Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catholic Fantasy Fiction:MY NEW BOOK!

Hey! I'm in the middle of writing a Catholic Historical Fantasy novel (series). I'm a strong believer in creating a thoroughly Catholic culture. It's the only way we will be able to overcome the evils of our current Culture of Death.
Here's a quick view of my map! For a better look
visit me at The Catholic Crow
I am trying to write it all in a way that mimics other fantasy classics (like The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings) which are not overwhelmingly religious/political (any audience can enjoy it) but Christians are likely to find it extra appealing for its subtle implications. Though I want it to be open to a wide audience, I believe my conservative Catholic views are highly integrated into the complex story which centers around the need for Religious Freedom, Family Values, and (my favorite) TRADITION!
The West is essentially a land rife with Paganism while the Easterners are more or less allegorical for Protestants. The mystical people following the "Ancient" religion (who even pray in the "Ancient" language) are the heroic Catholics of the tale.
Beyond this there are political struggles of ambitious men (young and old alike) as well as ethnic and religious tensions between the different groups and competing cultures. Of course no Fantasy Fiction is complete without fantastical creatures- for which I am incorporating my own elements in addition to using many older Medieval creatures [which those well versed in Medieval Literature are sure to appreciate]. Oh! And there's sibling rivalries, love triangles, betrayal, death, magic, and a pretty strong statement about finding fulfillment in parenthood (without birth control). This is not to say that it is all in-your-face, there are selfish Feminist characters just the same but they are honestly not intended to be the characters one identifies with. Here it is the Radical-Feminist which is portrayed for what she really is- hypocritical and self-serving, to the point of even exploiting other women for the sake of her own "independence". This should hopefully be a breath of fresh air for those that are used to the genre as well as for those that do not typically read Fantasy. (To be honest, though I love fantasy film, I read WAY more Historical Fiction than I do Fantasy so I'll hopefully avoid some of the same old tired conventions- perhaps including just a few for comfort. I'm not sure yet, we'll see.)    
I have been posting a few updates and even a preview (don't worry- it was a VERY rough draft). You can read all about it at The Catholic Crow. I would very greatly appreciate your support. Thanks! - Peace and Blessings!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

20 Signs That You're a Traditional Roman Catholic

Admit it, you take our faith pretty seriously which can often confuse many people- especially those dreaded “contemporary” folk. You probably avoid Youth Masses like the plague and, in college, stayed far far away from your Newman Center. [30 minute drive to a VALID Mass- worth it!] You know you’re really blessed to be a part of the True Church and, unlike many, you actually know and actively practice your faith. Here’s some signs you’re a Trad Cath.

For the 20 Signs- please visit my post on Buzzfeed. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Father Who [Catholic Webcomic] Up & Running!

An updated Fr. Who
The first issue of "Father Who" is now up & running! Now you, your friends, and your children can enjoy a clean Catholic comic without having to worry about profanity, nudity, anti-clerical or anti-papal messages etc. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by it [I hope you subscribe!]

Right now the comic is running FatherWho.thecomicseries.com and on Comic Rocket for those that prefer this site to keep up with their online subscriptions [I was already using it to follow a few- figured I might as well post mine too!] While you're at Comic Rocket- check out "The CruZader Secret Agent of the Catholic Church" - I haven't finished it yet but so far the art is fantastic & if you're into superhero comics you'd definitely find it appealing.

 What I have posted online is the first issue which I created prior to December. I am now beginning to write and draw the next issue- right now I'm setting the story up but by this weekend I'll hopefully decide where they'll be going & who they'll meet on their first journey together through time & space. I picked up "The Golden Legend" for inspiration.

Any suggestions? If you could go back in time & meet one saint or Early Church Father- who would it be?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Father Who [Catholic Comic]

As promised, here are a few pages of the first issue ... [yes, it is intentionally black and white]. I'll try to scan it in a higher resolution next time. Don't worry! It gets better! 
Many countries set their comics up differently depending on their direction of writing ... As a native English speaker, I have set the pages up in the standard American comic method. In case you're used to Manga or are just unfamiliar with comics ... it is almost like reading a book - you read the frames from left to right (beginning at the top and progressing downward) speech & thought bubbles are read in order from highest to lowest in a frame - also generally left to right (important to know when there are multiple responses). I hope this helps!
Cover Page!
Eventually I will find a webcomic host and use that to post (perhaps in addition to posting here?) ... I'm posting these here without any real editing to the images. I didn't notice until afterwards that there was a long hair on the scanner (thus the line across the top of the pages). The first issue is already done - I was experimenting with a few different styles of comic art and I sometimes switch back and forth between them.
I prefer the darker pages with less white but my brother likes comics to be bright and colorful so I tried to find a middle ground by leaving thick white gutters. The next issue will hopefully be a tad more consistent in character representation. If you're having a hard time telling the characters apart ... the priest(s) have glasses, Al does not (he also has a square jaw). As the pages continue, my art improves - stick around to see the rest. 
Please feel free to share this with others! 
A quick explanation (just in case) ... Aloysius (our young companion) is a bit of a punk. He's featured most frequently in a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up (to hide himself from the world) ... he's hiding himself from the light too :( 
He stands in line waiting... while the monks use the time to reflect, examine conscience, and pray, he just waits.  Enter flashback ... Yep ... Al's parents are dead. 

What do you think so far? I would REALLY appreciate some feedback! 
- God Bless & have an awesome day!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Catholic Comic books and other new things: a general update and more personal notes than ever previously shared

Yep! Catholic Comics! I'm sick of anti-clerical and anti-Catholic comics (especially supernatural and historical fantasy ones) so I'll likely begin to create and share my own.
Its been quite awhile since I have updated this- I've been quite busy with school and have recently taken up running - when I'm not in class, the library, church, or watching the news/napping on the couch, this is typically what I'm up to- putting lots and lots of miles on my new running shoes. Wonderful for my health but of course not so great for my blog. But here I am- making time in the wee hours of the early morning. Oh! Happy St. Patrick's day!

Some general updates ...
I'm still discerning a possible call to the sisterhood but every time I think I have made a choice (between Benedictine or Discalced Carmelites) something happens in my life which makes me think again. I'm almost done with school- in a few months I'll be a college graduate (wow - that makes me sound so old!). One of my little brothers is now in the FSSP seminary and one of my sisters is married and pregnant. (yay! She's being blessed with motherhood!)  

I've been working on my art skills lately. Though I have no training whatsoever, I have had an active interest in doodling since the second grade (though I was thoroughly convinced it was legitimate sketching). I might even enter a local (fairly small town) art show at our fave comic book store at the end of the month. I'm not sure if things will line up yet - we'll see. (I'm also a full time student of Religious Studies/History & Anthropology .. finding time for art can be hard too!)

Our young companion before meeting "The Father" 
Another potentially noteworthy thing is that I began a comic book (for my other little brother) and after much contemplation I think I will be posting it online for the enjoyment of others as well. It is a Catholic parody of Dr. Who which features "The Father" who travels throughout time to visit saints and church fathers with his skeptical young companion who learns about the Faith along the way... oh! Their tardis is a confessional and the Daleks feature prominently as Fundies (don't worry, they're still no match for The Father!). The first issue was filled with inside jokes especially about campy comic book conventions (sassy villains, people getting slapped, etc.). I'm not actually sure how much would be understood by others online though many of the jokes admittedly rely on somewhat extensive knowledge of Catholic history and Theology in order to be completely understood (for example: The Father says something along the lines of - "its not just any Bible ... its a Dhouay Rheims!") If you understand the reference - congratulations! The target audience for such a comic is very slim and you may very well fall within these parameters.  I don't want the whole thing to rely on outside knowledge though as I do plan on using some of the later issues to teach a bit as well. Since the first issue was geared 100% towards a single person (my brother) I felt I could push limits and throw in exactly what I wanted without worrying about alienating an audience. Any issues I post online would take others into consideration though. Perhaps I could include some sort of "author's notes" for some of the more obscure references. Above is one of the pages I found on my hard drive which I didn't know was there. I went ahead and left it unedited to give you a better idea of my natural style- I haven't decided whether or not I want to color it. I've always been a fan of Black and Whites & Noir style ... What do you think?

Whether you like comics or you have children that do, I've been thinking a lot about this lately and I'd really like to put forward some more family-friendly (definitely Catholic-friendly) comics. (Martyrs will likely appear and if I can figure out how to draw a dragon- St George will too. Still more child-friendly than most comics though!) I will also try to go out of my way to ensure all characters are dressed modestly and use clean language- I feel like this is really important and often overlooked as well. Oh! I almost forgot- The Father wears a cassock! Rather than "bow ties are cool" his phrase will be "Cassocks are classic".

Its finals week for me right now and I left the first issue at home so I haven't been able to work on it in quite awhile. Once I'm able to scan all of it I might do some light editing and will likely be posting it. I'm definitely not a pro but I would like to believe that I am not completely horrendous either. If you're not already, please subscribe! I should be posting fairly soon with another update and perhaps a few pages of the first issue.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saint Gertrude Chaplet- release 50,000 souls from Purgatory!

Print this & share it with others!

  I have had many requests to redo my St Gertrude Chaplet (video on YouTube). It is a surprisingly difficult chaplet to get ahold of... 1 of St Gertrude's prayers releases 1,000 souls from Purgatory (it may also confer special graces and indulgences for living souls). . . This chaplet has what I like to think of as a Spiritual Multiplier Effect. If prayed faithfully, this chaplet releases (up to) 50,000 souls from Purgatory! (What happens to souls released from Purgatory?...) Those 50,000 souls are able to go to Heaven and pray for us (for our soul & the world)! God literally gave us a prayer to increase the number of souls in Heaven- and it's so easy too! Why is this prayer (and chaplet) so difficult to find? Satan tries to hide things like this from us in order to keep us from living a faithful life... and to prevent the release of souls into Heaven. This means its up to us to share it with others! You can try printing a few & leaving them in the back of your Church [it might be a good idea to ask your priest first]... or share it with the your church's youth group & (CCD) Faith Formation classes... you can even repost it on Facebook, leave it in Catholic books at your library (for some lucky person to find in the future), share it with your family, friends, and Catholic neighbors... the possibilities are endless!

So...I only had one class today, "The Devil in Film" and it was cancelled so I came back home, researched a guide for the Saint Gertrude Chaplet (so I could redo my video & post this with it) ... but I couldn't find any that were very useful. (There were a few but they were poorly written and difficult to follow so after struggling to figure out their instructions... I believe I have put it into an easy to use guide by reformatting a standard 5-decade Rosary guide.) ... I have a 2 page paper to write tonight (I'm analyzing the concepts of soul, sin, sexuality, and Protestant thought in the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - I chose both topic & film so- yay! This should be interesting). I also have some Philosophy articles to read on the ethics of war but if all goes as planned, I should hopefully find some more time today to rerecord my Saint Gertrude Chaplet video & post it tonight - or maybe sometime later this week... Oh! I almost forgot... it might be a little hard to see but the Immaculate & Sacred Heart prayers come before the Glory Be.
 ... Pray on!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Downton Abbey, 50 Shades, & Vampires: What we really want is …

What do people really want? Is it literary porn written at the reading level of middle school children? Is it historical fiction, Victorian mustaches, top hats, or long dresses with corsets? Or is it an awkwardly ephebophilic vampire who goes to great lengths not to harm the subject of his desires? What the heck do all of these things have in common? – These are all expressions within the American culture that we deeply crave a sense of division and gender identity. This may be difficult for some of us to acknowledge, yet all of these elements in our popular culture point to this conclusion...

I must admit, as a lifelong Victoriana fan and student of history, I genuinely enjoy Downton Abbey. But what is it about the Victorian Era that this generation so ardently adores? Sure the clothes were awesome, the facial hair was silly, and the people seemed sophisticated- but why the late 19th century? Why not another time? Another place? The rekindled fascination with the Victorian Era boils down to this – it was an era and culture which was everything that we currently are not. Perhaps most notably, during the Victorian Era definitive gender roles existed and though they were occasionally bent, they were rarely broken. Everybody knew what was expected of them. The women were innocent and motherly, and always celibate until marriage. Men were truly gentlemen and it would be scandalous if they did not stand when a lady entered the room. When a Victorian gentleman danced with you, he might even wear gloves, not because it was cold, but because he would not dare to think of soiling your lovely gown with his dirty hands, or of touching the soft skin of your delicate hands directly. When he danced with a lady, he would look at her in the face and gently guide her body in rhythm with his own, being careful of course to leave ample space between the two as a subtle way of expressing his high opinion of her chastity and virtuous purity. The concept of dating without courtship would be utterly foreign... he would sooner die than stare at the back of your head while groping your flesh in a noisy crowd, let’s not forget this was when dancing required one to actually dance. Not only would the Victorian gentleman actually buy you flowers, each color and type of floral arrangement would convey a complex range of emotions (of course red roses meant “true love”). 
The Tridentine Era persisted and Douay Rheims was the common Catholic Bible. This was a time when everyone was Christian, children would behave, and teenagers could sustain a full conversation without pausing to text or tweet. Women were women and men were men. Life was splendidly simple and simply splendid. There was tea every afternoon and opera every evening. [At least this is what we imagine the Victorian Era would have been.] -- To a large degree, much of this is true (though we sometimes forget about the child labor aspects of the time…) But since the average person is not a historian, it does not entirely matter whether or not we are romanticizing the Era. Even if we are wrong in holding such prototypical mental images, this dreamy world of virtue, faith, and social order appeals to us so very deeply because it stands as a reminder and representation of everything our society is missing—self-control, submission, and faith in God. It is not sex that we secretly or subconsciously desire, as Freud’s theories claim, it is human connection, love and God (who is love). The Devil’s lies whispered in our ears cannot drown out the voice of Truth. How were so many Victorian men and women able and willing to remain chaste before marriage, and afterwards, to remain with the same spouse for life? Our secular society would lead us to believe that this is virtually impossible yet (for the most part) this generation found a way to do so. Our fascination with this Era stems from a fascination with purity itself and what one might call the "separation of social spheres". I realize of course, not everyone is Steampunk or a Hipster...  But just because tops hats and petticoats might not be somebody’s idea of fun, it doesn’t mean they don’t also hold these desires.

*** Please note: I don’t wish to treat these next few topics lightly but I don’t want to dwell 
on them too long either (for reasons which should be obvious as this is a Catholic blog) ***

The same can be said for the Rap and Hip-Hop culture which is a more extreme and degrading interpretation of the division of gender. Here, the concept of domination/submission is presented [though in a disturbingly dehumanized manner]. In this “urban” sub-culture, genders are reduced to two basic categories. “Pimps” and [a variety of synonyms for female prostitutes]— which is say the world is divided between “men” and “women”. You don’t have to be a Christian to find these “gangsters” repulsive. I’m positive that this is one of the farthest things from what God had in mind when He created us. But why is it so popular? In the rejection of God there is an absence of Truth. In this dark hole evil has found a way pry its way inside and to prey upon our basic human nature and prompt us to reinterpret our relationships with one another. We were made for much more. We know that. But we cannot deny that there are inherent differences between men and women and our God-given nature as (respectively) masculine/feminine beings. Our secular society adamantly refuses to accept this, no boundaries or explanations are offered to young children which would ease these anxieties and present them with healthier (more pure!) interpretations between gender roles and identity. Those entranced by this subculture are also seeking a sense of social order (they might not know it and they certainly are far from the truth but they are looking for a more rigidly defined separation of gender identity and social spheres).    

Obviously, not everybody listens to this music or watches the music videos (I know I certainly don’t!) but this is not the only way our cultural desire for stronger gender roles has manifested itself in recent years... The Vampire phenomenon, whether it is Twilight, True Blood, or Buffy, is also a subconscious expression of our deep desire for love, and submission to one’s (stronger) partner. [Here I’m mostly speaking of women… but I happen to know that a sub-culture exists of men that claim to identify with and in some cases believe themselves to actually be vampires- in which case, this serves as an expression of masculine dominance.] Vampires of course are not a new concept-these mythical creatures have been given life in folktales and literature for centuries. But, the way in which vampires are prominently featured has shifted in the last generation or two. Gone are the days of Bela Lugosi and Nosferatu, this genre has undeniably changed in drastic ways. Some literary scholars claim this is due to our general loss of sexual innocence; young women no longer fear or abhor this dark demon but cherish the thought of being dominated and overcome by his strength as he feasts upon her flesh and greedily drinks her blood. Except when convenient for Feminist agendas [such as the Take Back the Night tirades], the fear of rape and subjugation have been virtually replaced with notions of pleasure and masochism. If this sounds silly, it’s because it is and for the same reason, books like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” are also immensely popular. [Don't ever read it!] 
As much as Feminists would hate to admit it, we long to be "saved" and "protected" by the men in our lives just as much (or even more!) than they wish to protect us. You might wonder how this works when these protective men are also the ones which are (potentially) "dangerous"... But the idea of the man being dangerous, whether he's a quintessential "bad boy", a vigilante, or vampire, serves the feminine subconscious desires to be in a position of vulnerability solely for the sake of feeling "weak" or feminine in comparison. Since power is also associated with masculinity, it stands to reason that a fascination with the almost-sensitive "bad boy" image is simply an extension of this same concept. These potentially dangerous men possess the power and capability to harm the woman but always chooses not to. [Guys: I'm not not offering dating advice or suggesting women enjoy being abused... I'm referring simply to the idea of it all.] The examples I've given, are by no means the only stories which include this. These books and television shows present a perversion of God's plan for men and woman [masculine protection and feminine vulnerability] which is of course warped almost beyond recognition and hypersexualized. I’ve seen interviews of authors try to defend their sexually explicit novels, falling back on the claim it's because “sex sells” but if we look just a little bit deeper. Does it really? Is it really the sex which people are drawn in by?
Or is it that, very, very, very deep down in these stories there is a small hint of truth? We are thus faced with the question Feminists continue to fail in their meager attempts of providing an adequate answer for— why does the dominance/submission aspect seem appealing to so many men AND women? Why would women actively choose to reject an "equal" or dominant role in favor of deference to a man? Why do women flock to these stories of gentle subordination like moths to a flame?
The reason why these themes of power and compliance, particularly between genders, enthralls so many, is because it is a restatement of the nature between genders which has always existed but has been forgotten, perhaps more accurately ‘rejected’, in recent years. Men are naturally "strong" and women are naturally "weaker" (physically and emotionally).

 Whether it's vampires or "Mr. Grey", in each of these cases, there is a man (or even 2 men) who are very powerful, physically, emotionally, or financially (and of course very attractive), and a woman who, despite her honest attempts, finds herself weak and drawn to him. She desires to be his ideal woman and submit herself to his every whim. With the exception of the Twilight series, (which was written by a Mormon woman), these stories commonly feature the woman being unable to resist. They tend to suggest that she has no free will and must fling herself into “passion” [here is where the truth of human nature is commonly manipulated in order to justify lust and sexual depravity]. The women in these dramatic fictions must learn to trust that her respective “lover” will not take things too far (by abusing or killing her) as she submits to his domination. Though perverted with deep immorality, we are once again seeing this same domination/ submission fantasy which has evolved out of the very same culture which claims to reject the idea that men should assert masculinity and authority over women (while not abusing this power of course) and that women could ever find joy in relinquishing Feminist “power” and being a stay-at-home-mother and wife.(Gasp! What a thought!) What does all of this really mean? When you subtract the sex and violence, this sounds to me a whole lot like Ephesians 5:21-32.

Translation: For the past several decades the Feminist movement has been telling ladies that we must be ashamed of being the women God created us to be (mothers, wives, nuns, or chaste single lay). They've claimed in order to achieve happiness we must sterilize ourselves, strive to become more like men, and reject the Church and true femininity. Yet here we are, the changes have been made, the family has been crushed, a multi-milllion dollar industry has been created with the sole purpose of killing nearly a million babies a year, breast cancer has increased from our careless consumption of contraceptives, the new standard of working women rapidly increased our workforce- faster than new jobs could be created. We now have rampant unemployment, national depression, and children who are more or less left to raise themselves. From where I'm sitting, it looks like Feminism has failed to fulfill any of its hollow claims and empty promises. As a society and as individuals, we are no happier and clearly, it just isn't working... By deconstructing one of the most basic and natural elements of humanity we have thrown the American culture into utter chaos. In the midst of all this chaos we are still longing to return to our natural state. Sadly, many of us have become confused how we might achieve this since these desires starkly conflict with this culture of so-called "equality" which Feminism has bombarded our nation with. If this cultural longing for social order, tradition, and faith continues, en masse, we will hopefully be forced to readdress the questions- What's wrong with being a feminine woman or a masculine man? Are humans just sexual animals with “uncontrollable” urges, or are we capable of upholding a much higher dignity? [Unlike Freud, hopefully we can answer this correctly …] As the Baltimore Catechism puts it, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.” Part of serving Him is accepting the natural order which He has created and embracing our place within it. We don’t need “Vampire Diaries” or Lil’ Wayne to tell us about humanity and the relationship between men and women. God answered these questions long before we were even able to ask. We are living in a time of lonely people looking for Truth. As you and I know, Jesus is that Truth. We must remember to pray for the conversion of these desperate souls looking for love in the wrong places.

So, as promised, I have begun to discuss gender issues and while I would love to continue, this is getting quite long. I have so much to say about this topic, I could write a book! (Hmm… maybe I will… but definitely sometime after midterms.) Until then, I will be posting a second [and maybe even a third] post which will continue on this topic but address more of the Catholic Theology behind it all which I didn’t quite get to today. Thanks for taking the time to read this. 

 Don't forget to pray for our priests, all that are discerning, all abused &/or homeless children, an end in abortion & contraception, & an increase in reverence for our Lord. Please pray for the newly converted & all who have left the Church. Please pray for our Bishops & ALL the clergy! May God guide them so that they may better guide us! Please pray for our exorcists as well- we leave them out far too often! May our Heavenly Father Bless you now and forever. May He guide you to the truth, may you open your heart and listen to Him! May He quell all your fears & help you to worship & adore Him properly. May you be blessed with good health & happiness & may your family [& all relationships] be healed in whatever manner is needed most! May you not be afraid to truly live your faith & to glorify God in all you say & do!


*Dear reader- I'm sorry if there are spelling or grammatical errors. (This post was written by a woman on a break after making sandwiches... 'till next time... it's back to kitchen -for me!)*
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