Archive for the ‘World On The Edge’ Category

The Magnificat

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

The Magnificat, taken from Luke’s Gospel (1:46-55), is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s hymn of praise to the Lord. The words are a proclamation of the Lord’s greatness with characteristic humility and grace. It is also known as the Canticle of Mary in the Liturgy of the Hours, a special collection of scripture readings, psalms, and hymns that constitute what is known as the prayer of the church. (Priests and other religious are required to pray sections from the Liturgy of the Hours each day.)

Although the Magnificat has had numerous musical settings from such composers as Palestrina, Bach and Mozart, it can be recited as well as sung. Its name comes from the first line of its text in Latin (“Magnificat anima mea Dominum”) translated in the first line of the prayer.

For a moment, put yourself in her position. When Mary was asked to be that vessel by a messenger from God, what would she have thought–“Am I going crazy? Do I really see an angel? Am I dreaming?” She was engaged to be married. How would Joseph react if she turned up pregnant? He had the right to have her stoned. But there was something in her, a grace given by God that allowed her to trust that the angel was His messenger. She didn’t ask for proof that she would become the mother of the Redeemer. Her only question was, “How?” Because she believed in God, and most importantly, she believed that He loved her, and she allowed Him to do so. She made the decision to surrender her life to Him.

Do we allow God to love us?

Surrender is the opening move for each one of us, but for most of us, it’s hard. No matter what our personality is, we each have an instilled desire to control our own life. Why is that? Why do we feel we have to be in complete charge of every aspect of our lives? Why are we so afraid to give up control and surrender ourselves and our problems totally to the will of God?

It may be that we don’t believe, as Mary did, that He loves us—-really and personally loves each one of us. And if we don’t first believe that He’s madly in love with us, then there’s no way we’ll surrender or trust Him.Stop a minute and think about it. The person I trust most in the world is the person who loves me, who wants only the best for me, and would lay down his life for me if he had to. If I believe that Almighty God loves me—-and he does–then why shouldn’t I trust Him enough to surrender my fears and worries, all my heart breaks, my illnesses, my lack of self confidence–in fact, everything that bothers or upsets me?

When we give up control of our life in favor of God’s plan–done His way, not ours–then we enter onto that road called Trust. And what does Trust in God prove? It proves His faithfulness. I can certainly say that I’ve seen His faithfulness in my own life. And if you look upon your circumstances, whatever they are, with spiritual eyes, I’m sure you can see it, too. Mary saw it and it caused her to make a decision. It caused her to say: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy will.”

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For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Libera is an all-boy English vocal group directed by Robert Prizeman. Libera regularly performs concerts in many countries, including the UK, the US and Asia, and regularly makes recordings for their own album releases and other projects.

Many members also sing in the parish choir of St. Philip’s, Norbury, in South London. The group usually consists of approximately 40 members between the ages of seven and sixteen, including new members who are not yet ready to fully participate in albums or tours. Libera recruits from a variety of backgrounds in the London area, and does not require its members to belong to any specific denomination.

The group’s name comes from its signature song, “Libera”, which is based on the Libera Me portion of the Requiem Mass. Libera is the Latin singular imperative of “liberare”, meaning “to free”.

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I grew up in a time and place of manners and civility. By the time I was six, I had been taught on which side of the plate to set the fork, and that respect for the people around our table was required. Twice a year, at Easter and Christmas, I helped to polish the silver until it shined, then wash the fine china until I could see my face in it. These were days of significance and celebration when guests were invited and honored.

Often, there were guests I did not like, even guests whose views on religion and politics I knew my parents were not fond of. Yet, my parents treated them cordially, and I was to treat them cordially, too. To treat them otherwise, my mother said, would be a blot on our house and our family, and we would only be hurting ourselves. But isn’t that sort of unmannerly behavior happening today at America’s table?

America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.
–George H.W. Bush

Soon, we will be celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, an event which began Christianity, a religion of love, selflessness, and sacrifice. It is the religion which framed our American Constitution and The Bill of Rights, which was to limit the power of the government and provide the specific freedoms we enjoy today. And yet, some have forgotten, or choose to deny, that America’s foundation was built upon Christian principles. Un-Christian political back-biting, outright lies, vicious rudeness and incivility, and most of all selfishness, permeate news channels and social media with the specific intent of undermining the highest office in the United States of America.

Shouldn’t our leaders be working FOR a better America out of genuine love for their country, and NOT FOR themselves out of selfish agendas? The American table of honesty, civility, and genuine manners–our Fine China–is being broken to pieces for only one reason: America elected President Donald Trump and the opposing political party cannot live with it.

The American people overwhelmingly elected a president to carry out their desire for change. To restore America to its greatness. To make America safe again. To build our military and take care of them. To command respect for the USA from countries who seemed to have lost it. To revere life from conception to death. To make FAIR trade with those countries, not UNFAIR trade. The election of Donald Trump was of great significance–except to some politicians who began their childish protest by not even attending his inauguration– I didn’t get my way, so I’m not going to play— thereby snubbing the majority who voted for him, people they are supposed to serve. Going forward, they attempt to crush every effort of President Trump to better the nation by getting rid of agendas that DID NOT help America, but only hurt her. Theirs is the height of incivility and disrespect. They are not only embarrassing themselves at America’s table, but hurting our country in the worst of ways.

Because the train has left the station, Donald Trump IS our President, whether we voted for him, or not; whether we like him, or not. And the Office of the President should be respected. Even a mindful six year-old can see that. The Democrat party’s snubbing of their Republican brothers and sisters who sit beside them at America’s table is an unwise blot on America. And it will bring us down, not only as a country, but as good people as well. In this holy time of year, as a people and as a country, can’t we go back to our foundations to find our true purpose in the high moral principles historically set for us?

We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ― J.B. Priestley, An Inspector Calls

 

Posted: December 13, 2018 in World On The Edge

Overlooking Someone???

Posted: December 10, 2018 in World On The Edge

How many times have you walked into a room of people you know, people who love you, and yet, you barely notice them?

Sometimes we overlook the most important people in our lives. These are people who are always there for us, so much so, that we have come to expect their help, their companionship, their love. We take them for granted. We treat them like a comfortable pair of old shoes.

Often these over-looked, comfortable people are our parents, our spouse, a best friend, or even our older children, as if their love is a given, and simply something we will always have.

But when we think deeper, we know that this is not so. Time takes its toll on our parents. Our spouse may occasionally like a “Thank you.” Our children may like to see appreciation in our eyes rather than hear our criticism. Our friends who help us may need help themselves.

We say we love them all, but do we show it? Often we put our own needs ahead of theirs without giving it a second thought, as if we deserve attention more than any one of them.

In this season of Advent, I plan to take a special look at those in my life whom I’ve taken for granted. I plan to consider what my life would be without them. I want to take a good look at myself and then realize that those times I’ve overlooked their goodness, I have wasted an opportunity to honestly show them how much I love them. Of course, this includes my relationship with God and His goodness.

In fact, if I truly see each of my loved ones as God’s own creation, how can I do otherwise?

I can pretend that life on earth is all about me. But it is not about me. It’s not about you either. It is about what we can do together to lovingly move our world forward  to genuine Truth.

How is this done? And why should we do it?

Fist answer this: Do we see God as He really is–as actual holiness?
Do we see ourselves as we really are–as actual sinners, often non-repentant?
Do we realize that un-holiness is disaster for each one of us and for our world?

We are meant to Prepare the way of the Lord –Isaiah 40:3
How are we doing with that?

Preparing the way of the Lord, prepares a way for us, too. The way to eternal life. But it is an arduous and slow process for human beings given the gift of Free Will by their creator. Our choices often cause us to move one step forward and then, one step backwards. But if we see God as he really is–Holy. And look at ourselves as we truly are–Sinners. Then we will take on the beautiful task of repentance.

Yes, God loves us as we are, but His expectations for us are much greater than we often realize. So many times we try to bend, shape, and politicize what we think is right into selfish and very un-holy behavior, carrying others along.

We stand on the edge of a typically unholy world, pretending OUR WAY is the right way. Shouldn’t we let go of that misguided disguise, and step out together to strive for the holiness of God and eternal life with Him?

Let’s look in the mirror, and actually see what we see. If we are honest, Truth will look back at us and show us who we have become. We may want to lower our eyes shamefully and turn away, but don’t. In acknowledging our human faults, discovered in a genuine mirror, we may repentantly and finally discover our true purpose here on earth.

FREE on Kindle Dec. 4 and 5

Posted: December 3, 2018 in World On The Edge

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When The Ghosts of Faithful won First-Runner-up for Poets & Writers Magazine’s Maureen Egen Award, it was a novel in progress. Here’s what Victor La Valle, author, Professor at Columbia, and Judge of the contest had to say about it:

Faithful suggests a broad canvas–a well-rendered local; a promising war of equals in the characters, a clear desire to address/tackle the issues larger than the back and forth, and a clear understanding on the author’s part about pacing and clarity. Also, I thought the father’s chapter was really funny!

 

Izzy Collier runs the Food Bank in a town called Faithful, on the banks of the Suwannee River. She is the least amicable of two daughters in a frustrating family; all, keeping secrets of betrayal. Her parents are at odds with both daughters, and with each other. Her sister, always Izzy’s competition, is an unstable former beauty queen, the wife of a philanderer, and the mother of four. Now, their ninety-four year-old grandmother sees her dead husband’s ghost, accompanied by a strange little girl. At the same time, Izzy’s husband, a defense lawyer, is being forced by his boss to effect the acquittal of a teenager accused of the rape and murder of a child. When Izzy starts to see her deceased grandfather and the little girl, too, she questions her sanity. What if the little girl ghost is the murdered child? But then, why would she be with Izzy’s grandfather? Are the ghosts after revenge, justice, or something greater?

Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo, Played by Jim Caviezel

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Last night, I watched the movie based on The Count of Monte Cristo, a classic novel by Alexandre Dumas. A wonderful movie! The book has long been rated as one of the World’s Greatest Novels. When I was in high school, it was required reading for my English class.

A popular bestseller since its publication in 1844, The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the great page-turning thrillers of all time. Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, Alexandre Dumas’s grand historical romance recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantès, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason. The story of his long imprisonment, dramatic escape, and carefully wrought revenge offers up a vision of France that has become immortal. As Robert Louis Stevenson declared, “I do not believe there is another volume extant where you can breathe the same unmingled atmosphere of romance.”

The story takes place in France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1839: the era of the Bourbon Restoration through the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. It begins just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness. It centers on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about exacting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. His plans have devastating consequences for both the innocent and the guilty.

From the book and also the movie:

Abbe Faria:

Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which

you now serve the sentence. God said, Vengeance is mine.

Edmond Dantes:

I don’t believe in God.

Abbe Faria:

It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.

Corruption is, at first, a small thing. It may even have a hint of conscience, until it becomes habitual and infectious to everyone around it.  Goodness also begins small, becomes habitual, and infectious as well. Except goodness is honorable in the human person, and corruption is degrading.  So, how do we come to our true value as people?

Our human nature can corrupt itself, since we are created with free will and the ability to choose. Corruption is what happens when we let something we’re doing that we are not proud of get out of hand, until we are consistently putting ourselves and our desires above all else.

Of course, corruption happens in politics since it is made up of people with ambitions who have found that they can ignore goodness if it interferes with their political goals. However, it is nonetheless degrading, and its infection can spread until the taking of a human life in the womb, the mistaken confusion of choosing one’s gender, or the misrepresentation of what marriage truthfully is, becomes commonplace. But all that, and more, demeans us as human beings created by God. And yet, we can choose to do any of it.

Choice is a word thrown around a lot, without looking at the responsibilities that flow from the God-given gift of free will that we have.  Responsibility is not a ‘happy’ thing to bring up to someone in the throws of corruption, selfishness, and a lack of goodness. When we are acting in this way, we do not want to look at ourselves in a truthful light, and so, many of us try to make the wrongs we do seem right. And there are plenty of other people, especially in politics, who do this, too, by covering over truth with lies for their own gain and political victories. These so-called leaders are selfishly fostering corruption on a much larger, and detrimental, level.

This is why the truthful family, based upon the sacrament of marriage, is being negatively affected. This is why the deep responsibility to guide children who come from that marriage is being overlooked. This is why it is imperative to look upward to God for guidance, rather than looking around at the temporary world we live in. Except, goodness isn’t easy, has never been easy, and will never be easy.

So, can we actually do the things that are hard, the things that are truthfully good, and not take the easy way out with wrong behaviors that decay not only ourselves, but also, our world? The truth is that without delving into the spiritual side of our human nature, we cannot. We will listen to false voices, swallow false precepts, and we will fall into corruption rather than goodness.

But, with courage and faith, we can also do the opposite. We can commit ourselves to the responsibility we have as human beings who actually share in the divinity of God. By looking inward and upward, even those in politics can understand that only God reveals our true value as people, and that it is He who gives us the final victory. We only have to realize that we are His.

Just after arriving home from a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my family, I was notified that I had won the Platinum Award for Screenwriting for “A Hunger in the Heart!” http://www.internationalmovieawards.com/ISENMA/winners_isenma.htm?fbclid=IwAR347h7UO-ZKowhs_T77Hb8a2PuYJL89wbbKhQtQyzVbbtR2f2MQ5FAFgqA

This is the second award the screenplay based on the novel has received. In October, it was also chosen for the Oaxaca Film Festival, and now is up for The UK Film Festival 2019.

“A Hunger in the Heart,” published by Tuscany Press in 2013, now has a sequel–“Bridge-Man Burning: The Sins of a Southern Man.” Both novels are southern fiction and center around Coleman Puttman Bridgeman, beginning in 1955 when he is a boy struggling with the consequences  World War II has had on his family. His beloved, shell-shocked, father is a decorated hero who stages continual games of war to train his son. His bigoted, alcoholic mother blames the misfortune in her marriage on the soldier whose life her husband saved. His manipulative grandfather stirs up trouble between mother and son, until the boy must fight a personal war just to survive–which Coleman means to do, no matter the cost.

In the sequel, “Bridge-Man Burning: The Sins of a Southern Man,” Coleman leaves his hometown as a man who carries with him the family blood that runs through his veins and voices of the past that run through his head. In marriage and in business, he faces love’s most powerful battles where he must confront the weakest and deepest, parts of himself. Honesty versus dishonesty, faithfulness versus betrayal, and courage versus cowardice, are all in play. And he must choose where his life will go.

Many of you know that my writing is faith-based; my belief in God and His divine presence in every human being. But I do not not sugar-coat my books. These are stories about fallible people, because that is what we all are. We often do terrible things. Yet, the stories are also about hope, and the possibilities of change. But regardless, whether we, or the characters, actually end up changing, my books are about the certainty of God and His love for us.  In my opinion, it would be wonderful, and beneficial for many, if  there were more movies and television that portrayed His great offer of love. And so, I will keep writing.