Archives for December 2010

East London Churches Offer Continuous Help to Homeless

According to an article found on Christian Today:

Twelve churches in Tower Hamlets have clubbed together to open a rolling night shelter for homeless people in the East London borough.

The GrowTH project is offering homeless people a safe and warm place to sleep seven days a week until the end of February.

Participating churches are taking it in turns to open their doors to guests from 7.30pm and provide a hot dinner in the evening and breakfast the following morning.

Tower Hamlets, a borough of London, boasts famous sites such as Brick Lane, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and the up-and-coming Canary Wharf.  However, it is also plagued by poverty, higher crime rates, and homelessness.  The British band Pulp (famous for their mid-90’s hit “Common People”) once wrote a song about a section of Tower Hamlets, in which they sing “It smelled as if someone had died/The living room was full of flies/just like Heaven/If it didn’t look like Hell…”

Pulp wasn’t far off.  I actually lived in Tower Hamlets briefly, as a student abroad, and while it has its own distinct charm, the borough is definitely in need of some serious help.

For information on how to help, click here.

Feel Better, Do Better…and Drink Earl Grey!

I can feel it coming on already–I am getting a cold.

I woke up this morning with a headache, bothered sinuses, fatigue…and panic.  No, not panic over getting the cold itself, as luckily they are fairly benign (a few aches and pains, a runny nose, but overall just a temporary impairment).  Rather, panic because I am getting a cold around the holiday season. I already have too much to do–work, Christmas shopping, time with family and friends, holiday parties, etc.–now I have to deal with a cold on top of that, compromising my energy and focus?? No. Way.

Most people will suggest Vitamin C and plenty of rest in combating a cold, and while those things are undoubtedly helpful, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a lesser known but oh-so-effective tip:  drink Earl Grey tea.

It sounds silly, but Earl Grey tea is actually highly beneficial.  Ever wonder why Earl Grey smells so good?  Its essential ingredient is bergamot orange, which is proven to fight colds and flus.  It also fights depression and anxiety, as an added bonus.

Now, the trick to tapping into Earl Grey’s hidden powers is drinking it three times a day.  That may sound like a lot to some, but the amount of caffeine in one cup of tea is equal to about half a cup of coffee.  So really, if you just replace your nonfat-mocha-caramel-latte for one week with three cups of delicious Earl Grey, you’ll make out about the same (except that basic teas such as Earl Grey are infinitely cheaper than coffee beans).  And to answer that age-old question: milk or lemon; it’s simply a matter of preference.

P.S.  The links I’ve embedded go to various online stores where you can buy Earl Grey.  Now of course, the local supermarket is sufficient, as Earl Grey is pretty prevalent, but these particular links are either fairtrade or forward proceeds to charitable causes.  My thought is, make someone else feel better as you do.  It is Christmas, after all!

Christmas Trivia!

So you’ve got the basics of Christmas down–birth of Jesus, tree, presents, Santa and his reindeer…easy stuff.  But what about–the first year that Christmas lights were used?  Or which famous hotel magnate was also born on Christmas Day?  Well luckily, we at mycatholicblog love all things Christmas, so we are happy to present some of our favorite Christmas trivia:

Well, first of all, Christmas lights were first used in 1895, the idea pioneered by American Ralph E. Morris.

Conrad Hilton was the famous hotel magnate born on December 25, 1887.  Others born on Christmas Day include Sir Isaac Newton, Clara Barton, and Humphrey Bogart.

The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1842.  Hallmark first introduced their Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the company was founded.  Today, more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States alone.

In 1907, Oklahoma became the first state to declare Christmas a favorite holiday.

And finally, did you know that, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year?  For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2-3 seeds are planted in its place.

More facts about Christmas can be found here, and of course, feel free to share any other interesting Christmas facts with us!

Interview with Jerry Weber

Meet Jerry Weber — host of the integrated Catholic radio program, The Catholic Revolver.

First of all, we’re big fans of The Catholic Revolver.  We especially like the integration of various topics (such as politics and health & wellbeing) into the show.  Why do you feel its important to discern a tangible connection between the secular and religious?

Well first let me say thank you very much for being fans!!  When I decided to create The Catholic Revolver I wanted to keep the option open of discussing various topics because we all have different interests and hobbies outside of our spiritual life.  I make it clear though that God and his Church come first and that will always be the primary focus of the show overall, but it’s nice that I can have guests on to talk about music or sports for example as well.  God is perfectly fine with us having interests outside of the Church, as long as our interests are moral and don’t go against his word or the Church’s teachings.  And so I feel that having flexibility on my show regarding topics helps to make it a more well-rounded show and ultimately a more successful one.

Along these same lines, what do you hope to accomplish through The Catholic Revolver?

To simply provide good quality Catholic radio on the internet.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter to me if my show becomes the biggest or the best, because I don’t feel Catholic Radio whether it’s on the traditional airwaves or on the internet should be about competition, but rather it should be about helping eachother grow as Catholics and hopefully bringing Non-Catholics home through the process.  I want my show to help educate, touch, or inspire at least one person, and if it does that then it is all worth it to me.  A huge bonus has been having my faith grow through the process of this show, I get to interview such great guests from all walks of life, and I learn so much about Catholicism and about being a better Catholic.  I even learn from those guests who aren’t Catholic, but simply shared their story or whatever it was that they were passionate about.  There is always room for improvement in our faith, for each and every one of us.

We understand that around your late teens you experienced a change in perspective, lifestyle, and behavior.  Can you explain a little bit more to us about the role faith has played in altering your life?  Why do you think, though you have been a Catholic your whole life, your faith was strengthened as this particular point in your life?

Yes, I lived a very different lifestyle in my teens which often included sex, drugs, and rock & roll.  Of course I don’t see anything wrong with the rock & roll part depending on the artists, but the other two of course were big no/no’s.  I felt God calling me when I was 17 to change my life, and to begin to obey his word, and become a better Catholic.  I answered his call and began to take interest in Catholicism, and did what I could to turn my life around and grow closer to Christ.  It wasn’t smooth sailing from that point forward or anything, as much as I tried I often fell away from the faith in my twenties even though deep down I always had the desire to return to the Church to be a better Catholic.  I think my faith has strengthened at this point of my life because with age comes wisdom, and I feel I’m at that point of my life where I’m much more grounded and know what I’m hoping to achieve out of life.  And ultimately I realize that without God not only will I never achieve true happiness, but my soul would remain dead just like branches on a rotting tree.

You’ve openly stated that depression and anxiety have been prevalent forces throughout your life.  Do these ever test your faith?  How do you maintain conviction of belief in the face of them?

Yes, all the time!  Included in my battles with anxiety has been Social Anxiety, and let me tell you this form of anxiety is tougher than most people realize.  And this really kept me away from Mass for many years because dealing with crowds of people has never been something I’ve been comfortable with.  Both anxiety and depression seem to enjoy becoming masters of your whole being, in other words if they can take full control of your life and dictate what you can and can’t do they certainly will.  I would say my faith in God has done more for my battle against anxiety and depression then anything else ever has.  I understand that it is my part of the Cross to carry, and that God has allowed me to deal with this for a reason.  At the same time, it’s with my faith that I truly believe the day will come in my lifetime where I will be free of these mental disorders.  And yes I said FREE!  I believe this because I feel through the Grace of God I have learned so much about what causes these problems, I’m very much into natural-healing and I don’t subscribe to the theory that western medicine does when it comes to mental illness.  And I feel that in due time I will be taking care of my body in the right way through diet, nutrition, the proper supplements, cleansing the kidneys and liver, etc.  I’m very confident about the success this will have, but the credit will go to God for giving me the strength and wisdom needed not only to make it happen, but to continue to strive at dealing with these disorders presently.

You’ve also mentioned that you thoroughly enjoy music, especially artists/bands such as Jimi Hendrix, The Carpenters, and the Doors.  Besides Karen Carpenter, any other all-time favorite artist?  What about song?  What is it about music that resounds so strongly with you?

I would rank my favorite artists as follows; The Carpenters, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, & Bob Marley & The Wailers.  I have many other favorites, but those have always stood out to me and I never tire of their music.  Some will say that as a Catholic it might not be moral to listen to a band such as The Doors because of the destructive lifestyle that Jim Morrison lead for example, but in listening to the music it’s not condoning the lifestyle of a band member, it’s appreciating the creativity that the musicians had.  For example I was not in Morrison’s shoes, it would be easy for me to sit back and say he should have done this or that, but he had his own personal battles like many of us do.  His life doesn’t change the fact that he was a gifted Poet who really helped change the face of Rock & Roll with his words and theatrics on stage.

Now in terms of songs my favorite song of all time is from my favorite band of all time The Carpenters, and that song would be “This Masquerade”.  Although not originally written by Richard & Karen Carpenter, their version of this lovely song to me is simply amazing.  It showcased Karen’s angelic voice, and Richard’s brilliant arrangements as good as any song they ever did.  Also, I think the song in many ways could relate to Karen’s short lived marriage, it was also fitting that they played this song in the 1989 made for TV movie “The Karen Carpenter Story” during the scenes of Karen and her husband’s troubles.

Music is a form of art, and I’ve enjoyed music ever since I was a kid.  I personally feel it is a wonderful way of expressing one’s self, and can also teach you more about yourself as well.  And if you want to talk about music from a Catholic perspective, there are some tremendous Catholic musicians out there who have created some beautiful Catholic music over the years.  I’m personally not a big fan of traditional Christian music, but genuine Catholic music from Catholic artists to me is absolutely Heavenly!

And finally, what is next for Jerry Weber?

Well I began RCIA in September of 2010, and I’m so pleased that this journey has finally begun for me.  I’ve been Catholic my entire life, but never received my First Communion, and so I have been wanting to join RCIA for many years, but put it off constantly due to the things in life that often pull us away from our faith to begin with.  So if all goes well I look forward to officially entering the Church on Easter of 2011!!

I’m also looking at relocating out of California probably in the next 2-3 years.  I truly love it here and it will always be home, but long term it just doesn’t offer the kind of living that I’m seeking.  Things have gotten out of hand here with high taxes and ridiculous laws, etc.  At this point I see myself ending up either in Arizona where I spent about 4 years living before, or in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas.

Thanks so much for this opportunity, it was great speaking to you!!

Thank you, Jerry!

“God-Clause” — A Parallel Between God and Santa?

Mycatholicblog loves the blog Christ and Pop Culture.  The recently re-posted an article they wrote which analyzes the role Santa plays in Christian faith.  The article, entitled “God-Clause: Reflections on Santa and Theology Proper”  can be found here, and is unfortunately too long to be re-posted in its entirety.  The excerpt below is the article’s opening sparagraphs:

He is the all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent being, who rewards the good and punishes the bad. He is mysterious and beyond our comprehension. He is both transcendent and immanent, and we feel His presence in special ways around this time of year. Wait…I’ve lost myself in my own introduction. Are we talking about God or Santa?

The two seem not so dissimilar if you pause and reflect for a moment. And for the most part Christians don’t often pause and reflect on this Santa figure. Is his similarity to the Almighty an acceptable myth or does it have implications for Christian theology and life?

The article stresses two main points: first, Santa is not the enemy and secondly, the tension between secular and religious perspectives of Christmas will lessen if people simply remember the distinction.  In other words, if one can achieve a higher awareness of Jesus than the perceived threat of Santa nullifying the Christian aspect of the holiday will automatically dissipate.

Mycatholicblog agrees with the article’s sentiment; we understand the importance of “keeping Christ in Christmas,”  but don’t see the harm in small children believing in Santa.  After all, Santa teaches faith and goodwill, two very important aspects of Christianity.  And in all fairness, it’s much easier for kids to grasp the concept of Santa, the jolly old man whose lap they can physically sit on at the local mall, than an all-knowing, pervasive and highly undefined God.  So we say yes, keep Christ in Christmas…but keep Santa in there too.

American Songbook at Church of St. John the Divine

The ensemble the Early Music New York had deviated from the choir norm by choosing to focus on early American style music.  According to The New York Times,

In a program called “Christmas Quilt: Colonial Fuguing Tunes, Jigs and Reels,” a nine-voice male choir presented holiday songs from the American singing school and shape-note tradition. Shape notes were a form of notation developed in the early 1800s to teach congregations how to sing together. Fa, sol, la and mi, the four syllables in this system (still in use today), are assigned note-heads of different shapes.

“The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion,” first published in 1835 by William Walker (a k a Singin’ Billy), was one of the earliest tune books to use the four-shape notation. It became the most popular such manual in the 19th century and was said to have sold 600,000 copies.

The program on Saturday included selections from “Southern Harmony,” like “Joy to the World” and “The Babe of Bethlehem.” The choir sang with buoyant pulse, crisp diction and a polished sound far removed from the ecstatic and raw style typical of shape-note singing.

Early Music New York will be giving another performance next Sunday, December 19th, again at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights.

Interview with Ann Lewis

Meet Ann Lewis — President of the Catholic Writers Guild and author of the new Sherlock Holmes book Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes.

First of all Ann, congratulations on your new book, Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. what attracted you so much to the Sherlock Holmes characters and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the first place?

I started reading mysteries in high school to keep myself distracted from the drama of high school life (ugh). I read through all my mother’s Agatha Christie’s. Then my mother suggested I read The Hound of the Baskervilles… and the character of Holmes was so engaging that I could not put the book down.

What fascinated me about him was how different he was–his ability to observe little things and make conclusions from them, his obvious flaws and off-beat personality. I hadn’t seen anything like him – and practically ever other detective character was a modified version of him, including those I’d already read. He was so unique and Doyle’s ability to create vivid pictures of his settings and situations, I was hooked.

And what specifically inspired you to integrate a catholic setting and catholic story with non-catholic characters?

My stories were inspired by references made in the original Holmes canon of tales. It was Doyle who referenced Holmes’ service to the pope in two instances, and yet he never told us what happened. Being Catholic, I was curious what Holmes would think of the pope of his time, Leo XIII, and I wanted to tell that tale. I thought it would be great to challenge the modern (erroneous) idea that the Church is opposed to science, and that faith and reason cannot co-exist (they can and must!). Of course, I had to find a natural way to demonstrate this, and I think in that regard the stories succeeded.

We also understand you’re collaborating on a book entitled Roman which, as your website describes it, “tells the true story of an 1840s priest in southern Indiana accused of assaulting a woman in a confessional.”  How did you come across this story, and what compelled you to become involved with it?

It’s a complicated situation, really, and one I can’t get into in much detail because contracts have not been signed, etc. But I can say that Deacon John McMullen from Evansville, Indiana wrote the book first and self-published it, sending a copy to a Catholic publisher to see if they might want to pick it up. Their submissions editor felt the story was compelling, but thought it needed a more “blockbuster” treatment. Deacon John agreed to let another author have a try at reworking it with his input. I was the author the editor asked to try it out …and so I’m doing my best to give her what she is looking for.

You’ve stated that earlier in your career you wrote short comics and stories for DC comics. We’re such big fans of your other works–where can we get a hold of these?

I’m afraid most are out of print (it was the mid-90s), but I do have most of the stories available in PDF. I can send them to anyone who asks via email. Just drop me a line! (I’m afraid to publicly post copyrighted material…I worked at DC and their legal office can be a bit tenacious…)

You’re also the president of the Catholic Writers Guild, a group dedicated to fostering a vibrant and high-quality Catholic literary culture.  Mycatholicblog thinks it’s such a great idea that one does not need to be published to join–Catholic writers on any level can be a part of the organization!  Why was this an important stipulation for you to include?

We want to be an organization that nurtures our fellow Catholics to not be afraid  to use their faith in their writing. We hope to encourage and educate new writers to get published and be successful. In a way, we patterned ourselves on how Romance Writers of America (RWA) operates – they allow unpublished writers to join as well, and spend a majority of their efforts in educating writers, giving them opportunities to meet with real professionals, editors, agents, who can increase their opportunities to sell their work. RWA also has  contests (we do too, now!). The romance genre is the largest selling genre, partly because of their efforts.

Learning from them and other organizations like them, we realized the more we cultivate the talents of faithful Catholics, the more our kind of literature will be made available in the public square. We want to really compete in the world of ideas. It is time the voice of faithful Catholics are heard.

On a slight deviation from your career’s work, mycatholicblog understands you to be an avid art history fan.  Is there a particular style of art or artist that you favor?

I love the art of the Renaissance – Michelangelo especially. I studied in Florence when I was in college. I was fascinated how art developed through that period. My favorite art form, though, is impressionism – with the exception of Van Gogh. I’m not a big fan of his work (though I can admire what he was trying to do). My favorite painter, I think, is Renoir.
And finally, what can we expect next from Ann Margaret Lewis?

I have one more finished book centered in the Holmes universe – it’s about Watson really. We’ll see if that can sell (let us pray!). It is a little different in that it is a collection of stories that are more drama than mystery, though mysteries do occur throughout. I also want to create my own mystery series – so hopefully we’ll see if that can materialize as well.

Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog. Its great fun.

Thank you, Ann!

Ancestor of Royal Could Become Saint

The BBC has reported that according a Vatican investigation, Father Ignatius Spencer lived a life of “heroic virtue.”

Recognize the last name? Fr. Spencer is the great, great, great Uncle of Diana, Princess of Wales, meaning that he is also the distant relative to Princes William and Harry. 

The article we found here claims:

The Vatican, which has been studying his writings since 2007, said it had concluded that he lived a holy life and there was nothing in his written work which was contrary to Roman Catholic teachings on faith and morals.

Father Ben Lodge CP, who is responsible for promoting Father Spencer’s cause, said the Vatican’s move was “good news”.  However, to become a saint, evidence of two “inexplicable” medical cure caused by his heavenly intervention must be provided.

It’s About the Story, Not the Celebrity Voice!

Remember Madonna’s video for “Like a Prayer,” in which she stood apologetically in front of burning crosses?  Or more recently, when Leonardo DiCaprio went on his own “green living”  crusade?  Or how about when Kanye West declared, “George Bush does not care about black people”  during a live benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief?

Celebrities have forever been making controversial remarks about politics, religion, and other matters considered socially improper to discuss in public.

The newest celebrity to cause uproar over his off-the-cuff comments is Liam Neeson, who voices the lion character Aslan in the newest Narnia film.  According to an article found on the National Catholic Register:

C. S. Lewis was clear that the character of Aslan in his Chronicles of Narnia is based on Christ.

But actor Liam Neeson, who voices the lion in the latest Narnia film, has prompted a row after claiming his character is also based on other religious leaders such as Mohammed and Buddha.

Don’t worry though– the article’s author, Mark Shea, assuages our concerns.  He writes, “Actors are people who have a knack for a) memorizing things and b) presenting a simulacrum of human emotion so that you believe them when they say the things other people prepare for them to recite.  Sometimes they are able to do other things as well.  But when they go off script, do remember that you are listening to the reflections of somebody who has spent most of their waking life chasing after chances to do a and b, not somebody who has spent a lot of time learning about Christ, Mohammed or Buddha.

A bit condescending towards actors, sure, but mycatholicblog tends to agree with Shea’s sentiment.  Celebrities of course have the right to freedom of speech just like the rest of us, but also just like the rest of us, they should need to make coherent, valid points to earn public support or respect.   Their fame alone does not give their words merit.  Liam Neeson was hired for his voice and notoriety, not for his own personal opinions.

Interview with Nancy Carabio Belanger

Meet Nancy Carabio Belanger, the award-winning author behind Olivia and the Little Way and the new sequel, Olivia’s Gift.

Your admiration for St. Therese is seen through your blog as well as through the story of Olivia.  What is it that initially drew you to St. Therese?

Honestly, I think it was the fact that she struggled with holiness like any average person, just like I do.  She had her strengths and weaknesses; she was not perfect, nor does God expect any of us to be. Through the ups and downs of her life, Therese learned to embrace her littleness.  She teaches us that anyone can do something for Jesus, even the least powerful and the littlest among us.  She wrote, “Love your littleness and your poverty, it is that, as well as your blind trust in His Mercy, which pleases the good God.”

Mycatholicblog absolutely loves St. Therese’s words on loving others, which read: “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” (Story of a Soul, Chapter 8). Do you have any words of St. Therese that stand out in particular as motivational or influential in your life?

My absolute favorite quote of hers is not one you see very often, but the first time I read it, it spoke to my heart. It is taken from a letter she wrote right before she died: “…you will not have time to send me your messages for heaven, but I am guessing at them, and then you will only have to tell me them in a whisper, and I shall hear you, and I shall carry your messages faithfully to the Lord, to our Immaculate Mother…and I shall be near you, holding your hand.”  WOW. I love that!

Another is something she wrote to an unsure, young seminarian she was corresponding with while she was in the convent. She was a spiritual mentor to him.  It is:  “Believe that I shall be your true little sister for all eternity.”  Those words are very powerful to me, and remind me that she, like the rest of the saints, is always there, waiting to be an intercessor for us in Heaven.

Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia’s Gift both focus on the pre-teen age group.  With so many distractions and temptations facing children and young
teens today, what is one piece of advice you would give kids, or their parents/family, to help them achieve the sense of modesty that you advocate through your writings?

In Olivia’s Gift, Olivia has a heart-to-heart talk with her mother. I won’t give it all away here, but the essence of it is this:  From the moment of every human being’s creation, God has given us great dignity.  As young ladies and young men, what does He want you do with that dignity?  And if we ignore that dignity of the human person, how does that take away from our relationship with God?  Our dignity is a great gift God has given to us out of His immense love for us, to protect us from harm and not to be taken lightly; if we waste it and don’t show it respect, then what are we telling God?

Along these same lines, though both books are written with a “tween” audience in mind, who else can benefit from these books?

I have lots of families reading the books together at bedtime, which leads to great discussions among parents and children.  Also, I have so many grandparents who tell me they love the books because it reminds them of how they felt growing up. They also enjoy learning about the life of St. Therese that I weave into the stories of Olivia.  It is so sweet because, at book signings, they clutch these books and say to me with sheepish smiles, “I’m going to give it to my grandchild, but I want to read it first!”  I love that!

I also enjoy hearing from Catholic schools that are teaching the books as part of their curricula.  I truly believe that Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia’s Gift are great teaching materials for Catholic classrooms.  I have discussion questions to help teachers get started.  Teachers tell me that their students can’t wait to get to religion class when they are teaching the books. It humbles me that I can provide this for Catholic classrooms, and that the kids get so involved in the discussions.  With all of the pressures kids are facing today in school, they can really relate to the struggles Olivia goes through.  I get letters from students all of the time who tell me that they are now interested in following St. Therese’s Little Way, her path to holiness.  She is such a great role model for ‘tweens.  And parents and teachers alike love the fact that my books are wholesome and teach valuable lessons that are true to our Catholic faith.  With so many mixed messages being thrown at this age group, my books are safe places for kids to go to to learn about God’s plan for each of us.  Many homeschooling parents are also actively teaching my books.

We loved your article on about Lent, in which you stress the importance and peace simplicity can often bring.  You also write about the characteristics of children — full of trust and able to love unconditionally, to name a few.  Have your own two children served as inspiration in your own quest for these traits?

I think parents can learn so much from their children.  Children may sometimes act like they want all of the latest and greatest things, but really, all they want is your time and love. I wish I could give my children everything they desire on the store shelves, but I know that spending time with them and really listening to what they have to say is worth more than anything I can buy them with my Visa card, and they know that too.  They are very bright and caring kids, and they love to help me with my writing.  My husband and I strive to teach them every day about how simple things are best and have the most meaning, more than anything else. Material things will always break and rust and fail you eventually, but God never will. Also, that trusting God for all your needs, and His Blessed Mother, is the key to a happy life.

Finally, what’s next for Nancy Carabio Belanger?

More books!  My goodness, have you seen the shocking material that is available at the public library or the bookstores for our children? Don’t get me wrong, there are many great books there as well, but I cannot get over some of the books I see on the shelves. It is very dangerous. I think a lot of parents just don’t realize what’s in those books. They’re just so happy their kids are reading…but at what cost to their children’s souls?  As a writer, I am a very small fish in a gigantic ocean; I realize that. This ocean is filled with writers who celebrate teen sex, disrespect, the occult, and immodesty, and they make big bucks from doing so. Perhaps these writers sleep just fine at night doing that, but I never could. I feel called to write quality books for youths that celebrate being Catholic and the gift of our faith.   And I’ll never water our faith down to please the masses; that I can promise you.  I am working on a ‘tween fiction novel right now with a troubled boy as the main character, and I love how it is turning out so far.  I will let God lead me and tell me what He wants me to do, and I know everything will turn out fine.  After all, I’ve got his servant Therese nearby, holding my hand!