"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:3.
My blog sidebar announces mine is "[a]n eclectic blog about everything." Recently, however, I am coming to the realization that in blogging or commenting about everything, I will ultimately say very little worth remembering. I have been a "Jack of all trades, and a master of none." I have decided it's time for a change.
Originally, my goal was simply to construct a website designed to promote my novel, In the Palace of the Great King, along with Catholic religious life. As time went on, and the divisions in the Church deepened and crises and scandals erupted, it became more and more difficult for me to separate the diverse threads of trad versus conservative versus liberal communities of nuns. Moreover, as a layperson I felt inadequate to the task. To make matters worse, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland, whose fabulous monastery and admirable charism of adoration served as the inspiration for many of my novel's scenes, seemed not to be interested in the finished product after I sent it to them for a final review in 2019. I still don't know the reason why.
As the months dragged on, I struggled to reorient the website, the book, and the blog. A page I had dedicated to the nuns had to be taken down, and all references to them in the novel had to be changed. While I worked on the novel, I started doing a few blog posts here and there because I knew as an author it would be expected. At the same time and for the same reason, I became more active on Facebook. As as introvert, it was hard for me to be in the "public eye," but I felt I had to. So I plodded along.
After years of tinkering, I finally got the hang of the Weebly software and began to enjoy the process of creating blog posts. I added a webpage for my photo book, Wild Grace, which was published in November 2020. It felt great to finally have something in print! And I kept submitting my novel to Catholic publishers and asking friends for their input.
But the past twelve months have been beyond challenging for all of us, and the tensions many feel over the pandemic, the election, and the widening gulf between liberals and conservatives in this country have turned the formerly lighthearted Facebook into a mud-smearing, name-calling battleground over everything from the outrageous censoring of Dr. Seuss books in March to guilting people who choose not to wear facemasks. Trump-bashing has given way to Biden-bashing. Conservatives like me are freaking out over the Democrats' headlong rush over the cliff of promoting transgenderism even among the young, abortion on demand, immigration on demand, and now gun control. The memes are relentlessly cynical and sarcastic.
Day after day, I go to Facebook seeking a few minutes of entertainment and to see what's going on with my friends and former schoolmates. There are still some good things there, but the feel-good things are getting drowned out in a tidal wave of negativity. I see so much that makes me righteously indignant, and even outraged. But as a peace-loving introvert, I am afraid to speak up too loudly for fear of alienating my friends or getting into endless comment-box debates. I end up with all this bottled up anger, and it's starting to affect me emotionally. I feel like a coward. I feel completely at the mercy of Big Tech, Big Government, and Big Lies. And there really isn't much I can do about it, except pray.
It doesn't help that the negative memes are randomly interspersed with everything and anything else one of my chosen friends (chosen by Facebook--FB users know what I mean by this) may happen to post, whether it be pictures of flowers, sunsets, babies, weddings, prayers, new cars, old jokes, or disgusting food. All this is getting mixed up in our brains, and I have a very strong sense as I madly scroll at lightning speed trying to avert my eyes from anything disturbing that this is really, really bad for us.
Facebook isn't the only place where things are getting ugly. More about that next week.
For now, I am going to reduce, not eliminate, but greatly reduce my time on Facebook. My blog is going to take a decidedly more peaceful turn. I choose to write lighted candles of blessing rather than endlessly post pithy memes about the rabid, fearsome darkness. I hope you will join me.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Pontmain, France, known more popularly as Our Lady of Hope. Appearing to six children on January 17, 1871, the Blessed Virgin encouraged them to persevere in prayer in order to obtain Heaven's help against an army of invaders.
In August 1870, less than six months before, the Prussian Army under Kaiser Wilhelm I had begun its military expansion into France and was closing in on Pontmain, having already invaded Paris just two days after Christmas. The villagers feared for their lives. Father Guerin, the parish priest, had instructed the children to pray to Our Lady for help.
About 5:00 p.m., young Eugene Barbadette was outside helping to feed the animals when he spotted a lady in the sky. He stood entranced by the vision of a tall lady wearing a long blue robe with gold stars, a black veil, and a gold crown. Later in the evening, he would see her holding a red Crucifix with the words "JESUS CHRIST." Soon his 10-year-old brother Joseph and their father joined him, but only Joseph could see the apparition. (This is common in nearly all approved apparitions of Our Lady, who most often chooses to appear to poor, country children who are pure in mind and body. Even the local teaching sisters could not see her.)
As the evening of January 17th deepened into night, the villagers prayed and sang hymns, even though they could not see anything out of the ordinary. As they did so, the children reported that a written scroll with gold letters was unfolding at Our Lady's feet with the following words, one sentence at a time:
"Mais priez mes enfants, Dieu vous exaucera dans peu de temps. mon Fils se laisse toucher."
"But pray, my children. God will hear you in a little while. My Son allows Himself to be moved."
And He did. While the people prayed, unbeknownst to them the Prussian general was receiving orders at that hour to withdraw. Thankfully, ten days later an armistice was signed officially ending the Franco-Prussian War. Some might say this is just a coincidence, but this isn't the first time the Blessed Virgin has obtained military victories for her children.
To read the full story of Our Lady of Pontmain, go here to Catholic Straight Answers.
Let us ask Our Lord in these very difficult times to give us the grace to grow in the saving virtue of hope and to remember that ultimately the best weapon we possess against evil in all its forms is prayer. Let us also remember that one of the greatest gifts we have received from God is His sweet mother as our heavenly advocate.
"But pray, my children.
God will hear you in a little while.
My Son allows Himself to be moved."
The opinions expressed on this website are my own personal views and do not necessarily represent those of the Catholic Church.
If I have erred in any statement, whether directly or by implication, in any matter pertaining to faith or morals, I humbly invite fraternal correction.