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What a day. Nothing extraordinary on the surface, but looking back it’s had quite a collection of special moments.
Like the priest at Mass today (yesterday, now. :)) Oh my, it was funny! The church, you see, is shaped in the round, with the pulpit in the sanctuary in the center. So, there young Father is, all fired up on the solemnity of the Assumption (a great Catholic feast), preaching, as my mom put it, with the fire and brimstone of a Protestant preacher and the clear teaching and doctrine of the best pope.
And he’s spinning ‘round. Oh my, I wish you could’ve seen him, doing a 360° turn in the pulpit, catching the eye of every person in the church. There was something so indescribably funny about it. I definitely need to file that memory away for use for some character at some point. (Corbin, anyone? :))
Then there was the visit with Mary. She’s an elderly friend of mine, currently residing in an assisted living facility while recovering from some health problems.
Folks, if I could, I’d drag each and every one of you to see her. Such a character! Just imagine, an old-fashioned, no-nonsense nurse with a heart of gold, a wicked Irish sense of humor, and an unswerving devotion to her Catholic Faith.
When my mom and I arrived to visit Mary today, she was picking out the music for her funeral. Okay, that sounds absolutely morbid, doesn’t it? But it’s not.
It’s hard to grasp in today’s world. A sense of God and His Presence among us has mostly disappeared from the public square. People try to relegate religion to private life. They don’t want to talk about it.
But if you don’t have God, what’s the point of morality, laws, etc.? Why shouldn’t I go murder someone if there are no eternal conseqences, no final judgment, no Heaven and Hell?
It doesn’t work.
But if God does exist, if one does believe that we’re called to know, love, and serve Him in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in Heaven…well, that certainly changes the picture.
This (among other things) is what makes Catholicism so delightful and fascinating. Heaven and Hell. Redemptive suffering (i.e. there’s a point to all the pain and misery we suffer in this life). Death. It’s not the end, merely the gateway into eternal life and the joy of being with God forever if one’s been faithful to Him.
It gets better than that, though. Perhaps you’ve heard or read about the recent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. The circumstances are fishy, but I won’t get into that. One thing that I think we can all agree on, however, is that he wasn’t an honorable man.
Now today Mary told me a story about a priest who was preaching recently to her parish congregation. You know what he did? He asked them to raise their hands if they were praying for the repose of Epstein’s soul.
From what Mary said, not many hands went up. And boy did the priest get the parishioners on that. Father said he’d been praying daily for Epstein and that they should too. Because, if they didn’t, that meant they’d already written Epstein off, assuming he was a hopeless case, unable to be saved.
(Side note – If you don’t know about the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, you might want to look it up. That, and the sacrament of Confession. Basically, Catholics don’t believe in the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. We believe you have to struggle to be faithful to God up until death. Not until that moment, is your will firmly fixed as to whether you’ll choose God and His Will or not.)
Now you won’t find me making any excuses for Epstein. His behavior was atrocious. But—as Mary reminded me—one doesn’t know what the man suffered. Perhaps he was abused, perhaps no one ever taught him basic morals, perhaps he was messed up mentally. No one knows.
The fact is, God does desire everyone’s salvation. He’ll do everything in His Power to bring it about. And He does win battles despite all odds. Only check out this magnificent, bone-chilling story about Rudolf Höss. He was the former German commandment of Auschwitz, the most infamous concentration camp where about 3 million people died, 2.5 million of them executed and exterminated by gassing and burning.
I don’t know about you, but that makes Epstein’s crimes seem light to me. And yet God didn’t given up. He found a way, as He always will if only one cooperates with Him. Marvelous…
Now that I’ve shared about my day with you, though, let’s move on to what I’m sure you’re all keen to hear about – Book 3. It stands *deep breath* at about a staggering 185,000 words. To give you perspective, Winds of War is about 140,000 words. By the time BT’s finished, I expect it to be close to 200,000 words.
Chapter-wise, I’m down to six left to write. Writing-wise, things are slow, but better. For a while, I was stuck, tired, meandering, burned out, whatever. After an on-again, off-again break, though, I’m back to work.
I’ve also learned a valuable lesson, namely, that I need to keep the story running in my head throughout the day. I tend to do this naturally when I’m in the groove, but too often, I’ve become absorbed in other things and not really spent time thinking over the story mentally and just savoring it. It’s sort of like making soup – you have to given it time to simmer for the full flavors to develop. Same thing with writing. You can’t just write. You gotta spend some time just imagining first.
As to the story itself, there are trouble spots (it seems some of the characters would rather remain as flat pancakes…), but overall I’d say it’s in good shape. I’ve been working on the final chapter in the main plot recently, and it’s been such fun, not to mention interesting. It’s certainly not that the grand, happy chapter I’d conceived long ago. The range of emotion is far wider and deeper. And just the little things.
There’s a moment that hearkens right back to Book 2, to a certain meeting in Edward’s study. Then there’s foreshadowing for Book 4, both for the beginning and the end of that book. (Don’t ask me how I get ideas like that, I just do.)
And then there’s Mark. He’s been growing and developing all throughout the book, but here, in the ending, the change in him sort of took me by surprise. It’s perfectly natural and yet, it happened sooner than I’d thought.
It’s late and I must be thinking about bed. I’ll leave you with one more special moment from today.
I was exercising earlier and listening Celtic Woman’s “Mo Ghile Mear” and it practically left me wanting to dance on the treadmill (not recommended). Then it struck me what a lovely theme song this is for Marisa.
Can’t you just see her dancing like a nymph in the forest to this music, her dark curls cascading down her shoulders, her blue eyes all a’sparkle? Or perhaps she’s swirling about in Borin’s Great Hall, Mark watching her with a look of pure delight, while the rest of the company claps in time to the music?
What do you think? 🙂