“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― G.K. Chesterton
I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales and fantasy stories. The appeal initially began with the wonderful plots and scenery. But it’s the character development (at least in Disney renditions of the fairy tales) that continues to enchant me to revisit these tales. In the book A Catholic Field Guide to Fairy Tale Princesses: Modern Virtues in Tales as Old as Time, author Therese Zoe Williams examines a panoply of classic and modern princesses and the virtues they espouse.
One of the challenges Catholics faces is how to evangelize in a secular modern not in line with traditional Catholic Church teaching. Followers of Jesus know this world is not our home. It’s a pilgrimage towards the next reality― Heaven. But this doesn’t mean we should flee from worldly things completely or never engage with the present culture. Williams says it well, “If we are to be truly ‘in this world but not of it’ (cf. Romans 12:3), then we have to sincerely engage pop culture at large. The whisper of God is in everything” (p. 18).
Williams’ book is divided into four sections: The Official Disney Princesses, Other Notable Disney Princesses, Other Disney Women of Virtue, and Noteworthy Non-Disney Princesses. Each chapter includes a description and brief history of the fairy tale related to the princess. Williams also includes a section titled A Real-Life Fairy Tale where she focuses on a saint who exhibits the same virtue depicted by the fairy tale heroine. Chapters conclude with a prayer related to the virtue and/or saint.
This was a fun and quick read. Williams did a great job in showing how the virtues exhibited by Disney princesses are relevant to our lives today. I particularly enjoyed the Real-Life Fairy Tale section. Williams found appropriate saints throughout Church history to match their fairy tale counterparts.
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Thank you for reading and hope you have a blessed day!
Editor’s note: Article originally published on March 17, 2017.
My wife and I completed an intense bout of pre-spring cleaning this past weekend. Spring is a time of renewal of body and soul. A clean start.
Spring Cleaning for the Soul
I am a neat freak. One of the three tenets my blog is based on is organization. I am passionate about decluttering, sorting, and cleaning dusty crevices in my house. Why do I lack the same fervor when it comes to my spiritual life?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church 797, states,
“What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”243 “To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members.”244 The Holy Spirit makes the Church “the temple of the living God”.
Teresa of Avila on Cleaning the Soul
This imagery of the Holy Spirt being housed in the church is not new. St. Paul clearly states this in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 6:16 to name just a couple verses. However, it was through the intercession of St. Teresa of Avila’s writing that I especially encountered this truth recently. She begins her greatest work, Interior Castle, with the following divinely inspired words, “ I thought of the soul as resembling a castle, formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal and containing many rooms, just as in heaven there are many mansions.”
Teresa’s description of the soul is easy for me to understand. Yet at the same time her writing illustrates the complexity of our human condition.
Throughout the Interior Castle the doctor of the Church takes readers on a spiritual journey by examining how in navigating through the castle of our soul we are able to grow in closer union with God.
Without a thorough examination of oneself and spiritual guidance we are not able to recognize the graces God grants us daily. God can clean out the “dustiness” of our souls. Just like how my home needs frequent seasonal cleanings, the Church in Her wisdom has seasonal cleanings as well for us to grow in holiness.
My goal is to take a few minutes each remaining week in Lent to reflect on St. Teresa of Avila’s words in Interior Castle. I hope you all prayerfully consider to join me in this journey and cleanse your own soul of the “dustiness” of sin and temptation.
Editor’s Note: Post originally published on November 6, 2019.
🤔” Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ― Irving Berlin
🔶Reactionary responses rarely are the best—especially if you are in a stressful situation.
🔶Yesterday, I was trying to get some rest as I worked the overnight shift. Thankfully, I got a solid short nap in. I woke to the sight of the contents of a 20 Oz pretzel 🥨 bag scattered on the living room floor.
🔶Immediately, I fretted. I got angry. In hindsight I realized it was actually a bit humorous.
🔶The kids were just trying to get a snack without waking me. Plus, Avila did benefit from Pretzelgate!
🔶She crawled swiftly over and took a fistful of pretzels for her snack. Grinning from ear to ear she held up her delicious trophy triumphantly.
🤔” Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.”
🔶In the Chicoine House life is 10% of what you make of it, 90% of your perspective, and 100% about 🥨.
🔶I needed not get salty in attitude. I should have merely gone to work cleaning up by enjoying the crunchy and salty snack.
🔶How has time changed your perspective on a negative event for you?
American author Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Well, the untold story that welled up within me this past weekend as the great information and best practices I learned over the past several weeks of how to increase organic traffic to a blog. As a former teacher, and husband of a special education teacher, I have zeal for learning daily and sharing best practices with peers.
When I started The Simple Catholic blog back in 2015 I focused only on writing. That is normal for new bloggers. I mean should not writing be the PRIMARY aim of WRITING a blog! According to Bo Sanchez, “Education without execution is extinction.” In other words, you may have the greatest content, but without a strategy to deliver it to your audience your message does not travel! Some of my best written posts actually garnered little traffic. This does not mean that those posts are worse than the more popular posts. It simply meant I was still new in learning the process about blogging and outreach.
If I could start over my blog again I would incorporate these 3 simple SEO tactics to grow my traffic naturally. This post is especially written for new bloggers and even bloggers than desire more ways to market their content. Sharing of best practices helps out everyone!
Titles are Key
Naturally the first thing your readers will see on a post will be the title. From watching videos of prominent bloggers and following my favorite blogs I discovered that extra fancy titles do not always equal an increase in traffic. The most important thing for your title is to accurately describe the content of the blog. Click-baity titles grab a person’s attention, but that only leads to a one-time visit by that viewer. Oftentimes, I click on a post in Facebook with an intriguing title only to be quickly disappointed that the headline was very misleading. Accuracy always trumps flair!
A second simple strategy to incorporate into a title is the usage of numbers. In the case of the title for this post I included 3 (since I am discussing three best practices) and the current year (since this information is pertinent for your now). The benefit of including a number in your title is two-fold: readers catch the attention of numbers and oftentimes internet searchers like to search the top things, advice, or strategies for the current year. In fact Neil Patel in his article The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines promotes the using of numbers as well (see the link for this resource in the related resource section at the end of this post).
Importance of Images
Another simple, yet effective SEO best practice is including images in your blog article. This is a tip I wish I learned years earlier. Going back to my earliest blog posts make me cringe. Words go on and go without any picture to break up the text. I will refer to SEO expert Neil Patel again on this matter. In fact, he was a leading voice in the best practices. Patel writes in 11 Best Practices for Including Images in Your Blog Posts,
You’re a writer, not a photographer.So why do you need to add photos to your blog posts when your words should be enough to entice your audience, engage visitors, and persuade people that your content is great?
Exactly! Bloggers write. Photographers shoot photos. Is not my word(s) enough? That was my mentality before opening myself up to the wisdom of people much wiser and smarter than me. Even now, I am improving, I am by far an expert, but I know enough to recognize best practices when I come across them. Since the inclusion of images in my blog posts, I have seen an increase in traffic.
One of the primary benefits Patel mentions about including images is that they allow text to be broken up in smaller chunks. Modern readers tend to skim texts. Long paragraphs with no images to break up the onslaught of the words is a huge turn-off for internet surfers. I came across a Facebook status that took me 15 seconds to scroll down! You heard me correctly. Fifteen seconds will no pictures. I did not bother reading that post as the sheer verbosity overwhelmed me.
Include images to break up the text. Make you post as easy to read for your readers. They will return the favor by returning to read your content!
Strength of Schedule
Along with creating an accurate headline and incorporating images in your posts, having a consistent blog schedule will improve your audience following. As a father of four children with a full-time job, publishing content daily is not realistic. However, what I have learned is that consist blog posting is more important that the number of articles you post weekly. It is far more important to continue to post the same amount each week versus posting 20 posts one week, going dormant for a week and then posting 10 more posts the next.
Why does having a publication schedule matter? Patel says, “If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.” Whenever I discover a blog that interests me, I always look forward to new content! I get bummed out whenever a favorite blogger of mine goes dormant. The same will be true of your readers if you erratically post. Maybe you are single and have the time to write more often. Make a goal to post 3-4 times a week. Maybe you family or other obligations and 4 posts are not feasible. Shoot for only 1-2 posts a week. The key is achieving that frequency next week, and the week after than, and so on.
Remember that best practices will continue to evolve and so will your writing. Developing accurate titles with numbers, including images to break up long text blocks, and maintaining a consistent publication schedule will help improve your organic search results to your blog. I will continue to learn about SEO and writing strategies to improve The Simple Catholic blog. Any simple strategies I come across I will share. I hope you pass this information on to other nascent bloggers as well. Please feel free to post your best SEO practices in the comments section!