Charlotte’s Honor Virtual Book Tour Links!

CH Book Tour Promo 100 (1)

Charlotte’s Honor Virtual Book Tour takes place beginning next week!

October 22      Plot Line and Sinker

October 23      Jean Heimann     A.K. Frailey

October 24      Book Reviews and More,   Patrice MacArthur

October 25      Amanda Lauer

October 26     Franciscan Mom

October 29     Carolyn Astfalk

October 30     Catholic Mom

November 1    Plot Line and Sinker

November 2    Michael Seagriff

November 5   Virginia Lieto

November 6  Leslea Wahl

November 7   Catholic Books Blog – Theresa Linden

November 8   Sarah Reinhard

November 9   Erin McCole Cupp

November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post

November 12  Mary Lou Rosien

November 13  Therese Heckenkamp

November 14  E.M. Vidal

November 15 Leticia Velasquez

Advertisements

Where You Lead VBT

WhereverYouLead 500x750I’m happy to take part of the Virtual Book Tour for Leslea Wahl’s new book, Where You Lead.

A lonely girl with a vision of an unknown boy.

A son convinced his father must run for elected office.

Join Nick and Eve on the adventure of a lifetime when their faith to answer God’s call, leads them on a mission full of deception, mysterious clues and missing confederate gold.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this story about a senator’s son and a professor’s daughter who embark on a mission to solve a mystery regarding a Civil War treasure. I’ve only been to Washington DC twice and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting through this wonderful story.  Believable characters, an interesting story and rich imagery and setting. It’s targeted to teens but is a great read for readers of every age. Highly recommend!

Author Bio

Leslea Wahl lives in beautiful Colorado with her family. She strives to write Young Adult novels that will encourage teens to grow in their faith through fun, adventurous mysteries.

The inspiration for Where You Lead began over 25 years ago with a brief moment in a restaurant when a fleeting thought felt like an intriguing beginning of a book. Two decades later, that tiny spark of an idea turned into this novel about having the courage to say “yes” to God’s calling.author head shot

Leslea Wahl is the author of two other teen novels, The Perfect Blindside and An Unexpected Role. For more information on her award winning Young Adult mysteries please visit her website, http://www.LesleaWahl.com

Reviews

Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl is a mix of mystery, danger, and a “treasure hunt” adventure with a hint of romance. The plot thickens with every page, the mystery and danger increasing. Plunged into the heart of Washington DC, faith-filled characters Eve and Nick believe they are on a mission from God. I enjoyed the Civil War trivia and seeing the museums and monuments of our nation’s capital through the eyes of these characters. Even more, I loved the beautiful message that spoke through the pages: we all need the courage to say “yes” to God’s will, whether in big, life-changing moments or the little ways of every-day life. This story is sure to entertain teens and young adults.

Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Roland West, Loner 

Few authors are as talented in the genre of young adult fiction as Leslea Wahl. Two things especially amaze me about Wahl’s books. First of all is her delightful ability to get into the heads and hearts of today’s teenagers, delving straight into the way teenagers think and act. Reading her stories brings me back to high school and make me feel the pain and the joys and the uncertainties and the struggles of being young again. The other thing I especially admire is the author’s facility to blend the Catholic faith with her mystery plots. Wahl never preaches, but rather tosses her characters into exciting situations which make them grow unexpectedly in the love of God and neighbor. The world needs more books like this for today’s Catholic teens!

Susan Peek, bestselling author of God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little Known Saints series

I was immediately drawn into this page-turner. A professor’s daughter and senator’s son find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving lost Civil War treasure — one that may have international implications in the present. It’s refreshing to read about teens who openly pray and who try to find out what God wants them to do; characters, dialogue, and humor are well-done.

Barb Szyszkiewicz CatholicMom.com

Amazon link:    https://www.amazon.com/Where-You-Lead-Leslea-Wahl/dp/1732134863

Link to the author’s online treasure hunt   http://lesleawahl.com/treasure/

 

An Open Book – October 2018

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month:

Harry Brady

A New Lens on Life: Jesus Was My Ophthalmologist

by Harry Brady

Publisher synopsis: Growing up on the Northside of Pittsburgh with an alcoholic father and rats in the basement, Harry R. Brady developed an Irish wit that glows throughout A New Lens on Life—Jesus was My Ophthalmologist.

The “scrawny little kid with glasses” peppered his childhood with classroom misbehavior, sandlot exploits, misadventures with fireworks, and practical jokes, and tempered it with endearing innocence and compassion for others.

Then, as the lone survivor of a tractor-trailer accident that killed three college classmates, Harry lost his Faith and challenged God. “Why did You save me?”

Still mourning his friends’ deaths while sitting next to classmate Antonin Scalia at graduation from Georgetown, Harry questioned God’s very existence.

Inspired by the love of his life, he finished medical school, started a family, and wound up in the Army. During his M.A.S.H.-like service as a Captain and surgeon in Korea during the  Vietnam War, Harry’s mischievous and creative stunts shocked his superiors as he served those in need.

Later, he performed sight-restoring and sight-saving surgeries for the blind and the vision-impaired in Haiti.  His Brady Clinic for the Homeless at Saint Louis University has provided free service to more than 11,000 medically disenfranchised people. In this rollicking and deeply inspiring autobiography filled with twists and turns, Harry discovers that after living 64 years with his own spiritual vision impairment, that Faith and Reason are two compatible expressions of one universal truth.

My review: I had the absolute pleasure of working with Harry by editing his book.  Dr. Brady is one of most entertaining and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  Highly recommend this wonderful book.

 

 

WhereverYouLead 500x750

Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Eve Donahue’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man.

Thousands of miles away, Nick Hammond has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainness to convince his father to run for political office.

When these two unlikely teens finally meet, their belief that God has called them to work together sets them on a journey of faith to untangle a web of deception involving international trade agreements, lost confederate gold, and a blossoming romance. As they follow century old clues, they realize God can call us all in big and small ways. We just need to listen and say “Yes Lord, I will go where You lead.”

My review: Thoroughly enjoyed this book!  More detailed review to come!

Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy by Carrie Sue Barnes

Amazon Synopsis: A young American woman departs for France, leaving behind her family and fiancé, to serve as a nurse during World War I. Her unpredictable experiences and choices will reshape not only her, but the generations to come after her, as well. Your legacy is built one decision at a time. Forsaking the comforts of home at the height of World War I, Annie Walcott serves as a nurse at a French estate turned war hospital. In the face of daily hardships and losses, she shutters her heart against the emotional toll of her work. When Kyle, the brother of a patient, arrives at the hospital, his and Annie’s unforeseen connection threatens to dismantle her protective walls. New possibilities and former loyalties clash. Will Annie have the courage to become the woman of unrivaled strength and faith she longs to be? Can she embrace the sacrifices necessary to step forward in love? Eighty years later, in a tiny Midwest town where Annie has led a quiet, contented life, she finally confides her untold memories to her great-granddaughter Laurel. The heritage of secrets casts a startling new light on Laurel’s family, faith, and identity. In Annie’s final days, can Laurel allow truth to heal the past and fortify her for the future?

My review: The Hidden Legacy is a beautiful story of Annie Walcott who served as a WW 1 nurse in France. The book goes back and forth between young Annie’s perspective and 100-year-old Annie’s perspective as she tells her great-granddaughter Laurel what it was like to serve as a nurse so long ago. Annie describes events and people who changed the course of her life and, consequently, Laurel’s. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Bella Dodd

School of Darkness by Bella Dodd

Amazon synopsis:  Dodd’s re-entrance into the Catholic Church—which as a communist she had so bitterly attacked—was a natural result of her new state of mind. In the early 1950s, she provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church, reporting that “in the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within, [and that] right now they are in the highest places in the Church.” From such positions they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She said further that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”

Bella Dodd’s story is a human document of immense importance to Americans today. Here are the inner workings of the Communist Party in the United States in the early to mid-20th century as seen from the secret counsels and strategy meetings of the National Committee, to which she belonged for a crucial span of years. The climax of the book is a snowy Christmas Eve when Bella finds the reaffirmation of her faith, and is able to say, “I have learned from bitter experience that you cannot serve man unless you first serve God in sincerity and truth.” Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.

My review:  I ordered this after hearing Fr. Altier’s homily on the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church. Although the synopsis indicates it tells about how Communism infiltrated the Catholic Church, it doesn’t.  It goes into the detailed story of how she became a Communist and how she was expelled from the party and eventually became Catholic.  Still, I’d recommend it.  It illustrates just how devious Communism is in its brainwashing. Four of five stars.

Saints

Lives of the Saints by Michael Ruszalia

Amazon Synopsis: This book, written from a Catholic perspective, provides an overview to the lives of the saints celebrated from January to March on the Roman calendar. It is the first in a series, which will cover the whole Church year. It makes for inspirational spiritual reading any time of the year, providing an introduction to the patron saints for many walks of life. Included are the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, Apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul, early martyrs like St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, early evangelizers like St. Patrick, medieval giants such as St. Thomas Aquinas, American saints such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, and many others.

My review: I got this during a free promo on Kindle.  It’s a beautiful book and I’m enjoying it very much.

Picoult

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Amazon Synopsis: For career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost, the question inspires pangs of guilt familiar to all parents torn by the demands of home and office. But whereas most parents lie awake at night vividly conjuring the worst scenarios that could befall their children in their absence, Nina lives the reality of such crises — and it’s her job to do something about them. Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters — and in the course of her everyday work, she has endured the frustration of seeing too many criminals slip through the system and walk free.
But even the strongest walls cannot guard Nina from the shattering discovery that her own beloved son has been sexually abused.
Five-year-old Nathaniel is the only one who knows the identity of his assailant — but in the initial fallout of his trauma, he’s been left mute, unable to speak a single word. Knowing the futility of trusting the courts to exact justice for Nathaniel, and ripped apart by a maddening sense of helplessness, Nina finds herself in a grip of rage she can’t deny — no matter the consequence, whatever the sacrifice. What does it take to be a good mother? How far can a person go…and still live with herself? What happens if one’s absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down?

My review: With the current crisis within the Church, I wanted to re-read this novel  that I had read years ago.  It packs a powerful punch.  Picoult dives head first into the topic of clerical abuse. This is one of Picoult’s best books, in my opinion, because she does an excellent job of keeping the reader turning the pages and at the same time eliciting fear, relief, joy, and sadness.  Highly recommend (NB: although studies show that the high percentage of young men abused by priests are post-pubescent, the child in the book is only five years old.)

Bound

Bound by Vigaya Bodach

Amazon Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi, an adopted girl from India, burn survivor, and primary caretaker of her intellectually disabled sister, Joy, has one dream–to be a physician. Her traditional Indian father relies upon Rebecca to care for Joy while he buries himself in work to drown his grief over his wife’s death. Leaving home is the only way Rebecca can envision reaching her goal. She helps Joy develop greater independence, and is devastated when Joy becomes pregnant. Rebecca tussles–with her father and with herself–over who is responsible for Joy and her baby. When Rebecca discovers the truth of what happened the day she was burned, she struggles to hold onto her dream while wrestling with questions of life, love, and responsibility.

My review:  Powerful debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story.  The characters are very well-defined, three-dimensional and real, the setting full of sensory details and the plot exceptional.  Highly recommend!

Julia’s Gifts (French) and Stealing Jenny (Italian) coming soon!

Special thanks to Marie Duval, translator, for the French edition of Julia’s Gifts and Daniela Mastropasqua, translator, and Adelia Marino, editor, for the Italian edition of Stealing Jenny!

The Forgotten Victims of Clerical Abuse

me and my dad

Summer, 1961, visiting my father at the psychiatric hospital

“He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.” Psalm 147:3

The recent revelations about Cardinal (now Archbishop) McCarrick, and the newly- published Grand Jury report from several dioceses in Pennsylvania, are disturbing, especially to the most devout Catholics.  Some members of the Church are leaving in disgust.  I haven’t yet read the PA Grand Jury report, but from what I can gather through social media, it will take someone with a strong stomach to endure the entire document.

The most recent announcement that homosexual networks existed within seminaries and dioceses has caused some Catholics to have a crisis of faith because numerous seminarians tried to alert higher-up prelates, to no avail. It’s unacceptable that a bishop – or as in the case of McCarrick, the cardinal – would be complicit.  Pope Francis has now made a public statement promising justice for the victims.

For every abuse that was reported, there are hundreds, maybe thousands over the past 70-plus years, that were not – and have never been – reported. There are many victims who will never see justice.

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 over 70 years ago. He is one of many who never reported the (likely ongoing) abuse.

My father’s abuser was indeed 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 1940’s, priests were placed on a pedestal. My father couldn’t go to his parents or other teachers or anyone because he was ashamed, and he didn’t think anyone would believe him. At the time, my father was discerning the priesthood.  To say the abuse confused him is an understatement.  I can’t imagine having to attend school and see your abuser every day and not be able to say anything.

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 illness 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.

It wasn’t easy to lose my father. But the first time I saw him in the casket after he had passed away, he looked more at peace than I could ever remember.  I felt confident that God would take care of him.

When I first found out my own 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’s struggles and suffering.  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. I know that there are many factors that cause someone to have a mental breakdown or become an alcoholic, but I believe the abuse contributed substantially to his ongoing despair.

So with the recent allegations, what is the way forward?  First, I’d like pass on encouragement to the many faithful and virtuous priests with the words of Dr. Janet Smith when she said: “To all you wonderful, faithful, chaste, devout, self-giving priests out there, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for answering the call and thank you for staying. The temptation to leave will be great. Please stay. We need you now more than ever. And please know I am praying ardently for you!”

Second, many of the links below give detailed ways the Church can move forward. One thing is for certain: leaving the Church is not an option.

Did my father ever leave the Church of his youth?  No.

Following his example, I will do the same. Why? Because my faith is not dependent on the pope, any priest or any human being. I’m Catholic and will remain so because of the Eucharist, because of Jesus Christ and because I believe God’s Word.  My faith also tells me I must forgive: the priest who abused my father, anyone who tried to cover it up, and any past and present priests, bishops and cardinals who have been guilty of any wrongdoing.

As Frank Sheed said in the early 60’s: “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope (Paul VI), but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope (or a priest, Bishop, Cardinal) could do or say would make me wish to leave the church, although I might well wish that they would leave.”

And there is always hope.  I believe very much what Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) predicted in 1969: “From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek… But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church.”

As we pray and make reparation in the days ahead, I ask you to pray for all those forgotten victims (like my father) who never reported the abuse, and for all families of abuse victims.

Let’s continue to pray and fast for all victims and their extended families.  As much as we yearn for a renewal of the Church and the defrocking of any cleric who chooses not to live a chaste priesthood, let us also continue to pray and fast for the conversion of the abusers.  As difficult as it is, we are all called to forgive.

Read more about the Grand Jury report here.

Read more about the homosexual subculture in the Church.

Read more about another victim

Read more about the root of the crisis.

(Opinion) Read more about why men with same sex attraction shouldn’t be priests.

Dr. Janet Smith’s Message to the Bishops: Save the Church, Tell Everything

Another excellent article from Dr. Janet Smith: McCarrick, Dissent from Humanae Vitae and the Sensum Fidelium

Sex Abuse Scandal Saps Trust in the Church, but Not in Church Teaching.

Chastity for All is Central to a Life of Holiness

Novenas and Prayers

Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Church

A Novena to the Saints for a Church in Crisis

A Novena for the Abuse Crisis

Copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

I Was Blind But Now I See #HV50

Another reprint in celebration of #NFP Week and the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae:

Ellie new glasses

1968, with my new glasses

When I was eight years old, I had no idea that what my eyes were seeing was, in actuality, a huge blur. Even my parents didn’t realize that I needed glasses. Because my eyesight had gotten worse so gradually, no one knew that I could not see well until the religious sisters at school sent a note home to my parents indicating that I should have my eyes checked.

There were hints, of course, that neither my parents nor myself noticed. I used to watch TV basically within an inch or so of the TV. When I read, the book was on top of my face. However, according to my mom, she never noticed me squinting. Again, I thought what I was seeing was normal and didn’t realize I couldn’t see clearly.

My mother eventually took me to an optometrist in downtown Philly to have my eyes tested, then we ordered glasses. I could not suspect how much my life would change with that small pair of (ugly) glasses. When we returned to Philly to pick them up, the elderly optometrist put me on a booster seat in the chair, took out the glasses and put them on my face. My eyes widened and my mouth fell open. I gasped. I could see every detail and every letter of every word in that office. I could see across the street. I remember the wide smile the optometrist had on his face as I was pointing out everything I could see.

On our way home, I kept pointing to everything. “Look, Mommy, I can see the Horn and Hardart’s sign! I can see that store says “Lit Brothers! I can see that pretty dress in the window over there!” Colors were brighter; it even seemed like I could hear better now that I could see so clearly. I was still in awe that night when I could watch Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In from 20 feet away and still see everything clearly. To me, it was nothing short of a miracle.

In the years following, although I went to Catholic school, my family had begun to fall away from the regular practice of going to Mass and I began learning my morals from television.

Fast-forward to 1979. I had visited my pen-pal in Canada and met my husband through her brother at a rock band jam session. We fell in “like at first sight” and began a long-distance relationship with me in NJ and him in Canada. However, when we were together, things usually got pretty intense, given that we rarely saw each other. I wanted to enter into a sexual relationship, but thankfully James had a pretty strong Catholic grounding so he kept us from going farther than we should. Three years later, when we were engaged and about to be married, it was James (age 19) who insisted that we use Natural Family Planning (NFP) and not artificial birth control. I saw no moral reason why we shouldn’t use artificial birth control, but he remained adamant. “I would rather have sex once a month without birth control than use birth control and have sex every day.” I remember thinking, “What planet is he from?”

However, as we communicated through letters (back in the early ’80s there was no free long distance, no texts, no SnapChat, no Facebook, no Instant Messaging, no Skype, no Facetime, no Instagram or any other instant communication), I realized this was no ordinary young man. The advantage of writing with snail mail letters is that we were able to take time and reflect on what we wanted to say. It became obvious that contraception was something that James was not willing to budge on. When he said, “Ellie, trust me and trust God,” I said say yes and agreed to go to an NFP class with him. I learned that NFP works in this way: a couple charts the woman’s signs of fertility and infertility. If they are avoiding pregnancy, they abstain from relations when the woman is fertile.

One thing we both agreed on and that was that we should wait for a few years to have children since James was only in his first year of college. A few days before our wedding, we realized that I would be right in the middle of the fertile time, which meant that our consummation would have to wait until a week or so after the wedding. After waiting three years, I was resentful. I went along with NFP, but was not happy about it. NFP seemed like a burden, not a gift.

A few months into our marriage on an evening that would be the beginning of Phase III (the infertile time), we had a romantic dinner and a beautiful evening of intimacy after a period of abstinence. All of a sudden, as I was lying in bed later that night, I realized that James and I were truly one, physically and spiritually, with nothing separating us: no pills, devices, no chemicals, no surgeries. With each act of marital intimacy, I felt as if we were renewing our marriage vows with our bodies.

That evening (and many others to follow) truly felt like another honeymoon night. Until that moment, I went along with NFP to please James. I wasn’t enthusiastic about abstaining. But when that light bulb moment hit, I realized what a beautiful gift NFP is, despite its challenges. Not only that, but I realized what a great gift it was to us that we had not had intercourse until marriage. “I was blind, but now I see.” NFP became glasses for my soul, and the reasons for NFP became much clearer to me.

From then on, I became a big promoter of chastity before marriage and a loud and enthusiastic proponent of NFP. In the grocery store, dentist’s office, anywhere that someone would listen, I would tell people about NFP, just like the time I got my new glasses: “Look, NFP has no side effects!” “Look, NFP means a couple can be truly one when they are making love!” “Look, NFP doesn’t harm fertility!” “Wow, NFP is 99% effective when a couple has serious reasons to avoid pregnancy and can even be used to achieve a much-wanted pregnancy!”

Without NFP, our marital union would have existed in a blur. With NFP, our marital union is clearer and more meaningful. NFP truly is like a pair of glasses for the soul. NFP has been nothing short of a miracle for our marriage. Does it mean there have never been problems or that I’ve never resented the abstinence? Of course not.  But NFP truly is a marriage builder, one that I can honestly say has been the main reason that the romance, intimacy and closeness has remained even after 36 years of marriage.

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach