Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vito Bonafacci: In Search of the Truth

I just saw the trailer to the movie Vito Bonafacci: In Search of the Truth, and I know it's one I must see! I love the fact that it features Italian-Americans, of course, since I am a proud Italian-American myself. Mostly, though, I think this movie asks questions many of us ask, especially in this money-driven world where acquiring as much as you can seems to be the norm. What is our life's purpose? What does God want for us? Here is the synopsis from the official website. And while you're there, take a look at the trailer; the images are stunning. Bravo!

Vito Bonafacci is a successful businessman who enjoys his lifestyle and the riches he has accumulated.

But all that changes when one night he dreams he is having a heart attack. In that dream his mother appears from her grave and pleads with him to abandon his pursuit of greed and materialism. “Beware of the false gods of money, power, status and pleasure” she implores him, and then instructs him to “return to the true path of life”.

When Vito wakes, he is deeply affected by this vision and this leads him on a soul-searching journey to understand his life’s purpose. In a series of encounters with family and friends, he questions and explores the meaning of faith and the role religion plays in tempering one’s soul.

As the echo of his mother’s words fills his thoughts he reaches out to his local priest to begin the renewal of his Catholic faith.

A Reader's Review of Olivia and the Little Way

The very best part of being a writer for children is getting notes from them. They talk about St. Therese, my books, their friends and families, and ideas for future mischief for Olivia. I love my job! But I receive many notes from adults, too. Hilda is a reader of my books, and she is an aspriring author. She is in love with Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, and Saint Therese. I am delighted that she agreed to let me share a review of hers about Olivia and the Little Way.

A Masterpiece!

Nancy Carabio Belanger has created a great artistic work called Olivia and The Little Way. It is a very special and wholesome book that shows a Catholic’s faith and way of living. A good example for children and adults, no matter how old they are.

In a clear, thorough, and easy-to-understand book from beginning to end, Nancy Carabio Belanger, through her narration and characters’ dialogues, shows readers the struggles some Catholics have of maintaining faith and patience, praying and trusting God in these modern, difficult times when faced with certain challenging situations. It is written in a light, positive, and loving way that makes readers love and enjoy reading it as well as learning about faith, simplicity, patience, and about the childlike saint, St. Therese of Lisieux. A great example and encouragement for people who want to be good and love God.

Hilda Leticia Dominguez , Freelance Writer, Poet, and Reviewer


Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

This is what true love looks like.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Savannah, GA

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just Right

The following was written by Barb, a friend of mine who I've known since high school. When I read it on her blog, I was shocked and saddened that someone (no matter how "well-meaning") would make a remark like this in front of a young girl, knowing the dangers of making such an insensitive comment. With it being common knowledge that eating disorders are starting at younger and younger ages as children try to emulate who they see in the movies and TV, it would seem obvious that making observations about the weight of young girls (especially in front of them!) is not appropriate, and can even be damaging to a young child's psyche. Some people might think I am overreacting to a little comment, but the truth is that the photographer's wife gave sweet little Sara something to think about that this smart, healthy, and pretty girl had never even considered before. This proves that it truly does matter what we say and how we treat people. Because she knows that I care about my young readers, Barb gave me permission to post it on my blog. I hope it makes us all think twice about what we say to young girls (and boys) about their weight. Sara is a great kid, and she is just right!

I took Sara to get her First Communion pictures taken last weekend. We were both very excited. Paul straightened her hair. She was wearing her baptismal necklace from Uncle Luis, new sparkly shoes and a big smile. When she changed into her dress and veil, the photographer's wife said "Wow, she is too skinny. Does she eat?"

Yes, my daughter eats, as most people can attest. She eats anything and everything from clam chowder to zucchini. She is 'blessed' with a high metabolism and boundless energy. Her record was 4 helpings of meatloaf in one sitting. In preschool she would eat lunch at school and then again at home. She has no qualms eating her food then zeroing in on the food of those around her. I don't think my father has eaten his entire meal in the last 7 years. Our friends are accustomed to her begging for food at their homes.

Her pediatrician is fine with her weight. She eats very well and takes vitamins. She is a normal healthy little girl who eats like a horse but burns through her energy. We are very careful not to make weight an issue in our house. She knows I enjoy excercising because I like to be healthy. I don't discuss dieting around her.

My daughter is 7 years old. We monitor what she watches and reads. I don't want her developing a complex about her body. We all know how women are portrayed in the media. We hear about girls developing eating disorders earlier and earlier. Later, Sara asked me if she is too skinny. (ironically, this conversation took place at Moe's, where she devoured her lunch) I explained that her body is just fine and the lady didn't mean anything by it. I'm sure she meant no harm but it planted a little seed of doubt in my daughter's head. Kids should be focused on school, friends and family. At 7 years old, they should not be worried about 'being too skinny'. I want my daughter to focus on being a good and happy child, not worry about being skinny or fat.

Sara is a bright, beautiful, caring, funny girl. She loves to read, swim, dance, cook, write and play. I want her to care about who she is on the inside. I want people to notice her for who she is, not what she looks like. To us, she is beautiful inside and out.

Barb's blog is http://barbvelasco.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sadly Seen In Stores: Nasty Notes

It's one of those things that you can't believe you're actually seeing until you see it. A company actually creates and produces these things? And who is the person who is sitting at his or her office desk coming up with these ideas? Is he or she sitting there on a Tuesday morning with a cup of coffee and tapping a pencil against the side of the temple, deep in thought? Then, it comes like a lightbulb: "I know! I'll design notepads in the shape of a murdered body! And how about rubber stamps that tell someone 'screw you! I hate you!' Yeah, that will be GREAT!"

And the sad thing is, it sells. I think we have completely stripped away the great human dignity that God has given us with these items, sadly seen in a bookstore last week:

Is this how low we have sunk? This is humorous? A murdered chalk outline with a bloody pen? Truly?

With stamps like these, don't expect any social invitations. Ah, notice the delightful 'WTF' sticky notes in the background. Charming. Who is going to be the lucky recipient of a "You Suck" stamp on his or her next letter?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Green Coat: A Tale from the Dust Bowl Years book review

It doesn't happen very often, but from time to time I find a book for young people that is so engaging and so powerful that I feel like I have to tell the world! The Green Coat: A Tale from the Dust Bowl Years from fine Catholic publisher Bezalel Books is one of those books. It tells the story of a family who is forced to make some tough choices due to the devastating drought in the Dust Bowl when twelve-year-old Tressa and her older brother must leave their parents and are sent to live temporarily as domestic servants with another family until their parents can send for them again.

Author Rosemary McDunn's main character, twelve-year-old Tressa, is real and engaging; a true role model for young girls as she learns to lean on God during hard times. The descriptions of the treacherous weather conditions in 1930s North Dakota were so real that I felt I was right there with Tressa, battling the heat and drought, as well being inisde the cozy kitchen in the middle of a raging blizzard.

The bravery of this young heroine who was forced to leave her childhood abruptly behind during the Dust Bowl years is remarkable. McDunn's writing talent shines on every page with true-to-life dialogue and exquisite details of the pain and hardship people had to endure during this difficult time in American history.

"I was beginning to understand with tremendous clarity that success in life comes from the ability to accept change," says young Tressa. A poignant sentiment, and one for all ages.

I highly recommend this novel for classrooms and libraries, and encourage educators to consider this fine work of historical fiction for their students. There are even lessons in the back of the book for teachers and parents.

Well done!
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