Drawn to Eternal Truths–"The Truth Is Out There" Comic

A cloistered Eastern Rite  Catholic monk drew upon his lifelong love of comics to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Amadeus, the nom de plum of the author who is part of the Maronite Monks of The Most Holy Trinity  in Petersham, Massachusetts, penned the short graphic novel “The Truth Is Out There” (2013) to explain the truths of the faith in an understandable manner.

The germ for the graphic novel was based on a conversation that the author had prior to entering the monastery with several cradle Catholics who were born and raised in the faith.  As they conversed, Amadeus realized how little any of them knew the faith.  He concluded that the ignorance of this splendor of truth was a stumbling block for his generation of Catholics.

“The Truth Is Out There” depicts two space aged mail carriers discussing life, the universe and everything at a coffee bar.  As the protagonists Brendon and Eric  contemplate the right path to truth and true happiness , one finds his answers ensconced in the Catholic Church.

Although Amadeus seeks to educate readers, since the characters start at the very beginning readers do not have to possess any faith to appreciate the thoughful ideas which they will encounter.  “The Truth Is Out There” seems to avoid shallow and syrupy characterizations typical of Christian media. And the plot allows the space aged couriers to put their coffee house principles to the test in the real “world”.

The author Amadeus had a lifelong love of comics and was inspired by the “Adventures of Tintin”.  His love of drafting prompted him to become an aerospace engineer.  Yet  in 2003, he answered the call to become a contemplative monk, so Amadeus  tried to put those illustration influences aside for his vocation of Eucharistic Adoration as well as praying the Divine Office and the Divine Liturgy.

Maronite Monks in worship

Amadeus found that: “[T]he moment I entered the silence of the cloister, it was like my head was flooded with cartoons. It was nonstop: I just had all these great ideas.”  With much mortification, Amadeus put the project off for a couple of years.  But Amadeus wanted to share the riches of Truth in philosophy and theology which he had discerned in his life as a contemplative monk.

Initially, Amadeus thought of sharing these insights in an illustrated letter, copying the traditions of illuminated manuscripts.  But he found that too boring and decided to do a series of comic strips because that is what he does best. Amadeus opined that: “The harder an idea is, the more helpful it is to draw it out.”

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI proclaimed this liturgical year to be the Year of Faith.  While it celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the start of the Vatican II Council, it also embraced Pope Blessed John Paul II’s call for the New Evangelization.  The New Evangelization is meant to repropose the Gospel to those who have heard and forgotten the Good News as well as to those never exposed to the Christian message.

Even though a cloistered Maronite Monk seems like an unlikely messenger for a contemporary call to faith via pop art, the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.  Bishop Gregory Mansour, of the Maronite Eparchy of Brooklyn, wrote that :

[S]omehow the words ‘comic book’ and ‘intellectually challenging’ don’t usually go together, but they do in ‘The Truth is Out There’ by Amadeus…Thank you, Amadeus, for presenting the journey from the prison walls of our mind to the exhilarating freedom of the truth in such an exciting way.
While comics are not my favored medium of entertainment or education, if a graphic novel can inspire other readers to see that “The Truth Is Out There” and contemplate eternal truths, that’s wonderful.

h/t: Catholic News Agency

God calls you to holy poverty

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When Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) was bishop of Krakow, friends used to buy him new cassocks, which he would promptly give to poor priests in his diocese. He would continue wearing his old, worn-out cassock. In doing so, he imitated Christ, who “for your sake made Himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9).” Not only those who take religious vows, but all of us are called to this evangelical (Gospel) poverty.

In the world, people avoid poverty. The Bible, however, blesses the poor and celebrates the virtues of the poor in spirit. The widow who was destitute gave generously to the temple; the rich young man “went away sad,” because he could not give up his many possessions to follow Christ.

When we have too many possessions, we easily become attached to them and place our trust in our own resources, rather than relying on God. Our many earthly concerns distract us from heavenly matters. We find it difficult to advance in holiness.

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth

This week we have another great giveaway at The Catholic Book Blogger I would like to share with you. One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth by Saint Mary’s Press.Head on over to the blog by clicking here to enter. While there also check out my review of the book…..its a good one!

Sin: Practice makes perfect

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sin: Practice makes perfect

“Sin creates a proclivity to sin, it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts.  This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil.  Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense of its root.”  CCC 1865

In other words, done over and over again, the act of making a decision and carrying out something contrary to good and moral thinking will make each future act of sin easier.  Practice makes perfect!  For years I would tell my children to practice their instruments each day, “Practice makes perfect, keep playing to get better.” I would say.  So they would grumble at me and head off to practice.  Year after year, they would practice after my constant insistence, and year after year, they honed their craft to the point that they began to win awards, get hired to play for events, and find their voices as musicians.

Do you think repeating bad behavior, alias sinning, is any different?  Likened to learning an instrument and achieving confidence and skill as a  musician, sin is an act, a decision to do something..and one can get good at it!  Good or bad, practice makes perfect.

This is where confession comes in; to come face to face with a bad decision and the desire for forgiveness.  A chance to start over without the heavy baggage of sin.  In order for forgiveness to happen, remorse must be truly internally felt with the desire to be wiped clean of the sin and be able to start over.  The desire to be able to start over and get it right the next time.  Just like learning an instrument, it is a conscience decision one makes from their free will.  A God-given gift for a reason.

I need to go to confession.

 
 

 

 

Save our country. Be a saint.

Uncle-Sam

This can be a frustrating and anxious time for Christians in America. The final version of the HHS mandate was issued on Friday. The Supreme Court overturned DOMA and refused to rule on California’s Proposition 8. Here in Minnesota, wedding vendors are starting to advertise to same-sex couples as the date for the legalization of same-sex “marriage” approaches.

Last year, I prayed and fasted and wrote letters to the editor supporting a marriage amendment. I voted for pro-family candidates. I have discussed these issues on others’ blogs and on Facebook. It seems to have made no difference. I sometimes feel helpless.

There is one thing we can all do to celebrate this Independence Day, one thing that will make an eternal difference for true freedom. We can give ourselves completely to God.

We have had it easy in the USA for a long time. That era is past. We can cave, we can cry in self-pity, or we can change the world.

America doesn’t need more politicians. America doesn’t need more letters to the editor. America doesn’t need more parades or blog posts or debates.

America needs saints.

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool.

This past week at the Catholic Book Blogger I did an interview with author Dr. Diane Moczar which can be found here. Additionally I posted a review of her great book The Church Under Attack : Five Hundred Years That Split the Church and Scattered the Flock. That review can be found here. I would also like to invite all of you to enter the Weekly Book Giveaway. One copy of Kevin Lowry’s Faith at Work : Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck. Enter Here! 

Books to teach boys virtue

Finding good books for boys as they get older is always a challenge. Lat fall I put together a list of good books for boys aged 10-14 . You will see that the scope of it is limited.  On my blog, I want to introduce you to some of my favorites in more detail. Not all of these are on the list.

A novel-length fairytale
Front CoverThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis are undoubtedly already on your radar screen. The Horse and His Boy is my favorite, and one of my favorite children’s books of any genre.

It is the story of Shasta, who has been raised by a Calormene fisherman, but is light haired like the people of the north. When he overhears the fisherman negotiating to sell him as a slave to a lord, he runs away, taking the lord’s horse with him. The horse, Bree, is a talking horse from Narnia, eager to escape back to his homeland. Soon Shasta and Bree meet up with a young Calormene lady named Aravis, who is also running away with her Narnian horse. The foursome eventually get caught up in politics, racing to warn Narnia of an impending Calormene attack. And Shasta discovers his surprising, true identity.

The entire Narnia series is perfect for introducing your children to symbolism. Aslan, the great lion who rules Narnia from across the sea, represents Jesus. Shasta symbolizes each of us. We are born in slavery to sin, but freed and made children of the King.

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool

A Call To Be Annoying

In a recent homily by Pope Francis, he called upon Catholics to pray for a specific grace and implore the Holy Spirit for “the grace to be annoying.”  Here is what he said:

“There are backseat Christians, right? Those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and Apostolic zeal. Today we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this Apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church, the grace to go out to the outskirts of life. The Church has so much need of this!…So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord. Onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, ‘take courage!’ ”
I found this quote over at Catholic Vote and had to share it.
Blessings,
Noreen

Trusting God with your future

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Last December, I began a quest to trust God more. It started with my reading The Way of Trust and Love by Jacques Philippe. You can read my original post on St. Therese’s trust here. (I know I link to this post a lot, but that’s because I consider it among my best. Trust is the Lesson from the Carmelite Saints that is changing my life.  If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so.)

Later, I told you how I was focusing on trusting God in the ups and downs of my day during Lent.
More recently, I have worked on entrusting my future to God. This next step began with my reading Diary of a Country Mother by Cindy Montanaro. It’s the journal of a mother reflecting on the life of her young son who has recently died. As I hinted in my review, I have struggled with entrusting my children’s futures to God. I hear of so many parents who have lost a child. Two of my siblings died in childhood. My former roommate’s daughter died at age four.  Some of my readers have blogs about their losses.

Then there are the adults I know who have left the faith. Three people in my immediate family are non-practicing. Most families I know have at least one wayward member. (My husbands’ family is a rare but encouraging exception).

Shortly after finishing Cindy’s book, I picked up Left to Tell: Finding God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Immaculee lost nearly all her family to genocide. Friends and neighbors turned into deadly enemies. Yet, not only did she keep her faith–she was able to forgive the murderers.

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

How to love God more

Simon the Pharisee by Jean Beraud (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

 

Do you ever sit up and listen suddenly during the Sunday homily? That happened to me this week. Instead of the post I was planning, I am writing about Sunday’s Gospel, as I believe the Holy Spirit desires.

You see, for the past several months, I have pictured myself as the Penitent Woman at least once every day, as I pray or seek to overcome temptation. So when the Gospel is about this moving scene, I pay close attention.

I have also lately heard people questioning the need to confess venial sins–both on the internet and in person. The Church only requires us to confess mortal sins, and venial sins can be forgiven in other ways (such as reception of the Eucharist). So why bother to go to Confession for venial sin? (By the way, the Church only requires us to receive the Eucharist once a year too–but would we be satisfied with that bare minimum?)

There are many good answers to this question. I’m going to write about one: Confessing venial sins helps us love God more deeply.

Which comes first–love or forgiveness?
There is a certain mystery surrounding the Penitent Woman, which I believe is part of God’s plan. No one knows her identity. Some say Mary Magdalen, Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery, and the Penitent Woman are all the same person. Others say they are all different. I say, the Penitent Woman is all of us.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.