Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Do Two People Write One Comic Strip? Hannah

Jimmy: How did I get roped in to this? “It's Ask Ellen” not “Ask Ellen AND Jimmy”

Ellen: Well Ellen doesn't do Gracieland by herself, does she?

Jimmy: Not yet.

Ellen:That won't go well, because I can't draw. ANYWAY... in answer to the question...

Jimmy: Well, it's generally started on Skype (Ellen lives in Maine, and I'm in Pennsylvania). Ellen brings a list of possible topics that might make good Gracie ideas. Some are specifically Catholic, some are based on the characters' personalities, and some are just funny ideas.

Ellen: Jimmy ignores at least half of my list, and then focuses on the one or two that interest him. Usually it's the one idea I'm least comfortable with and I end up spending the rest of the week worried about it. I think he does it on purpose! Which now that I think about it, kind of offends me.

Jimmy: Well, if I worried about offending you, we'd still be on the first strip.

(Long Pause)

Ellen: Ahem. ANYWAY... Once we select the topic we want to work on. We play out various scenarios, keeping in mind the personality of the characters.

Jimmy: Right. And we also try to be mindful of which character we've used lately and try to make sure that the whole family gets rotated in and out of the various strips.

Ellen: Once we decide on the structure, we work on the dialogue, which we usually come up with by roleplaying the different characters. Then Jimmy gets his homework (drawing the strip) which he submits to me for approval.

Jimmy: Oh brother!!!! Let's just say I draw the strip, ok? I use blue pencil for the underdrawing, and then ink it with a Windsor & Newton #0 watercolor brush and india ink. That artwork is scanned into Photoshop which I use for coloring. While I'm doing all of this, Ellen takes a nap.

Ellen: My favorite part! When I wake up there are a series of photos Jimmy texted to me showing the artwork in various stages of completion.

Jimmy: Then once the artwork is colored, I upload it to the various places on the internet.

Ellen: And I go off and write the Table Talk Questions.

Jimmy: Easy Peasy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ask Ellen: Why do nuns take vows of poverty when priests do not? Adrian

Thank you for another excellent question, Adrian. Most nuns belong to orders.  The orders decide which vows the sisters profess and many include the vow of poverty.

I assume the priests you are referring to are diocesan parish priests.  Many of our parish priests do not belong to any particular order. This is not to say they can’t and some do.  Priests that are not part of a particular order are not required to profess the vow poverty.

However, many priests belong to orders that do include a vow of poverty.  The Jesuits and Franciscans leap to my mind.  These orders (and many others) take a vow of poverty.

To answer your question, each order of nuns and priests determine the vows they profess and often poverty is among them.  A parish priest who is not part of any order is not required to take a vow of poverty.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ask Ellen: Can a woman who was married but widowed become a nun? Adrian

Thank you for your question, Adrian.  To answer it in its most general sense, yes.  A woman who is widowed is freed from the covenant of marriage.  That means she is able to enter into another covenant either through marriage or entering the convent.

My daughter's teacher is in the process of becoming a sister.  She has grown children and has made the decision to spend the rest of her life as a sister.  It is such a unique and exciting thing for my daughter to see.

I need to add that the final decision on whether a widowed woman could become a nun would belong to the order she sought to join.  A person who is contemplating a vocation to the religious should spend much time in prayer discerning God's will for her life.  I would recommend that she speak to a trusted spiritual advisor.  I would also introduce her to Saint Rita Cassia.  She can inspire and intercede for women who find themselves in the same position that Saint Rita did.  Here is a link for more information on her:

Sisters do such great work.  The Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary educated me through twelve years of school.  Their impact on my life is significant.  It is my prayer that more women, no matter what their circumstances in life, open themselves to the call to the religious life.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ask Ellen Needs Your Help

I need your questions!  What have you always wanted to know about Catholicism or Scripture?  Is there something you'd like to know about Gracieland or the process we use to make it?  No questions should go unanswered.  

Send me a question today.  Go to the Ask Ellen tab on the left side of the page.  At the top of the Ask Ellen page there is a "Submit A Question" tab in blue at the top of the page.  Click on it and fill out the form. 

Thanks in advance for your help.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ask Ellen: Why do we say “Thanks Be To God” at the end of Mass? Should we really be that happy that Mass is over? Madison, GA

Thanks for your question, Madison.  It does sound like we are happy that Mass is over.  However, we are really thanking God for the opportunity to attend Mass and to be able to bring the blessings Mass gives us to others throughout the week.

Sometimes the responses we use at Mass can seem confusing at first.  If we take the time to think about them and study their meaning we will see how relevant each one is.  “Thanks be to God” is no exception.

This week when the priest announces that Mass has ended, let’s all respond with a joyous “Thanks be to God.”  Then we will take that joy to others in a hurting world.