Monday, March 28, 2011

Christian Rock, Catholic Punk, and other Awesomeness

Gibson Les Paul Guitar

I like music with a bite. I also enjoy fun toe-tapping tunes. And bluegrass rocks my socks. I need intense blood rushing music too. Variety! It's the spice of music.

I went on a scavenger hunt for Catholic punk and rock. I found some. I also found general Christian alternative and Christian metal, and well... you'll see what I got for you.

(These are in sheer random order as you shall see.)

The Thirsting
This is a Catholic band and I mean VERY Catholic. Their rendition of Hail Holy Queen which I saw/heard on YouTube sold me right off. But listen to all of their songs on their site... no, better yet, just buy their album. You will be very satisfied.

Critical Mass
On Facebook, they bill themselves as Catholic rock, but I think they are not ordinary Catholic rock. Oh, I mean, they are Catholic for sure, but pretty funky cool rock. Give them a listen on Amazon. At first I was like, "What?" Then I was so hooked! Neat sound!
And their Facebook-

Love them. Have their album and play it over and over. No idea why they put the little bracket around their name. These guys are Christian Punk. My favorite song is "Do You Believe? (In God? In Love?)" It's one of my all time top five favorite songs, not kidding.

These guys are a popular Christian heavy metal band and one of the more prolific ones. They have a good strong sound. Check them out.

Relient K
Another popular one. They're a Christian punk band. You've probably heard of these guys. They often play alongside secular bands.
Be sure to watch their video of when they went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. Cute! :)

Demon Hunter
Awesome Christian hardcore heavy metal band.
Their artwork, featuring a demon skull, can be a little scary looking. But if you'll notice, the skull has a bullet through its head, symbolizing their desire to hunt down demons.

Clap for Poland
Now we take it down a notch or two or two thousand and present you a Christian band that takes its sound from the 70's, 80's, and today's pop music. They named themselves because of Pope John Paul II and Saint Faustina. They are also inspired by Saint Maximillian Kolbe. They call themselves Christian rock, but personally, I like to think of them a New Wave Catholic band. And they are super!

Outer Fringe
They are Catholic and they are punk and if you don't believe it, well, they've done "Blitzkrieg Bop" as well as some cool Christian songs with a punk beat. Anywhoo, I just discovered these, guys. I don't have their CD yet, but what I've heard so far, I like!

Father Richard
There's no shortage of Christian Bluegrass and I do drink it in like a tick on a hound dog. But this CD is something extra special because it's not only Christian but Catholic Bluegrass.

Cross on Anna Jagiellonka's Chain
Do tell if you know of a band (such as your band!) that would be cool for my next Christian music blog post.

*Links for sources of images imbedded in their captions

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annunciation- And Meat on Friday?

The Annunciation

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation.
It's a solemnity, which means we don't fast nor obstain from meat today even though it's a Friday of Lent. (See the code of cannon law 1251 if you can't believe it.)

But more importantly, it's nine months until Christmas. You know what that means? Today is the day we celebrate the day that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, "Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with thee." He told her she'd concieve a son and she says her yes, "May it be done unto me according to your word."

And so the Word was Made Flesh!!! :)

Awesome!  In the fullest sense of the word.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary today. (And have a burger.)

See Jimmy Akin's blog for more.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Stations of the Cross

During Lent my parish does The Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings. This is a deeply prayerful journey with Jesus through his last moments on Earth. Maybe they do it at your parish too, or at one close to you. It's so worth checking into.

My little girls and I hardly ever miss it because we know it helps us focus on the reason for... I was going to say Easter, but I should say "FOR EVERYTHING."

When they were little, they couldn't follow along with the exact prayers said at the service, so we brought our copy of The Story of the Cross by Mary Joslin and the little booklet of the stations that we made at home. We had ordered Stations of the Cross stickers off the internet. And they looked at those as I prayed along with the congregation out of the "grown-up" booklet.

These items from look good: Stations of the Cross for Children  AND the Stations Poster And they have some other nice Stations-of-the-Cross themed products.

Here's an awesome audio Stations of The Cross. You can preview a sample of a couple of the tracks before you buy.

If you can't get to Stations, no sweat. Here's a beautiful online version. But there is something very profound about visiting the stations at church, either alone in silent mediation or with other people.

Just show up if you find one scheduled somewhere. At our church, they lend you a little booklet and you can follow along with the prayers so you know when to listen to the reader and when to respond. Some parts you kneel for, but you'll catch on quickly. At some churches it's done outdoors and you walk from station to station. Other parishes have it inside the church.

So, how are you doing with your Lenten sacrifices? (Come on, this ain't hard. We give up chocolate, Facebook, or swearing. Jesus just gave up HIS LIFE!) Dang, coffee is going to taste good to me at Easter brunch. :)

And don't forget, no meat on Fridays of Lent!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.

Today we abstain from meat and we fast. But what does that mean?

Starting at age 14, a Catholic is not to eat meat today. (But I don't serve it to any of my family, even the little ones.) And those age 18 through 59 must fast. So, you may eat one full meal today and two smaller meals that don't equal a whole meal. You also can't drink things that can be considered food. (You know, like milk shakes and smoothies.)

Now, obviously if you have health needs that require you to eat (for instance, if you're pregnant), then you can find another way to observe. You can fast from something else today- TV, novels, do a bunch of praying... you get the picture.

And even if you are fasting, it's good to add extra prayers and fast from other things today (as well as all of Lent). And get yourself to Mass! :)

Don't forget- no meat each Friday of Lent and get to Confession at some point before Easter.

Think of Lent as your spiritual workout!

More on fasting at Catholic Answers.

A note to vegetarians:  When my family was vegetarian, we abstained from milk and products because we already didn't eat meat. If you're a vegan, you might abstain from sugar or something non-food related.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Did Early Christian's Believe?: Jimmy Akin's "The Fathers Know Best"

Jimmy Akin's Book The Fathers Know Best

Once I finished doing the "Happy Happy, Joy Joy Dance," after receiving my copy of Jimmy Akin's The Fathers Know Best in the mail, I settled down to read it. Now, I had a clue as to what I'd find inside this treasure chest--the teachings from the early Christians. Way cool, right? If you've been following his BLOG, you know what I'm talking about. You can also find him on YouTube. Watch his vid on The Didache. Learn about this super early Christian document and you'll already know what it is when you read quotes from it in The Fathers Know Best.

I found much more than I anticipated in the book. He of course explains who are the Church Fathers  (and why they are Church Fathers) and he explains the other sources. You got maps, a section called "Know Your Heresies" and another called "Know Your Councils." I'm telling you, this is a history book/encyclopedia thingy everybody should have.

The meat of the book is organized by topics such as "Infant Baptism" and "The Authority of the Pope." So, if you wonder what early Christians said about them, you've got a bunch of quotes at your fingertips. This is super because it really shows that what the Catholic Church teaches has been around from the beginning. 

Let's take one topic and I'll show you a tiny bit of what Akin includes about it. In topic 42, "The Real Presence" Jimmy Akin begins by telling us the doctrine itself, then tells us what's written about it in Scripture, giving us various Bible passages such as Jn 6:32-71.

You know what's kinda funny about this particular topic? The next person he quotes is a Protestant historian. I kid you not:

The early Church Fathers interpreted these passages literally. In summarizing their teachings on Christ's Real Presence, Protestant historian of the early Church J.N.D. Kelly writes: "Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior's body and blood" (Early Christian Doctrines, 440)

And he goes on to quote more. Akin then quotes St. Ignatius of Antioch from c. A.D. 110, St. Justin c. A.D. 151, The Council of Nicaea I, and much much more.

It's clear the early Christians believed Jesus when He said "...who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal..." Jn 6:54

((A quick aside--Be sure to read that whole thing Jn 6:32-71. People were freaked at what he's saying--that he's God and that he's giving his flesh to eat. Along with that bit, read Jn1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." I get so excited because you know what this means--Jesus IS the WORD (the second person of the Trinity) and the WORD was made FLESH for us!  Sorry. Back to your regularly scheduled blog))

See, when I called this book a treasure chest, I wasn't kidding.  But you'll want your Bible handy while reading it. I also like some sticky notes and a pencil because I'm pedantic like that. :)

And if you aren't already Catholic, get ready to become so. In the words of Cardinal Newman: "To be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Catholic is This Fantasy Novel?

I decided to interview myself about my urban fantasy, Syzygy. The last time reading through, I looked critically at it, wondering if I should begin marketing it as a Catholic novel, or specifically, a young adult Catholic fantasy novel. I started thinking about it as a reader might.

If you're wondering about the Catholic aspects of the book, read on. If you're wondering if it's appropriate for your teenager, read on. So, here goes the interview, such as it is:

Q: Is Syzygy a Catholic novel?

A: I've never billed it as a Catholic novel for two reasons. It's not a Catholic novel. (Ha-ha--Minor detail). By that I mean, I could honestly take out all Catholic elements and references and the story would not drastically change. But it does subtly touch on Catholic themes (and they grow the further into the novel one reads). Some of the important characters are Catholic and one of them in particular develops much in faith.

Also, I hope that by not calling it a Catholic novel, a wider audience will be drawn to it. Some of the tougher themes--depression, grief, cutting--effect young people who are often not embracing faith. My wish is that the book will help awaken hope in them so they become more open to listening to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it's an ambitious wish. It's not the most eloquent novel. :p

Q:  But you totally have bad words in Syzygy. You're setting a bad example!

A: That is not technically a question, but I'll address it anyway. True, Syzygy is riddled with swear words. Particularly our hero, Finn, is guilty of flinging "F" bombs and slinging "S" shots. His foul mouth is a symptom of his criminal upbringing. He's oblivious of his habit and that he sounds just like his dad, against whom he rebels. When somebody points out Finn's swearing, he resolves to change (because he wants to impress the girl). He starts replacing cuss words with such expressions as "Oh me, oh my," and "fiddle sticks." (I think it's endearing.)

Q: Shouldn't the Catholic characters be more saintly? Sam's pretty pure, but Lucas shows prejudice against the Fir Na Gealai (a race of people in the novel) and keeps secrets from his niece, Bea just plain lies, as does one of the Torres kids.

A: Nobody is perfect. People have failings. Everyone is a work in progress. If I were to change anything, I'd give the Torres kid a consequence for lying to his parents. But he was a very minor character and there wasn't time to delve into his story.

The major characters all show signs of growth and become better people. And don't I get credit for mentioning that Bea is saving herself for marriage? I thought that little exchange between her and Finn was handled sweetly and non-preachy.

Q: Speaking of "saving one's self for marriage," there's an implication that Lizzy and Cutter have premarital relations.

A: Yes, and that ends sadly for Lizzy. She thinks it's "just like they're married," but it turns out that he wasn't thinking that way at all. But these are minor characters (who aren't Catholic) and it's a subtle wallpaper story. Gosh, I hope nobody reading this novel wants to emulate Lizzy or Cutter. I don't think I make them into enviable characters.

Q: This has been nagging me; shouldn't the characters have gone to church more often? We saw them leaving church in one scene, but the book spans enough time that we should have seen them go to Mass a few times.

A: I know and I wrote another Church scene (which included Finn) that I didn't put into the novel because I wasn't billing it as a Catholic novel. If you're good, maybe I'll dig it out and put it on the blog. :)

Syzygy is available as an  E-book at Smashwords (for a variety of formats), Amazon, B & N, and as an actual physical book or E-book at Lulu.

And don't forget my FREE spin-off stories: at Smashwords or B & N
"Rainy Day with Sam and Bea"
"Deacon Sam"

Syzygy cover for Lulu version
Syzygy cover for E-book version

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Urban Fantasy with a Catholic Bent

My E-fantasy, Syzygy is now also available as a soft-cover book through Lulu. Get it here. 
My copy just came in the mail and I'm pleased! My niece's artwork looks beautiful on the cover. You may not be able to tell from the blog photo, but the character, Bea, is holding a Rosary. :)

Here's the blurb from the back cover:


A young patient in a mental hospital (who refuses to reveal his name) will only speak to one other person, Miriam, who has lost both a son and a husband. Alternately pensive, then manic, the unknown patient tells Miriam a fantastic love story she suspects only came from his imagination. The truth of his tale won't be revealed until the end.

The tale is this...

A super-human criminal agent goes rogue to protect the girl his secret organization, The Fir Na Gealai, is after.

When the leader of Finn's enclave orders him to find and kidnap Bea Jones, Finn falls crazy in love and betrays family and clan to protect her, though in Fir law, traitors are killed.

Getting Bea to return his affection proves more of a challenge than beheading his fellow mobsters and computer hacking.

This fast paced urban fantasy touches on life, love, depression, and true friendship.


Here is the blurb from the Lulu web site:

Syzygy, (a popular E-book, now in print), is a story within a story. A young patient in a mental hospital won't reveal his name. He'll only speak to Miriam, a patient who has lost her son and husband. Alternately pensive, then manic, the unknown patient tells Miriam a fantastic love story she suspects only came from his imagination.

The tale is this... A super-human criminal agent goes rogue to protect the girl his organization is after. When the leader of Finn's enclave orders him to find and kidnap Bea Jones, Finn falls crazy in love and betrays family and clan to protect her, though in Fir law, traitors are killed.

Getting Bea to return his affection proves more of a challenge than beheading his fellow mobsters and computer hacking. Bea is funny, sometimes awkward, and basically kind. In short, she's your average young Catholic woman who abruptly learns she's the target of a paranormal-mob ring. This fast paced urban fantasy touches on life, love, depression, and true friendship