Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation Book Review

Lisa Mladinich has done it again! Simple, easy to understand and beautifully illustrated, Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation is perfect for parish catechists, as well as religion teachers and homeschooling parents. This book is not just for beginning catechists. It is for anyone who wishes to share the beauty of the sacraments which are so essential to our Catholic Faith.

This book’s press release says: “Both booklets are the perfect energizing and educational resources to get every catechist excited about sharing the Faith.” Lisa’s enthusiasm for her Faith shines through brightly in the pages of this gem of a book. Although every chapter is packed with helpful hints, my three favorite chapters are “Holy, Holy, Holy” (on teaching reverence to children), “Be Not Afraid” (where the author talks about how children and adults need help to overcome any fear of the confessional), and “Take and Eat” (on the Eucharist).

Again, there are appropriate quotes from Scripture, the Catechism and other documents as well as links to helpful resources.

I give “Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation” my highest recommendation and I encourage all catechists not only to read it but to buy copies in bulk!

Click here to order “Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation.”

Click here to order it in Spanish.

Click here to order Lisa’s first book, Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – October 16

Join me at RAnn’s Place where Catholic bloggers share posts from the previous week. Please check out the other bloggers’ posts!

Here are my contributions for the week:

Working With An Editor, my post for the Catholic Writers Guild blog

Desperate Plea for Help, about our friend’s desperation when his girlfriend was enticed into a cult.

My Relatives Are My Biggest Fans (Photo)

Powerful Weapon The Holy Rosary can be a powerful weapon…

Fiction Friday – Review of Pro Luce Habere

Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day so my husband and I are remembering in a special way the seven little ones who are waiting for us in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Seven Little Souls in Heaven, an updated version of my first published article in 1995, “Five Little Souls In Heaven.”

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

Photo copyright Josh Hrkach

Fiction Friday – Review of Pro Luce Habere

Pro Luce Habere tells the story of Valéry, the protagonist vampire from “On the Soul of A Vampire” and his life before he became a vampire and the 200 or so years following.

At the beginning of the novel, the year is 1212 and Valéry is a 14 year old on fire for God and his faith. He leaves home to join the Children’s Crusade only to end up in slavery at the hands of the people he sought to convert. Four years later, near death from a beating, his “maker,” Lukios, an ancient vampire, saves him from death but Valéry now must kill others to survive. At first, he refuses, but he eventually settles into a pattern of killing those who have hurt him or those he considers criminals.

In many respects, the life of a vampire as illustrated in this book is a lonely one, but Valéry eventually resigns himself to the life he’s destined to live, although he continues to hate himself for the monster he believes he is. (In Keley’s first book, On the Soul of a Vampire, Angelina tries to convince him that he is not the monster he thinks he is). In this book, another vampire shows him what evil vampires do (in that scene, the evil vampires torture a young girl for the sport of it and not because they need the nutrition).

I grew up watching old Dracula movies in which the vampire was always portrayed as the villain, so it’s easy to forget that Valéry is a vampire. However, he is no ordinary vampire. He’s a vampire with a conscience. He’s a vampire who is struggling with his faith in God (not unlike many mortal humans).

In one scene, he plans to kill a woman who has wronged him, then he realizes she is pregnant and leaves her alone (in my opinion, this is one of the best scenes of the book because it shows Valéry’s compassion).

Despite the fact that he is a vampire, it has become easier to love Valéry as a complex character who, like most human beings, has a conscience. And in the end, it begs the question: What is God’s plan of salvation for this vampire with a conscience? Is there any hope for him? Is there any hope for any of us, for that matter? Of course, the answer is there is always hope.

After reading this “prequel,” I have come to understand Valéry’s intricate character more deeply and why he chose to do what he did at the end of “On the Soul of a Vampire.” It also made me want to read Keley’s first book again (since I know the character better)….and it makes me impatient to read Part II of this book.

Beautiful language, Catholic themes, complex story, well-defined and believable characters make this a wonderfully intense read! Keley is an incredibly gifted author, one whose future books I look forward to reading.

I highly recommend this exquisite book to everyone!

To purchase on Amazon Kindle, click here.

To purchase a print edition on Amazon, click here.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Powerful Weapon

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.”
St. Josemaria Escriva

Although I grew up in a Catholic family, I learned how to say the rosary at school. My father often said it in private, but we never recited the rosary as a family and I rarely said the rosary on my own before the age of 11. One evening, however, my parents were involved in a loud (and heated) argument. It was my first experience at being “amazed at the results” of the powerful weapon of the holy rosary. The following is an excerpt from my novel, Emily’s Hope. It’s based on actual events and is a true illustration of Our Lady’s powerful intercession.

I listen as my parents are fighting again, fighting over bills they can’t pay. Each time my mom yells, my dad yells louder. Dad starts to throw things, not at Mom, just throwing things. I’m scared. It makes me feel anxious to see the two people I love most in the world screaming at each other. Don’t they love each other, I ask myself. Why won’t they stop yelling?

Dad just said something about moving out. Oh, God, please, I don’t want my dad to move out. Mom says good. Oh, please, Mom, don’t say that. I look at both of them but they don’t seem to see me or the panic in my eyes. They only glare at each other.

Dad goes upstairs. I run after him and watch as he gets a suitcase out and starts putting clothes in it.

God, why won’t you stop him? I pass by my bedroom and notice my rosary sitting on the bedside table. I grab it, sit down on my bed, and begin saying the rosary. As I say each Hail Mary, I plead with Our Lady, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Please, Our Lady, don’t let my Dad walk out.

As I’m saying another Hail Mary, Dad walks by my room and doesn’t notice that I’m even there. He stomps down the steps. I can’t hear if he says bye, but I hear the door slam shut.

Oh, God, please, make him come back. I continue saying the rosary, each Hail Mary becoming more fervent than the last. I pray until my heart is bursting. Please, God, listen to my prayer.

I begin saying the Hail Holy Queen prayer and suddenly, I hear the door open downstairs. Without finishing, I stand at the top of the stairs and I see that my dad is standing at the doorway. Mom walks over to him. At first, they’re silent.

Then, my dad starts to cry. “I can’t leave you. I can’t leave my family.” He and Mom embrace.

I begin to cry. Thank you, God, and thank you, Our Lady, for bringing my daddy back.

(My parents remained married until my father’s death eight years later. He was buried with his rosary in his hands.) The photo above is of my dad and me taken the summer I turned two years old.

Emily’s Hope is available on

Text and photo copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Desperate Plea for Help

There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” Sister Lucia of Fatima

Years ago, a friend of ours visited us with a desperate plea for help. His girlfriend had been enticed into a cult and within days, all communication had been cut off. He couldn’t talk to her or contact her in any way. He said that he loved her and knew that he wanted to marry her, but felt helpless and didn’t know what to do.

With tear-filled eyes, he finally asked, “Would you pray that she is released?”

Our response was, “Of course.”

When he left, James and I immediately got out our rosaries, got down on our knees and began saying a fervent, heartfelt rosary for Our Lady’s intercession, that the cult would allow this girl to leave.

At the time, we said the rosary, oftentimes, more out of habit than a desperate plea for anything. This time, however, it was exactly that, a desperate plea on behalf of our friend to somehow get the cult to allow her to leave.

The next day, he called us to let us know that the cult had decided to allow her to leave. The couple eventually married and they continue to be happily married to this day.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Photo copyright Josh Hrkach

Working With An Editor

Today, I’m over at the Catholic Writers Guild Blog, talking about self-publishing and “working with an editor.”

Here is an excerpt:

Before I started writing fiction, I had written many non-fiction articles. I mistakenly thought fiction would be easier. The first draft of my debut novel, Emily’s Hope, was so bad that when I gave part of it to my kind (and honest) husband to read, his response was, “You’re not going to let anyone read this, are you?”

Admittedly, I was crushed. I hired an editor and over the next two years, she helped me to take a badly written first draft and transform it into a much better novel. She helped me not only to improve my writing style, but to also create a convincing narrative voice.

To read the article in its entirety, click here. Leave a comment at the CWG Blog before Friday, October 14th to be entered to win one of two free Kindle copies of my new book, Stealing Jenny.

Sunday Snippets – October 9

Join me at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets, where Catholic bloggers share their posts from the previous week.

The following are my posts for the week:

I shared a pro-life article which will be published in the upcoming book, God Moments III: True Love Leads to Life: God Doesn’t Give Us Anything We Can’t Handle

Fiction Friday – The Story of Peace

Melee in the Courtroom In this article, I share about the peace that the rosary brought me when I was asked to testify at the trial of a dangerous offender.

The Holy Rosary – Prayers of Love How the Holy Rosary are really prayers of love…

The Story of a Soul Book Review