Posts

Showing posts with the label Elena Maria Vidal

The Chalice: A Novel

Image
Those who enjoyed Nancy Bilyeau's debut historical novel The Crown will find its sequel The Chalice  even more heart-wrenching and suspenseful. Once again we follow the adventures of former Dominican novice Joanna Stafford as she is torn from her peaceful country life and thrust into the maelstrom of Tudor-era intrigue. Having survived the dissolution of the monasteries, Joanna is trying to start a tapestry business in order to earn her living, when suddenly her wealthy and prominent Courtenay cousins arrive in town. They take her to stay with them in their mysterious old house in London where Joanna soon discovers that people and situations are not always what they seem. To her great discomfiture, it is revealed to Joanna that she is the key figure in a prophecy, a prophecy which pursues her wherever she goes. In the meantime, she struggles to keep her Catholic faith in a hostile environment, as well as deal with temptations of the flesh.

It is not always clear to me what Joanna…

The Myth of Persecution

Image
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.~ from the Te Deum When I wrote to Dr. Moss requesting her latest work The Myth of Persecution, I received a prompt and gracious reply assuring me of a copy. Dr. Moss hoped that I would not see the book as an attack upon the Church. I responded that I did not see the book as an attack on the Church and even if it was, the Church has been through worse. We have nothing to fear from the truth of history.

After reading the book my reply is not altered. It is a well-written book with clear explanations indicative of a skilled teacher. However, I recommend Myth to others with reservations, since in spite of the genuine scholarship which Dr. Moss shares with us, there is a contemporary political slant given to the narrative which clouds the objectivity of how the historical evidence is presented. For instance, my cognitive processes are strained to envision St. Justin Martyr (pp. 109-112) and Glenn Beck (p. 250) as confreres in …

My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints

Image
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. ~Apocalypse 13:10
My Peace I Give You by Dawn Eden is a much-needed spiritual resource for those recovering from any type of physical or emotional suffering brought on by the lust, crassness or cruelty of others. It took a long time to read because I had to stop and take time to ponder and absorb, reading several parts of it over again. Not only is Dawn's book well-written but every contention is backed up by solid references. With modesty and restraint, she confronts a topic uncomfortable to many. The misuse of the gift of life-giving sexuality has scourged multiple lives and institutions, not the least of which is our Holy Catholic Church. Too often amid the scandals, the wounded do not receive the treatment which they need in order to heal. This book, coming from the long and painful recovery of a survivor of abuse, will be a grace for many who are hurting from similar wounds. Hopefully, it will inspire all who read it to take ac…

Wrapped Up: God's Ten Gifts for Women

Wrapped Up by Teresa Tomeo and Cheryl Dickow is a book for quiet reflection, focusing on ten aspects of the spiritual journey, including God's love and forgiveness, a joyful attitude, suffering and the sacraments. Each chapter is divided between the two authors, as Cheryl shares insights about the matriarchs of the Old Testament and Teresa provides data and anecdotes about the struggles faced by contemporary women. Both writers include snippets from their lives and how they have each found deeper peace in their vocations as Catholic women through becoming open to the gifts which God gives.

Teresa comments on the discouragement with which so many women must contend, and which can be an obstacle to having a healthy spiritual life.
In addition to the personal baggage we carry, the other signals constantly received or detected on the private sonar remind us that unless we can feed the family with  a fabulous 'yummo' Rachel Ray dinner in thirty minutes or less, ra…

The Crown

Image
Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel The Crown takes readers on an odyssey through the England of Henry VIII during the bloody period of the dissolution of the monasteries as seen from the point of view of a young Dominican novice. There are many aspects of this extraordinary novel that contemporary Catholics will find that they can relate to, namely the confusion in the Church and the compromises of many of her members to political persecution and social expediency, as well as the heroic stand taken by those with the courage to speak truth to power. In Tudor England, speaking truth to power, or even silently trying to follow one's conscience, often meant dying a hideous death. Young Joanna Stafford finds that in those intense times there is no such thing as spiritual mediocrity; either she must take the high road or face perdition. Joanna is not one to settle for less than heroism anyway, having entered a strict Dominican monastery where she looked forward to an austere…

An Interview with Author Nancy Bilyeau

Image
I recently read a magnificent novel, The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau, which deals  with the fate of some English  Dominican nuns during Henry VIII's "reform." I was delighted and honored when Nancy agreed to be interviewed. I will be reviewing the book as well in a future post. To quote from the book description:
An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . .
EMV: Nancy, welcome! Congratulations on your magnificent novel, The Crown, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was especially impressed by the research that went into making it one of the most authentic novels of the Tudor era that I have ever read.  You bring to life the beauty and peace of the cloister even as it is about to be destroyed. Can you tell us a little about how you began your journey into the past, and where you found the best sources on such a turbulent, controversial epoch?
NB: I’ve been…

Strengthening Your Family

Image
 Through our baptism, we're called to be royal, priestly parents to our children, exercising our God-given authority with kindness and benevolence. When we truly understand the essence of our authority, we can be leaders and nurturers of our children and help them to become the nurturers and leaders of the future.~ from Strengthening Your Family by Marge Fenelon, p.176  I did a lot of babysitting when I was young and became quite proficient at handling other people's children. I wondered at some parents' inability to control their children in church and other public places, since I rarely had any problem getting my little charges to listen to me. There was no doubt in my mind that I would someday be a  model parent with model children, all sitting quietly in the pew with rapt attention. However, when I finally married, God in His wisdom saw fit to send me the most rambunctious little girl ever created, the kind of child who loves to perform in public with comp…

Extreme Makeover

Image
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.~John AdamsWe are in the middle of a war. It is a war which involves every man, woman and child because it is a war not only for our culture but for our souls. The main battlegrounds of this war appear to be the minds and hearts of women because it is women who make or break family life.Once family life is destroyed or corrupted then the state becomes supreme with each and every one of us as its puppets. When women are degraded then the entire society loses it dignity and heroism. Once a people lose their nobility of soul and sense of honor then there is nothing left to them but enslavement. We now waver at the brink but all is not lost for we have women who see things as they are and are not afraid to talk about it.
Journalist and radio talk show host Teresa Tomeo is one such woman who assesses the facts and tel…

Motherhood Matters

Image
In Motherhood Matters, Canadian author Dorothy Pilarski writes with profundity and wit about matters practical and divine. Full of anecdotes and humor, this book makes us take an honest look at the lives of women today, and helps us to focus on what matters most. Has "liberation" truly led to greater happiness for women? Are children to be viewed as commodities, to be acquired just as we acquire a house or car? Or should children be seen as the gifts from God that they are, given to our stewardship? Dorothy makes it clear that until we rectify our confusion about such basic questions then peace of heart will elude us. To quote:
We will find happiness in living out God's purpose for our lives, not our own. The culture of the early twenty-first century makes it easy to follow mistaken paths. The media bombards us with the temptation to fulfill ourselves, to find ourselves, to meet our own needs. It is a message of selfishness. And it is spread constantly. Maga…

The Tea at Trianon Forum

Image
Please visit the new Tea at Trianon Forum. It will be a place to discuss the same topics we discuss on my blog, but in more detail. Anyone can join. On the forum people will be able to introduce topics for discussion. Comments will be posted immediately, without having to wait for me to moderate them. Members will be able to post links and pictures and make block quotes, which is so much easier for trying to get one's point across.

There are three main rules: 1. Be polite. 2. Be polite. 3. Be polite. The forum is for ladies and gentlemen. If you are not a lady or a gentleman then it is not the forum for you. Courtesy must be observed at all times. Members are asked to refrain from personal attacks, sarcasm, slanderous remarks about ANYONE and general snarkiness. While questions and inquiries are welcome, any attacks upon the Catholic Church or the Pope will be deleted immediately. We also ask that our guests stay on topic. Off topic comments will be subject …

Marie-Antoinette and the Carmelite Order

The connection between the Carmelite Order and the Royal House of France originated in the Middle Ages, when St. Louis IX encountered the hermits on Mt. Carmel and brought them to France. When the Discalced Reform came to France from Spain in the early seventeenth century, the royal family assisted the nuns with their patronage. The French court was shaken in 1674 when Louise de la Vallière, the former mistress of Louis XIV, publicly begged the queen's forgiveness and entered a Carmelite monastery. In his book To Quell the Terror, William Bush details the many connections of the later Bourbons with Carmel, particularly the patronage of Queen Marie Lesczynska and her daughter Madame Louise. When Louise herself chose to become a Carmelite nun in 1770, it cemented the spiritual ties between those in the worldliness of Versailles and those in the austerity of the cloister.

Marie-Antoinette of Austria married the Dauphin in the same year that Madame Louise entered the monastery…

Marie-Antoinette's Journey of Faith

Image
I have always felt that Maxime de la Rocheterie's description of Marie-Antoinette is one of the best:
She was not a guilty woman, neither was she a saint; she was an upright, charming woman, a little frivolous, somewhat impulsive, but always pure; she was a queen, at times ardent in her fancies for her favourites and thoughtless in her policy, but proud and full of energy; a thorough woman in her winsome ways and tenderness of heart, until she became a martyr. (The Life of Marie-Antoinette by M. de la Rocheterie, 1893)Marie-Antoinette spent the first fourteen years of her life in Austria, worshiping in Rococo churches and listening to the music of Haydn and the Italian composers. Architecture and music in that time and place celebrated the glory of God in the beauty of His creation. As Queen, her desire to promote beauty around her, especially in the lives of those whom she loved, was an outgrowth of the culture in which she was raised. She loved theater, acting, opera…

Women and Silence

Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church. ~I Corinthians 14: 34This elusive verse, when not totally ignored, is a matter of controversy, as scholars and theologians try to explain it away. St. Paul, not caring a fig for political correctness, past or present, wanted it to be clear that women were not to usurp the functions of priests at the altar. On another level, the spiritual director at our Secular Carmelite meeting said that the verse is not to be seen as a negation of women but as a call, a call to silence, both interior and exterior. It is in the deep silence of the soul that spiritual warfare on behalf of the Church, her ministers and her people, is best waged. Many women have sought a life of prayer and have become prayer warriors, from the earliest days of the…