The Path to Forgiveness

 

Photo by Kayla Hrkach, used with permission

My latest article at Catholic Mom:

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Many of us say this prayer multiple times every day if we are saying the Rosary. It’s important to take these words to heart every time we say them.

I’ve heard many people say “I’ll never forgive him,” or “I’ll never forgive her.” However, Christ didn’t qualify it. It doesn’t matter what the person has done to us or the heartache they caused. We must do our very best to forgive the person. This is NOT an easy thing to do, especially if the person you’re trying to forgive isn’t sorry for the pain they’ve caused you.

For most of my life, I had a difficult time forgiving an older female relative who verbally abused me throughout my married life. I spent years avoiding this relative, but sometimes it wasn’t possible. And while I thought I had forgiven her, a few years ago when someone asked me what had happened, I let it all come out and began reliving all the difficult moments. That’s when I realized I needed counseling and/or spiritual help. Later we discovered that she suffered from a mental illness and I just happened to be the convenient target for her verbal abuse.

As a grade school student, I was bullied by one particular girl who made my life extremely difficult. The religious sisters at the school loved me and I was a good student. But I was also the shortest in the class and probably weighed 45 pounds soaking wet. The girl was not that much taller than me and I was an easy target. I spent years holding onto a grudge against this girl and found myself thinking, “I hope she’s had a hard life.” But that isn’t forgiveness. I suspect now that she was probably enduring her own abuse and projecting that onto an easy target.

After my father’s death at the young age of 49, I found out that he had been molested by a priest when he was a boy. Because of the shame, he never told anyone except for my mother. He suffered from addictions and mental disorders and these all seemed to make sense in light of this information. I spent years thinking, “I hope that priest burned in hell.” I have always wished that there had been some justice for my father and for our family, who suffered along with him in his struggles. However, the thought that this priest’s soul was burning in hell was not forgiving at all. But truthfully, I didn’t want to forgive him for all the heartache he caused my father and our family.

So how can you forgive? First, ask the Blessed Mother to help you. She stood by, quietly, with great sorrow as her Son was beaten, scourged and hung on a Cross to die a painful death. She cradled Him in her arms afterward. She heard Him say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Mary forgave them because that is what her Son asked.

Second, when I was in confession with a priest a few years ago, he told me to pray for every person who has ever hurt me. So that’s what I did. I prayed for them, offered up sacrifices and prayed a blessing on them. I also prayed that the Holy Spirit would bring to mind all those that I needed to forgive. As well, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would bring to mind all those who needed to forgive me for any wrongs I’ve done, and I prayed for those people as well, that they would find it in their hearts to forgive me.

Then I began fasting, especially for those people I have had a hard time forgiving: the bully, the relative, the abusive priest. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. I didn’t like sacrificing for those who had hurt me. However, because fasting invites the Holy Spirit into our hearts and souls, He gave me the grace to forgive. Forgiveness didn’t happen overnight, but I was finally able to forgive the abusive relative, the priest and the bully and to love them unconditionally. I was finally able to think of these people in love, rather than anger. A burden had been lifted. I was also able to sympathize with what these two women and the priest must have gone through in their lives to treat others so badly.

Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the behavior. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t want justice if the person has committed a crime. It also doesn’t mean we should stay around and continue to be a target. However, embracing anger and holding onto a grudge hurts us and our souls. It doesn’t matter whether the person is repentant and/or wants to be forgiven. It’s important for us to be as merciful to others as we expect God will be with us.

If you find yourself in a position where someone is hurting you, offending you or being unkind, stop and say a quiet prayer of blessing on the person and the silent words, “Father, forgive him/her, for they know not what they do.” This is extremely helpful whether the offense is big or small.

To read an inspiring and compelling story of forgiveness, I highly recommend Immaculeé Ilibagiza’s book, Left to Tell. She was able to forgive the people responsible for murdering her family.

Forgiving others is one of the very foundations of Christian life. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we find forgiving someone too difficult, ask Our Lady to help, then pray and fast for those who have offended us. If we can’t forgive those who have hurt us, how will God forgive us for our sins?

Copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Dying for Compassion Cover Reveal

FQ Publishing (my company) has a new book coming out!  It’s Book #2 in the Lady Doc Murders called Dying for Compassion by Dr. Barbara Golder!

“It is rare indeed to find an author who not only tells a good story but writes with real literary flair. Barbara Golder is such an author. In this latest offering, we find the plot twists and twisted characters that one would expect in a good murder mystery but also the fine character development and deep insight into the human condition which separates the truly great mysteries from the run of the mill.” Joseph Pearce, Author, Tolkien: Man & Myth
Synopsis: What happens to a new love when an old one appears to claim first rights to a man and a marriage?Just as Telluride Medical Examiner Jane Wallace and Irish writer Eoin Conner take their first steps toward romance, Eoin’s beautiful wife Fiona arrives to resume her long-abandoned life with Eoin. When Eoin discovers that Fiona was responsible for the denial of their annulment, he returns to Ireland to find the proof to free him to marry Jane. After Fiona is found dead in her hotel room, Eoin is indicted for her murder. Unwilling to leave the matter solely in the hands of Irish authorities, Jane goes to Ireland to follow the evidence wherever it leads. She leaves behind a tangle of problems in Telluride, where it is left to her trusted friend Father Matt to unravel the mysteries at home, unaware that they hold the key to Jane’s mystery abroad.

Coming soon via Kindle and in paperback!

Special thanks to my youngest son for posing as St. Michael the Archangel!

Goodreads Giveaway – Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

FQ Publishing is hosting a giveaway for three paperback copies of Rightfully Ours.

Enter here to win a copy!

Young Adult Religious Fiction. A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend, and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake.

Reviews:

When Carolyn Astfalk unearths a newspaper clipping about a treasure hunter who struck gold, she turns it into a young adult romance novel. That took some doing, but as Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” A keen observer, Astfalk soaks her written pages with reality. Rightfully Ours, like her other romance novels appeals to the senses, especially those associated with food. You can smell the baking cookies and feel the bite of a January freeze. Her understanding of human emotions transports her readers into the minds of her characters as they experience blessings in the guise of disasters and conflicts. The reader cannot take for granted that a happy ending awaits in the last paragraph. (Don Mulcare)

Rightfully Ours is a fast-paced, exciting book that will hook you and keep you reading. It is not just for youth, but is a great read for adults, too. If you have a teen, read this book first before you give it to them. I recommend it for older or more mature teens, due to the intimate scenes described in the story. It is filled with non-preachy messages about the beauty of authentic love, which Pope St. John Paul II defined as the “theology of the body.” This does not mean that the book contains theological terminology, but it does mean that it deals with the issue of sexual temptation and assists teens in handling that. It also helps them understand the meaning of true love. I highly recommend Rightfully Ours for both teens and adults. (Jean Heimann, author)

Enter here to win a copy!

An Open Book – May 2017 #openbook

Open Book

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

St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners by Susan Tassone

Amazon Synopsis: “Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.” — Jesus to St. Faustina.    Throughout her Diary, St. Faustina speaks of Jesus’ call for the conversion of souls. Through prayer and sacrifice, the Lord calls us all to strive for our own conversion, and for the conversion of the whole world. Perhaps you’ve tried everything to draw your friend or family member back to faith in God. In St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, best-selling author Susan Tassone shows you how to place the lives of all you love into God’s merciful hands. Known worldwide as leading the “purgatory movement,” Susan invites you to learn how to live the message of conversion daily, to avoid purgatory, and to become more faithful in praying for others.

My review: Excellent book, as are all of Susan Tassone’s books.  “The Purgatory Lady,” as Susan is known, has written many books about the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the conversion of sinners. This book gives us ways not only to pray for our loved ones who are away from the faith, but it also helps us to grow in faith and to glimpse the mercy of God in action.  Highly recommend!

Heads Bowed by Lisa Mladinich

Amazon Synopsis: Catechetical thought leader Lisa Mladinich offers nearly 300 original prayers that will resonate with every Catholic teacher, principal, DRE, or catechist who has ever uttered the words, ‘Class, let’s bow our heads…’ Every teacher, catechist, or homeschooling parent appreciates a new collection of prayers to start the year. This book enables faith formation and prayer in a way that is easy to integrate into a busy class day. Mladinich provides prayers for the needs of both teachers and students, as well as Scripture verses and suggestions for use. Read these prayers in your classroom, by yourself before the start of the school day, in your religious education class, or in department and faculty meetings.

My review:  Beautifully written and powerful book of prayers.  This is ideal for teachers, homeschooling parents or religious education teachers.  Highly recommend!

 

Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World by Jean Heimann

Amazon Synopsis: Fatima. Few place-names in the Christian world conjure up such powerful images and associations as that of this humble town in Portugal. For it was there that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children beginning in 1917 apparitions that are intimately linked to pious Catholic practices such as devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the five first Saturdays, daily recitation of the Rosary with the Fatima prayer, as well as miracles attested to even by non-believers, such as the day the sun danced. The Virgin s message, as it always is, was penance. But she also predicted world historical events such as the rise and fall of communism, the second world war, and the attempted assassination of Pope St. John Paul II. She promised refuge in her Immaculate Heart to all who approach her a promise extended, and urgently needed, today.

My review: This is a wonderful book about the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria.  It is well-researched, well-written and filled with beautiful color photos and images.  In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima predicted many world events. After appearing monthly to the three children, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the recitation of the Holy Rosary along with the new Fatima prayer, and the first five Saturdays were spread throughout the Church and continues to spread throughout the Church even in the 21st century.  Although it’s been 100 years, Our Lady’s message continues to be urgently needed today.  Highly recommend!

 

In Name Only #FREE on Kindle

My gold-medal winning novel, In Name Only, is FREE today through Thursday (April 18-20) on Amazon Kindle. In Name Only is a Catholic historical romance, and is not a formulaic or Harlequin-type romance. It is the first in the O’Donovan Family Series.

Synopsis: Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn towards Him. Gold Medal Winner in Religious Fiction, 2010 IPPY Awards, Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller (February-March 2012).

Reviews:
“If you love romance but hate smut, pick up this beautiful story and let it carry you away. The characters are believable, layered, human and humorous even in the midst of tragedy. The reader never loses hope and is rewarded on every page with little gems of character behavior, dialogue, plot twists and romantic intrigue. I was so very sorry when it ended!”
Lisa Mladinich, author, True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life

“This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It has all the qualities that make for an outstanding memorable novel – and it’s Catholic as well. I highly recommend it!”
Therese Heckenkamp, author, Frozen Footprints, Traditional Catholic Novels.com

“There aren’t too many historical romance novels that appeal equally to men and women, but Ellen Gable pulls it off admirably with In Name Only. It’s great to read a Catholic novel that’s not overly “sanitized,” realistic enough to make you wonder if it’s really fiction, and yet not at all offensive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!” Gerard Webster, author, In Sight

“Gable has skillfully crafted this intriguing novel… which conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro-life story and a conversion story.”
Jean Heimann, author, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

To download the book for free on Kindle, click here: In Name Only, free on Kindle

Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk Now Available for Pre-Order

Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, Kindle edition is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com before its release date of April 1, 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

(NB: That’s my youngest son on the cover!)

To pre-order the Kindle edition, click here.

An Open Book – March 2017 #openbook

Open Book

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

 

midwife

A Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr

From Amazon: Martha Cade comes from a long line of midwives who have served the families of Trinity, Pennsylvania, for generations. A widow with two grown children, she’s hopeful that her daughter will follow in her footsteps, but when Victoria runs off, Martha’s world is shattered.  Worse, a new doctor has arrived in town, threatening her job, and she can’t remember a time when her faith has been tested more. Still determined to do the work she knows God intended for her, Martha is unprepared for all that waits ahead. Whether it’s trying to stop a town scandal, mending broken relationships, or feeling the first whispers of an unexpected romance, she faces every trial and every opportunity with hope and faith.

My review: Forthcoming

canadian-soldier

The Lost Memoirs of a Canadian Soldier

From Amazon: This book is a compilation of letters and diary entries from Len Willans regarding his time in World War 1.

My review: I initially bought this for research for my WW1 novels.  It’s heart-wrenching and at the same time, fascinating to read this soldier’s diary from 100 years ago.

making-faces

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

From Amazon: Ambrose Young was beautiful. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore. Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

My review: This was an entertaining read, although it had more sexual tension than I’m used to in a Christian novel.  Also, there were a fair number of typos. Overall a good read, though.

 

wedding-dress

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

From Amazon: Four brides. One Dress. A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim? Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.” Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

My review: I enjoyed this book very much. It was pure entertainment, not too deep, somewhat predictable.

marriage

Marriage: A Fountain of Grace by Rosalie McPhee and Catherine Doherty

From Amazon: Love, love, love: never counting the cost. The timeless wisdom of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House, is featured prominently in this new series of books. The theme of Catherine’s Little Mandate–a beautiful distillation of the Gospel of Jesus–weaves throughout and serves as an important foundation. Each book also gives an abundance of brief and profound quotations from Holy Scripture, and quotations from some of the great Catholic saints. These books are small enough to carry anywhere–and their wisdom is arranged in bite-size segments that you can read on the run, whenever you can spare time.

My review:  This is one of my favorite little books and I even have a personally autographed copy by Rosie McPhee Douthwright!  This is a perfect gift for a wedding shower, but it’s also an excellent book to give to engaged couples.  Highly recommend.