An Open Book – September #openbook

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

All Quiet On the Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque

Synopsis: Considered by many the greatest war novel of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front is Erich Maria Remarque’s masterpiece of the German experience during World War I.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. . . .

This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm. But the world of duty, culture, and progress they had been taught breaks in pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches.

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . .  if only he can come out of the war alive.

My review: I tend to avoid books written in the present tense, but this one does it well. I also found it fascinating that this book is written from the POV of a German soldier instead of an Allied soldier. It doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the war and humanizes every soldier, both German and Allied. It has beautifully written passages. Highly recommend.

Synopsis: Fear is at the heart of the sexual revolution, and its most fitting monument is the “hook-up.” Dr. Morse exposes the sexual revolution’s fraudulent promise of freedom and fearlessly explodes some of modern society’s most cherished—and destructive—myths. She argues that strong, lasting marriages are essential for the survival of a free society, not to mention basic human happiness. She fires the opening shots of a new sexual revolution and shows how everyone, married or single, can help.

My review: I picked up this book for five dollars at a local Catholic bookstore. I liked it, but the author didn’t go far enough in explaining why contraception is disordered and one of the underlying causes of a “hook-up” world. However, on the whole, it was an excellent book. Recommend.

Synopsis: If you met God today, what would He say to you? Words of Hope is a collection of powerful dialogues and sayings given by Jesus to four gifted saints from the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Genoa, Gertrude the Great and Margaret Mary Alacoque. These souls possessed the gift of “locution,” the ability to hear the actual voice of God. In this book, author Craig Turner collects into categories the locutions received by these saints, words from God that are meant not only for these four souls, but for all mankind.

My review: This is a beautiful book with powerful words given by Jesus to four gifted saints. These souls could hear the actual voice of God. Recommend.

Amazon Synopsis: Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is a friendly, conversational book about pregnancy, birth, and your first three months as a new mom. With respect and honesty, authors Bonnie Way (mom of 5) and Anna Eastland (mom of 9) share their experiences, walking expectant moms through some of the questions and concerns they may experience from conception to colic. This book includes tips on dealing with first-trimester exhaustion, dressing your baby bump without breaking the bank, choosing the best care provider for your pregnancy, whether or not to write a birth plan, dealing with pain during labour, taking care of yourself and baby after birth, and more. If Bonnie and Anna could sit down with you to have coffee and chat about pregnancy and new babies, this is what they’d like to tell you – mom to mom.

My review: I enjoyed this step-by-step book for new mothers. It offers great information, especially for first-time moms. Recommend.

Arnprior Author’s New Novel Wins Award

The local newspaper published an article about my newest award.

Photo by James Hrkach

Local author Ellen Gable Hrkach is already an award-winning author whose books have received top prizes in various fiction awards. But, for Hrkach, the award for her newest book is particularly satisfying. Where Angels Pass, Hrkach’s twelfth book and based on a true story, won First Place in the Catholic Media Association Book Awards in the category of Catholic Novels (Educational). Her book also won Honorable Mention in an additional CMA category of Best Book by a Small Publisher. 

She says, “I’m grateful for any awards or recognition, but to win a CMA Book Award is a bucket list item that I can now check off.”  The CMA judges gave this comment about Hrkach’s book: “This is a timely and well-written story, showing the effects of child abuse by a priest, not only on the victim but also on the victim’s family. A worthwhile read!”

Hrkach explains, “Where Angels Pass tells the fictionalized story of my father’s abuse and the ensuing tragedies that befell our family because of that abuse. My siblings and I didn’t find out about the abuse until after my father died. When I discovered the reason he had such a troubled life, it all made sense to me.”

By writing this book, Hrkach wanted to share that despite the clerical abuse that had occurred for decades in the Catholic Church – and specifically with her father – her own Catholic faith, although tested, prevailed nonetheless. Similarly, her abused father remained a Catholic until his tragic death. She says, “I had a beautiful relationship with my dad and, despite all the difficulties, he was a wonderful and caring father.” Author Jim Sano says that the book is “a love story of a daughter for her father…that will surely touch people in a profound way.”

Former attorney and author Michael Seagriff says, “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. Masterful job mixing fact with fiction.”

Originally from the Philadelphia-South Jersey area, Hrkach is now a dual citizen. She began writing religious fiction as a hobby twenty years ago when her five sons were small children. “When I first started writing, I planned to eventually get around to working on a story about my father’s life, but for twenty years, I couldn’t actually sit down and write the story, partly because it was too difficult to relive our family’s most disturbing experiences.”  Then, Hrkach relates that, “Last summer, I just sat down and wrote for three weeks until I finished the first draft. Yes, it was excruciatingly painful to write about, but it was also very therapeutic.”

Six of Hrkach’s books have been translated into various languages, and the author’s books have been collectively downloaded 780,000 times on Kindle. To date, she has published twelve original works, has ghostwritten five others, and has contributed to numerous other books and websites.  Find out more about her at http://www.ellengable.com.

Where Angels Pass is available in ebook, paperback and hardcover on Amazon and through the author: fullquiverpublishing@gmail.com

The Apostolic Pardon by Susan Tassone

I’m pleased to welcome Susan today on my blog, writing about the Apostolic Pardon that very few Catholics know about. We’re blessed to know about it because the priest gave the Apostolic Pardon to my mother-in-law at the same time she received the Last Rites before she died five years ago.

THE APOSTOLIC PARDON

Don’t Leave Earth Without It

BY SUSAN TASSONE

During the Covid lockdown, my family experienced two Covid deaths and three unexpected deaths. All in a row. We had 6 Aunts and 2 uncles and as a result lots of cousins. Sadly, only one aunt remained, Aunt Babe. But within two months Aunt Babe contracted Covid. She was dying. My cousins contacted me uncertain how to reach a priest. I was hundreds of miles away.

Anxiously checking the internet, I contacted St. Patrick’s Church in the area to get a priest to administer the last sacraments. The pastor answered, but he needed to contact the Bishop’s office. It was his office that assigned trained “Covid priests” to give the last rites. He couldn’t guarantee a priest would be available. Thirty minutes later he contacted me. A priest was available. This priest drove three hours to get to my dying Aunt. He gave her the last rites with the Apostolic Pardon.

She died that night with the grace of all graces, the final blessing of God to die in the state of grace with the reception of the last sacraments, wearing her treasured scapular.

WHAT IS THE APOSTOLIC PARDON?

In my book, Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls, I have a special section specifically for the sick, suffering and dying. Msgr. Patrick J. Gaalaas wrote this important section on the Apostolic Pardon.

“The Church provides powerful helps to persons who are dying. Most importantly, she obliges her children to seek the grace of the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion (Viaticum), and the Anointing of the Sick. She obliges her priests to ensure that the faithful in their care are not deprived of an opportunity to receive them.

In addition to these, there is a little-known, but important, plenary indulgence that is granted to the dying. Administered by a priest, it is called the “Apostolic Pardon,” or “Apostolic Blessing.”

The Handbook of Indulgences puts it quite forcefully: “Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence.”

The Apostolic Blessing has two forms in the ritual for the Anointing of the Sick. Both are short and easy to memorize:

Form A: “Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May he open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”

Form B: “By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

WHAT IF THERE IS NO PRIEST PRESENT?

The question, of course, arises: “What if there is no priest present when a person is dying?” The Handbook of Indulgences reassuringly stipulates that “if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons, who are rightly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be obtained in an articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime.” Note the two conditions: The dying person must be “rightly disposed” and have “regularly prayed.”

Being rightly disposed means to be in the state of grace and without attachment even to venial sin. This is required in the gaining of any plenary indulgence. Just what does it mean to have “prayed regularly in some way during their lifetime”?

The Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, promulgated by Pope Paul VI, in 1967, notes: if one of the faithful in danger of death is unable to have a priest administer the sacraments and impart the Apostolic Blessing, “the Church, like a devoted mother, graciously grants such a person who is properly disposed a plenary indulgence to be gained at the hour of death.”

The one condition is the practice of praying for this all during life. Use of a crucifix or cross is recommended for the gaining of this indulgence.” The one condition necessary in such a situation, then, is that the dying person should have desired this indulgence — and prayed for it! No doubt, this can be accomplished in many ways, (i.e., Nine First Friday Devotions, Five First Saturday devotions).

It’s important to know about the Apostolic Pardon so you can request it for yourself and others, or a loved one.

Leaflet Missal Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers the Apostolic Pardon Prayer Card available to purchase. (1- 800-328-9582)

I carry a few with me. A friend who died passed these cards out at her wake!

GREGORIAN MASSES

I didn’t stop there for my dear Aunt. I arranged Gregorian Masses for her soul through the Pious Union of St. Joseph.

Gregorian Masses are a series of Holy Masses celebrated on thirty consecutive days for one deceased soul. A departed monk appeared to St. Gregory and declared that he had been delivered from purgatory upon the completion of thirty Masses.

(However, the church does not officially confirm this but points to the efficacy of the Masses!) Sacred Congregation of Indulgences has declared the tradition to be “a pious and reasonable belief of the faithful.” Put them in your Wills!

HOW DOES ONE PREPARE FOR ETERNAL LIFE?

Was my aunt prepared to die? Was she in the state of grace? I would hope so. Are you prepared? Over a million souls died of Covid. How many died unprepared?

We must be prepared at all times. We need to pray on a regular basis so we are prepared for eternal life. It begins with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should not wait until the last hour to seek reconciliation with God and our neighbor.

The best way to prepare our soul for eternal life is a constant attitude of forgiveness in our heart and actions. We are called to exercise patience in adversity, assistance to those who are afflicted, love of neighbor and a sincere devotion to Our Lord and His mother — all in the spirit of unceasing prayer, and humility which draws down grace upon us.

PRAY FOR THE DYING

One reason prayers for the dying has faded is because society does not think about death. The saints and Christians prayed for special grace and strength at the hour of death. There are many different prayers that can invoke blessings for the sick and dying and to offer for our own souls now and at the hour of our death. Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls is a great resource for the sick suffering and dying. It’s also a source of catechetical teaching to young members of the Church who should become familiar with the prayers and devotions.

Pray for the sick, suffering and dying. Recite the Pious Union Prayer for the Dying.

They become the holy souls! Mercy on them will bring us also the crowning mercy of a holy death. Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “As we enter heaven, we will see them, so many of them, coming towards us and thanking us. We will ask who they are and they will say: ‘A poor soul you prayed for in purgatory.’”

Susan Tassone is the author of 14 best-selling, award-winning books including Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls, Day by Day for the Holy Souls, Jesus Speaks to Faustina and You and Praying with the Saints for the Holy Souls. EWTN declared Susan is the all-time best-selling author in the history of the network.

#NFP Awareness Week #nfpawareness

This week is NFP Awareness Week.

Natural Family Planning, Supporting God’s gifts of love and life in marriage.

Check out these articles I wrote about NFP!

Rebuilding a Culture of Life 

NFP and Resolutions for the New Year

Humanae Vitae and the Benefits of NFP

Responsible Parenthood and NFP

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

Congratulations to FQP authors @amandalauer @ellengable @CM_Association #bookawards

Three FQP Authors have won in several categories of the 2022 Catholic Media Book Awards:

Ellen Gable, Where Angels Pass, FIRST PLACE, Catholic Educational Novels.

Amanda Lauer, A Freedom Such as Heaven Intended, FIRST PLACE, Catholic Inspirational Novels.

Alan Van’t Land, Eternal Light of the Crypts, Third Place, Catholic Educational Novels.

Ellen Gable’s Where Angels Pass also won Honorable Mention, Best Book by a Small Publisher.

Congratulations to all the authors, publishing companies, and websites whose authors have won awards.

Check out the complete list of the winners at the 2022 Catholic Media Book Awards.

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.