Monday, September 1, 2014

Interior Mortification

Isn't it funny how, when God wants you to work on a certain virtue, He sends you the most perfect opportunities to do so? We all have things we need to work on, and patience and distraction are two of mine. I do tend to get irritated and impatient for the silliest reasons. I've gotten better over the years, but just when a person thinks he or she has started to master it (or at least gotten a bit better at it!), God says, "No, you need to work a little harder! Here's some practice for you!" Ah...time for interior mortification! Don't you just love being Catholic?

So there I was, arriving early at daily Mass just in time for the group rosary to start. I enjoy saying the rosary in a group setting from time to time, but I definitely prefer to say it solo most of the time. An older gentleman came and sat down behind me. When it was time to start, I knew trouble was brewing within me from the first "Our Father."  This man was one of those people who rush through the prayers before the rest of the group, so that the timing is way off. Instead of a steady cadence where we were all saying the lines at the same time, he would race through the sentence so that he would finish up several beats before the rest of us. When all of us were slowly saying "Holy Mary, mother of God," the man was already a couple of steps ahead of us on "Pray for us sinners..."

I inwardly cringed. This was going to be a loooong rosary. I have noticed that with responses at Mass as well, and it makes me wonder why people do this. It really messes up my concentration and I forget where I am supposed to be: with the rest of the congregation and the priest, or with the man or woman beside me who is in a hurry? Racing through the prayers is not going to have Mass end earlier. This has always puzzled me. Yet, here was a perfect opportunity for me to work on the virtue of patience!

I wondered how I was going to get through this rosary with the patience I knew I was going to need...for five decades. I sent up a silent prayer that I would not be distracted, that I would not be irritated by this gentleman behind me. After all, maybe there was a reason he was racing through it. Maybe he was hard of hearing and couldn't hear the cadence. Maybe he was so wrapped up in the prayer that he wasn't understanding the cadence. I turned to him and he smiled at me. He seemed sort of lonely, and I wondered if his wife had passed away since he was alone. Maybe his rosary intention was for something very dear to his heart, just as mine was.  Then I started to wonder what things I did that others found annoying. I smiled back, feeling bad, and decided that I could accept this minor annoyance. I could offer it up. I could let it sanctify me! We continued to pray the rosary slowly as the man behind me raced ahead, and I found that, surprisingly as the decades progressed, I was becoming calmer, not more irritated! By the end of the rosary, I realized that I had experienced something very profound, and it had come from the Holy Spirit.  Instead of feeling crabby and irritated about the whole thing, I had come to have compassion for the man. After all, he was praying: What was wrong with that?! 

The next time you are tempted by the evil one to be irritated and distracted, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. And be grateful for the opportunity to turn it into something good for your soul!



"Don't say: 'That person gets on my nerves.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.' "

—St. Josemaria Escriva

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Discussion Guide For The Gate Is Here!

Now that I've given up Facebook (see last post), I have had much more time to create the discussion guide for The Gate that I've been promising so many people! Actually, it has been a busy summer with or without the distractions of Facebook, but it's a good excuse!

Teachers, parents, librarians, and book club leaders will hopefully find these questions helpful as they read and discuss The Gate with their groups. They can be used on their own or as a springboard to other questions. There are two versions: one with suggested answers, and one without.  The questions are available free of charge in PDF format by emailing guide@harveyhousepublishing.com.













Saturday, July 12, 2014

Buh-bye, Facebook!

Ahhh...the freedom; the sweet, silent freedom of being gone. So many voices, so many updates, so much stuff I don't need to know! I'm talking about Facebook.  After being on there since 2009, I deleted my account a few days ago. I haven't even missed it.

A year ago, a good friend wanted to sign up and get an account. She asked me what Facebook was like, what to expect. How to explain it? The best answer I could give her was to imagine she was in a room full of people from all facets of her life, past and present. Now take a microphone and talk to the entire room. What would you say to all of these people? That's how it is on Facebook; hundreds of people (some even have over 1,000!) all staring at you, and you have to say something that fits, well, everyone. It was overwhelming, and rightly so. She deleted her account not too long afterward.

Looking back, I can't believe I lasted so long on there. I have to say it was surreal. No status update would be appropriate for every single person on your friends list. There was always something you could write that would offend someone, somewhere. Saw a movie you liked over the weekend? Someone HATED it. Write a slight complaint about summer construction traffic? "How would you like to live in MY town?"

It was quite strange, actually. I'm not sure God meant for our brains to hold so much unimportant information, especially about perfect strangers. The news feed would contain bits of everything: a video of an abused, crying elephant that I couldn't watch because I knew it would make me sad for the next hour. Immoral celebrity gossip about stars I didn't even know or care about. A photo of someone's loved one lying sickly in a hospital bed (that always struck me as odd and very personal for several hundred eyes to see). Families on vacation documenting every gift shop, palm tree, and tourist trap. A plate of eggs, pancakes and sausage—someone's Sunday-morning breakfast. Up-to-the-minute updates of someone's feverish, vomiting child, complete with description. A photo of a takeout cup of coffee and a muffin. A quiz to see what part of the country you should be living in. An announcement that someone was craving bacon. "News" that, it turned out, was actually rumor. No wonder I was forgetting items at the grocery store, misplacing important papers, or forgetting what friends in real life had told me: My brain was, unbeknownst to me, holding bits of information from the Facebook news feed that I was never meant to know in the first place, like the fact that someone had grilled chicken for dinner and it was sooo yummy! Too many bits of inane information cluttering up my brain! The reality is that you can't just scroll down and digest this stuff for a minute; it ends up sticking in your head whether you like it or not! What a brain drain! And even though I tried not to, certainly I was guilty of contributing to it all with my posts as well!

Messages to Facebook "friends" would somehow surprise me by going unanswered, and then these same people would request that I vote for them in a contest. I was too Catholic, or not Catholic enough, in my posts, so I'd get unfriended.  I ended up signing off feeling sad and out of sorts for reasons I couldn't explain. I found that these superficial friendships were stealing my joy, my peace. Sure, there were absolutely lovely people I had connected with. I will miss them and their nice comments and uplifting posts. I made sure to keep their contact information so that we can remain friends and keep in touch. I have met some amazing people, like the young seminarian in Uganda who will be ordained to the priesthood next month. Deacon Larry is an inspiration to me and I am so blessed to have met him through Facebook. Now we correspond through e-mail and I can still celebrate his joy with him. There were Catholic authors who are doing great things for evangelization and were so supportive of each other and of my work. I will miss these people, of course, but if our friendships were meant to be, I believe they will continue even though I am off Facebook. I wish I could see them in person, and perhaps one day God will arrange it.

For a while, Facebook was a blessing. And it can be helpful for keeping in touch with those who live several states, or an ocean, away. But it's nice to be back in real life, with real-life friends. Now I don't know what 684 people I don't even know are having for dinner, or if they've finished ironing shirts, unpacking suitcases, hailed a cab, bought a jar of local jam on vacation, or burned their toast. And that's okay, because maybe some stuff you just really don't need to know on an hour-by-hour basis. Maybe, just maybe, there is such a thing as too much information.

It's much quieter in my world now, and it feels good to have turned off the microphone and left the big auditorium that is Facebook. Now I think I'll pick up the phone and see if a good friend wants to meet with me in real life, for a real cup of coffee, and a real chat. And I'll ask her what she's cooking for dinner, because I really do want to know.


Friday, June 27, 2014

The Gate Wins First Place in Novels from the Catholic Press Association!

I have some exciting news to share: Last week, The Gate won an award from the Catholic Press Association Book Awards: Best Catholic Novel—first place!  When I heard the news, I was filled with delight. I feel very blessed and honored to have won this award, especially being in the company of such fine books by others. My prayer is that the young souls that God loves so very much will be inspired by this story of God's unending love and grace. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Here's what the judges at the Catholic Press Association had to say about The Gate:



"A warm, joyful story of a boy’s journey from self-focused wise guy teetering on the edge of a bad life with no direction,  to a responsible faith-filled life, as the result of his meeting and maturing contacts with an older citizen in a rehabilitation center. It is relaxed reading, smoothly done, funny and friendly, with an attractive message of faith, some mystery, and some surprises.  It has characters that come to life for the reader, gives insight into the teenage mind and milieu, and has powerful lessons about the importance of family, friendship, and faith in our modern world."


—Catholic Press Association




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What Pope Francis Says About Confession: Be Courageous and Go!

“Do not be afraid of Confession! When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free, grand, beautiful, forgiven, candid, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! I would like to ask you —  when was the last time you made your confession?  Two days, two weeks, two years, twenty years, forty years?  And if much time has passed, do not lose another day. Go, the priest will be good. Jesus is there, and Jesus is more benevolent than priests, Jesus receives you, he receives you with so much love. Be courageous and go to Confession!"
(Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb 19, 2014)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wise Words From St. John Bosco

The longer you stay away from Communion, the more your soul will become weak, and in the end you will become dangerously indifferent. 
— St. John Bosco 





Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Feast of Mary, Help of Christians!






Today is the feast of Mary, Help of Christians. Here is a prayer of St. John Bosco to pray today:

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians,
how sweet it is to come to your feet imploring your perpetual help. If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children, how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me? Grant then to me, I implore you, your perpetual help in all my necessities, in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations. I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering. Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners. Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life. Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians, that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven. Amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Best Part Of Being A Writer? This!

I love hearing from you, dear readers!


A while back, I received an email from a girls' book club in North Carolina requesting study guides for Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift. A group of Catholic girls were going to read both books and discuss them. I happily sent Joanne, the leader of the group, the study guides.  (They are available in PDF format, so if you'd like to use them with your class or group, feel free to email me at Nancy@harveyhousepublishing.com).  Afterward, a big envelope came in the mail that included the above thank-you cards, carefully and creatively designed by the girls in the book club. It brought a smile to my face as I read through the notes from Riley, Graceann, Caroline, Sarah, Kylie, and Magdalen.  "Thank you for writing your books," one girl wrote in a card stamped with blue butterflies. "I always enjoy them and talking to my friends about them. I always have a lot to say."

Thank YOU, young ladies, for your thoughtful gesture. God bless you!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is It Spring Yet?

Well, I seem to have been gone a very long time from this blog. Is winter over? Is it spring yet? I guess I've been hibernating under a pile of snow, waking up from a looooooong Michigan winter! Lent's over, it is the Easter season, and we have two new saints to approach for their heavenly intercession. Things have been busy for me and my family over these last months, but my dear readers are never far from my thoughts and prayers. Thank you all for your kind words about my newest novel for pre-teens, The Gate.

One of the things I was blessed to be able to do this winter was to have an interview with the folks at Catholicfiction.net. I had to laugh when I saw the interview the other day online for the first time. It appears as if I haven't seen a movie since the 1984 version of "The Karate Kid." I don't get out to the movies much, but I can promise you that I've seen many movies over the years since then! I had to laugh at that. In reality, at the time of the interview, it was the most recent movie I had seen, popping it into the DVD player with the family. Sandra Casali LewAllen, who illustrates my books with her lovely drawings, texted me and said, "Girlfriend, we need to get you to the movies!" I expect to be teased about this for a long time to come! Ha ha!

The link to the interview is here, and I hope you enjoy it!

http://catholicfiction.net/blog/i-write-for-the-young-souls-god-loves-an-interview-with-catholic-novelist-nancy-carabio-belanger.php

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review: The Gate



"I found The Gate by Nancy Carabio Belanger to exhibit an authentic portrayal of what Jesus Christ intended His Church to be: a hospital for sinners, a sure refuge of reconciliation, a beacon of hope, life and love. It will touch the heart of anyone who is seeking to find meaning in life, at any age, amidst all of the noise we all contend with every day. It challenges readers to examine themselves in light of the virtues which we were all created to embrace, which give us happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction. Read  how the loving hand of God moves and works quietly in our hearts and lives through others to gain our attention in hopes that we acknowledge His tender mercy and perfect plan for our lives. Certainly a book which all Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, should read."

— Paul A. Ray, Catholic speaker and author of A New Voice For A Broken Soul








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