In which my cynicism astounds even me January 23, 2013Posted by philangelus in angels, religion, sarcasm.
Tags: advertising, app, cynicism, marketing, rosary
Yesterday I followed a Twitter link to a survey about the rosary. It began normally enough (age, gender) and then started asking whether I’d ever used a rosary aide.
The only “rosary aides” I own are rosaries (about eleven or twelve million at last count) and one audio rosary I got free in the back of the church (well, free with a three dollar donation, but I can’t wrap my head around that so I try to think of the donation as an entirely separate action from the receipt of the CD.)
The CD is a recording of six people in a room saying the rosary, and its purpose is so I don’t drive into a tree while fumbling with beads and contemplating the Scourging At The Pillar.
The first batch of heavy-duty questions asked whether I’d ever used an audio rosary with music and meditations. Um, no, sorry. I have books of meditations if I want them, and I also have this thing called a brain, which is full of meditations of its own and is sometimes receptive to ideas God wants to give me. Sometimes. Occasionally. Well, even a stone warms up if you sit on it for five years.
Regardless, I have something called “limited time” which means a 20-minute prayer should not take 45 minutes, or else I’d never do it and then my guardian angel would be forced to wake me up in the middle of the night again to make me finish. This isn’t good for my spiritual development for several reasons, the primary one that I’m not a nice person, even less so when someone wakes me up in the middle of the night for anything other than “I’m only two months old and I’m starving to death.” We’re supposed to respect angels as higher-order beings, and “So finish it yourself if it’s that important” isn’t exactly respectful.
We reached the survey’s true agenda: how much would you pay for a smartphone app that would assist your rosary-prayers? This even after I’d noted that a) I don’t own a smartphone and therefore b) I’d never purchased any apps for the smartphone I don’t own and c) No, I probably won’t be spending more than ten dollars apiece on the apps I’m not going to purchase for the smartphone I don’t own.
Penultimate question: If you believed an app would forward your spiritual life and bring you closer to God, how much would you pay for it?
I answered $5.
Final question, and I’m not making this up (although I’m paraphrasing because the question itself was about 300 words long): Some people think if they under-report their spending on these surveys, the products will be priced lower. So please be honest: if you really, honestly, truly believed that an app would bring you closer to Heaven and impact your eternal soul’s eternal destination and more closely unite your soul to God’s vision for your life, how much would you spend on it?
Once again, I answered $5.
That’s when I realized just how cynical I’d become. Because I know there’s nothing more valuable than growing closer to God. For one young man, the cost was selling everything he had and giving it away. And here I’m saying I’d spend about as much as I pay in library fines.
I’ve been exposed to so much advertising and experienced so many false promises about products, that even in theory, I couldn’t imagine this product actually delivering.
The more insignificant the product, the more outlandish the claims. So this lipstick will turn you into Miss America, and that diet snack bar will burn calories and lengthen your life by ten years. I’m more likely to trust a McDonalds ad saying “This food will taste okay and stop you from feeling hungry for three hours” than “Enjoy our juciest burger yet — two pounds of pure angus heaven!”
So if you claim your app is going to bring me closer to God, I’m going to react as if you told me your shoes will improve my marriage. The minute you say your app will advance my spiritual development and help unite my soul to the Almighty Triune God, my innate cynicism kicks in: “Yeah, your app is worth about five bucks.” Because even in fantasyland, I can’t imagine a product doing what it’s supposed to.
And that’s beside the point that really, an app can’t do that. Prayer and grace? Sure. But an app? A freaking app…? Oops, my cynicism is showing again.
Anyhow, thank you Advertisers for saving me a ton of money. If anyone needs me or my spare change, I’ll be the one with the string of beads.
Feast of the guardian angels! And a story. October 2, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels.
Tags: angels, clocks, guardian angel, guardian angels, humor, time
While I’m waiting on the timer for a cake for the family guardian angels (lemon cake! Kiddo4 is convinced it’s a birthday cake) here’s a story about angels and time. Or rather, two stories.
While in high school, my mom had a friend who needed to awaken early to finish her homework. My mom’s friend figured she needed to get up at 5:15 to get it all done.
This is an old trick, and I’ve done it too: you ask your guardian angel to get you out of bed at a certain time, and really…it works. It’s even worked when I haven’t asked for help (like the time I woke up with seven minutes until I needed to be out of the house to go to high school) but in general, when you ask for a wake-up call, guardian angels seem to do it. So my mom’s friend asked her guardian angel to get her up at a quarter after five.
She awakened like a gunshot at 3:25 AM, ready to do homework.
After a little confused staring at the clock, my mom’s friend came to an awful realization: her guardian angel had mixed up the clock hands.
(Turn it around in your head: analog clock, big hand on the five, little hand on the three instead of the big hand on the three and the little hand on the five.)
I love that story, and I laugh like crazy when telling it because it’s just so cute. I think it’s funny because only God is perfect, so when a creature five to ten times smarter than I am messes up something like clock hands, it’s a little comforting. It makes them a lot more “reachable” in my head. Plus, when things go right you can wonder if you made it up, but on the really rare occasions when things go wrong, I feel like we “caught” the angel in a genuine moment, like it’s really real, because if you were just making it all up in your head, you’d make it work perfectly every time.
So one day I told this story, and folks laughed, and it was fun. But you see, angels aren’t the only ones who are subject to bad timing, because the next night after I told that story, I asked my guardian angel to make sure I got out of bed by 6:35 AM.
And like my mom’s friend, like a gunshot I awoke at 3:56.
I got a glance at the clock, and so help me, I heard in my head, “Ha-ha. I can’t tell time.”
I snapped, “Very funny,” and then I think he was really laughing. I fell right back to sleep afterward. And then at 6:35, I felt prompted again: this was really the right time, and I’d better get the day started.
And the cake is done! (See, great timing!) Should I frost it?
angels and prayer October 1, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels, kiddos, religion.
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In honor of tomorrow’s feast of guardian angels, today I’m going to give you another one of my “this was an angel…maybe” stories.
A month ago, I started thinking about how one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is “hunger for prayer.” I didn’t know that six or seven years ago when one day I just suddenly felt hungry for prayer. It sounds odd, but that was the only way I could describe it then, in the moment. I actually used those words, that I felt hungry for prayer. Specifically, I felt hungry for the rosary, so I did pray one later that day, and my intention for that rosary was to pray it again the next day. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
I found this list with “hunger for prayer” as something the Holy Spirit gives you, and I began to wonder about way-back-then, and finally I said to my guardian angel, “You mean you could just pray for something like that for me, and God might have given it to you?”
Because it just seemed so odd to me, and yet it makes sense that our desire to reach out to God is itself a gift from God.
I didn’t really think about it again after saying that. It’s not as if I know how God thinks, after all.
A week later, I was praying for a woman whose baby has the same condition Emily had. Kiddo#2 sat beside me and saw something I’d posted online to her, and she asked why the **hugs**. I explained about this woman’s baby being sick, and Kiddo#2 was sad for her as well.
Later that night, I had just started praying when she came into the room, and of course all the cats were around me. (We’ve covered that before.) She said, “You’re like the cat woman,” and I said, “If you get out your rosary, they’ll come to you too.” So she did, and they didn’t come. I said, “Well, stay and pray with me,” and…she did.
The next day, she asked if she could pray the rosary with me again for that woman’s baby, and Kiddo#3 said, “Can I pray it too?”
And Kiddo#4 (he’s four years old) asked if he could join us as well.
The next day was Sunday, and Kiddo#4 decided for some reason that after Mass, we were going to buy him a rosary. Fortunately I’d been at a local collectible crap store recently and found they were selling “rosary necklaces,” so I rescued one and now Kiddo#4 has his own multicolored rosary.
Like I said, odd. And they keep wanting to pray it with me. Today the four year old asked me if he could pray the rosary with me, cuddled up in the living room.
So what’s going on? Did my guardian angel take my question as a challenge and ask for hunger for prayer as a gift for my children?
A little devotion to the angels September 29, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels, religion.
Okay, so a page from the Philangelus Family History File. I’ve mentioned before that I like to make a fuss over the angels when they have a feast day, so I make a feast (usually a lasagna) and a cake, and sometimes when I was ambitious I’ve had the kids make a craft.
My Patient Husband will come home and if he sees a lasagna or eggplant parmigiana, will look at the calendar to see whose feast day it is. (Sometimes it’s the Feast Day Of Eggplant Being On Sale, but he doesn’t mind celebrating that either.)
For feast days, we have September 29th (Michaelmas) and October 2nd (feast of the guardian angels.) But we also have the feast days that St. Raphael and St. Gabriel used to occupy on the calendar before they got moved to share with Michael, and the anniversary of the first day I started talking to my guardian, and on and on. Guardian Angel Appreciation Day, in several forms.
Plus, I am raising four very smart children.
So dial back your clocks about eight years, and envision my very sweet, very cute three-year-old daughter coming to me, bright-eyed, and squealing, “Mommy! We have to go to Dunkin Donuts!”
And I said, “Why?”
She said, “It’s my guardian angel’s special day!”
You know, I did actually run through the calendar in my head to try to figure out if maybe it was…? Maybe this was the angel’s assignment anniversary, or something…?
So, being me, I said to her, “Then in that case, you should definitely say a special prayer for him, to thank God for sending you such a wonderful guardian angel.”
She stared at me, blankly. Like, Oh. That wasn’t in the plan.
Fifteen minutes later, we were in Dunkin Donuts, and we bought a donut in honor of my daughter’s guardian angel.
And in his honor, she ate it for him. Because I’d hate to quash her burgeoning devotion to her guardian angel. (I had one too. You know. In his honor.)
Happy feast day! September 29, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels.
Today is the feast day of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, the archangels.
If I think of a story worth posting on the blog, I’ll come back and do it later. (For now, here’s a story about my guardian angel telling me his favorite place on Earth.) But I think I owe St. Raphael enough favors at this point that I should dedicate a hospital to his name.
The archangel characters in my books are pretty awesome, but the real archangels blow them away. Usually I make a lasagna in their honor on their feast day, but that’s not going to be possible today, so instead how about some blog-love? I hope that’ll do.
So it begins… September 27, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels, The Wrong Enemy.
Tags: angels, excerpt, guardian angels, The Wrong Enemy
Raguel waited at the back of the Judgment Hall to hear the verdict passed on the boy’s soul: Heaven. He nodded as he registered the word, but without rejoicing as he should have. Based on the expressions of the other witnesses, neither was anyone else. Half the angels in the room watched the boy as he leaped in delight and hugged the angel at his side, but the larger number studied the angel who stood at the back of the hall, Tabris.
Tabris had not reacted to the echoing verdict. Staring only at the chains binding his wrists and securing him to the floor, he stood like a horse at a hitching post. Only once did Raguel see him look up, struggling to get aglimpse the boy before the other angels crowded into his line of sight, but then they’d taken the boy away, and Tabris said not a word.
Two Archangel guards flanked Tabris, one wearing a thousand-mile stare and the other struggling against grief. Everything about their posture read duty to Raguel, broadcast without words in their alert stance, the readiness of their weapons, and their raised chins. Between them, Tabris seemed smaller, slumped, his two-toned wings touching the floor. With a shudder, Raguel realized at least one of the guards had probably been his friend.
They had no idea how to act. And rightly so. Angels didn’t usually take one of their own into custody.
It’s 4:12. Do you know where your book is? September 1, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels.
I haven’t been writing about the household angels lately, so I’ll give you one and you can decide.
Kiddo2 had her violin lesson in the next town over at 4:30. I like to leave 20 minutes for the drive, but as you can imagine, with trying to load everyone into the car, it can get hairy. This time, as I was buckling Kiddo4 into his car seat, I glanced at the clock and it said 4:12. Late.
As I shut the door, I had a thought: the batteries were going to run out in my Kobo. I should go upstairs and grab a print book.
I hesitated. But I’d charged the thing recently, and we were running late, so I figured it would be okay.
The thought nagged at me. I thought, no, that’s ridiculous. The thing has enough battery life for half an hour, and most of the time the boys won’t even let me read while we’re waiting because they want to play with me.
I got in the car, and as I backed out of the garage, I felt a really strong thought: run upstairs and get my knitting.
I hesitated again, but then decided no. We were late. I was already in the car. It was just catering to my neurotic tendencies to run upstairs and grab something in case the battery died. I thought, Well the worst that could happen is I’ll just have to suck it up and interact with my kids like a normal mother.
We took off. We got there with a few minutes to spare, and we settled in at the waiting area.
And ten minutes later, I went in search of the violin instructor, who was nowhere to be found. I located the music school owner, who said, “Oh, I just got a text from her. She’s stuck in horrible traffic. Didn’t she call you?”
I piled everyone back into the car, and we went home. I checked messages, and there’s a call from the violin instructor.
When? At 4:12.
Granted, I don’t know how the car clock synchs to the phone clock. But maybe sometimes “Your battery might die — go get a book” translates to “You need to be upstairs so you get this phone call.”
(PS: The battery lasted through the rest of that book.)
Tabris excerpt! And the novel’s new title! July 31, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels, The Wrong Enemy, writing.
Tags: angels, excerpt, fiction, MuseItUp, novel, writing
This month on the MuseItUp blog is “excerpt month,” and closing it out is my upcoming re-release of The Guardian, which now has a new title (and all new text, and will be published under my legal name…someone please tell me if it’s still the same book?)
For ‘Christmas In July’ we published an excerpt from The Boys Upstairs where Jay tells the three homeless kids how he became disabled in Iraq. This time, we have Tabris and Rachmiel on a rooftop, with Rachmiel desperately fishing for any information on why Tabris did what he did: because Tabris was a guardian angel, and Tabris murdered his charge.
The excerpt is here. The novel’s publication date is this September.
Oh, and our new title? The Wrong Enemy. I hope you’re as pleased as I am!
But you still have to wait to see the cover.
“hearing” angels June 5, 2012Posted by philangelus in angels.
It’s my opinion that we sometimes “hear” angels without hearing them. I’m convinced that last week, my guardian angel saved someone else’s life.
But first, an example. About thirteen years ago, I was home alone with Kiddo1 while my Patient Husband was on yet another trip for work. That night I made ravioli, but when it came time to dump the water from the pot, I reached for a slotted spoon and fished the ravioli out. No reason why. I never did that, but that night I did. We ate dinner, and an hour later, when I picked the pot up off the stove to carry it to the sink, both handles gave out and the water poured all over me. I was soaked from mid-thighs down…but soaked with room-temperature water, not boiling water. The pot went into the trash, I got changed, and no harm done. I never “heard” my guardian angel warn me, but I figure he must have.
Last week, we have me merging onto the highway, which was moving pretty well. Granted, the car in the right lane was toddling along at a modest 50mph, but the other two lanes were moving, and although it’s a very curvy part of the highway, there was plenty of room to merge.
When I use this entrance, I almost always merge into the center lane as soon as possible. I’ve done this upwards of a hundred times, and the only times I haven’t moved left were when I couldn’t. Except for last Tuesday, when I didn’t. I stayed in lane behind Mr. 50 MPH and felt this was the right place to be, a comfortable place.
Fifteen seconds later, a motorcycle shot out of nowhere and blew through the lane I would have merged into. I hadn’t seen this guy at all, nor at that speed do I think I could have because he must have been doing ninety to a hundred miles per hour. I’m basing that on how quickly he was passing the cars in the other two lanes, weaving through traffic and swinging from lane to lane, and then disappearing around a bend in the roadway.
Right after he passed, it felt okay to merge now.
Instinct? Gavin DeBecker would call it that. I think I was warned. Regardless, I’m glad.