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Beauty is a battlefield.

"Beauty is the battlefield where God and Satan contend for the hearts of men." Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Martyrs for Freedom

Munich, Germany 1943.  Time was running out for Hans and Sophie Scholl. As brother and sister and students at the University of Munich, they faced the brutal reality of Hitler's Germany. There was no time for righteous indignation or sentimental thoughts about justice. It was time for action against the regime. Hans began The White Rose resistance movement. He was inspired by the sermons of Bishop Graf von Galen of Muenster, one of the first to denounce the extermination of what the regime called "useless eaters"-the elderly and disabled.

Bishop von Galen wrote, This secret program to kill innocent citizens of the Reich is against God's commandments. It is against the law of nature and against the system of justice in Germany. These are our brothers and sisters! How can we be expected to live if the measure of our lifespan is economic productivity? We must not use force, but spiritual and moral opposition. Be strong. Be steadfast.

Hans bought a mimeograph machine and began distributing hundreds of leaflets under cover of night. The White Rose was the first voice in Germany to reveal Hitler's "final solution"-extermination of Jews.

On this fateful day, Hans and Sophie had a dangerous mission. Hans carried a suitcase full of leaflets that denounced Hitler and the Nazi government. In the Third Reich, even a whisper of dissent meant imprisonment or death. They were in an upper hallway above an atrium. Quickly, they placed piles of leaflets outside classroom doors. Only minutes remained before classes were dismissed. Soon students would flood the halls. Sophie opened the suitcase and dumped leaflets over the railing. Leaflets fluttered down to the floor below. This caught the eye of the school janitor. He looked up and saw the sweet, young face of Sophie Scholl.

Trials and executions moved swiftly in Nazi Germany. Sophie, Hans, and a friend, Chirstoph Probst were tried for high treason. In the trial, Sophie stated, "we simply expressed what many people are thinking. They just don't dare say it out loud!" Before their execution, Sophie's mother came to visit her 21 year old daughter. Mrs. Scholl brought a cake. Sophie smiled and said that she had not had lunch. Her mother said, "I'll never see you come through the door again."

All three members of the White Rose were beheaded on February 22, 1943.

Several months later, millions of White Rose leaflets were dropped over Germany by British bombers. Their legacy of courage in the face of tyranny lives on. Their story has been told in many books, movies, and plays. Monuments honoring these young people can be found throughout Germany.

Hans Scholl's words as he stood before the guillotine were prophetic, "Freedom lives!" 

Sophie, Hans, and Christoph died exactly 75 years ago this past Thursday. As a writer, I am grateful to have learned this fact so as to honor these brave young people.

The Man who Saved Chartres Cathedral
 

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 Wreck of the Essex

Fourteen year old Thomas Nickerson stands aboard the whaling ship Essex and scans the Pacific Ocean. Somewhere beneath the surface lurks Maximus, the sperm whale that killed his father. Suddenly the whale charges and destroys the ship.
Thusbegins the odyssey of Thomas Nickerson and the Essex crew, adrift in battered whaleboats thousands of miles from land. As they battle starvation and storms, Tom makes surprising discoveries about courage, hope, and the power of friendship.
This isthe historical fiction version of the true incident that inspired the bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea and Revenge of the Whale, both written by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is perfect for young readers, ages 8-12. Great introduction to the reading of Moby Dick.

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Heavenly Hosts

Your children likely know all about the Eucharist, that central ritual beloved by Catholics worldwide. But do they know that God’s presence in the Eucharist is miraculous?

Heavenly Hosts presents documented Eucharistic miracles in story form to bring middle-grade readers to a better understanding of the Real Presence. One story details a fourth-century priest in the Sahara Desert who loses his faith until the Christ Child appears in the Host; this miraculous sighting causes the priest to return to God. In another tale, Antonio, a ninth-century altar boy, stands firm in a test of faith and is rewarded for his fidelity. And in one memorable story in Italy, a thirteenth-century debate over the true nature of the Eucharist is settled when a donkey falls to its knees before a monstrance containing the consecrated Host.

These stories and more—including a tale involving the future pope Francis—demonstrate God’s involvement in the lives of Catholics throughout the centuries, including today. Through these miraculous accounts set in various historical times and places, your children will discover a new appreciation for the Eucharist and its illustration of God’s love for those who follow Him. Heavenly Hosts is an essential book for all Catholic families. Saint Pope John Paul II called for us to "rekindle Eucharistic amazement" in the New Evangelization. Heavenly Hosts encourages us to understand, appreciate, and love the Eucharist.