Close to the Soul Only .99 on #KINDLE

For a limited time only, Mary Jo Thayer’s Close to the Soul is available on Kindle for only .99. The paperback is on sale for only 13.99.

Get your copy here. #1 Bestseller in New Release for Religious Historical Fiction!

Synopsis: Through grit and grace, Carolyn Fandel survives being raped by someone she knows and trusts. She will not accept defeat—even when confronted by her rapist a second time. Instead, she uses her tragedy to help hundreds of others, some of whom she will never meet. Set in the era of the Vietnam War and the new feminism, this book will have you crying and cheering for Carolyn as she navigates the challenges of life after sexual assault.

Reviews:

Mary Jo Thayer has written an uplifting tale, dealing sensitively at each step with the challenges and trials faced by women raising their children alone. Mary Jo’s deep faith is obvious, shining through her main character, Carolyn Fandel. Carolyn’s resignation to the situation she finds herself in, along with the decisions she makes in the wake of her trauma, would certainly provide encouragement to any Catholic woman in any state of life, and indeed to anyone who picks up the book to read it.  Veronica Smallhorn, author, A Channel of Your Peace

Close to the Soul is a beautifully written novel that weaves the story of redemption through every character on every page.  Edith Schafer once wrote that our lives are a tapestry, we are looking at the backside which is often messy and confusing, but God sees the beautiful work of art, each thread precisely woven together.  I have spent my life grappling with the questions this novel boldly addresses. Pam Stenzel, M.A. Enlighten Communications

This is a moving and powerful story set in the 1950’s. Life was different, and society was very different. But the story is of great value for readers today. I mentioned at the beginning that the book landed on my desk at a critical time. I had just found out I have a 25-year-old daughter I did not know about. Reading this, I could not help but think about this daughter and her mother. This is an amazing read. And an incredible debut novel. Christian fiction at its best. Excellent Catholic literatureSteven McEvoy, Book Reviews and More

Where Angels Pass #FREE on #KINDLE

My new book, Where Angels Pass, is FREE on Kindle today through Sunday.

Synopsis: Teenager Evie Gallagher is stunned when her 45-year-old father dies tragically and suddenly. Too many unanswered questions accompany Evie’s challenging journey to adulthood. When she finally discovers the reason her father led such a troubled life, shock turns to anger. She is determined to find justice for her father.

Nervous about the first day of his freshman year, 14-year-old Hank Gallagher steps inside Holy Archangels High School for the first time in September of 1954. Although the majestic Holy Archangels statues inside the school’s grand lobby present an air of protection, it is not long before Hank passes right under them and into the hands of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Confused and cornered by threats, Hank attempts to abandon his secret to the past, but a horrible wound on his heart eventually leads to a catastrophic breakdown.

Based loosely on actual events, chapters alternate between Evie and Hank to reveal a life haunted by betrayal and a revelation of true justice and hope.

Reviews:

I have just completed reading your recent book Where Angels Pass and I wanted just to drop you a quick note to express my appreciation for it. As a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Pembroke, I have had the fortunate/unfortunate opportunity to confront the issue of clergy sexual abuse in my years of ministry. Fortunate, in that I have learned a great deal from the powerful witness and dignity of victims and have been privileged to have been allowed to share in their life’s journey of pain, suffering, and sometimes even the recovery of their faith. Unfortunate, in as much as those victims should never have had to deal with such a horrific event in their lives to begin with, or have encountered the unChristian manner in which they were dealt with by Church authorities. Your book captured both elements with grace, style, and dare I say, with the light of a Catholic faith that would shame many a professed cleric. Fr. Tim Moyle, Diocese of Pembroke

Stunning in its teaching of wisdom and compassion. Very powerful.  Fr. Arthur J.

Ellen Gable’s newest novel, Where Angels Pass, will take readers to the depths of their emotions. It is a beautifully written, yet heart-rending tale of sexual abuse and the long-term effects such a crime has on its victims. From the beginning of the story, Ellen draws in the reader bringing them close to loveable characters, each with their own story to tell. Curiosity and empathy compel the reader to keep moving through a story that might be difficult for some to read, as it zooms in on sexual abuse by clergy. Anger and compassion go hand-in-hand throughout this tale, and Ellen Gable does a remarkable job balancing the two. I believe this novel will bring to light the utter tragedy of clerical abuse and the ripple effect it has for generations to come. Yet through the darkness of that abomination, dawn rises, and we are assured that justice can prevail and healing can be achieved. I highly recommend this book for anyone who seeks to understand, for this just might be one of the most important novels of our time.  Mary Jo Thayer, award-winning author of Close to the Soul

Ellen Gable tells a very personal and difficult story with such gentleness, love, and heartfelt honesty. What I expected to be an uncomfortable story ended up being a love story of a daughter for her father, a father who suffered the lifelong effects of something no young person should ever experience. Thank you, Ellen, for sharing this deeply moving story that will surely touch readers in a very profound way.    Jim Sano, award-winning author, The Father’s Son

Incredible book. A story with uncompromising honesty. Children reflect our worst and best selves. What they inherit from us speaks to our final judgment. Here is a story that offers humanity hope despite one of the worst sins of all—the corruption of innocence.   A.K. Frailey, author

The greatest tragedy that could befall the Roman Catholic Church is for a child’s innocence to be stolen by a priest. And yet it has happened thousands of times and continues to happen. Told by Ellen Gable, as only she can tell it, with candor and faith, this story sheds light on the darkness of a case of clerical abuse. As the results of the abuse envelop an entire family, one sees how that the original victim truly had his life destroyed by one evil man. A moving and heart-breaking read that will change your life and strengthen your faith!  Elena-Maria Vidal, author

Pick up your FREE copy here.

An Open Book – May 2022

I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading or working on for the past month:

Synopsis: Two years after returning to Havendale to help her octogenarian Aunt Bernie recover from a broken hip, Mibs has Monahan’s Sewing Shop running smoothly. The energetic seamstress is pleased with the increasing business and very happy with the growing relationship between her and Detective Jace Trueblood.
The busy but enjoyable days start coming apart at the seams when an assassin shoots one man and wounds another at the local community theater. While working on costumes for an upcoming children’s play at the theater, Mibs becomes the only person who can identify the shooter. When the killer tries to silence Mibs from testifying, she ends up in a coma, fighting for her life.
For the first time in years, Jace kneels in prayer. While the worried Detective Trueblood relies on his team of detectives to find and apprehend the killer, he relies on the Lord to give him the strength to face the life-and-death situation threatening the woman he loves.
Will the circumstances binding friends and family together end up in torn and tattered lives? Or will the skill of the Havendale Police and the blessings of God tailor a happy ending for Mibs and Jace?

Now available from FQP!

Synopsis: Prehistoric Resurrection… or Genetic Warfare?

Using Fossil Gene Redemption (FGR), geneticist Kevin G. Harrigan experiments with genes from a frozen “Ice Man”. His work prompts Iraqi leader, Ismail Mon, to provide resources for exciting new research that enables Harrigan’s team to regenerate extinct “cryptids” and human sub-species from the Ice Ages. But FGR can be the basis for genetic weapons of mass destruction; United States intelligence and defense leaders must act!

Radically distinct from Jurassic ParkAncient of Genes shows new megafauna regeneration methods by which the only prophecy held in common among major religions & myth traditions could manifest: Some form of regeneration of human ancestors and megafauna. Once considered junk DNA, personality genes and other traits archive in lineages. These genes await a virus vector that targets meiosis to re-express them in all subsequent generations. This can start a resurrection cascade enabling Mon to ruin enemy genomes, improve his allies’ genes… and inherit the earth!

Harrigan’s frightening choice can lead to redemption… or the terrifying sunset of humanity!

My review: This was a riveting Jurassic Park-type story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I also enjoyed the Catholic references and the internal spiritual struggles of the main characters. Recommend! 4/5.

Synopsis: Detective Lt. Joe Kenda, star of Homicide Hunter, shares his deepest, darkest, and never before revealed case files from his 19 years as a homicide detective.

Are you horrified yet fascinated by abhorrent murders? Do you crave to know the gory details of these crimes, and do you seek comfort in the solving of the most gruesome?

In I Will Find You, the star of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda shares his deepest, darkest, and never-before-revealed case files from his two decades as a homicide detective and reminds us that crimes like these are very real and can happen even in our own backyards.

Gruesome, macabre, and complex cases.

Joe Kenda investigated 387 murder cases during his 23 years with the Colorado Springs Police Department and solved almost all of them. And he is ready to detail the cases that are too gruesome to air on television, cases that still haunt him, and the few cases where the killer got away. These cases are horrifyingly real, and the detail is so mesmerizing you won’t be able to look away.

The tales in I Will Find You will shock you like the best horror stories-divulging insights into the actions, motivations, and proclivities of nature’s most dangerous species.

My review: I really enjoy the TV show, Homicide Hunter, with Joe Kenda. And while he’s not an expert writer, he sounds exactly like he does on the TV show, describing cases that were either over PG-rated or cases that he hadn’t solved (less than six percent). Interesting read. Recommend. 4/5.

Synopsis: Karl Keating defends Catholicism from fundamentalist attacks and explains why fundamentalism has been so successful in converting Romanists. After showing the origins of fundamentalism, he examines representative anti-Catholic groups and presents their arguments in their own words. His rebuttals are clear, detailed, and charitable. Special emphasis is given to the scriptural basis for Catholic doctrines and beliefs.

My review: I read this book every few years because it’s so fascinating, and it’s such an interesting read. Highly recommend. 5/5.

An Open Book – April

I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading and/or working on in the past month:

Amazon Synopsis: A retelling of the 2014 kidnapping of the 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria.

“IF YOU WANT TO DIE, SIT DOWN HERE.
WE WILL KILL YOU.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DIE, YOU WILL ENTER THE TRUCK.”

Ruth and Gemma have a Physics exam in the morning.
Becky and Alleluia are revising for their college entrance tests.
So it’s an absolute nightmare to be woken by the fire alarm in the dead of the night.
But for them, and for 272 other girls from Chisbrook Hall girls boarding school, the real nightmare is just beginning.
Because ‘al-Qabda’ are taking them all away.
Whether they want to go or not.

My review: This is a compelling read, but one that I had to take a break from because of the difficult content. I remember praying for the release of the Chibok girls, and the author brilliantly puts us right into the minds and hearts of the girls taken hostage, some of whom were massacred, others abused and forced into marriage. Highly recommend.

Amazon Synopsis: “The shape of you, the shape of me, the shape of everything I see..” In this board book featuring bright new colors and the original whimsical text, Dr. Seuss introduces the concept of shapes to babies and toddlers.  

My review: I’ve been reading this one to our 2.5-year-old grandson and it’s a delightful read with great rhyming. Highly recommend.

Amazon Synopsis:

TV news reporter Violet Rosati thought she’d be married with kids and living in the suburbs by now. Instead, she’s single, thirty-one, and starting a new job at a TV station in Portland. Her move to Maine brings her closer to her boyfriend, Jude, who she hopes will propose soon. He knows and accepts everything about her—even her darkest secret.

However, her new church brings an unexpected surprise. While in confession, she realizes the priest is her ex-boyfriend, Tristan. She hasn’t seen him in seven years and never told him about her pregnancy. He treated her terribly and broke her heart. Now he’s a priest?

As she faces old wounds, she finds Father Tristan to be kind, empathetic, and apologetic. Old feelings reemerge. But he’s a priest, and she loves Jude. How can she be drawn to a priest when she has such a wonderful boyfriend? Confused and torn, she struggles to forgive, love, and find redemption. Turning to her faith for direction, she learns that forgiving herself may be the hardest part of all.

Can she move on and find the life she wants with Jude? Or does she confront her feelings for Father Tristan and risk the lives they’ve both chosen?

My review: This was an enjoyable book to read, a great story, and well-defined characters. Seems like an excellent start to a new series. However, it needs another proofread, so I gave it a 4/5.

Stay With Me by Carolyn Astfalk

Amazon Synopsis:

Finalist in the 2016 IAN Book Awards (Romance)
With her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection.

Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse.

With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

My review: This is an FQP book and one of my favorites that FQP has published. So much so that I usually read it once a year. Highly recommend!

Amazon Synopsis:

A Carol-award-winning finalist!

A brutal murder convinces Dr. Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly because there are some lines that should never be crossed.

A haunting story that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.

My review: This was a heart-pounding, compelling read. Highly recommend!

Synopsis: The world ended on a Thursday. World technology crashed, an alien race invaded, and my husband and my children were in different locations. To survive, my heart dug deep into the homestead. Hardship tested my ingenuity while loss challenged everything I believed in, but despite every kind of sin and suffering, my homestead remained true. There’s no place I’d rather be.

My review: A.K. Frailey’s newest book, Homestead, is a compelling read and particularly relevant for current day events. Highly recommend!

The Forgotten Victims of Clergy Abuse (Updated)

My latest post at Catholic Mom is a revised and updated article I originally wrote in 2018.

The Road to Hope copyright Joshua Hrkach

Almost four years ago, the revelations about the now-defrocked Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were disturbing, especially to the most devout Catholics. Since then, many members of the Church have left in disgust. 

In the years that followed, revelations that homosexual networks exist within seminaries and dioceses have caused some Catholics to have a crisis of faith. Numerous seminarians have tried to alert higher-up prelates to no avail. It’s unacceptable that a bishop – or as in the case of McCarrick, a cardinal – would not only be complicit but also participate in the abuse. 

For every abuse reported, there are likely hundreds, perhaps thousands over the past 70-plus years, that were not—and have never been—reported.

Whenever I hear a story about clerical sex abuse, it opens a wound, not only because I’m Catholic but because my father was abused more than 70 years ago. He is one of many who never reported the (likely ongoing) abuse. I recently wrote a novel, Where Angels Pass, based on his story of abuse and the consequences on him and our family.

My father’s abuser was a priest who happened to be one of his teachers in high school. This information was something that my siblings and I didn’t find out until after my father died in 1978, as he had only told my mother about the abuse.

Back in the 1940s, Catholic laity viewed priests as sacred and placed them on a pedestal. My father couldn’t go to his parents or anyone else because he was ashamed, and he didn’t think anyone would believe him. To say the abuse confused him is an understatement. 

Dad later met and married my mom and tried to settle down into married life. But his troubles were far from over. He dealt with depression and other mental illnesses on and off for a few years before he had a mental breakdown in 1961 and was committed to the local psychiatric hospital. I remember visiting him there and, despite the odd surroundings, I was always happy to see my dad.

He was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) and was prescribed a regimen of medication.

My dad continued to battle with mental illness for the rest of his life. He eventually became an alcoholic and died tragically at the age of 49. His life ended not unlike many other abuse victims.

When I first found out my father had been abused, I was angry, but my father’s troubled life made a lot of sense in light of his abuse. Of course, I wanted to strangle the priest who traumatized him.

There are many like my father out there, some living and some already deceased, who are/were unknown victims of clerical abuse.

But we as a family were (are) victims too. As a family, we watched my father struggle and suffer. We watched him go through drunken stupors and depressive episodes. We watched him get on and fall off the wagon too many times to count. It wasn’t unusual for him to break down and cry. While I know that many factors someone to have a mental breakdown or become an alcoholic, I believe the abuse contributed substantially to his ongoing despair.

To read the rest, click here.

An Open Book – February 2022

Please join Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here are the books I’ve been reading and/or working on.

Amazon Synopsis: This book contains 150 informative and challenging quotations of countless spiritual writers from across the centuries. Just commit to spending five minutes each day (preferably in the morning) reading, meditating, and pondering just one of those quotations. What is God trying to tell you? How will you respond? If you get stuck, you will find some helpful questions after each quotation to steer you in the right direction.

Put your thinking cap on and let God speak silently to your heart.

I can assure you, in God’s perfect timing, you will recognize that five minutes will not be enough for your daily conversation with Him. You will find a way to be with Him for a more extended period of time.

My review: Pondering Tidbits of Truth Volume 6 is a beautiful collection of challenging quotes from many spiritual writers. This is an ideal book to take to Adoration, on retreat, or just to have on hand for meditation/prayer time at home. It will help anyone who wants to grow in their relationship with God. Highly recommend! 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: An indispensable prayer companion for those devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and for those who want to know more about His loving Heart. This treasury of prayers explains the Nine First Friday Devotion and offers practical and relevant ways to offer reparation to Jesus in our troubled and faithless times.

My review: This is a beautiful little book that teaches and guides those who are interested in offering reparation during our troubled times. Highly recommend. 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation includes 12 courtship/dating stories that will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Included are the following stories: A widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later, finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “What if we stopped having sex?” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a couple meets through a Christian introduction service. What these couples have in common is a deep faith in God and faithfulness to the Catholic Church’s teachings.

My review: This was an absolute labor of love that is now eleven years old. Come My Beloved is only 9.99 USD for paperback and .99 for Kindle. Ideal for couples preparing for marriage and anyone who wants to read true stories of real couples meeting and marrying.

Amazon Synopsis: In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history, and the power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure—as a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor.

Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas for equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong and of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. “In the kind of place where I grew up,” recalls Poitier, “what’s coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma’s voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters…and that’s it.” Without television, radio, and material distractions to obscure what matters most, he could enjoy the simple things, endure the long commitments, and find true meaning in his life.

Poitier was uncompromising as he pursued a personal and public life that would honor his upbringing and the invaluable legacy of his parents. Just a few years after his introduction to indoor plumbing and the automobile, Poitier broke racial barrier after racial barrier to launch a pioneering acting career. Committed to the notion that what one does for a living articulates to who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition.

Here is Poitier’s own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, price and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity. What emerges is a picture of a man in the face of limits—his own and the world’s. A triumph of the spirit, The Measure of a Man captures the essential Poitier.

My review: I brought this out to read again after Poitier’s passing last month, and I can’t recommend this book highly enough. He was an outstanding actor, but also an outstanding human being. 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: It’s 1931 in Hollywood, and Minerva Sinclaire is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don’t pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she’s caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she’s about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she wakes up next to a dead film star and is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

Only two unwilling men―Oscar, a Mexican gardener in danger of deportation, and Max, a too-handsome agent battling his own demons―can help Mina escape corrupt police on the take and the studio big shots trying to frame her. But even her quick thinking and grit can’t protect her from herself. Alone, penniless, and carrying a shameful secret, Mina faces the consequences of the heartbreaking choices that brought her to ruin . . . and just might bring her back to where she belongs.

My review: This was a compelling, enjoyable read. The writing is crisp and polished and the story and characters believable. Highly recommend! 5/5.

Christmas Cards Through the Years 2021

I’d like to share just a few of the original Christmas cards we’ve created over the past 35 years. 

We no longer send snail mail cards, but for many years, we did and we always created something original and unique to our family.  Now, we send these cards via email.  Which one is your favorite?

1. Let the Spirit In – 1989

1989 Christmas Card

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach 1989

2. She Brought Forth Her First Born Son – 1992

1992 Christmas Card

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach 1992

3. Glorious Strains – 1996

 

4. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – 2007

5. Hrkach Boys Assembly Line – 2008

 

6. Sleeping In – 2014

Copyright 2014 James and Ellen Hrkach, Please do not use without permission

Copyright 2014 James and Ellen Hrkach, Please do not use without permission

7. A Many Splendored Christmas (2015)

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do not use without permission

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do not use without permission

8. Empty Next 2017

2017 Christmas card

copyright 2017 James and Ellen Hrkach, please do not use without permission

9. Last year: 2020

2020 copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

All images copyright 2021 by James and Ellen Hrkach

Where Angels Pass Now Available

My new book is now available on Kindle and in print.

Based on true events. Teenager Evie Gallagher is stunned when her 45-year-old father dies tragically and suddenly. Too many unanswered questions accompany Evie’s challenging journey to adulthood. When she finally discovers the reason her father led such a troubled life, shock turns to anger. She is determined to find justice for her father.

Nervous about the first day of his freshman year, 14-year-old Hank Gallagher steps inside Holy Archangels High School for the first time in September of 1954. Although the majestic Holy Archangels statues inside the school’s grand lobby present an air of protection, it is not long before Hank passes right under them and into the hands of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Confused and cornered by threats, Hank attempts to abandon his secret to the past, but a horrible wound on his heart eventually leads to a catastrophic breakdown.

Based loosely on actual events, chapters alternate between Evie and Hank to reveal a life haunted by betrayal and a revelation of true justice and hope.

Reviews:

Ellen Gable’s newest novel, Where Angels Pass, will take readers to the depths of their emotions. It is a beautifully written, yet heart-rending tale of sexual abuse and the long-term effects such a crime has on its victims. From the beginning of the story, Ellen draws in the reader bringing them close to loveable characters, each with their own story to tell. Curiosity and empathy compel the reader to keep moving through a story that might be difficult for some to read, as it zooms in on sexual abuse by clergy. Anger and compassion go hand-in-hand throughout this tale, and Ellen Gable does a remarkable job balancing the two. I believe this novel will bring to light the utter tragedy of clerical abuse and the ripple effect it has for generations to come. Yet through the darkness of that abomination, dawn rises, and we are assured that justice can prevail and healing can be achieved. I highly recommend this book for anyone who seeks to understand, for this just might be one of the most important novels of our time.  Mary Jo Thayer, award-winning author of Close to the Soul

Ellen Gable tells a very personal and difficult story, Where Angels Pass, with such gentleness, love, and heartfelt honesty. What I expected to be an uncomfortable story ended up being a love story of a daughter for her father, a father who suffered the lifelong effects of something no young person should ever experience. Thank you, Ellen, for sharing this deeply moving story that will surely touch readers in a very profound way.    Jim Sano, author, The Father’s Son

Incredible book. A story with uncompromising honesty. Children reflect our worst and best selves. What they inherit from us speaks to our final judgment. Here is a story that offers humanity hope despite one of the worst sins of all—the corruption of innocence.   A.K. Frailey, author

The greatest tragedy that could befall the Roman Catholic Church is for a child’s innocence to be stolen by a priest. And yet it has happened thousands of times and continues to happen. Told by Ellen Gable, as only she can tell it, with candor and faith, this story sheds light on the darkness of a case of clerical abuse. As the results of the abuse envelop an entire family, one sees how that the original victim truly had his life destroyed by one evil man. A moving and heart-breaking read that will change your life and strengthen your faith!  Elena-Maria Vidal, author

Where Angels Pass may be hard to read at times, but you will not regret the insights it provides into one of the darkest issues of our time. With skill and sensitivity, Ellen Gable presents the story of one boy and his family, showing the devastating effects of clerical sexual abuse on him and eventually his wife and children. ~Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Catholic fiction

Ellen Gable addresses the darkness of sexual abuse and the resulting lifelong wounds with delicate finesse.  Michelle Buckman, award-winning author

Gable’s style of storytelling equips the reader with courage enough to journey with the characters throughout their torment. And in the unfolding of the story — with the inevitable fury and sorrow that surfaces along the way — we are finally brought face to face with Jesus’ call to forgive those who harm us. A feat that Ellen shows us is not impossible, for nothing is impossible for those with God on their side. This book will change, teach, and inspire. Every Catholic should read itVeronica Smallhorn, author, A Channel of Your Peace

Ellen Gable has done a great service to our Church, the victims of this dreaded abuse, and particularly to their families whose suffering has gone virtually unnoticed. While sharing this story was no doubt painful for her, Ellen’s courage in doing so will help other families living through this nightmare. She has done a masterful job mixing fact with fiction.  Michael Seagriff, author

I couldn’t put this book down, so don’t let the topic deter you. The story, told simply and honestly—and without sensationalism—will draw you in and have you rooting for these characters long after you close the book. Victoria Ryan, author

A powerful story that helps Catholics better understand the long-lasting damage that this type of abuse creates.  Carolyn Astfalk, award-winning author of Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces

Excerpt of Where Angels Pass

Fr. Tim unlocked his classroom door, and the two stepped inside. Fr. Tim closed the door behind him as he said, “Would you please erase and clean the chalkboards?”

Hank nodded and proceeded to the front of the classroom. Red usually cleaned the boards.

Once he started erasing, he realized he was too short to reach the top of the board. So he did what he could first, then he turned to scan the room for the stepstool. He couldn’t see it anywhere.

“Need the stepstool, Hank?” the priest asked.

For a minute, Hank wondered whether Fr. Tim was teasing him, but the priest would never do that. “Yes, sir.”

The priest picked up the stool from the closet and carried it to the front of the classroom. He placed it on the floor beside Hank. “There you go. All set.”

Hank got onto the stool and finished erasing the blackboard. He was about to step down when he felt a grip on his pant leg. Was that Fr. Tim’s hand? Every part of his body went still.

After what seemed like moments, the priest finally said, “Come on, I’ll help you down.”

Hank breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, F-Father.”

Hank moved the stool and climbed up to finish erasing the middle section of the blackboard when Fr. Tim’s hand again gripped Hank’s pant leg.  This time, the priest held onto Hank’s legs with one hand on each leg. “Don’t want you to fall, Hank.”

Once Hank finished erasing that section, Fr. Tim assisted him down. Hank moved the stool to the far end of the board and stood up to erase the rest of the chalk writing. He felt weird about the priest holding onto his legs, so he quickly cleaned off the board.

When he was almost done, Hank felt Fr. Tim’s hand go from around his pants, up underneath his trousers and stroked his bare leg above his socks. Instinctively, he shook his leg free of the priest’s hand.

Fr. Tim cleared his throat. “Here you go, Hank. I’ll help you down.”

“Uh…what job can I do now, Father?” He tried to shake off the odd feeling, ready to move on.

“Let’s get you settled over here at this front desk, and you can put these files in alphabetical order.” The priest pointed. “Oh, and I’ve got Christmas chocolates on my desk. You’re welcome to take some if you’d like.”

“Sure.” Before Hank sat down, he took a healthy handful of Whitman’s sampler chocolates. He unwrapped one and wolfed it down.

While Hank worked on the alphabetizing, Fr. Tim acted normal, as if nothing had happened. Well, nothing had happened. The priest had simply put his hand on Hank’s leg. Sister Rose Bernadine had done worse when she slapped his leg with a ruler when he’d ignored the recess bell and remained in the schoolyard. It had stung like the dickens.

“You okay there, Hank?”

“Yes. I’m fine.”

That night, Hank pulled the covers up and shivered.  His bedclothes were cold.

He reflected on the day, his thoughts turning to Fr. Tim standing beside him while he was on the stool. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. But of course, the priest was just trying to keep Hank steady.  What other reason could he have?

Fr. Tim was always putting his hand on Hank’s shoulder or back. Heck, he touched Hank more than his mother or father did most days.

Hank put his headphones on and turned the radio to the sports channel airing the Philadelphia Warriors against the Syracuse Nationals basketball game.

He drifted off to sleep, dreaming of spring, hotdogs, and Phillies games.

An Open Book #openbook

I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. My new book is now available!

#Sale! Only 2.99 USD on Kindle and 12.99 USD in paperback until Christmas.

Synopsis: Based on true events. Teenager Evie Gallagher is stunned when her 45-year-old father dies tragically and suddenly. Too many unanswered questions accompany Evie’s challenging journey to adulthood. When she finally discovers the reason her father led such a troubled life, shock turns to anger. She is determined to find justice for her father.

Nervous about the first day of his freshman year, 14-year-old Hank Gallagher steps inside Holy Archangels High School for the first time in September of 1954. Although the majestic Holy Archangels statues inside the school’s grand lobby present an air of protection, it is not long before Hank passes right under them and into the hands of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Confused and cornered by threats, Hank attempts to abandon his secret to the past, but a horrible wound on his heart eventually leads to a catastrophic breakdown.

Chapters alternate between Evie and Hank to reveal a life haunted by betrayal and a revelation of true justice and hope.

And now for a few of my favorite Advent books!

Synopsis: Discover how Christians celebrated Christmas before the days of television, shopping malls, and the Internet. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most expectant of holiday seasons is an ideal Advent book to be used every year.

My review: My favorite Advent book and one that I read every year at this time is a book called Donkey Bells. I enjoy reading this inspiring book curled up in a comfortable chair by the woodstove, a hot chocolate or apple cider beside me, Advent and Christmas music playing quietly in the background.

I especially appreciate the heartwarming stories (such as Donkey Bells) as Catherine Doherty was a captivating storyteller. Also included in this book are customs and traditions like celebrating St. Nicholas Day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, The O’Antiphons, the blessing of the Christmas tree and Advent wreath, the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Feast of the Epiphany. Meditations including The Gurgle of a Baby and Looking into the Child’s Eyes are extraordinary and beautifully written.

This book provides an inspirational way for children, teens, and adults to prepare their hearts for Christmas.  Available on Kindle and in paperback.

Synopsis: Beginning with the first day of Advent and continuing through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, these selections from the immortal pen of Fulton J. Sheen encourage readers to explore the essence and promise of the season.

My review: This is a beautiful Advent devotional that focuses on quotes from Archbishop Fulton Sheen that are taken from his many published books. Editor Judy Bauer includes many quotes that will inspire the reader to grow in his/her prayer life, to embrace Advent, and to become more prepared to celebrate the arrival of the Savior. Each day contains a Scripture passage relating to the daily readings, a short paragraph from one of Sheen’s books, and a prayer written by Bauer. It only takes a few moments each day. This is an ideal book to use when lighting the Advent wreath each night. It’s available in paperback.

Synopsis: This is a treasure trove of exciting ideas that will enable your family to focus anew on preparing for the holy time of Advent and Christmas! With a fresh, lively set of suggestions that will attract young and old alike, Joy to the World will help lay the foundation for long-lasting family memories.

My review: Joy to the World takes a three-point approach to the season: The Advent Calendar with daily activities, The Evening Ritual that incorporates the Advent Wreath and the Jesse tree, and The Good Deeds Manger. I especially love the Good Deeds Manger. Basi suggests that a family obtains a box and some straw, chopped paper, or Easter grass. When a good deed or something kind is done by the children, straw is added. When something mean is done, it is taken away. The idea is to have lots of straw for the baby Jesus.

The author writes, “The motto for Advent should be: ‘Be ready; be present; be waiting.’” This book helps children – and adults – to understand the meaning of Advent: to be ready, be present and be waiting.

This book has been around for over ten years, and it’s written by Kathleen Basi. If you have children between the ages of four and eighteen, this is the book for you. This is a great bargain at only 6.49 for the Kindle edition and 6.99 USD for the paperback.

Synopsis: Advent is a season almost forgotten by the secular world. With new toys and electronics available, why should we focus on this time of anticipation? Most everyone cannot wait for Christmas morning to arrive, but is it for the right reason?

My review: Each section of this book encompasses three different activities: Think, Pray and Act. Each Sunday has its own theme. The First Sunday of Advent and the week following is “Get Ready.” The Second Sunday and the following week is “Repent.” The Third Sunday’s theme is “Love,” and the fourth Sunday, “Anticipate.” The Christmas season has its own theme:” Rejoice.” There are also stories and activities for the Feast of the Epiphany.

What sets this apart from other Advent preparation books is that it has reflections and activities for the entire family (parents included) so that both parent and child can prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

My kids loved this book when they were younger. A great bargain at .99 on Kindle and 3.50 (or less) in print.  

Synopsis: Perhaps the Christmas story has become almost too familiar. A virgin giving birth. A child laid in a manger. Shepherds greeted by angels. The Christmas story has become so familiar that the profound, even shocking, nature of the incarnation might be overlooked. But what if we had never heard the story before?

My review: This is a day-by-day reflection that goes right to the Feast of the Epiphany with reflection questions for each day. What makes this one so unique is that Sri asks us to imagine ourselves in the world of Judaism in the first century. His reflections inspire us to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who first experienced the exceptional – yet seemingly normal – birth of the Christ child.  How would we react to a young girl giving birth in a stable, surrounded by animals, feeding troughs, and manure?  Would we be surprised to learn that this was the birth of the Redeemer who would save all mankind?  Excellent book.