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Conversion Devin Rose Evangelization Guest Posts Perspective from the Head Pope

The Church Lumbers On

The Church’s umpteenth Lent–and my twelfth one–is drawing to a close. The Triduum, followed by the blessedly long season of Easter, approaches. The Church lumbers on.

We said “be seeing you,” to Pope Emeritus Benedict and welcomed, with surprise, Pope Francis. All the media stories, gossip, and conspiracy theories came to naught, and as the spotlight fades from our Catholic Church we are left with two gentle, wise successors of St. Peter. Benedict is beginning to enjoy a long-deserved rest. Pope Francis is facing the daunting task of balancing the world as the servant of the servants of God. But the Holy Spirit is with him, and the Church lumbers on.

The renewal of the liturgy and of sacred music continue (slowly) apace. Many traditionalists in our Church are worried about Pope Francis, but I am not. I have already seen signs of better liturgies and more sacred music, and every young priest that I know reverently celebrates the Mass. And I give credit to the traditionalists for their diligence through all these years in exhorting us to greater fidelity in the liturgy.

Blessedly, thousands upon thousands of new converts are joining the Church in full communion. Their zeal and joy will energize us old-timers and draw many more people to Christ’s Church. Meanwhile, thousands of nominal and cultural Catholics will fall away. Most of the latter never received the truth of the Catholic Faith, and now they will have to walk winding paths through the wilderness before finding their way home again. Hopefully we will have the lanterns burning brightly for them so they can see the way to go, when they are ready. And still the Church lumbers on.

I no longer have any fears or doubts about the promises that Christ made to His Church. I don’t fear that Pope Francis will substantially change dogma. I don’t fear that the Church will go belly up, as so many have predicted would happen for so long. No, the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. And thank God for it, because without that unmovable foundation, I don’t know where I’d be. I only need concern myself with being faithful to the people, duties, and vocation that God has given to me.

As Lent draws to a close, I lumber on, and to my great consolation, the Church lumbers on beside me.

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Books Devin Rose Perspective from the Head

Fantasy’s Disturbing Turn

I love fantasy books. Tolkien, Lewis, Terry Brooks, Eddings, McKiernan, Robert Jordan.

And I’m always looking out for some good new series to read. So I got on my Kindle and downloaded a free sample of Martin’s Game of Thrones. This is the best-selling series that HBO has now even made into TV shows.

Much to my dismay, just a few chapters in, Martin starts using the ugliest profanity to describe vicious and brutal sexual acts. If this is the way he begins the story, I knew that the rest would get even worse. I stopped reading, deleted the sample from my device, and went online to check out the reviews. Sure enough, they describe just how much worse he gets. I won’t go into any details, but it’s disturbing stuff. Stuff people shouldn’t read. Because it is bad for them. Garbage.

This isn’t the first series to try to go this route. The first fantasy series that I ever stopped reading, mid-book, was Terry Goodkind’s Wizards First Rule. It starts with some semi-promising characters and story ideas before devolving into sadistic sexual acts. No thanks.

I guess this is how authors think they’re being “modern” and “real” and “edgy.” But in fact they are just producing works that will leave violent and deforming images in the minds of readers. Instead of creating a world where the true, good, and beautiful can be found, as Tolkien and Lewis so masterly did, in their worlds there is nothing truly good or beautiful.

But there’s a upside to this situation, too. Because of all the base fantasy novels out there, many fans of the genre are starving for something worthy to read. And that need can be filled most powerfully by Catholic and other Christian authors, because our beliefs are true. And people want to read stories that reveal the deep truth in humanity and in existence itself. Catholic authors have largely ceded this field to secular writers, but it need not be so.

I add my voice to the many others that have been calling for a renaissance in fiction-written-by-Christians. Let’s write the next Lord of the Rings and Narnia series. Let’s learn how to tell stories that enrich people’s lives by showing to them the truth of who they are. The world is longing for it. Will we answer the call?

 

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Books Conversion Devin Rose Faith Formation Guest Posts Marriage Matrimony Perspective from the Head Reviews Sacraments Testimonials Vocations

911 for Your Marriage

Greg and Julie Alexander

Is your marriage in trouble? Is it healthy? Either way, I have a book to recommend: Marriage 911 by Greg and Julie Alexander.

I just read this book today and was so inspired by it. The Alexanders have an incredible story of God’s grace bringing their marriage back from the brink of death. Even though I had heard their story years ago from their own lips, I was captivated by reading it in their book.

They chronicle their history together, starting as your “normal” secular couple who cohabitated before getting married, then down the path of destruction that selfishness and the world led them down, before finally seeing God’s outstretched hand and taking it.They pull no punches and discreetly but candidly share the reality of the bad decisions they made leading up to their resurrection.

Along the way, they share the insights they’ve gained into what makes a marriage work. Not only do they have first-hand knowledge from their own marriage, but they also draw on their years of mentoring and counseling other couples whose relationships are in trouble.

After Christ saved their marriage and family, He called them to a unique mission, which became The Alexander House, an apostolate to help people learn God’s plan for marriage. I was amazed when I read about how close their apostolate came to never making it. And how close Julie almost came to not making it, after suffering a shocking heart attack. But I won’t give these great parts away.

Just reading the book made me ask myself how well I have been loving my wife. The Alexanders are right: it’s easy to take your spouse for granted. And even a good marriage, as Katie and I are blessed with, needs constant work and attention to keep it healthy.

The book alternate chapters first from Greg’s perspective, then from Julie’s, making it varied and fun to read.

On a personal note, we got to know Greg and Julie while living in Austin. A kinder and humbler couple you cannot find. I had hoped for their mission’s success and knew of some of the tribulations they were facing. So I was overjoyed when I learned their work was starting to take off, knowing that countless people would be blessed from hearing their story and getting in contact with them.

Whether your marriage is strong or ailing, I can’t recommend their book highly enough.