Saturday, March 31, 2012

Past Suspicion

Past Suspicion
-Therese Heckenkamp

I finished reading this last week, and I have to say it was the most exciting book I have read in a long time.

To sum up the plot without giving away too much, Robin is a young, restless 17 year old California girl who has been sent to live with her uncle in Wisconsin after the death of her mother.  She absolutely hates this, and decides to accept her uncle's job offer with the intention of saving up as much money as possible before her 18th birthday, so that she can catch the first plane back to CA.  This little "middle of nowhere" town surprises her, though, after she meets two intriguing young men in her uncle's otherwise quite bookstore.    As she gets to know these two young men, and tries to learn more about her mother from her uncle, she finds herself wrapped up in the middle of a mystery that could have dangerous consequences.  Who should she believe, who can be trusted, and is this little Wisconsin town as safe as it seems?

This book is wonderful for a variety of reasons.  Ms. Heckenkamp has successfully written a book that is both believable and enjoyable.  There are no curse words, no tasteless bedroom scenes, and no nauseatingly perfect or borderline "good guy" characters.  Even though the main female character spends good amounts of time alone with both male characters, I never felt nervous that things were about to go in an inappropriate direction.  Ms. Heckenkamp has managed to not only write an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but also a clean, respectful love story that will have you staying up way too late to finish it.  I highly recommend this first novel by a former home-schooled student for all teens thirteen and up, since some of the emotions and problems might be hard for young children to understand or fully appreciate.

I hope Ms. Heckenkamp will continue her writing, and I look forward to any future novels she may publish.  

May God bless her, and all of her readers.

For any of those interested in buying Past Suspicion, visit for the cheapest paperback version, or for those of you who like to do everything electronically type in "Past Suspicion" at, the first option is the Kindle Edition.

October Baby

octoberbaby.jpg October Baby

My Mom and I drove to a different city to support this movie, and we were not disappointed!  This movie is about a 19 year old girl named Hannah who finds out that all of her medical problems (hip surgeries, asthma, emotional depression) are connected: they are all the product of Hannah's accidental birth, accidental because she survived an abortion.  She strikes out against her parents when she finds out that they have been hiding this fact- that she is an adopted abortion survivor- from her and goes on a road trip to try to find answers.  I do not want to say anything else for fear of ruining the movie, but I would love it if as many people as possible would support this movie while it's still in theaters.  It is extremely pro-life, an amazing story, and will definitely capture the hearts of all who watch it.  

What I liked:
Everything.  The movie touched on all the facets of abortion, from the pain it causes the mother to the horrific way it kills the baby (though this is not shown, it is described without being too graphic).  All of the outfits are modest, the love story is extremely respectful and well-done, and there's even a scene in a Catholic Church with a kindly priest who help set Hannah on the right track.  It's never too preachy, and never has that "low-budget" feeling.

Possible Concerns:
Outside of the fact that this movie does touch on some sensitive areas in a way that might disturb young children, there is nothing wrong with this movie.  Not a single curse word, inappropriate love scene, or suggestive song.

I hope everyone will try to see this incredible movie.  I absolutely loved it, and cannot wait to buy it on DVD.  In a time when so many trashy movies with lust-filled love stories are popular, this is truly a breath of fresh air.  I have a feeling God is going to use this movie to touch minds and hearts in a beautiful way!

May God bless those who made, supported, and participated in this wonderful pro-life film.

What are we holding onto, Sam?

After my somewhat depressing reflection on the horrible state of these times, I've felt the need to post some encouragement for all of those who have been sharing my despair.  Before I continue, I want to thank all those who left such comforting and uplifting comments on my last post, and I would highly recommend that those who haven't read them take the time to, for those comments helped remind me of the great virtue that I had forgotten to keep: the virtue of hope.
Though everything that I wrote about was, and is still, true, we have not been called to a hopeless existence that ends in death.  On the contrary, we have been called to take part in a supernatural battle whose end we know, but must strive to reach.  We- the followers of God, the great soldiers of Christ- are not just pawns on a chess board, being moved thoughtfully but not lovingly.  We are greatly loved by our Creator, and He does not force us to move this way or that, but asks us.  He gently guides us in the right direction, but it is up to us to choose to listen.  The very fact that we exist shows that God has not given up on this world yet.  He wants us to keep fighting; He has called us to meet the Enemy with the armor of God to protect us and the sword of truth to defend us.  We are loved, cherished, and have not been called to suffer without cause.  All of our sufferings, from a simple headache to public persecution, can be offered up for the salvation of ourselves and the world.  The way we face trials and trust through despair are our greatest tools for evangelization.  When Satan tempts us, or when demons rise against us, it is God giving us a chance to do something amazing for Him, to glorify Him in our stand against evil.  Every wound we bear, every temptation we forgo, is God giving us a chance to take one step closer to Heaven.  There is no short-cut; the road to Heaven is not paved with gold and surrounded by flowers, all of those beautiful things must wait until we have succeeded in staying on the narrow path.  If Jesus allowed Himself to be tortured and killed for the likes of us, then we should be able to respond to His call and take up our crosses and follow Him, trusting in His promise to never give us more than we can handle.
In turning all of these things over in my mind, a clip from The Lord of the Rings came to mind (big surprise there).  Poor Frodo is in so much pain, facing so much hardship, and slowly the demon is taking over his mind- not because he's giving in- but because he just has so much to resist.  He looks up at Sam with his dirty face and red eyes and says "I can't do this, Sam." Sam replies: "I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."  Frodo asks: "What are we holding onto, Sam?"  And good, simple, wonderful Sam reminds both him and all of us: "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fighting for." 

May we remember Sam's noble, honest words.  May we never let go of this hope, and this fact that- as long as God is still within the world- there is indeed good worth fighting for.  Please read the comments on the previous post, watch the above clip, look at the Bible verse Ioannes linked to, and look up other verses in the Bible about perseverance.  And, in the words of Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never give up."

May God bless His soldiers, and fill them with the strength to go on, and the hope to look forward to better days.

Frodo and Sam quote copied from

Monday, March 19, 2012

Deep Thoughts for Troubled Times

The Young Martyr - Paul Delaroche -

With the rapid fall of modern society into sin, destruction, and paganism, St. Therese of Lisieux's words about martyrdom, "My heart thrills at the thought of the undreamed-of torments which will be the lot of Christians in the time of the Anti-Christ!", keep resurfacing in my mind.  After reading her autobiography last summer, that line about the "undreamed-of torments" continued to echo in my heart, troubling me as I pondered what those forms of torture might be, and whether or not I would be called to endure any of them.  I used to think that there was no way the end of the world would come in my lifetime; I was certain that I would never live to see my beautiful country become so corrupted that Christ's return seemed like the only means of achieving victory over evil.  Yet, the longer I live and the more I learn, the harder it becomes for me to hold onto that naive assurance.  And, as I read Michael D. O'Brien's Eclipse of the Sun, my concern deepened as many of the horrors described in his pre-Apocalyptic world seemed to be coming true now, in the 21st century.  Instead of gaily singing and shouting like Pippin, I find myself muttering words of warning with Gandalf, reminding the ignorant that "We are sitting in a fortress.  Outside it is getting dark."
If Obama is re-elected for a second Presidential term, I have a horrible feeling that a modern persecution of Christians, more specifically-Catholics, may be an unavoidable part of the not-so-distant future. For now, while he needs the Catholic votes, Obama is acting like he wants to compromise his beliefs with ours, "modifying" his HHS Mandate to appease us.  But, anyone who has been paying attention knows that this attempt to pacify Catholics was merely a joke.  So, when he doesn't need our support, what's to stop him from turning around and renewing his assault on Catholics and our beliefs?  It is obvious that he doesn't share our values, and one cannot help but wonder if there might be some truth behind the claims that he is not a Christian at all, but a Muslim.  If we do indeed have a Muslim man as President, than a violent attack against God's children is inevitable.  In many ways, it has already started.  Almost half a million pro-lifers marching through the streets of our nation's capital are nowhere to be seen on all the major television channels, the handful of priests who act sinfully are plastered all over the news while the millions of strong and holy priests are never acknowledged for their hard work, and conservative leaders who are subjected to harsh punishments for defending the truth are not protected by our government (Michael Savage, the last brave and honest radio host, is banned in Britain and our government is not trying to help him; Andrew Breitbart mysteriously died of a "heart-attack" after announcing he had an old video of Obama that would reveal unfavorable things about his past).  Strange camps claiming to be disaster relief centers, surrounded by barbed wire and fiercely guarded, are springing up across America, and pro-life activists have been officially declared terrorists, who can be legally arrested and thrown in prison thanks to our current governmental administration.  A large line of coincidences?  It's possible, but unfortunately very unlikely.
All of these disturbing events and changes bring me back to my original point.  Has the increasingly threatened freedom of the religious finally been taken away?  Is the prospect of martyrdom really something that is no longer a possiblity?
I hope that this is a huge exaggeration, and that Obama will lose the election and this country will begin to turn around.  Yet, in the face of what is going on today, I cannot help but fall on my knees in fear before God, begging Him to give me the strength to endure whatever end He may call me to undergo.  Dear God, if you were to call me to martyrdom, would I be strong enough to withstand pain and humiliation for You?  With all my heart, I hope I will never find out, but if worst comes to worst, may St. Joan of Arc, my patron, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, one of her "Voices", interceed for me, stand by me, and give me the strength to say with Joan, "I am not afraid, I was born to do this."
And, may Catholics everywhere awake to the serious dangers threatening to destroy us, turn from sin, repent, and renew our fight for life in the face of wrong. 
The victory is already known, for Christ already defeated death, and will triumph in the end.  Yet, the Last Battle (as C.S. Lewis entitled his Chronicles of Narnia book) must still be fought, and may God find us with swords and bows ready, our hearts courageous despite human fear, our spirits willing despite physical weakness, and our trust completely in Him.  And, as always, never give up hope.

"O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?"

1 Cor. 15:55

All links within the text will direct you to older posts on this blog relating to the specific subject, example: the link in the words "Eclipse of the Sun" will open the post where I reviewed that book, etc. 

First quote: The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 162 (TAN books)
Second quote: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 220 (Houghton Mifflin)

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Selena Gomez attending "The 6th Annual Hollywood Style Awards" in Beverly Hills, California on October 10, 2009.

Disney Channel never ceases to disappoint me.  Besides the fact that this channel is targeted at pre-teens who shouldn't be watching shows about teenagers and relationships, the majority of the girls who are associated with the channel end up having an "I'm a woman, not a girl" problem.  They feel that, since they've been on this "kids" channel, they have to prove to the world that, though they may play almost-innocent characters, they are capable of being just as alluring as any actress. 
The most recent Disney star to begin this process is Selena Gomez, a young lady (19 years old) who is the main character in a show called "The Wizards of Waverly Place" and starred in a movie, Monte Carlo, last year and Romona and Beezus the year before, used to be upheld as a great role-model for young girls.  Her clothing choices were modest, her songs pretty harmless, her message a the typical Disney theme: "be yourself".  She said in an interview that she wanted to remain this way; she wanted the parents of young girls to know that anything she sang or starred in would be safe for their girls to listen to or see.  Apparently she is accustomed to wearing a purity ring (I have no idea whether she still is), and seemed to be a sweet girl.  She started off with great intentions and an admirable mission. But lately it's become quite clear that this innocent image is being pushed aside for a more risque look.  This was called to my attention when I noticed her picture on the cover of March's Cosmopolitan magazine.  I could not believe what I saw.  Her top was very immodest, and her face was surrounded by the inappropriate articles featured within the magazine- things that should only be found in adult video stores and not on regular store shelves.  And then I saw a picture of her at the Grammys, again sporting a very low-cut neckline.  I also (unfortunately) saw part of her movie, Monte Carlo; a movie that can be summed up in four words: attitude, immodesty, romance, and egotistical.  This year the young lady gone bad is also coming out with a new perfume, which features a picture of her dripping wet in a seductive black dress.
Now, I know you all do not read my blog for Hollywood gossip, and I apologize if this post has been going in that direction.  But, I feel this is something that America cannot continue to ignore.  Purity and chastity are completely disappearing from this nation.  Young women are pushed to look and act like grown women much too early, and the teen clothing stores do not help, offering spandex pants and miniature skirts for kids just trying to find something that fits them.  Pre-teen stores like Justice promote an early obsession with Disney Channel by selling glittery shirts covered with Hannah Montana and Justin Bieber pictures alongside feminine undergarments that most fourth graders shouldn't be wearing.  And Barbie dolls, though never entirely innocent, now have tattoos, wear fish-net stockings, and mini-shorts.
This country needs a renewed love of purity to spring up within its youth.  But, it's not just going to happen by itself, it has to start at home.  Encourage your daughters or young female friends to read books like Little Women or Anne of Green Gables, watch movies like Annie, The Sound of Music, or the new Veggie Tales movies made specifically for young girls, such as Sweet Pea Beauty (about how true beauty comes from virtue) and The Princess and the Pop-Star (about blooming where God planted you).  Teach them to look up to the great women of the Bible, like Esther (the Veggie Tales movie about her has always been one of my favorites), Susanna, Ruth, the woman described in Psalm 31, Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene, and our Blessed Mother.  When they grow a little older, buy them a purity ring and teach them about the great promise it symbolizes.  Go shopping with them, and help them find modest outfits that showcase their beauty in a way that honors God.  As my Mom always says, "A girl should dress in a way that directs one's attention towards her eyes."  Shield them from channels like Disney and magazines like Teen Vogue or Seventeen, which are just a step away from the trash described in adult magazines. 
And, above all, pray.  Pray for girls like Selena, who started out with such good intentions and were led astray.  Pray that they will re-embrace their old innocence and learn to look to God to find their beauty, and not to the world.  And pray for all the young ladies who are continually led astray by their role-models' bad choices.

May God forgive our nation.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Lord, keep me close to you

"Lord, the more you let me see what I am left to myself, the more you give me the grace to cling to you"

R: Lord, keep me close to you

From Magnificat's Blessing Prayers, Litany of Spiritual Confidence