Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Centurion's Wife


It is funny how this book came into my hands. I was collecting a bunch of Janette Oke novels, ordering them in used book lots, and some of them I received were written in collaboration with Davis Bunn. I had never heard of this author, but I have truly enjoyed his Christian novels. The Centurion's Wife in particular really struck a cord with me.

The novel centers around the two main characters of Alban and Leah. You read their lives in separate accounts for the first half, discovering that they are both searching for peace and answers. Alban, a Roman centurion, is commissioned by Pontius Pilate to discover the truth of the events following Christ's death. Leah is a servant in Pilate's household and is sent by Pilate's wife to find similar answers. Alban and Leah are arranged to be married by Pilate, Alban looking forward with eagerness and Leah with dread.

The research brought into this novel is captivating. You truly feel as if you are walking the earth at the time of Christ. The political turmoil, the greed of many leaders, the awe and confusion of those who are searching for the truth about Christ, all make you realize what people at that time must have felt. It brought alive how truly powerful the Resurrection is and was, and what that would mean to someone hearing it first hand at the time.

With dynamic and interesting characters, this novel connects you with Alban and Leah, having you desire a happy end between the two as much as if you were there. I recommend this story for anyone looking for a light, faith-filled, historical, and romantic read. On to the sequel, The Hidden Flame!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Be Reasonable


Goals should be about balance. If we are "under" achievers or "over" achievers we are not achievers at all, or if we are doing something for the wrong reasons, then we really didn't accomplish much. We should strive to achieve balance and "be reasonable" about goals and deadlines and lists.

It is good to have ambition, determination, motivation, but not if it is at a cost to something more important like happiness. A goal should not rob us of our peace. If you find it hard to relax, like myself, and fill your life up with work, let me tell you from experience, it only makes you restless. 

Why? Because there is always more work. You will never be satisfied because there are always reasons (aka excuses) to bury oneself in work. It might be your way of coping with something, of staying busy, or avoiding something else. Whatever the reason, work doesn't give you answers. 

The goal in this situation is to search for hobbies. Something that brings peace and joy and isn't done for the sake of being productive. Leisure is being productive by reminding us that work is a means to an end, whereas true "rest" is an end in itself because it parallels eternal rest. Our greatest work will be union with God and loving prayer to Him.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Triumph through Tragedy

Gifts sent to our Troops
A couple years back I wrote a post on our experiences of 9/11, where we were, what we felt, how it affected the country, remembering those who were lost. This year I want to focus on the aftermath. Maybe its because I've experienced personal loss this year to loved ones, that 9/11 hits home this year more than others. It has made me realize that even 18 years later, grief still lives, but grief does not triumph. 

Death does not have the final say. There will be tragedy, there will be loss, there will be suffering...but not forever. 

I think it's important to reach out, not just on anniversaries like this, but throughout the year to those who are suffering. Reaching out to our Troops, to pro-life organizations, to the poor. We have to let tragedy transform into triumph, that even though we are knocked down, it spurs us on to greater gifts.

We don't want to forget days like 9/11, but more importantly we don't want to forget the people who are still suffering from that day now. They should ever be in our prayers, and our nation's needs should ever be in our hearts.

For to triumph means something had to come before...a struggle, pain, grief perhaps. Aftermath generally means the suffering that comes from a tragic incident. Sometimes you feel like you are in a hole. Advice I was recently given was that you can build a ladder out of that hole. Make the rungs things that can help, be it family, friends, prayer, hobbies...and soon you'll be taking that step up one at a time and feeling that triumph.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Come Rack, Come Rope


Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson is the author of many notable Catholic novels, many of which I would love to cross off my list of read books. I personally have only read two of his English martyrs novels, By What Authority and more recently Come Rack, Come Rope. Both were very inspiring and historically accurate. 

Come Rack, Come Rope, are words taken from Edmund Campion, who after being tortured in the Tower of London reaffirmed he had not revealed any secrets that would compromise the Faith, "come rack, come rope." As written in the preface, the novel could more rightly be called non-fiction, rather than fiction, save for the two main characters. The events center around the sufferings of Catholics under Elizabeth's reign in the late 1500's, when it became high treason to be a priest in England.

The story follows the characters of Marjorie and Robin who are Catholics in love. However when Robin's father apostatizes, Robin is presented with a new inspiration to pursue the priesthood rather than marry Marjorie, which he well knows may mean eventual death. Edmund Campion makes an appearance in the novel as well as Nicholas Owen, the priest hide creator and Richard Topcliffe the infamous torturer. The plot realistically captures the stealth, courage, and heroism of the priests who risked their lives to provide the Sacraments. 

This novel reminded me of the great love and appreciation we should have for the Mass. It is sobering fact that Catholics risked their lives to attend Mass in those times, and this is a privilege offered to us daily at no inconvenience to ourselves other than our time. We should long to be present at the Holy Sacrifice to receive Him Who comes down from Heaven for us. At the end of the novel, Heaven is described as that place where "the Crucified Lamb of God would talk to him as a man talks with his friend." Let us here on earth talk to Christ as our dearest Friend.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

What's in a Friend


What's in a friend...the very word brings a smile to your lips and laughter in your heart. It floods your mind with happy memories and the names of wonderful people who have touched your life. It's a reminder that you are connected to special someones, whether they live next store or thousands of miles away.

What's in a friend.... someone who understands you without words, listens to your stories with as much interest as you listen to theirs, laughs so hard together you both cry, connects with you on a spiritual level, shares the worst and the best with you, sticks by your side through thick and thin. In short, they are "the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life" :-)

When I think of my dearest friends in life, I am filled with gratitude. Grateful to have met such fantastic individuals and been blessed to call them by that name of "friend." Grateful for the laughs, the advice, the growth, the support, and most of all the moments together that are ingrained in my memory forever. 

One cannot put a price on friendship. It is something to be treasured above all else. I think you realize the value of a friend when you can't imagine your life without them.