Review of Image and Likeness

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon Owens

If St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply? Full Quiver Publishing brings you this moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices.

I was gifted an ebook copy of IMAGE AND LIKENESS: LITERARY REFLECTIONS ON THE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY quite a while ago (it launched on 27/10/16 and I have been sadly remiss in keeping to my word) and, to be honest, I finished reading it about a month ago. But I’m so behind on my blog schedule, with all of these half-written pieces, particularly of reviews, that I never got around to sharing it.

There’s something incredibly wholesome about this collection of prose and poetry. Don’t get me wrong: at times, it touches on dark and heavy topics, pertinent for this age we live in, but each piece finished in a way that left me feeling satisfied, even for the short pieces. Yes, the pieces centre around the Theology of the Body—integral to what makes this collection so unique and pleasing to me—but that is not their only or engrossing focus. Some might argue of overly-religious undertones to the idea, but it’s not the feeling you get when you read the pieces themselves. If you’re looking for those kind of tones, you’ll find them here, but if you’re looking for interesting pieces of fiction and poetry and reflection, you’ll also find them here. Just like any other piece of writing, with its themes and ideas.

My personal favourites were No Turning Back by Leslie Lynch, Movements by Michelle Buckman, Nice by Gerard D. Webster.

I definitely recommend this collection of poetry and prose if you’re looking for something different, contemplative with all great, short plots.

You can get IMAGE AND LIKENESS from good retailers, Amazon.com, or straight from Full Quiver Publishing, available in both paperback and Kindle formats.

A Vignette from the Costellos

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just wrote to relax with characters I know.

This was the result.

Victorian Steampunk THE BRASS BEE Pill Case Or Trinket Box http://www.etsy.com/listing/51310832/victorian-steampunk-the-brass-bee-pill:

She’d written three times in as many days.

Gabiee twisted the letter between her finger and thumb until it had rolled into a tube she’d easily hide up her sleeve.

Asif on cue – and an ominous cue at that – the grandfather clock in the atrium struck. She unearthed the chain from around her neck – from it dangled a pocket-watch, battered but carefully strung. A gift from her husband, and from his father to him. Seven exactly. Home-coming, in so many words.

“What is it that gentleman normally say when they return from the town?” echoed a voice through the atrium.

“Friedrich,” she called. They’d recently okayed a renovation of the blue room into the atrium and Gabiee’s voice travelled even when she couldn’t move more than a waddle.

Cara Spousa,” he boomed, storming through the open-plan house as he did.

Gabiee swallowed. A moment later, her husband swanned into the blue room, and Gabiee collapsed onto the chair.  The letter slipped into her silk sleeve.

“You’re home—”

“In time. For once,” he interrupted with more than a hint of condescension.

A smile slipped her over lips. Gabiee coyly murmured. “I was not about to say that.”

His eyes floated across the desk. Papers – his, mostly – lay adrift the desk, with the stray book or two she’d sneaked it when borrowing the firm back of his arm-chair, and curls of parchment. One had been torn, by her own fingers mere minutes ago, and it was the more restless of the papers.

The tear lay like a crack across the wood. He’d notice it.

Gabiee edged closer to her husband, and skimmed a hand over his chest.

“But you are home, sir, and that I appreciate. I was about to give order for dinner, though I might craft of my own a dessert for us. You would like that?”

Their eyes met, strong, piercing, warm. Oh, so warm that Gabiee filled with tingles from her toes to the tips of her ears. Before any thought had even verbally stretched between them, Freidrich leant in. His hot breath, tinged with tobacco, danced over her lips, before it was joined by his tongue and lips. Gabiee stretched onto her tiptoes and kissed him in return. This was almost relief.

The kiss had only left her lips when Freidrich’s expression darkened. His hand scrabbled, searched up and down her arm. Then, he stopped.

Gabiee’s cheeks burnt. She prayed he’d decided she had nothing to hide, rather than that he’d uncovered exactly what it was.

Their fingers met. Gabiee thought he was pulling away—but the rough bristle of parchment between her middle and index finger made her blood freeze for a second. An ache ripplied through her belly, and Gabiee drew her eyes up her husband.

“Gabiee…” His tone had already darkened, his jaw had already hardened. “Give me the letter, wife.”

She squeezed her chubby fingers closer over the slip of a message. He’d prise it from her without any effort – so why did he ask?

Gabiee protested, “It’s not her fau—”

“Damn it, stop defending her. Give me the letter.”

Wilting, Gabiee released the scroll from her fingertips, and folded her arms over her distended belly. He might demand words of her, but he’d never demand anything of her child.

A quick Google search found me an image of Gabiee’s dress. I like it.

As proof of my lack of time, I haven’t actually had the time to finish off this extract, so I will get back to this vignette next week. Have a lovely rest of your weekend. 🙂

7 Truths About Your Baptism

A homily by Fr Stephen Wang.

I’d definitely say that, until recently, I’ve rather taken the fact of my baptism for granted – it’s something that happens and, unlike Jesus (or any adult who is baptised), children baptised in their full innocence don’t understand or even remember that they’re being initiated into the family of God. Regardless of this, they’re blessed by God and are saved from the moment they’re conceived.

Of course, it’s important to remember this, which is why this homily is meaningful to me. Baptism gives even those who have not yet learnt about God the welcome into His arms.

Let us all today give a thought to our baptisms and what they mean to us.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

AlexB_Christmas15

Our dinky Christmas tree, mark 2. This is one of three real trees growing around the house. Last year lost its place as ‘Christmas’ tree when it grew too big for its boots/bucket and now welcomes visitors anytime of the year. This new one is the present tree, garnished with baubles. 🙂

From the synod (5): Despite reservations, the new machinery appears to be working

Thoughts from the Synod of the family so far (via Catholic Voices Comment).

Catholic Voices Comment

synod[From Austen Ivereigh in Rome] Being close to the synod has been like watching a very complex piece of new machinery sputter into life, with many standing around wondering how it is all going to work, a vocal minority complaining that its engineering is skewed, while most are pleased with it, regarding it as making progress despite early stumbles.

As delegates from across the world adjusted to an intense schedule and a radically new format, among some there was grumbling and bewilderment at the task ahead. In some cases there were also strong objections, expressed, for example, in a dubious letter from 13 cardinals revealed today (dubious because it has been disowned by its signatories) to the synod’s new format.

Cardinal Napier Cardinal Napier

It was after the receipt of this letter, or something similar — Cardinal Napier has confirmed to Crux that he signed a letter objecting to the 10-man writing commission — that Pope Francis last…

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Theology of the Body in a Nutshell

It is Natural Family Planning (NFP) awareness week, and writer (and NFP coach) Ellen Gable gives some information about the theology of the body and NFP marriage.

Plot Line and Sinker (Ellen Gable, Author)

NFP Awareness WeekI’ll be posting articles and cartoons this week to celebrate NFP Week!

So why NFP (or Natural Family Planning)? NFP is safe, healthy and effective. Most importantly, it is a morally acceptable way to avoid and achieve pregnancy.

If we look at the four components of God’s love for us (free, total, faithful, fruitful) and compare God’s love to marital love, we can discover how to live the Sacrament of marriage as the ultimate expression of spousal love.

Free: We need to be able love our spouse freely. If we ask for conditions, that’s not love. If we force our spouse to do something, that’s not love. If we cannot say no to our sexual urges, then we are not free.

Total: The love for our spouse must be total. We can’t say, “Well, I’ll give you everything, honey, except for my fertility.” Total means total. (Re: CCC 1643).

Faithful:

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Quick Takes Friday about New Houses, New Story Triumphs, and Newsish

I’m returning this Friday to Seven Quick Takes, hosted by thisainttheLyceum, as I’ve got a bit of time to spare for blogging for once.

seven quick takes friday 2

~1~

I’m off to Scotland tomorrow, woo! Two more weeks of not knowing if I can post on a regular schedule or have the ideas. Seriously, though, I’m looking forward to my holiday and taking a bit of a break from the stress I’ve had recently. I’m still finding writing quite emotionally difficult at the moment.

~2~

For that matter, I’ve had access to WiFi for the last couple of days, but I have to say, I’ve got into the practise of jumping straight into writing, rather than I am hoping to, after this, do some necessary editing to the background of Abney Park. It’s certainly nice to have Spotify at my disposal again. 😉

~3~

It was enjoyable to see The Boyfriend’s family over last weekend. With one of my best friends getting married in November (and me being one of her bridesmaids), lately I have come to remember how important family is – and has always been to me. Before I became a Catholic, I already had a notion that I’ve been called to be a wife and mother and teach others about God and Faith through my example. It’s difficult sometimes – often – but with Family, I don’t feel as much anxiety to share my faith as with, say, the internet or the university community. I feel God’s Love so strongly when interacting with the microcosm of family, and I so want to share in that.

~4~

I’ve spent in total about three weeks at the new house. At the moment, it’s only me and one of the three housemates, and we won’t be resuming our Chapter House Christianity duties until the new academic term starts at the end of September. However, as our tenancy is a July – July one, I thought I’d spend some time ‘acclimatising’ to the place. I love cooking for myself, and my housemate is the epitome of the generous Christian cook. 😉 Her cookies, and other puddings, are delicious.

~5~

I was lucky to escape the Tube strikes by a few days. My trip up North takes me down via London first, and sometimes I think I can deal with the journey, but other times it’s just a slog through so many people, gates, and trainways. So, I am grateful that my recent journeys (minus one, where two trains back were cancelled) haven’t been too delayed.

~6~

I finished my CampNaNoWriMo novella about a Steampunk campus, monster, and MRI machine. I have a lot of favourite extracts, but below is a piece from one of the final chapters where, though the final fight is over, Summer is in despair at what she has lost, and a circus-traveller offers her consolations.

~7~

Taking her eyes from Summer’s for a blinding second, the RingLady removed the medal above her heart, five old cogs wrought into the symbol covering all of the circus banners and here attached to a badge displaying the word RingLady, and turned it down-facing. With short fingernails smudged with cobalt paint, she dug into the medal, into the pentagon of cogs, and lifted out a stone, bright purple in colour with veins of pink tarnished so they were almost silver. It was barely longer than one of Summer’s nails.