Dust Angel, by Jutta Profijt

Krakow-11

Jutta Profijt steps out of her Morgue Draw mode to follow Dusseldorf resident, and account manager Corinna Leyendecker, age thirty-one, as her world collapses about her. Deemed redundant by her advertising agency employer, Corinna successively loses her boyfriend, apartment and social network. Forced aboard the numbing treadmill of job interviews, she discovered an entrepreneurial niche waiting to be filled.

Corinna’s apparent desolation and isolation, as many of the newly unemployed may realize, had freed her of the unrealized oppression of her job, relationship and her self-depreciating attitude. She sought solace, but not refuge in her family. With their support she launched her new career.

The only being to follow Corinna from her previous place of employment was a bright-red haired Troll, one of the “creatives” in the advertising world. She was particularly savvy in campaign strategy and technology. For reasons not immediately apparent, she educates Corinna and directs her through a successful launch of her business. Troll is anything but conventional. Corinna endures several embarrassing situations, but finds that Troll can be trusted, well sort of. If Troll’s “unique” approach to the launch didn’t provide sufficient embarrassment, the author took a few pages from her Morgue Draw sketch book to send Corinna into a major panic.

Jutta Profijt created sympathetic characters and true to form reveals her dedication to detail as she weaves her story through the local geography, social-services system, and business particulars. The author shows how those who seem to lose everything can go back to their roots and regrown new stems. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for any new translations of Jutta Profijt’s work.

Joy: Meditations on the Joyful Heritage of Christianity, by Louis Evely

Tree hydranger September 11, 2013“We can understand Lent…we devote ourselves to penance, compassion and mortification, but how lax we are during the days that follow our sorrow. We do not even know how to rejoice…The day is coming when the Spirit of Truth will breathe upon us, and we do not joyfully await it.”

Louis Evely invites us to prepare for Pentecost by walking The Stations of Joy, meditations on the apparitions of Jesus to his disciples. With great tenderness, patience and affection, Jesus attempted “to awaken his apostles to his joy, to convince them of his resurrection, to transform their sorrows into joy.” The risen Jesus had to “un-set” their minds, open and rekindle their hearts, despite the fact that they barely recognized him.

Mary Magdalene thought that Jesus was the gardener because he had taken on his glorified form. It was only when he called her “Mary” that her heart knew him. He sent her to alert the apostles. “When God revealed himself, he tore every veil…he dazzled, he amazed…” Mary, the patroness of contemplatives was asked to leave her comfort zone and become the apostle to the apostles.

During each station, Jesus had to break through mind-sets and prejudices that prevented the acceptance of his death and eventual ascension, not as losses, but as reasons for hope and joy. The Disciples of Emmaus marveled at his hopeful words, but they couldn’t recognize him until the intimacy of the table and the breaking of the bread. They spontaneously shared the good news with the apostles.

Peter, filled with guilt, was ready to return to fishing, to walk away from his calling. He recognized Jesus preparing breakfast. He jumped into the water to meet Jesus and admitted his love. Forgiven, Peter accepted his vocation as the “fisher of men.”

Thomas doubted, standing in for the skeptics among us, in order to convince us of our reasons for joy. Why do we doubt? Why do we decline the invitation to joy?

Paul never doubted. As Saul, he viewed Jesus as an “absurd imposter,” a heretic. As a Pharisee, he scrupulously observed every aspect of the law, yet upon his conversion, he proved the most innovative and energetic of the apostles. He had seen Jesus and his disciples as an evil, until Jesus personally intervened, sending Paul to embrace the Gentiles, including us.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, mother of the apostles, our mother, mother of sorrows but also mother most joyful, knew that in spite of everything there was, and she was, a cause for our joy.

The Ascension: Jesus disappeared; he did not depart from us. He can be seen through the eyes of faith. Those who see him through faith, receive joy. Joy is a measure of faith. Joy leads us to the apostolate.

Let Louis Evely help you prepare for Pentecost. Each page of this short book will provoke the reader with Evely’s unique perspectives on the Season of Joy. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, your heart may burn within you. Be joyful. Open yourself to the Holy Spirit.

Saint Magnus, The Last Viking, by Susan Peek

Susan Peek invites her readers to meet Saint Magnus, one of her friends in high places. Although he lived 950 years ago, he speaks, through his heroic example, to modern readers on the most fundamental of current problems.

Standard definitions tell us that Vikings were pirates, plunderers, and raiders known for their use of the sword and axe to conquer land from Scandinavia to Normandy, subjugating many island in between. Saints, on the other hand, are persons of exceptional holiness recognized by the Church through the process of canonization. How then might a person of great holiness, virtue and benevolence also claim the title, Viking?

Magnus belonged to the family of the Chieftain or Jarl (Earl) of the Orkney Islands, located south of the Shetland Islands, west of Norway and north of Scotland. While raised in a warrior culture, it was not his military prowess in which he demonstrated his heroic virtue. His greatest challenges included external hostilities and betrayal within his own family. As a devout Christian, he forgave even his most despicable and treacherous enemies, for their sake and for the sake of his friends and family. He challenged Christians of all generations to pray for and forgive their persecutors and those who debase even the most sacred trusts and the most fundamental human values.

Susan Peek recreated daily life in the Orkney Island circa 1065— the farming communities, the governmental process and the personal profiles of the ruling family. An attempt by the dying Jarl to insure stability led to tragic consequences. The author brings the reader along for daring rescues, pitched battles among blood-splattered swordsmen, sea voyages and the horrors of imprisonment.

She explored the Dark Ages with its horrors including the agony of surrender, and the realization that the defeated warriors may die of their wounds or worse. They could only watch helplessly as their women and children fell under the power of their merciless enemy. The author analysed the psychology of revenge among those who lust for power, wealth and pleasure and the inevitable clash between Christian and pagan worldviews.

The light of St. Magnus serves as a beacon in this sea of darkness. His gentleness and mercy won the lasting respect of some of those who took up arms against him. He repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to seek peace and spare his enemies with no thought for personal gain and usually at a great personal cost. The power of Providence repeatedly saved him from certain destruction so that he could complete his crowning achievement for the sake of his family and the entire Orkney community.

Susan Peek clearly loves Saint Magnus and after reading about The Last Viking, chances are that your will love him too.

Take away lessons and applications:

  • The Year of Mercy – Beginning on 8 December 2015, the church will celebrate a year in which the gates of mercy will swing open. Mercy comes to the merciful. Saint Magnus exemplifies a truly Christ-like mercy that will challenge everyone who may hold a grudge, even against the most despicable person or group they know.
  • Sainthood runs in families – Saint Magnus is not alone among the members of his extended family when it comes to canonization. Think of all the other examples families with two or more saints. For instance, the cause of canonization for Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of St. Thérèse represent a recent example of how a strong family life leads to sanctity. How many others can you name?
  • Geography and History – Susan Peek serves as tour guide to the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, and neighboring Scotland and Norway all the way down to Wales and Ulster. I kept a map of the United Kingdom next to my copy of St. Magnus, so I could follow his many adventures and voyages. St. Magnus will leave you better informed about this important part of the world and its history.