Thumbelina

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Thumbelina is a phenomenal movie (the only really Disney quality animated movie I’ve found outside the Disney universe), and one I think St. Therese would have enjoyed watching as well. It’s all about loving your littleness and letting Jesus “be your wings” instead of wishing to be big. It also happens to be set in France.

Cornelius comes to her in her loneliness, from a heavenly kingdom far away, and invites her to join his family and become his bride. He gives her his royal ring, which reminds me of the Prodigal Son story, and promises to return to her soon.

Her faith in him does not go untested, though. First she is kidnapped by the toads, who represent the seduction of fame and popularity. She is attracted to this life, but upon learning that it would mean breaking her promise to Cornelius, she ultimately chooses Cornelius and escapes to find her home and her mother (Mary).

Then she is kidnapped by the beetles, representing sexual seduction. They entice her by telling her she is beautiful, but after they have used her she is rejected and feels “ugly”. Healing comes to her when the swallow (the Holy Spirit) reminds her that only Cornelius’s opinion of her matters, and he thinks she is beautiful.

Lastly she is taken captive by the mole, representing excessive preoccupation with wealth and security, and she almost goes with it — especially after being told Cornelius is dead (Good Friday) — but backs out as she realizes nothing should cause her to compromise Love. The brave prince who died seeking to rescue her, who has had nothing else on his mind the whole movie except saving her at all costs, fights off all three rejected suitors as she makes her escape to the warmth of the sun/Son.

The swallow swoops her away to a frozen wasteland that her song of faith reveals to be the Vale of Fairies, and she finally sees Cornelius is alive after all (Easter), then the beauty of spring sets the stage for their royal wedding and the gift of her very own wings (heaven).

This moving story of confidence in the love of our dear Jesus is a must-see, and if you haven’t considered this perspective of the story before, I hope this post enriches your future viewings. Let Jesus be your divine elevator, your “wings”, to the glorious heights of heaven!

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YOU are God’s weapon!

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“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Whence have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand.’ So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” ——–  Job 1:6-12 RSVCE

Here we read the stunning account of God and Satan coming face to face, and what weapon does God pull out to shame His foe? Job! “Have you seen Job? Have you seen how faithful he is? How much he loves Me? Take that, devil!” We can be sure that these words He says of Job, He says of each of His faithful sons and daughters. Read the Scripture again, and this time fill in Job’s name with your own.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Whence have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant _____, that there is none like him/her on the earth, a blameless and upright man/woman, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does _____ fear God for nought? Hast Thou not put a hedge about him/her and his/her house and all that he/she has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his/her hands, and his/her possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Thy hand now, and touch all that he/she has, and he/she will curse Thee to Thy face.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he/she has is in your power; only upon himself/herself do not put forth your hand.’ So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.”

How encouraging and touching to think that when God faces His enemy, it is you and I invokes to defeat him. We are the sword in God’s hand. Our faithfulness, our love, our virtue, our resistance of temptation, our endurance of earthly trials, is what God is bragging about right now as He battles with the enemy. “Have you seen _____? Have you seen how faithful he/she is? How much he/she loves Me? Take that, devil!”

How warm and thankful our hearts should be as we consider God’s love of us! We are what He thinks of in the face of battle! WE are His “Take that, devil!”! YOU are God’s most trusted weapon!

This should also be our courage and motivation in hardship. If you are familiar with the rest of Job’s story, you know that the devil proceeds to test Job with poverty and loss, then with suffering and loneliness — all in an effort to get Job to curse God and take away the boast God makes. Job passes each test, not always cheerfully, but he passes and God continues to boast to His enemy: “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.” When crosses, temptations, and tests come to you, think “God is bragging about me right now! I am His pride and His joy and so I must continue to be! Blessed be the name of the Lord!” Each test we pass, each cross we bear, — even if not perfectly — makes us God’s boast and His weapon against the devil. We think of our prayers and good works and our penances as our most important weapons in the spiritual battle, and they are powerful weapons, but the first weapon — God’s weapon — is your very self, your very soul — not what you do you or what you say, but YOU!

If you’re one of those pious souls like St. Therese who looks at the martyrs with envy and says “I wish I had the chance they did to prove my love for God by not denying Him even in the face of death.”, know that you are already a martyr each day and all day. The devil can’t stand to see a faithful soul, is constantly doing everything he can to make you leave the state of grace and “curse God”, and it is not an easy test — just look at all the unfaithful souls or souls who were once faithful but then turned away from the practice of the Faith. Praise God for every trial and say with Job “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”. For every moment you remain in God’s grace (or come back to Him when you fall), even if the tests at that time seem easy, You are giving God His bragging rights over the devil! You are God’s immortal weapon! Your refusal to curse God and die, your “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” in every moment of your life as a faithful Catholic carries the same power as that great moment when the martyrs chose eternal life over earthly life. In a sense, this living martyrdom of staying faithful in the world is harder than having to leave the world because the final trial only has to be passed once and life’s trials must be repeatedly passed in spite of exhaustion and lack of spiritual consolation. The Lord is proud of you! The Lord is bragging about you! Always remember this, and bless Him in good times and bad. Stay faithful, and feel the Lord’s smile and song upon you! You are precious in His eyes!

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Spiritual Communion “Service” for those unable to make it to Mass

(Note: Frequent Spiritual Communion is recommended even for the most frequent Mass-goers. See my other post on the subject.)

(Doesn’t fulfill obligation for Mass.)

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  • Hymn or song of faith. Ideas here.
  • Make the Sign of the Cross.
  • Glory Be or prayer to saint of the day. Helpful resource here.
  • Act of Contrition: O my God, I am heartily sorry for
    having offended you, and I detest
    all my sins, because of Your just
    punishments, but most of all because
    they offend You, my God, who are
    all-good and deserving of all my love.
    I firmly resolve, with the help of
    Your grace, to sin no more and to
    avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen. (Bless yourself with Holy Water if you have any. The devout use of sacramentals remits venial sins.) 
  • Sing the Gloria when appropriate.
  • Mass readings of the day. 
  • 10-15 min. meditation or spiritual reading.
  • Recite the Creed when appropriate.
  • Three Hail Marys or a moment of silent prayer for the Church and the intentions of the Holy Father. 
  • Moment of meditation on the mystery of the Eucharist. (or Divine Mercy chaplet) “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over, took bread, and, after He had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is My Body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My Blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” — 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NABRE.
  • Our Father, Who art in heaven,
    Hallowed be Thy Name.
    Thy Kingdom come.
    Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil. Amen. 
  • My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. (pause) As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You. Amen. 
  • Glory be to the Father,
    and to the Son,
    and to the Holy Spirit.
    As it was in the beginning,
    is now,
    and ever shall be,
    world without end.
    Amen.
  • Make the Sign of the Cross. 
  • Hymn or song of faith.

(for short version, say only the parts in bold.)

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The Creed of St. Cecilia

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As St. Cecilia lay dying, after giving her life for the Gospel, she made one last proclamation of faith. Outstretching her middle, index and thumb fingers, she declared her belief in the three Persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Folding down her ring and little fingers, she gave testimony to the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ’s Divine and Human natures. This moment is captured and preserved on the life-size that tops her tomb in Rome today.

The Catholic Church is indeed a Church of trend setters. Whether you’re looking for an alternative hand gesture for your favorite rock concert, or assigning a signature move to a Christian superhero in your story, you can give thanks to God for this little bit of inspiration from the very special St. Cecilia. Thank you God!

To read St. Cecilia’s story, click here.

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The Distress of Deep Love

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Read John 21:15-17.

Many people have many different theories about the meaning of this story and why St. Peter was distressed by the third “I love You!”. Some will assume it was simply annoyance over the repetition of Jesus’ question, some will say it was guilt over his three denials last week, and some will go into this deeply theological discussion of agape vs. phileo and say St. Peter wasn’t ready to love very deeply yet. These theories could be true, possibly. (I would say though, that it would be mean for us to assume St. Peter wasn’t an agape disciple just because he didn’t pass the test on Good Friday. He made very clear at the last supper he was prepared in his heart to die for Jesus, and we shouldn’t think he was only boasting just because he was overcome by a very human fear and the weakness of his flesh couldn’t keep up with the willingness of his spirit. St. Paul went through the same dilemma every day according to Romans 7:15-20 and no one can deny the depth of his love.)

I have another theory, based more on personal experience than scholarly research. I have noticed a distress in my own soul that reflects the intensity of my love for such a perfect Jesus rather than a weakness in it. When I say “I love You!” to Jesus over and over and over and try to “prove it” in my actions, there is a certain pain of longing, desperation, sense of helplessness? It’s hard to describe, but it’s like I can’t say those three words enough, can’t prove it enough, can’t perfect myself enough, to give Him the me I want to present Him or to get through to Him just how much I care, just how deep the love in my heart goes. You see something kind of similar in the out of control extravagance of the birthday party Elsa throws Anna in Frozen Fever because she’s overwhelmed with the preciously heavy weight of love she carries for her sister. Three words that don’t seem adequate to describe how you feel, but they’re all you can say, so you say them with almost a groaning in your soul as frequently a broken record. What else can you do? What else can you say? It’s never enough. You can never quite fully explain or prove it, because it’s too deep, so deep that you’re afraid even God doesn’t get it. You can’t quite hear Him assure you that He realizes as loudly and clearly as you’re trying to make Him realize: thus the distress of deep love. At the end of the day, though, you have to make an act of faith for the sake of your soul and your sanity and say with St. Peter: “Lord, You know all things. Therefore, in Your Divine Omniscience, I must believe that You somehow know just how much I love You and just how deep and intense that love is. Even though I will never be satisfied with my expression or fulfillment of this love, I must have faith that You know it anyway.”

I probably sounds a little weird, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows this feeling. I think St. Peter was one of these souls and I believe the other souls out there like this will understand what I’m trying to say here. I have a whole new respect for St. Peter now in light of this, and it would make sense that this story is found in St. John’s gospel, since he also loved Jesus very intensely. We love You, Jesus, and we know You know now!

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Reasons for Devotion to the Precious Blood

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  1. Ven. Fulton Sheen recommends it as a special defense and offense against devils. “Let me tell you what the most powerful influences are against the demoniac. ….His Precious Blood. We do not have an adequate devotion to the Blood of Christ. But these are the two great arms, the Holy Name of Jesus and invoking the Blood of Christ.”
  2.  It carries all the benefits of devotion to the Passion, since they are essentially the same thing. Meditation on the Passion Virtues Gained Through Meditation on the Passion
  3. It creates a spirit of reparation and penance in the soul, so necessary for the Christian life and the state of today’s world.
  4. It is the secret of our final battle against satan in the last days. “They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb….”
  5. It is the means by which Mary shields our world from the just consequences of our sins.   “I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him forming a cohort of victim souls.….Without attaching too much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.”  —- Our Lady of Akita
  6. We unite ourselves to the most powerful prayer of all: the Mass, by offering in spirit what the Mass offers in Sacrament, which is the Blood of the Lamb of God.
  7. It is a humbling devotion because in it we focus on what God has done for us, rather than what we have done for Him, and acknowledge that it is His sacrifice alone that gives ours value.    “We love because he first loved us.”         —   1 John 4:19    “The Church has always taught that all our penance without Christ’s passion is not worth a pea.” —St. Thomas More

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the Marvel of God’s Grace series by Grace N. Jezek

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Yes there is wordplay going on here. “Marvel” is referring to Marvel Universe and “Grace” is referring to my name. “Agent Nunja of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is still the only fully completed work among these. “Agent DARK of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Team Awesome-Nunja and Heroes Inc. versus Villains Inc.” have been started.

AGENT NUNJA OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Team Awesome-Nunja and Heroes Inc. versus Villains Inc. 

Dr. Prophet: The Exile

Agent DARK of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dr. Prophet and the Marian Alliance vs. the Coven of Beast

Lady-Knight America

Agent Catholic of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Rogers Family vs. the Shmidt Family

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The Fellowship of the Iron Maid

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Jesus and Thor (and the Prodigal Son)

This a post I’ve been planning to write for a long time now. Here it finally is.

Banishment of Thor

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Thor: Thor is banished and exiled to Earth away from Asgard after rebelling against and disrespecting his father Odin.

Prodigal Son: The Prodigal Son leaves home disgracefully after becoming exasperated with life under his father’s rule.

Thor on Earth

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Thor: Thor comes to Earth, stripped of his powers, from the supernatural world of Asgard.

Jesus: Jesus leaves behind the glory of Heaven to walk among us.

Thor’s repentance

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Thor: Thor realizes his selfishness and immaturity after he is told his father is dead, and resolves to make things right.

Prodigal Son: The Prodigal realizes the misery of his situation and decides to ask his father’s forgiveness.

Thor sacrifices himself

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Thor: Thor takes a fatal blow from the Destroyer to spare his girlfriend Jane and her city from the rage of his evil brother Loki.

Jesus: Jesus allows Himself to be crucified to save His Bride the Church and all the world from the tyranny of the devil.

Thor is restored to life by his sacrifice and regains his powers

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Thor: Thor proves himself worthy of the hammer (which has the symbol of the Trinity on it) and its power by his selfless act of heroism and is restored to life and power.

Jesus: Jesus rises from the dead three days after His Passion and reveals the fullness of His glory to the world.

Thor defeats the destroyer in battle

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Thor: Thor’s first act after his resurrection is to wage battle on the destroyer and destroy it.

Jesus: By the power of His Death and Resurrection, Jesus defeats and destroys the power of death.

Thor returns to Asgard and promises Jane to come back for her

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Thor: Thor goes back to Asgard to save his home world and bring Loki to justice, promising Jane to return for her someday soon.

Jesus: Jesus ascends into Heaven forty days after His resurrection and promises to come back soon.

Thor defeats Loki

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Thor: Thor puts a stop to Loki’s evil schemes in a grand final battle.

Jesus: Jesus will crush the head of Satan once and for all at the great battle at the end of the world.

Thor is welcomed by father with open arms and given a grand banquet

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Thor: Thor is reconciled to his father and welcomed with feasting.

Prodigal Son: The Prodigal Son is forgiven by his father with great rejoicing and a magnificent feast is prepared.

Thor is restored to his royal position in Asgard and re-bonds with his father

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Thor: Thor takes his rightful place in the Asgardian royal family and honors his father.

Jesus: Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and glorifies Him forever and ever.

Jane searches for Thor

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Thor: Jane resumes her scientific investigations to search for Thor in anticipation of his promise.

Jesus: The Church, Jesus’ Bride, works and waits in hope of His Second Coming.

character parallels

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Odin — God the Father

Thor — Jesus

Frigga — Mary

Jane — the Church

Heimdall — St. Michael

Lady Sif and the Warriors Three — angels

Asgard — Heaven

Loki — the devil

the Destroyer — death