Eucharist of Divine Love (The Love Project, Day 20)

divine mercyToday’s quote is taken from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (1239).

O living Host, O hidden Jesus. You see the condition of my soul. Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name. I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love but, kneeling at Your feet, I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness. As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place. I trust that the time will come when You will unveil Your countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet face. I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Yourself from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me. In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming. O only Treasure of my heart!

Today’s Love in Action: Print out this little prayer and bring it with you to Mass today. Offer it to the Lord with all your heart. He is waiting to meet you there.

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Milestones: Sarah’s First Communion!

Today is Sarah’s First Communion. I look at her, grinning up at me with that impish grin and chocolate brown eyes, and wonder where the time has gone.

Five years ago — give or take a week or two — we finalized the adoption of our two children. We had them baptized, welcoming them into God’s family as well as our own.

Sarah has been talking about this day for months. The day she gets to wear the beautiful white dress I picked up for the little girl who would one day be my daughter, even before I knew her name. She gets to wear the gloves and hairpiece her Auntie Elizabeth gave her, wishing with all her heart she could be there to celebrate the day, with our family. Above all, talking about the day she wouldn’t have to be satisfied with a blessing, but could receive Jesus Himself in the form of bread and wine.

She’s had to wait two whole years since her brother had his First Communion. At her age, two years is a lifetime.

But now she doesn’t have to wait any longer …

Thank you, heavenly Father, for the unabashed faith and love of this child.
Help me to be the kind of example she needs me to be — today and every day!

CWCO 2009 Thursday: “If You Send an Editor a Query Letter”

cwco_topic3Today is one of my favorite days of CWCO 2009: Real, live editors from Catholic publishing houses all over the country are going to be chatting with aspiring (and, in some cases, previously published) writers. Some writers pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars (I kid you not) for this kind of networking opportunity … and here at CWCO they get it for FREE!!!  (Of course, if an actual CONTRACT results from these discussions, you might want to make a donation of $20 or more to the CWCO coffers and get your a nifty conference e-book!)

In honor of today, I thought I’d dig out this little chestnut to entertain the troops while their waiting nervously for their turn.

 

Have you ever wondered what happens to the hundreds of query letters and proposals you have generated over the course of your writing career? Does some editorial assistant use it to line the bottom of her ferret cage? Do they cast shovels full of unsoliciteds onto the fire at the annual editorial weenie roast?

 

If you’ve ever wondered about this–or are just a fan of the full-circle themes of Laura Numeroff–keep reading. This piece, based loosely on the experiences of some editors I know (many of whom have exceptional assistants), offers a glimpse into the real world of editors everywhere. Enjoy.

If You Send an Editor a Query Letter…
(With thanks to Laura Numeroff.)
(c) 2004 by Heidi Hess Saxton

If you send an editor a query letter, she’ll want an SASE to go with it.

When she sees the SASE, it might remind her that she’s almost out of stamps. She is also low on Diet Coke and Excedrin Migraine. So Ms. Editor loads up her 1993 Toyota Tercel with three large bags of cans–last week’s soda supply–to take to the Piggly Wiggly on her lunch break.

On her way to lunch, Ms. Editor will pass the Fed Ex man, who is carrying a stack of boxes for her: three manuscripts (two of them late) and 260 proposals her cute-but-clueless new assistant requested while Ms. E. was out of the office last week. This reminds her to compose an ad to find Fabio’s successor.

As she faxes ad copy, Ms. E’s eagle-sharp editorial eyes will fall on her day planner: Meeting today at 3:00 with the publisher to discuss next year’s fall lineup. Ms. E. digs production quotes and sales projections for her top six proposals (including your query, which she skimmed with enthusiasm as she guzzled her lunch) out of the mountain of paper in her inbox, getting a paper cut in the process.

The blood reminds her of the last editorial planning meeting, when some hapless editor (never mind who) suggested going to contract again with a talented but unknown writer, whose last book sold so poorly that the warehouse was using remainders as door stops. Ms. E. shudders and combs her pile of proposals for evidence of marketability, leaving frantic messages for you to e-mail her sales figures for your previous books and a copy of your speaking schedule for the following year. While Ms. E. is on the phone, one stressed-out graphics designer and three unhappy authors leave their own frantic messages, on a line to which no one but her mother is supposed to have the number.

Thoughts of her mother will remind Ms. Editor of a manuscript her mother’s hairdresser’s nephew sent for review “when she has a free moment.” Ms. E’s mother has been gently chiding her daughter about it for the past month. It doesn’t seem to matter that the house Ms. E. works for doesn’t publish science fiction, or that the young man couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag. Ms. E. must convince her boss to publish it, or the hairdresser will make Mom look like she’s backed into a weed-wacker for her fiftieth high school reunion. Ms. E. reaches for the Excedrin next to her office clock, and sees it is now 3:05.

Late for the meeting, Ms. E. carries your e-mail between her teeth, proposals in one hand and her Diet Coke in the other, and sprints for the conference room. Her ideas are met with unanimous enthusiasm. Giddy, Ms. E. proposes to give you a six-figure advance and a three-book deal. Someone asks Ms. E. if she’s been sniffing glue.

The glue remark reminds her of the stamp on your SASE, which you so obligingly supplied. Ms. E. uses it to give you good news and bad news: They want to publish your book. But she doesn’t work there anymore. If you want the contract, Ms. E. adds, please send a full proposal and three sample chapters to her colleague, who was smart enough to keep her mouth shut during the previous editorial meeting.

A little surprised, you go ahead and submit the requested material, putting the new editor’s name on the envelope. Four weeks later, you get a form letter from the new-and-even-more-clueless editorial assistant. “Sorry, but we don’t accept unsolicited proposals. Next time you send a SASE… Be sure to send a query letter with it.”

Heidi Hess Saxton is the editorial director of ChristianWord.com, a freelance writing and editing business. She has ten years experience as an in-house editor, most recently as senior editor of a medium-sized CBA publishing house. For permission to reprint, contact Heidi at hsaxton@christianword.com.

Worship in the Shadowlands


July 25, 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most eloquent and (in some circles) controversial of encyclicals, Humanae Vitae. Penned by Pope Paul VI shortly after the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, this letter examined the Church’s ongoing teaching on the purpose of marriage within the natural order of God’s design. Specifically, it upheld the dignity of both men and women, especially within the vocation of marriage, and elevated marital love to nothing less than a sacred act.

This week I will reflect upon several of my favorite passages from this important document, which you may read in its entirety by clicking here. And so we begin …

“Men rightly observe that a conjugal act imposed on one’s partner without regard to his or her condition or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife.” Humane Vitae #13

The other day as I was watching Shadowlands, the love story of C.S. Lewis and his wife Joy Davidson, I was struck by the hospital scene in which Lewis marries Joy, who was fast losing her battle with cancer.

Sitting together on the bed, Joy promises to “love, honor, and obey…” and Lewis vows, “With this ring, I thee wed; with my body, I thee worship…”

Perhaps at no other time have I been so struck by the fact that the sacrament of matrimony in a very real way mirrors — was always intended to reflect, in fact — the union of love that is the very nature of God, as well as the love of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

At that moment in the movie, the meaning of “worship” is distilled with uncommon clarity. “With my body, I thee worship” does not mean, “I will give myself to you because it feels good.” It does not even mean, “I will make you feel as good as can, for as long as I can.”

No, it goes much deeper than that. At the moment he professed his vows, Lewis must have understood that chances were excellent that (due to his wife’s rapidly deteriorating health) they would never consummate their union. Rather, he was consigning himself to a lifetime of suffering alongside his wife, taking her burden as his own. He would take her into his home. Raise her son. And when the time came, he would entrust her back to God having loved her courageously, knowing from the start that it would likely hurt like hell.

And yet, he chose to love … knowing that love is the only thing in this world stronger than death, stronger than hell itself. And in making that choice, C.S. Lewis discovered what it was to be fully human, and learned through experience what up to that time he had known only in theory: the endlessly compassionate and inscrutible love of God. It is a love that does not spare us suffering, but walks alongside us all the way.

What is worship?

For many Christians, this image of worship as sacrificial self-giving too often stops at the church door. Too often “worship” is comprised of songs I like, people I want to be with (most of whom are a lot like me), and the particular spin on the Scriptures that makes me feel good (or at least doesn’t demand too much from me). To worship is to go away “feeling fed.” And if I don’t “experience God” in one church, I’ll either move on to the next church or stop going altogether.

And so they walk away from the sacraments because they don’t “feel” anything, feeding their passions rather than their souls. And the angels weep.

We see it in marriages, too. “With my body, I thee worship” is taken to mean “I’ll make you feel good as long as you appeal to me, and as long as it makes me feel good, too.” No wonder the divorce rates are so high! Women can no longer bring themselves to “submit” … and men have forgotten what it is to “worship.”

I do not say these things lightly. Right now I am struggling to know how to help a friend whose husband is clearly mentally ill. He is hurting her, and hurting their children as well. She was never far from my thoughts as I watched Shadowlands, and saw with fresh clarity the pain that is the “shadow” of love. She is suffering … just as my friend MJ’s grieving husband is suffering. Love does not always feel good … and yet, we are called to love nevertheless. Called to give. Called to hope.

We are called to worship.