An Open Book – December #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading this month:

Donkey BellsDonkey Bells by Catherine Doherty

This is one of my favorite Advent books.  I love to curl up in a comfy chair next to a warm woodstove and read this wonderful book during December.  It’s also a great companion to lighting the Advent wreath each night.

From the publisher: Meaningful and heartwarming stories, customs which you can adopt into your own Christmas celebration, and earthy and inspiring meditations to prepare the entire family for Christ’s coming. Discover how Christians celebrated Christmas before the days of television, shopping malls, and the Internet…

Catherine Doherty is well known for reviving many holy Christian traditions. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most ‘expectant’ of holiday seasons, you’ll receive wonderful gifts.  Purchase it at the publisher’s website here (it’s available in print or ebook).

 

wrath-of-the-angelWrath of the Angel by John R. Monteith

I’m about two-thirds of the way through this book and it’s quite a compelling read.  Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

Warriors who take cybernetic control of predatory animals. A wounded soldier-turned alcoholic exorcist. A child who attacks with his mind. As Nate Clark leads his brothers out of a broken childhood, he discovers his supernatural ability to wield eagles, wolves, and leopards as weapons. His journey to establish his self-worth by protecting good people from evil attracts Father Mark Bannen, who suspects demonic manipulation as the source of Nate’s apparently benevolent powers.

Questioning if his ends justify his means, Nate must decide if he can marry the woman he loves, draw vengeful blood, and protect his life’s work from the exorcist who threatens to expel its source.

The occult clashes with Christianity; a priest battles demons; and an epic journey of dark versus light explores the limits of mankind’s understanding of nature’s conflicting forces.  It’s only .99 on Amazon Kindle.

 

#Advent: The Ideal Time for #Fasting

Copyright 2014 James Hrkach

Copyright James Hrkach

My latest article at Catholic 365:

Are we using this beautiful time of Advent to prepare our hearts for Christmas?  Or is the Christmas hype distracting us?

Some may think that Lent is the only good time for fasting.  However, both Lent and Advent are penitential seasons of the liturgical year and both are ideal times for fasting.  Advent is often called a “mini-Lent.”

Is it even possible to fast during Advent when Christmas parties occur weekly and when the world starts celebrating Christmas before Advent even begins?

Yes, it is possible!  The important thing is to start.

Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays helps us to focus on the spiritual value of this beautiful season.  This is the time for preparing our hearts and souls.  Jesus indeed comes to save his people and we must be prepared to meet Him and to celebrate the beautiful feast of His birthday.

Praying, fasting, reading Scripture and almsgiving are all ideal ways to prepare during Advent.  However, fasting especially puts a light under our prayers and helps us to remain focused on the spiritual, rather than the commercial, aspects of Advent and Christmas.

St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (1994) said, “Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil.” (P.101-102)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.”

If you’ve never fasted before, consider giving up meat, coffee and/or treats on Wednesdays and Fridays during Advent.   Rather than 24 hours, perhaps try to fast for 12 hours.  Once you’ve mastered fasting from meat, coffee and/or treats, then you can try eating less foods or even try to fast on bread and water alone.

For more information on how to get started with fasting, check out our websiteAlways check with your physician before beginning any fasting routine.

To sign up for the LTF free biweekly fasting newsletter, click here.

Live the Fast is a Roman Catholic Apostolate that is focused on bringing more awareness to the discipline of fasting by offering educational resources on prayer and fasting, a prayer community that will inspire one to live the fast and providing nutritious fasting breads. (Priests and religious receive fasting breads and resources free of charge.)

copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach 2016

St. Gertrude’s Prayer for the Holy Souls

The Virgin of Mercy with Souls (Mattia Preti), Wikimedia Commons

The Virgin of Mercy with Souls (Mattia Preti), Wikimedia Commons

St. Gertrude’s Prayer for the Holy Souls 

November is the month of the Holy Souls. St. Gertrude’s Prayer for the Holy Souls is an ideal prayer to recite during this month, but it is also a powerful prayer said daily.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.

A Subtle Grace Only .99 on Kindle!

A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013For the next five days, the stand alone sequel to my second book, In Name Only, A Subtle Grace  is on sale for only .99!!

Of A Subtle Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter of Prints of Grace Blog said, “This is one of my favorite contemporary works of Catholic fiction. The storytelling is masterful, the characters fascinating, and the writing is of high literary quality. People are imperfect—past, present, and future—but each is given the opportunity to grow, change, learn, and be redeemed. In this story it’s shown how the greatest mistake of our lives can be turned into one of the most amazing blessings and even be a source of hope for others. Life’s messy. People are complex. We’ve all got some skeletons in our closets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t also fit some trophies and triumphs in there as well. A Subtle Grace has all of the elements that good Catholic fiction should.”

In her review, Jean Heimann, Catholic author and blogger, wrote that “In A Subtle Grace, Gable shows us through her characters, what happens when an individual lives his/her life based on principles rather than on passions. She clearly conveys the differences between love as a feeling vs. love as a choice, illustrating the consequences of each. Themes of redemption, forgiveness, discerning one’s vocation, healing, hope, and joy, all contribute to make this a story that tugs at the heart. A sequel to In Name Only, A Subtle Grace works well as an independent, stand-alone novel. You will definitely want to read both. A Subtle Grace is excellent read for historical romance fans. Those who enjoy Christian romance and suspense novels will find this story particularly enjoyable. This is a winner!”

Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author of Frozen Footprints says, “A Subtle Grace is the sequel to the lovely book In Name Only, yet A Subtle Grace can be enjoyed independently. Of course, readers of the first book won’t want to miss this one! The story kept me so interested that I hardly realized this was, in fact, a lengthy book. A Subtle Grace is a novel to stir your heart, your emotions, and your soul. I highly recommend it!”

Click here to read an excerpt and more reviews.

To download the book for only .99, click here.

Ornamental Graces Blog Tour

og-front-cover-final-jpegToday, I’m hosting Carolyn Astfalk, author of Ornamental Graces!

Summary:

After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend.

Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her.

Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

An inspirational Christmas romance that spans every season.

My review: I enjoyed this novel very much.  It’s a beautiful and touching story with well-developed, believable characters.  I highly recommend this inspirational romance that is a great read any time of year.
Amazon Link
Short Link
Goodreads Link
Book Trailer Link

Link to the Excerpt

Extras: Pinterest board, questions for book clubs, playlist, recipes
Book page on Carolyn’s website
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Carolyn Astfalk lives with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where the wind carries either the scent of chocolate or cow manure. She is a CatholicMom.com contributor and author of the contemporary inspirational romances Stay With Me (Full Quiver Publishing) and Ornamental Graces.