from every servant he happened to pass. Once the servant was someone he knew—a Resistance infiltrator. He bit back a smile. If the aristocrats only knew how many of their own loyal staff were revolutionists . . .

            "You never repaired it?" Dar gestured towards what had once been the teleportation chamber. "You never replaced the coil?"
            Alphonse shrugged. "I didn't want to, somehow." He put his hands in his pockets. "I never used it much anyway. The window was more fun." The ghost of a smile flickered and disappeared. "And Father didn't think of anything like that, not for a long time."
Star Cluster:
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            He flashed her a smile, patting her hand. "No, it's not all over. It's not half as bad as it could've been, and I've got a trick or two up my sleeve yet." He winked. "Dar Beauregard always does, y'know."
            This was exactly what had happened last time. This was exactly how his mother had died. Blast. Blast, why had he ever made friends with the revolutionists? He should've known they were all the same—all of them rabble, all of them liars, all of them murderers. How could he have been so dumb as to take up with them again, after what they'd done to Mother?
Orion's Sword...Beautiful:
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Well! There they are. How's your writing going? Discovered any new characters or polished any old scenes lately? Are you doing Camp NaNo? (I am, but I really need to buckle down and focus if I want to make my word count!) Squeal to me about whatever writerly things are going on in your writerly worlds!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happy Easter! and the Sunshine Blooger Award

Here I am again! My, it's nice to be blogging once more.

Happy Easter, everybody! Easter Sunday is over, but in the Catholic Church not only Easter Sunday but the seven days following it are all one Easter day. So I'm still very much in Easter mode. :)

My friend Tionna, has a wonderful Family Home Evening lesson idea for this week.  I thought I would share it.  Easter is a special holiday. ...:
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Hopefully sometime during the Easter season I'll think of a nice, Easter-ish topic for a post... But, for now, I thought I might as well celebrate coming out of hiatus with the Sunshine Blogger Award, which I was tagged for by the lovely Hope @ The Reader Addict. Thanks so much, Hope! This is going to be so much fun!

The rules for this tag are as follows:

1. Thank whoever followed you and include a link back to her blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions the nominee has given you.
3. Tag 11 more people and give them 11 questions to answer.
4. List the rules and display the award.


Hope's Questions:

What is the craziest dessert you have ever had or wanted? I mean craziest! The whole works!

Wulp, I don't get too crazy... But I have had quite a few interesting desserts lately, thanks to my sisters whipping up an overwhelming conglomeration of sweets for Easter. I think my favorite was the chocolate mocha truffles.

Master Class: How to make classic chocolate truffles. For the softest, silkiest centers, stir the chocolate and cream into an emulsion (Fine Cooking).:
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 (Our truffles were a lot gooier than that. But they tasted good.)

Who is your idol (or who do you admire) and why?

Um. There are a lot of them. I kinda did a post on a few of them here.

One person I didn't mention in that post but who I have mentioned quite a bit on this blog is G. K. Chesterton. He is just the most amazing writer. I love his quotes, and his descriptions, his poetry (especially The Battle of Lepanto!), and just his entire philosophy of life. Like...if there is one single writer I would recommend to the entire world, it would be G. K. Chesterton. I did a post on him here.

A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him.... ~G.K. Chesterton. #quote:

What toppings do you take on your pizza?

Mushroom and tomato, please.

What is your least favorite movie/book/TV show?

Movie: The Road to El Dorado. They demonized my Cortez! Also on my list of least favorites would be The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Ella Enchanted (loved the book so much, but the movie was deeply disappointing).

Book: Flight of Eagles, by Jack Higgins. To be fair, I only read a condensed version of this in a Reader's Digest collection, but... I can't imagine an extended version being any better. The premise was interesting enough for me to read the whole thing, but that's about the best I can say about it. 

TV show: Hmm. Maybe The Carol Burnett Show. I used to think it was hilarious; now I watch it and think, "That's supposed to be family-friendly?" Even the clean ones tend to be more or less boring. I've been spoiled by Studio C, I suppose. :)

If you could change into any kind of animal, which one would it be and why?

A diving duck! I settled that one a long time ago. A diving duck would be by far the most fun animal to be because it can fly, walk, and swim--both on top of the water and underneath it. (To be sure, the walk is more of a waddle...but you can't have everything.)

Canvasback Ducks, male & female:
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What is one thing you can’t live without that is not a piece of technology?


Which famous person or celebrity would you never want to meet?

It'd be easier to list the famous persons or celebrities I would want to meet.

Actually, I'm not sure I'd even want to meet the ones I do like...I'm so shy, and I'd be afraid they'd turn out to be disappointing. Unless it was, like, Mother Teresa or someone. :)

You get to spend the afternoon with your favorite human being from history. Who is this person and what do you guys/gals do for the afternoon?

Well Anna R. already said Jesus. And I already practically plagiarized her answer to the celebrity one. So just for the sake of changing it up, I'll go with--no, no, I don't have a clear favorite among the many minor historical figures I like. Plus there's the whole they-may-not-be-all-they're-cracked-up-to-be-so-ignorance-is-bliss thing. Oh, I'll compromise and say Mary. She wouldn't scare me, and I'd like to talk to her. :)

Morning Prayer: "Dear God, Bless us in our school today. Help us grow in love and kindness, more like Jesus everyday. Amen.":

What were your top three favorite childhood shows to watch?

Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dragon Tales, and--because one more PBS Kids show would be just plain sad and I don't want to copy Anna R. yet again by mentioning Scooby Doo--the Andy Griffith Show.

Narnia or Middle Earth?

To live in or to read about? Because I'd much rather live in Narnia than Middle Earth. It's so very friendly, and delightful, and fairy-tail-ish, all without being any less grand or serious or adventurous. Just think of all the places there are to explore! I'd love to dive into the map of Narnia and see Lantern Waste, and Dancing Lawn, and Cair Paravel. Middle Earth has great places too, of course, but they're so huge it would feel absolutely daunting to be dropped down in one of Tolkien's maps. (Unless I was dropped in the Shire. But I digress.) And the creatures in Narnia! Talking animals (mice! bears! horses!), unicorns, centaurs, fauns, giants, dryads, dwarves, and more talking animals! Take me to Narnia! Please! I'd go right now, this instant, if you asked me to!

Narnia Christmas Card by on @DeviantArt:
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How do you take your coffee or tea?

With honey, and quite often with milk or cream.

Eleven New Questions

(And I am going to cheat at this point by not nominating eleven new bloggers. You are more than welcome to the tag if you want it, or to answer the questions in the comments.)

1. Favorite old TV show? (Mine is Hogan's Heroes right now.)
2. A movie you watched again and again and again as a little kid? (I loved Old Yeller.)
3. Pet peeve as a reader? (I don't like improper use of commas.)
4. Pet peeve in real life? (One of mine is when someone steals the rag I'm using to wash dishes.)
5. Fictional death you cried over? (I cried for Beth March, I b'lieve.)
6. A book you wouldn't mind getting zapped into? (After that tenth question I'm longing for Narnia.)
7. A book you definitely would mind getting zapped into? (John Hersey's Hiroshima...which is nonfiction, so even scarier.)
8. What font do you generally use when writing stories? (Times New Roman for me.)
9. Something you dislike simply out of obstinacy? (Divergent. I'm not actually familiar with it.)
10. Favorite thing about Easter? (The Triduum!)
11. Number one place you would like to visit someday? (Rome, Rome, Rome all the way!)