Confession and the Rosary

The other day, I went to Confession and had an experience I wanted to share with the Catholic Geek audience. The priest was forceful, which is always a mixture of refreshing and startling. Confession is a sacrament of love, but sometimes love means we need a kick in the pants.

In this case, the priest interrupted me, asking “Do you pray the Rosary daily?”

Startled, I responded “No, I–”

“Do you fast daily?”

“No . . .”

“Do you want to go to Hell?”

“No.”

“Recognize that those statements are contradictory.”

I wanted to tell him that I wasn’t ignoring the rosary; I just forget a lot, and wasn’t raised with the idea of a daily ritual. I felt weird with the implication that not praying a daily rosary would mean I would go to Hell. I briefly considered telling him that fasting daily was actually a bad thing, what with my health problems.

But all that would have just been avoiding the issue. Continue reading

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“Welcome to the Fricking Guardians of the Galaxy”

Now that I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 twice, I feel like I can write an accurate review. This is probably the best of all Marvel’s films, despite being the most predictable. I was only half paying attention the first time I saw it, but there still wasn’t a single moment that surprised me. What makes this movie great, however, is the on-point humor and characterization of the Guardians. This review, as all of mine are, will be spoiler free.

Marvel has always been amazing at writing humor, and Guardians of the Galaxy is possibly their best example. Both times I saw the film, I spent the entire two hours (even when the credits were scrolling up the screen at the end) laughing and enjoying the pacing of the dialogue and facial expressions/physical acting.

Nebula-Gamora-Rocket-in-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2

Nebula, Gamora, and Rocket: the three best characters (in my humble opinion)

Despite all the funny moments, the real heart of this film is in dealing with family issues. We know from the first film that Peter Quill’s mother is dead, and his father is some unknown alien from somewhere other than earth. We also know that Gamora and Nebula are estranged sisters who are always at odds. Both are explored in this film. Most of the emotional impact of Quill’s story arc comes from his search for family, and Gamora and Nebula spend this film constantly at odds with Nebula intent on killing her sister.

Family is explored in all its forms. The opening scene shows Peter’s parents, and it continues from there. While the plot is completely predictable, the message of finding one’s family and place in the galaxy is important because it shows how family relationships can shape someone’s outlook on life as a whole. So while there is some language and innuendos (it’s a movie with Rocket Raccoon, so there has to be), it is highly recommended as an enjoyable film that deserves to be seen.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the trailer!

 

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The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright once described her Rachel Griffin books as Fringe meets Narnia in Hogwarts. I don’t see the Fringe, but the Harry Potter is easier to see.

Book one is The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

The plot is ….

Rachel Griffin wants to know everything. As a freshman at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, she has been granted to opportunity to study both mundane and magical subjects. But even her perfect recollection of every book she has ever read does not help her when she finds a strange statue in the forest-a statue of a woman with wings. Nowhere-neither in the arcane tomes of the Wise, nor in the dictionary and encyclopedia of the non-magic-using Unwary-can she find mention of such a creature. What could it be? And why are the statue’s wings missing when she returns?

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel soon realizes that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another, more secret world hiding from everyone-which her perfect recall allows her to remember. Her need to know everything drives her to investigate. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, magical pranks, homework, a Raven said to bring the doom of worlds, love’s first blush, and at least one fire-breathing teacher. Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin!

Imagine end of Harry Potter — you know, where the school is under full assault, things are blowing up, students are fighting, and great beasts are tramping around? — only as the prologue. There’s a dragon, and possession, and hordes of the possessed out to slaughter the school. There’s even an evil math tutor (Moriarty, anyone?). I was expecting a few lines from Maleficent, but not this time.

Rachel Griffen is 13 years old, in Roanoke Academy for magic, in New York. She’s English royalty in a new world, with classmates from all over the world. This alone puts it had and shoulders above the next nearest competitor, which treated America as a nonexistent land in the world of magic.

Continue reading

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The Man in the High Castle: Not Your Average USA

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy Film Reel

One of the classic tropes of time-travel stories is “history changed and the Nazis won”. The fictional multiverse is veritably littered with alternate worlds where the Nazis are in control of the world. Perhaps it’s because there were points at which the scary prospect of Nazi victory in World War II was actually possible, or because of the sheer evil represented by Nazi Germany (or both!), but alternate-history fiction has a sort of fascination with jackboots and swastikas.

While The Man in the High Castle is certainly not the first show to take place at least partially in a Nazi-victory alternate timeline, it also takes a very novel approach by introducing a metaplot that flips the script on most takes: glimpses of an alternate timeline within the story, a timeline where the Nazis didn’t win. This is a story where our world is the alternate timeline.

And, since Season 2 recently came to Amazon Prime, it seems like a good time to review it.

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Legendary: Noir Expansion

Among the infinite number of alternate universes contained in the stories of Marvel Comics, there lies a world set in the dark and forbidding streets of the gangster-dominated 1920s and ’30s, where the heroes, mostly devoid of superpowers, must rely on their wits to survive every twist thrown at them as they try to solve heinous crimes and make their world a safer place. In February, Upper Deck took us for a ride through this world in their latest expansion to Legendary. Pack a rod and watch your back; this is Noir.

 

What’s in this set – 5 heroes, 2 Masterminds, 2 Villain Groups, and 4 Schemes.

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The Liturgy Wars: An Analysis of Pope Francis’s Recent Address

The subject of Sacred Music has come up at least once during the reign of almost every pope in the last century.  Pope St. Pius X started with his motu proprio in 1903.  Pius XI, who doesn’t get as much attention as either his predecessor or his successor, addressed it in 1928 in Divini Cultus.  Pope St. Pius XII probably wrote the most words on the subject, with his Mystici Corporis Christi in 1943; Mediator Dei in 1947; again with Musicae Sacrae in 1955; and again with De Musica et Sacra Liturgica in 1958.

Contrary to popular Fluffy Horde belief, the Second Vatican Council also set down rules for Sacred Music in Chapter Six of Sacrosantcum Concilium in 1963.

Pope Paul VI did the same with Sacram Liturgiam in 1964, and again with Musicam Sacram in 1967.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote a Chirograph on Sacred Music in 2003, on the centenary of Pius X’s motu proprio.

Pope Benedict XVI didn’t write anything on it when he was pope, but he did as Cardinal Ratzinger in 1995.

So, of course, it was only a matter of time before Pope Francis also weighed in on the brouhaha that is Sacred Music in the Catholic Church in modern society.  I’ve already written extensively on the subject here on this blog, so you have a fairly good idea of what is going on with the above mentioned “Liturgy Wars.”  It’s the Fluffy Horde versus the Orthodox Warriors, so to speak, and the fight continues.

Now, though, our current sitting Pope has added his voice to the conflict.  He gave the following address to the participants of the International Conference on Sacred Music that was held just this March.

As a disclaimer: no, I am not going to fisk the pope.

I will repeat:  NO, I AM NOT FISKING THE POPE.

But I will, however, give you my opinion — I say again: my OPINION, which is worth only about two cents in the grand scheme — of his remarks.

So, I’d better not see any shouts of “HERETIC!” in the comments section.  You have been warned.

Continue reading

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Guest Post: Murphy’s Law of Vampires

The following is a guest post from Margot St. Aubin, who can be found on the other side of this shiny and well-crafted link. Her post today is a review of our own Declan Finn’s second vampire-based horror-romance novel, Murphy’s Law of Vampires.

Murphy's Law of VampiresJust when you think you are prepared for vampires— it’s not bleeping vampires but something else entirely.

Students at a San Francisco college are battling for their lives against denizens of the night. Marco arrives to give them an education in more than just snark and medicine. He’s a PA intern with an attitude problem and a strong aptitude for killing vampires. When a demon terror is sent to take him out, will separation from his beloved Amanda coupled with the foggy San Fran scene be more than he can handle?

So how to summarize this properly? If you know nothing about the series, it’s classic vampires done right, with a more action, a healthy dose of Catholicism, and a gasp-worthy subplot of sizzling romance. Reasonably chaste romance it is, but in this case less is definitely more. Declan paints more passion with intense chemistry, light petting, and a well placed email than too many writers manage with full frontal adultery. Continue reading

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