I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that time has been speeding along at a breakneck pace. I can’t believe it’s the middle of October now–and that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!
I love this time of the year. Here in northeast Ohio the leaves turn different shades of yellow, red, and orange. Winds pick up, sometimes chilly but often warm. We set ourselves to working hard at homeschooling, knowing that we have several months ahead. An introspective feeling seems to carry on the breeze and whisper through the windows and in my soul.
It is a time to offer thanksgiving for the lazy days and fun we had all summer long, the gifts from our little garden, and the other abundant blessings–even amidst the strangeness of this particular year.
No matter the setbacks and losses, who can doubt that God has showered each of us with blessings. He loves us each so very much and will stop at nothing to call us to even greater happiness. Let us thank God more fervently for the many gifts He gives us, for those interior and exterior, those visible and invisible, things of nature and supernatural gifts too.
Let’s also pause to consider how we can share our blessings with others. We do that in many ways and many times throughout the year, but also as we prepare for Christmas. I love thinking of every person on my list and trying to come up with the perfect gift, one that fits his or her personality and that he or she might enjoy. It’s a bonus when I can find gifts that might also point a person to the giver of all good gifts: Our Lord.
Catholic fiction does just that. And it makes the perfect gift for children, who like to read stories again and again or even just enjoy the pictures.
I’ll share a few suggestions with you now.
On the road to San Damiano, Grandma Nonna shares with her grandson Antonio a once-upon-a-time story about Saint Clare. Full-color illustrations and a delightful tale capture the beauty and faith of Saint Clare as she pursues her vocation and embraces the joyful and simple Franciscan spirituality. Ever-appreciative of the little things, Clare’s happiness blossoms even more with her wonderful discovery of a tiny kitten.
Saint Clare and Her Cat by Dessi Jackson, illustrated by Martina Parnelli
For more Catholic saint stories for children by Catholic author Dessi Jackson, visit the author’s Amazon page HERE. For more Catholic children’s stories written and illustrated by Martina Parnelli, visit the author’s website HERE.
A baby reindeer who has yet to even receive his name is captured and taken to a new land. Meanwhile, as Christmas Eve draws near, a saintly bishop and a holy monk plan a surprise for the poor of their village. When their path crosses that of the baby reindeer, a legend is born. Delightful, full-color illustrations help tell the story.
Saint Rudolph and the Reindeer by Susan Peek, illustrated by Ann Peek
For more children’s saint stories by Susan Peek–and also saint stories for teens–visit the author’s website HERE.
This lovely read-aloud for ages newborn to 5 takes children on a journey steeped in the magical wonder of the moon and its Creator. A young girl travels from the city to the country, describing phases and aspects of the moonlight with a heartfelt understanding of beauty. “God put it there for all to see, but especially because He loves me.” Jean Schoonover- Egolf’s watercolor illustrations delight on this journey of simple faith and family life.
God Made the Moonlight by Erin Broestl, illustrated by Jean Schoonover-Egolf
For more books written and illustrated by Jean Schoonover-Egolf, be sure to check out her Molly McBride and the Purple Habit series on her website HERE.
George Pennington wants to be a knight! This is the first in the Armor of God six-book series of children’s fantasy-adventure chapter books. Illustrated with pen and ink drawings, this story tells the importance of telling the truth. It also includes mini-catechisms from “Brother Coll,” making it perfect for children preparing for their first Confession and First Holy Communion.
Belt of Truth by Theresa Linden, illustrated by Theresa Linden
For book two in the Armor of God series by Theresa Linden–and also for Catholic teen fiction, visit the author’s website HERE.
This one is for the teens, from junior high and up! This Christmas-themed anthology contains 8 short stories by the CatholicTeenBooks.com authors. Stories are in a variety of genres including contemporary, dystopian, historical, and a saint story.
Gifts Visible & Invisible by 8 CatholicTeenBooks.com authors
For more Catholic fiction for teens, visit CatholicTeenBooks.com. There you’ll find over a dozen authors and many genres. Also short stories, novels, audiobooks, themed book packs, and gift packs–complete with swag!
Feel free to share other book suggestions in the comments. Books really do make the best gifts!
Not just the big ones. Every little choice matters.
If you’re a Catholic, you might remember from the Catechism: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven (Baltimore Catechism No. 1 #6). That’s the purpose of life! How do we do this? Every choice we make in every single moment of our lives either draws us closer to God or turns us away from Him.
Beginning from the first moment you wake up in the morning, you have choices. You can check your phone to see who messaged you overnight, dive right into your day with your thoughts on what needs done, drag yourself to the kitchen for coffee, hit snooze on your alarm clock and steal a few more minutes of sleep, or you can take a moment to turn your heart to God and consecrate the day to Him.
On your way to work, when the car ahead drives too slow for you, you have a choice to offer up the inconvenience or to grumble and complain–or show impatience in worse ways. When another speaks unkindly during the day, you have the choice of responding in kind or responding with charity and mercy.
Countless times a day we face little opportunities to make a choice, when facing responsibilities, carrying old and new crosses, dealing with kind or unkind people, receiving opportunities, and when stirred with the inspiration to pray or help others.
God hinges our salvation on our choices, and He has from the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had everything they could’ve hoped for, but they also had a little test, a single command from God.
Sadly, our first parents chose themselves over God and death entered the world, along with suffering, illness, conflict, and the like.
God, who knows all things, knew our first parents would fall, but He made them—and all of us—anyway. God allowed the Fall because something greater would come from it. He allows all the evil and suffering in the world only for this reason: that some greater good may come of it. The greater good that resulted from the first fall: the Son of God took on our human nature and came into the world to save us.
But even this God did not accomplish without human cooperation. God could’ve saved us in any way He wanted. He could’ve come into the world in any way He wanted. But He chose to come into the world through the assent of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The angel of the Lord appeared to the Blessed Virgin and told her the plan of God. At that moment, she had a choice and all of heaven waited for her response. Mary’s choice became pivotal to the salvation of the world.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
And because of her choice to accept the will of God, the Savior came into the world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (1 John 1:14).
God does not change. He continues to come into the world, to bring His salvation into the world through us. He makes us his co-workers in the work of salvation (1 Corinthians 3:9), hinging the spread of salvation on us.
Think of the story of the Wedding at Cana. When the Blessed Mother told her Son that they had run out of wine, Jesus could have simply made more. He’s God. He can do anything. But He asked for the servants’ help. He asked that they fill six stone jars with water. Once they did their part (which they did the best they could, filling them to the brim it says in John 2:7), then Jesus performed a miracle and turned the water to wine.
Through our words, example, actions, prayers, and especially in the patient bearing of our crosses we can bring the love of God more and more into our lives, our families, our places of work and play, our countries, and the world.
Good can come from our daily sufferings, illnesses, conflicts, disappointments, and failures. Whenever we make the choice to follow the way of Jesus by taking up our crosses as He took up His, a greater love grows in us. If life went smoothly and our choices to love were easy, our love wouldn’t be as deep as the love we are called to through the way of the cross.
“Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
God knows us through and through. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He has always known what family He would make us a part of and all the people that would come into and out of our lives. The situations each of us find ourselves in are the best situations for us to grow in holiness. All the crosses, challenges, joys, and responsibilities present choices whereby we can choose to love in the way God has loved us. Without the fall, we wouldn’t have the opportunities and challenges to live according to that love that imitates the great love of God. Our choices, even when made from love of God or neighbor, might not bring the results we hoped for, but God brings good from them when, like the servants at Cana, we do our best.
What if we don’t do our best? What if we choose selfishness and sin instead? Just as our good choices affect many others, so do our poor choices. Sin has consequences. Saint John Vianney once said, “Sin is the assassin of the soul.” Sin and lukewarmness take us down the wide and easy path that leads to hell. Additionally, the selfishness and sin of one brings sadness, hurt, and additional crosses to many others.
Our choices matter.
We were made to come to know, love, and serve God in this world so that we can be happy with Him in the next. But it’s easy to get distracted. Temptations have us falling and going down the wrong path way too often. We need reminders. That’s one reason a regular prayer life and faith-filled friends are important.
Good books are another way we can remind ourselves of what matters and find inspiration to continue on the steep and narrow path that leads to life. The following stories will remind readers of the importance of our choices.
All in Good Time– this contemporary Christian romance by Carolyn Astfalk shows how poor choices made in the past can affect a person and others in their life for years to come. It addresses tough themes that aren’t often dealt with in fiction but should be. We can read articles and studies about the challenges of single parenthood and of losing a spouse and of the long-term effects of giving into temptation and pornography, but reading a novel that deals with these issues takes it to a deeper level. We get to see the thoughts and experience the feelings these characters have throughout their challenges, failures, and victories. This novel recently won honorable mention in the Catholic Press Association.
Shadow Stalker – this speculative thriller by T. M. Gaouette is truly thought-provoking and unique. With paranormal elements and a high sense of urgency, this story is riveting and intense. The powerful themes—or maybe warnings—speak to disturbing elements of today’s culture and make clear that all our choices have consequences, even when we think no one is aware of them. The reader will likely be examining his or her own conscience right along with the characters. The author is a first-place award winner in this years Catholic Press Association book awards.
Tortured Soul – this purgatory soul story shows how the consequences of our choices go with us to eternity. Every one of us will stand before the judgment seat of God. At that moment, we will see our souls as God sees them. We will see each of our choices from our earliest years to our last moment on earth, and we will realize that every one of them matters. Every choice has either drawn us closer to God or turned us away from him. This story is loosely based on the apparitions of souls in purgatory to modern day mystic Eugenie von de Leyen, and it recently won honorable mention in the Catholic Press Association book awards.
Did you know that Saint Clare of Assisi was the Patron Saint of television?
Pope Pius XII declared her the patron in 1958 just as televisions were becoming popular everywhere. Why would he pick a Franciscan nun dedicated to poverty who lived in the 13th century, years before anyone even thought of this invention?
Well, believe it or not, Saint Clare was the first person to experience a “broadcast” Mass. As she neared the end of her life, she became too ill to attend Mass in person, so the Holy Spirit projected the service onto her wall. Now she could watch it from her bed and she didn’t have to miss Mass!
The saints have such amazing stories, don’t they? If you have children, please check out Saint Clare and Her Catfrom Silver Fire Publishing. It is a sweet picture book that children of all ages are sure to enjoy.
In twelfth century England, an attack by bandits in the middle of the night leaves a young boy with no memory of who he is or where he is from. Nursed back to health by the devoted monks in a Benedictine abbey, he takes the name Alexander, or Xan for short. Aided by the kindly Brother Andrew, and his best friend, Lucy, Xan commits himself to finding out who he really is. Is his family still alive? Why has God allowed so much suffering into his life? And who—or what—is the shadowy figure creeping around the abbey in the dead of night?
Shadow in the Dark is an enjoyable medieval adventure with interesting characters, each with their own unique personality. The opening scene endeared the main character to my heart with his bravery, struggle to know the right thing to do, and risk-taking to help others. The mystery and adventure will pull readers along all the way to the last scene, which has a beautiful message of forgiveness. Shadow in the Darkhas enough descriptions to take readers to the middle ages without bogging the story down.
When good books are often in short supply, I am excited to discover another story that has a high entertainment factor, educational value–I learned a few things about monks and the Middle Ages–but also positive role models and messages for young readers. The courage of the main character is a much-needed virtue for our time. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Catholic fiction
The boy jolted awake to a thunderous drumming. He rolled off his straw mattress. The dirt floor trembled beneath his toes, almost tickling them. Da-doom, da-doom, da-doom. “Father? Mother?”
Vapor puffed from his mouth in the dim light. Dawn must be near.
Across the cottage, Father sprang to his feet, his thick hair jutting out in all directions. “Listen. Horses!” He pulled a brown tunic over his head as Mother stirred next to him.
The boy grabbed his own tunic, sticking his arms into its scratchy woolen holes. Then he slipped on a pair of thin leather shoes. Father might need his help.
Hoots and curses and screams rang out from the far side of the village—a chaotic mix of angry shouts and terrified cries. Hardonbury Manor must be under attack!
Mother clung to Father’s hand, her eyes wide with fear. “What do we do, Nicholas?”
“Stay here!” Father bolted out the crooked wooden door, letting in a rush of misty air.
Bitter smoke stuck to the boy’s tongue—not the pleasant smell of the hearth, where Mother heated their broth each morning. Nay, it was foul smoke, worse than the stench of the fire that had burned the crops in the West Field last year.
Mother sunk her face into her hands.
“Don’t worry.” The boy hugged her tight. “God will protect us.”
“Son!” Father’s voice called from outside.
“Coming, Father!” He squeezed Mother’s hand and burst out the flimsy door.
A surge of heat slapped his face as flames sprang up from the thatched roof of a nearby cottage. The manor house on the hill was burning, too! Dark clouds of smoke poured from windows on its high stony walls—like rows of filthy chimneys staining the red sky of dawn.
Villagers scurried about in all directions, but six burly men had gathered to defend Hardonbury with their tools: hoes, shovels, and long scythe blades for the wheat harvest.
Father stood among the defenders, taller than the rest. His shoulders were squared, and his eyes glistened in the firelight. Maybe Father wanted him to join the battle.
“I’m here, Father.”
“Nay! Take Mother and run, son,” Father yelled. “’Tis bandits!”
Just then, the village blacksmith sprinted down the lane toward them, his huge hands balled into fists, pumping back and forth. A bandit dressed in black pursued him on a sweaty horse. Dust swirled into the smoky air with the strike of each hoof.
The horseman held a long wooden mace crowned with metal studs. He bore a jagged scar on his cheek, and his thick, crooked nose looked as though it had been broken and never healed. He kicked the blacksmith to the dirt, then swung the mace and hit the poor man’s head with a bone-cracking blow.
“Get ready, men!” Father said. He waved his son off: “Not you.”
The boy shook his head hard. He would never run and leave Father to fight alone. He might be only eleven years old, but he’d worked the fields with Father each day and cleaned the tools with Father each night. He was old enough to fight bandits with Father, too.
Five men on horseback rode up in a cloud of dust, joining the scarred bandit. They circled the defenders, penning the boy out. A few of them carried crossbows fitted with sharp quarrels. He couldn’t get to Father without fighting through them. More bandits were heading this way, too, judging by the sound of it.
An “engaging medieval adventure with appeal that transcends its denominational press.”
School Library Journal (June 2020):
“Tweens and teens who enjoy a medieval setting, plenty of action, and a good scare won’t be able to put this book down.”
Catholicmom.com (July 2020)
“[A] wonderful middle-grade mystery adventure…. The worldbuilding is excellent, and the characters are believable.”
Antony Barone Kolenc (“Tony”) retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps after 21 years of military service. He is a law professor who teaches courses on constitutional and military law and has been published in numerous journals and magazines, and he speaks at legal, writing, and homeschooling events. Tony and his family live in Jacksonville, and are the proud parents of five children and three grandchildren. His book, Shadow in the Dark, Book One in The Harwood Mysteries, is available in paperback, as an ebook, and on audible from Loyola Press.
“Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world.”
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Do we know what is happening in the world today?
Evil runs rampant. Over 20,898,000 babies worldwide died from abortion so far this year; over 526,946 suicides; over $196,583,000,000 spent on illegal drugs this year (see https://www.worldometers.info/ for continuously updated numbers). And what about the numbers for violent crime, sex trafficking, sexual depravity, and—most troubling—the priest sex abuse scandal?
Plus, there has been a great loss of faith. Less and less identify as Christian. More and more embrace everything from hedonism and New Age beliefs to pure evil. And even among Catholics, over 69% no longer believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (see Pew Research).
We’ve known about all those things, but what have we done about them? And now, within the past few months, we’ve been struck with more–things we cannot ignore even if we wanted to! The entire world lives in fear of a virus, and we’ve completely changed the way we live our lives. Terrorists are destroying countries from within. Many churches are still closed. And who knows what lies on the horizon?
But do we really know what is happening in the world today?
The news media reports these tragedies, one after the other–too often with a slant. The situation in our world today can terrify us if we don’t have the right vision. We are called to live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). We need to look beyond the wars and rumors of war, the plagues and violence, and even beyond our own needs and physical well-being. We need to see with the eyes of faith. What underlies all the conflict and tragedy we see and hear about in the world? It is the spiritual battle between good and evil.
Are you a child of light?
Archbishop Vigano, in his letter to President Trump, recognized the two opposing sides that exist as eternal enemies and which are growing in our world today: the children of light and the children of darkness. He sees the forces of darkness, which once concealed their true intentions, revealing their plans openly in this generation, certain that they have won. He suspects that the riots in America, and those happening at the same time in Europe, have been orchestrated to dissolve the social order and build a new world without freedom.
Vigano recognizes the opposing sides within the Church as well: “the faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ” vs. the “mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by the ravenous wolves.”
It is enough to make your head spin. It is enough to make one despair.
Has God forsaken us?
While it sometimes feels like God has forsaken us, God has already proven His love for us by sacrificing His only Son in atonement for our sins. He loves us and desires our salvation. He made each one of us to be happy with Him forever in heaven, so we can know with certainty that whatever cross comes our way, He only allows it so that some greater good will come of it. So the question is, have we forsaken God? Heaven is ours if we choose it, and we choose it by choosing God in our everyday actions.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Jesus, John 14:15
For those who are not living in the state of grace, misfortune serves as a wake-up call. For those in a relationship with Jesus, trials and crosses are meant to purify a soul like silver in fire. By uniting our sufferings to the cross, they become valuable, and when added to our prayers, they can help many souls. We have no need to fear pain, suffering, inconvenience, bad news, setbacks, and other disappointments.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
If we remain close to Our Lord and strive for holiness, we have nothing to fear in these dark times. But we do have a role to play. Pray, do penance, and have courage.
You were made for these times!
God wants you to be His instrument. And if you are tempted to think that you are too little, too much of a nobody to accomplish great things, think of Saint Joan of Arc, who was called by God as a teen, led the French in several battles, and then died a martyr’s death all by age 19.
Think of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He developed a deep spiritual life at a young age, and joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society so he could care for the sick and needy–even at the risk of his own health. He contracted polio from the sick he tended. So great was his love, so fearless his faith, that he even asked that his medicine be given to another.
Think of Blessed Isidore Bakanja, a merciful catechist who forgave the attackers who caused his death–they hated him for his Catholicism and his African race. He converted to Christianity at age 18, wore the Brown Scapular, and carried the Rosary with him everywhere he went. He also zealously shared his faith with anyone who would listen and on his death bed promised to pray for his attackers in heaven.
Or take this contemporary teen and expert in computers for your role model, with his brief but intense witness to an authentic Christian life. Venerable Carlo Acutis attended daily Mass, prayed the Rosary daily, and developed a website that catalogs Eucharistic miracles. He died of leukemia at the age of 15, after offering all his sufferings for the pope and the Church.
So, what are we to do in these difficult times?
Look to the saints for the examples of courage and faith that we need today. It is really such an honor that we are called to be the saints of our generation! The light in our dark culture!
Using Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we must learn our faith inside and out so we can embody it, teach it to our children, and share it with anyone who will listen to us. Our formation is a never-ending process, and we must make sure our children realize that too.
We should also learn our history. Some seek to erase it as part of their plan to destroy our country. And we should make sure our children know it.
Heed the messages of Our Lady made known at Fatima and elsewhere: God calls us to holiness, to lives of prayer and penance. He calls us to be faithful soldiers of Christ, in the army of God.
Visit Jesus often in the Blessed Sacrament, the unique gift of His presence with us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Pray the Rosary daily, avail yourself of the sacraments, and invest in the Brown Scapular.
Live the Faith. Learning and speaking about it is nothing if you are not living it for all to see and learn from your example.
Let us also remind ourselves and instill in our children the fact that we were not made for this world but to be with God in the eternal happiness of heaven. We are pilgrims in this world, on our way to the castle of the Great King.
“Have we lost sight of this world being a pilgrimage? It’s a journey. You’re not home yet. A Christian must never lose sight of this passing reality of life.”
Mother M. Angelica
Heaven help us.
Jesus has not left us orphans. He has promised to remain with us always, to the close of the age (Matt 28:20). He fulfills this promise in the Most Blessed Sacrament, His true presence among us. And He will remain in our tabernacles and on the altar in every Catholic Mass until the end of the age. Even if we aren’t allowed to go to Mass for a period of time.
Who would’ve ever imagined that we would be forbidden from attending Mass for so long? These are indeed unsettling times. I seem to remember a verse in Daniel that talks about the Holy Sacrifice being abolished and abomination being set up in the holy place (see Daniel 12:11). Jesus referred to this verse when asked what will be the sign of His second coming and the end of the age (see Matthew 24:15).
Are we at the end of the age?
Some believe we are. Some also believe that we will soon experience the illumination of conscience that many saints, blesseds, and modern-day seers have told us about. If you have not heard of it before, let me explain. This will be like a mini judgment where every person sees their soul as God sees it. We will each see the sins of our life and the consequences of those sins. We will know and feel our eternal destination, should we die without repentance. This is a gift of mercy, whereby sinners will have the opportunity to reconcile with God.
To Saint Faustina Kowalska Jesus said: “In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish suffering mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy.
Diary of St Faustina, #1588
I recently read a novella that reminded me of this supernatural event, though the author had not been following Marian apparitions and was not aware of the illumination of conscience. She wrote the story and set it aside for years but recently felt called to work on the story and publish it. I read an advanced copy and knew at once it was a story for our times. This story had me thinking hard about the times we live in and the drastic decline in morals. And it had me thinking of this prophecy, the illumination of conscience, which I do wish would come soon. I want to see my soul as God sees it, so that I can change whatever is displeasing to Him. I want the faithful throughout the world to grow in holiness and for the unfaithful to repent.
Story summary: It all happened one morning. It was as if the world had gone mad. Well, maybe not the whole world, but enough of it to get noticed. People were waking up as if possessed; suffering souls resorting to tearing at their skin, crying out loud to no one in particular, haunted by a sudden internal torment that no one around them could decipher. For investigative reporter Elijah, this news story was way bigger than a scoop. Unless he could unmask the truth behind the madness, how could he stop it, once and for all? And more urgent – how could he keep it from happening to him?
Get the book HERE. Learn more about the author, T.M. Gaouette, HERE.
“Write this: before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens of this sort: All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth. Then the sign of the cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day.”
Three Last Things, or The Hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin by Corinna Turner
Release Date: Sunday 28th June – Sts Peter and Paul
Book Patron: St. Maximilian Kolbe
“Love doesn’t exist. And Fr. Jacob is right about one thing.Without it, life is utterly meaningless.”
NO LOVE. NO NOTHING.
Carl Jarrold, a convicted assassin, believes that all human relationships turn on what one human being wants from another: that there is no such thing as love and thus no meaning to life. Prison chaplain Fr. Jacob, the closest thing he has to a friend, has struggled for three long years to convince Carl how wrong he is—to no avail. But the day of execution has finally arrived, and nothing goes quite as Carl expects. Soon it’s shaping up to be the strangest day he has ever had. But will it prove the worst day of his life…or the best?
This tense, “psychologically-compelling,” spiritual thriller is a standalone novella from the Carnegie Medal Nominated author of the award-winning I AM MARGARET series. Described as “beautiful,” “fantastically good,” and “one of the most moving stories I have ever read,” this is a race against time for the highest possible stakes.
Buy the book today to join Carl’s attempt to beat the clock.
Includes a free sample of the novella Brothers
This book has received the SOA from the Catholic Writers Guild.
Beautiful! Corinna Turner is one dang good writer!
REGINA DOMAN, author of The Angel in the Waters and the award-winning Fairytale Novels series.
Fantastically good! It made me cry real tears, circumventing all my defenses. I have never read a more psychologically-compelling account of conversion anywhere. It makes very complex and sophisticated truths about grace, sin, freedom, mercy, justice, atonement, redemption, repentance, and salvation crystal clear and compelling, without being cloyingor “nice,” or contrived.
DR. VICTORIA SEED, Theologian and Speaker
WOW! I was soooo on the edge of my seat! Tense, and suspenseful, and touching, it had me alternating between laughing out loud and cringing and cheering and wanting to cry. I totally loved it!
SUSAN PEEK, author of the God’s Forgotten Friends series
WOW, fantastic! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.
ANDREA JO RODGERS, author of At Heaven’s Edge and On Heaven’s Doorstep
Catholics now have a “go-to” resource when experiencing memory impairment in their family.
“I remember the moment when my mother sat me down during Thanksgiving college break to tell me that my grandfather’s dementia had gotten so bad that he could not remember her name,” Matthew Estrade recalls from November of 1997. His grandfather was in a nursing facility in New Orleans, but she still struggled to cope with being a caregiver. No one could have guessed how that moment would impact Estrade and thousands of caregivers – or as he calls them – “care partners.” After losing his St. Bernard Parish home in the destruction of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, he continued working and enrolled in a gerontology master’s program at the University of Louisiana (ULM) in Monroe, LA.
Estrade, having graduated since, is the author of The Peace with Dementia Rosary: Education, Intentions, Community, a spiritual and practical care guide for Catholics seeking a primer on dementia education, built around intentions and the prayers of the Holy Rosary, and emphasizing the strength of community. Brian LeBlanc, an advocate, speaker, and person living with dementia penned the foreword. The book was granted the Imprimatur by Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans on June 6, 2019.
“Dementia is a broad term used to describe a group of chronic symptoms that may include memory impairment disrupting everyday life, diminished judgment, inability to plan, challenges with words and communicating, disorientation of time and place, and other symptoms. Dementia can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, vascular dementia, frontotemporal degeneration, or other irreversible diseases,” says Estrade.
Since publication, the book has turned into a community that Estrade fosters through an online prayer wall, daily Facebook live videos, weekly blog articles, and a monthly Facebook live Rosary and Dementia Q&A. He also facilitates a monthly care partner support group at his parish, Mary, Queen of Peace (MQP) Catholic Church in Mandeville, LA. The MQP group has become a model for groups that Estrade is seeking to create in other dioceses all over the country. Estrade says, “If there are parishes that want their own dementia support group, I’ll help them get started.”
The feedback from both care partners and professionals have been very encouraging. Care partner Joe B. wrote, “I love how you related the intentions of the mysteries to dementia. I feel blessed having you guide me through this journey with my wife of 52 years. You have discovered your ministry.” Ralph L. Piedmont, Ph.D., Managing Director, Center for Professional Studies states, “I found The Peace with Dementia Rosary to be a wonderful pastoral piece! Your commentary was very insightful, compassionate, and supportive. There are many tough motivations going on in such situations and works such as yours can be a real asset to them.” The book has also resonated with many non-Catholics who appreciate the practical dementia tips.
The vision of The Peace with Dementia Rosary book, its social media, and support groups is to offer a level of education and comfort that I wish my mom had as a care partner, says Estrade.
The Peace with Dementia Rosary is a ministry dedicated to helping families impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias find peace and hope through education, intentions, and community. It is based in New Orleans, Louisiana and was founded by Matthew Estrade.
Moonchild Rising (Shadows of the Sun #1) by Mina Ambrose
Mara the Huntress resides in the sunny little town of Archangel, California, the location of the Gate of the Underworld—a fact unknown to the general populace. Most people don’t even know that vampires exist. As Huntress, Mara does know, and it is her job to kill those that dare venture forth to the Upperworld to prey on the humans living there. She is well-suited to this purpose, gifted with skills and talents far surpassing those of ordinary mortals. Though some vampires manage to evade her, she has so far managed to prevent the unleashing of a full-scale infestation. She has been at this job for a good portion of her not-quite twenty years, and it seems she has everything in hand. Then one day she gets a chill of foreboding, a feeling that things are about to change…
For she stands in the way of the master vampire’s plan for world domination, and, he fears, may be a key player in the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy foretelling his destruction. One dark night he sends the mighty Prince (his second in command) to put an end to this Huntress, this bane of vampires, once and for all. Mara confidently goes out to face him, but finds she has met her match at last. Just as all hope seems lost, this powerful vampire turns from the “dark side” to become Mara’s ally in the battle against his own kind.
Her first warning was that unnatural chill in the night. Mara Dawn Amarantides froze, listened. Caught the slight whisper of a cloak and a flapping sound, as of bat’s wings. And that choking smell of death, faint but unmistakable. Vampire!
She twisted around, her long, golden braid swinging across her back and glinting in the circle of white cast from the streetlights. Where…? That alley across the way? No, no, further… She ran down the sidewalk, dodging the occasional pedestrian, frightening them perhaps, but—no time to apologize, this was urgent. A matter of life and death. She peered down side streets and alleyways, eagle eyes missing nothing as she flew past. Nothing…there was nothing out of the ordinary. Where is it? Have to find it before…
There—a rhythmic squeaking sound was moving away from her down an alley and out onto another street. She squinted into the distance; the light wasn’t good in that concrete-and-brick canyon. Just at the far end was the faint glow of a streetlight. Ah, there—a boy on an old bike, not in any hurry, it seemed, apparently oblivious to the horror hot on his trail. She felt that telltale chill again, stronger now, wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant smell, and looked around, eyes piercing the shadows. Nothing but the usual reeking garbage and clutter tossed carelessly about or jammed against the wall.
A cat yowled, dashing between her feet; she leaped aside, heart pounding. Good grief, what next! She’d no more than restored her calm and resumed her dash down the alley, when movement caught her eye, up ahead and off to the right a bit. Her heart jerked into overdrive again; stake in hand, she was ready for business. Just a rat, this time; it slithered behind a garbage can and was gone. She exhaled slowly.
Then she saw it. Even to her, the vampire looked like nothing more than a black blur, so fast did it move. Most mortals wouldn’t have seen that much; would, in fact, have had no warning at all.
She caught a glimpse of the boy on the bike again, just as he was about to turn the corner from the alley onto a quiet street. It looked as though he sensed something, then; maybe he felt that chill cloud of gloom bearing down on him, for he glanced back and stared. His eyes went wide with terror, and he surged into action, pedaling at a furious rate, his bike squeaking madly.
He might as well have been standing still; he’d never outrun the thing, Mara knew. It would be on him before he reached the end of the block.
She swept the surrounding area with a swift glance, missing nothing. Only one this time? Vampires were loners, true, but perpetually hungry, and more often than not several would emerge to hunt at any given time, to scatter in every direction, no doubt to foil her attempts to catch them all. An exercise in futility; she tracked them down quite quickly, as a rule.
No time to think about that now. This one was the immediate danger, all that mattered at the moment. Shadowy arms reached out toward its prey, long gleaming claws reflecting the meager light. Too close. Fast as she was, she’d never catch up in time to stake it.
She slipped a hand inside her jacket, exchanged the stake for her small crossbow. With narrowed eyes locked on that shadow-blur, she loosed an arrow. And another, right behind it, in one swift motion. Two bolts! Overkill, maybe—she’d never failed to hit her target dead-on, but—no, she couldn’t have that thing take the boy down just because she got overconfident. She was good at this, but vampires were fast and could kill in a heartbeat.
Her bolts flew true; one-two, straight to the middle of that shadow-shape. It shrieked, a long, pitiful wail, and fell writhing to the pavement. Then it disintegrated.
The boy glanced around, eyes huge, but he never slowed; sped up, if anything. That spine-chilling cry must have scared him half to death, but Mara doubted he’d seen anything, except maybe a cloud of dust if he was very sharp. He likely hadn’t seen her either. Her black attire blended her into the shadows; she wasn’t easy to see even when you knew she was there, and most people didn’t.
As soon as the boy was away, down the street and around the next corner, she went to retrieve her arrows. Her soft boots made no sound on the pavement.
The evening breeze had picked up, wafting away the last bits of vampire dust. The air smelled fresh and clean again. All clear now. Stars were out, sparkling overhead. It was a nice night, after all. Even so, she did not relax her vigilance. That could be fatal in her line of work. For others, if not herself.
She was about to be on her way when she heard a fluttering sound. A paper loosely tacked to the nearby wooden pole of a streetlight had torn loose at one corner and was flapping in the breeze. On it was a grainy photograph and bold black letters proclaiming: MISSING. Her heart sank. Not another one! She walked nearer and reached up to smooth the poster. A new one, obviously, so clean and white next to those other notices faded and tattered at the edges. Again some vampire had slipped past, it seemed, despite her watchfulness, to prey on the humans she was bound to protect.
How did they manage to elude her? Was there another gate to the Underworld that she didn’t know about, where they sneaked out a back door while she stood guard here at the main gate? Father Mike had assured her that this insignificant little town of Archangel was the gate; the only one, at this time. And he should know.
Deep in thought, she made her way to the public library, open late tonight, where she had arranged to meet her friends to study. Despite her calling, she still had to get through college.
Mina Ambrose was born in Oregon, a cradle Catholic, and grew up on a farm. Along with taking care of animals, she enjoyed reading, drawing and painting, playing music (mainly accordion, but a smidgen of piano, organ and guitar), and of course, writing. She began with stories and poems, as well as jotting down pages of notes—ideas for novels that never went anywhere due to the distractions of her many other interests. But she kept them on file and took them out occasionally to dream.
At age 21 she moved to British Columbia with her family. There she married, and for a number of years was raising children and running a busy household, her other interests relegated to the back burner (though she took them out and dusted them off occasionally). During this time she found new interest in sewing, gardening, and baking dozens of cookies and muffins for her growing family.
After her five sons and three daughters were grown, she returned to college, determined to at least get her Bachelor of Arts degree. (And did.) Meanwhile, she had a short story and poems published, and reawakened that life-long dream of writing a novel. As she wrote, it grew and grew, until the novel became a series: Shadows of the Sun. Moonchild Rising is Mina’s first novel, Book One of the series.
Mina is a member of the local Art Society, Catholic Writers Guild and the American Chesterton Society (as well as volunteer typist for their online project), and has also been involved in the Pro-life movement for many years. Mina has recently begun playing violin, and, since her retirement, once more finds herself baking cookies, in order to have some on hand for when her grandchildren come to visit. She lives surrounded by her eight adult children, eighteen grandchildren and one great granddaughter.
A fast-paced, engaging book that draws clear lines between Good and Evil, leading the reader on a great adventure through the darkness we cannot see. I loved the story—and I’m not even a fan of vampires!” Michelle Buckman, award-winning author, Rachel’s Contrition and Turning in Circles
“Can a vampire’s soul be saved? With beautiful imagery, Moonchild Rising pairs a redeemed vampire and a skilled huntress battling both the undead and the desires of their hearts.” Carolyn Astfalk, author, Come Back to Me and All in Good Time
We want our children to fall in love with their faith and to become saints! The Catholic faith is so rich and beautiful, like a treasure just waiting to be unpacked. We can help our children to explore this treasure in so many ways, and one of my favorite ways is through stories. That’s why I write Catholic fiction!
Jesus taught with stories. They have a unique way of helping us to own gospel truths. The second book in the Armor of God series, Breastplate of Righteousness, is available now. In this fantasy-adventure chapter book series, readers will dive into the Scriptural Armor of God—one piece at a time—as they follow George Pennington and friends.
Put on the full armor of God…
…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; 16 above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I just love Scripture verses that create a visual picture. Ephesians 6:10-17 encourages us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power by describing a soldier dressed in full armor. Each piece of armor represents a different virtue that we, as Soldiers of Christ, ought to “put on”: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, boots of peace, shield of the faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God.
The children in the make-believe Armor of God series struggle to earn each piece of armor by practicing the virtue related to it. It’s not easy, but by the end of each little story, the characters learn how important it is to practice the virtue associated with each piece of armor. And I hope readers will be inspired to practice these virtues too!
Even though we can’t see the spiritual battle, it is very real. And Scripture verses like this help us to visualize this battle that we can’t see and help us to respond to the challenges we face in a way that gives glory to God.
The stories for the entire series are completed. Once the pen-and-ink artwork is completed for each story, they will be released. Books one and two are available now! Give your children another way to explore the treasure of the faith through this series and with other Catholic fiction.
This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Corinna Turner’s book, “Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon.” It is a CWG Seal of Approval recipient! Can the world’s only half-sheep girl be friends with strange, dog-like orphan James, who keeps disappearing every full moon? Buy Link:
Can a half-sheep girl and a werewolf be friends?
Mandy Lamb is the world’s only half-sheep girl, thanks to a spot of well-meant but ill-advised genetic tinkering. She’s starting senior school and she’s about to meet James, a strange, dog-like orphan who has a bad habit of running off at the full moon. With danger on the way, will James prove friend or foe?
This page-turning rural fantasy is a heart-warming tale about friendship, trust, and courage–and not letting what you are define what you do. Those looking for a unique, challenging read will love this ‘animal yarn with a Christian twist.’
Buy the book to start reading Mandy and James’ adventure today!
The boy dropped over the high stone wall and landed lightly on his feet. He remained motionless for a moment, listening, then eased through the shrubbery until he could peep out. Round the front of the house he could just see a woman standing next to a car. He could hear her tapping her nails impatiently on the hood. He had very good hearing.
“Well?” the woman asked, as a man hurried out to join her. “Where is he?”
“There’s a rolled-up blanket in his bed. Didn’t you check last night?”
“No, I didn’t check. It’s about his ‘time of the month’, isn’t it? Do you think he chooses the full moon specially, just to wind us up?”
The boy loped across the lawn and let himself in quietly at the back door.
The woman went on, “I’m sick and tired of phoning the police only to have him come strolling back in time for breakfast. Quite frankly, I’ve reached the point where I’d rather not know if he’s taken himself off for a bit. But today? He seemed so keen on the idea of a fresh start!” She heaved a big sigh. “Well, I know he’s missing now. I shall have to phone the police.”
She swung around and started—the boy stood behind her. He had a rucksack on his back and a water-filled plastic bag in his hands with a big black goldfish swimming around inside.
“There you are!”
“You haven’t been waiting long, have you?” asked the boy politely.
The woman made an exasperated noise and opened the car door. “Come on, get in, then.”
The boy didn’t move.
“You haven’t yelled at me yet.”
The woman shook her head. “Oh no, James, in a few hours when we reach Wales you’ll be someone else’s problem and I shall let them waste their breath. In you get, now.”
The boy shrugged, slipped off the rucksack and stuffed it in the back as she got into the driver’s side. He settled into the passenger seat and put the fish on his lap.
She glanced at him. “Is that everything?”
“It’s all I want.”
“Well, be careful with that fish.”
“I’m always careful with my fish,” said the boy, flatly.
The woman glanced at him again, but stuck the key in the ignition rather than reply.
The man looked through the car window. “Bye, James. The new place sounds nice. Try to make it work, won’t you?”
CORINNA TURNER is the author of the I Am Margaret and unSPARKed series for young adults, as well as stand-alone works such as Elfling and Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon (for teens) and Someday (for older teens and adults). All of her novels have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (except new releases for which the Seal may be in process). Liberation (‘I Am Margaret’ Book 3) was nominated for the Carnegie Medal Award 2016 and Elfling won first prize for ‘Teen and Young Adult Fiction’ in the Catholic Press Association 2019 Book Awards. Several of her other books have been placed in the CPA Awards and the Catholic Arts and Letters Awards.
Corinna Turner is a Lay Dominican with an MA in English from Oxford University, and lives in the UK. She has been writing since she was fourteen and likes strong protagonists with plenty of integrity. She used to have a Giant African Land Snail called Peter with a 6½” long shell—which is legal in the UK!—but now makes do with a cactus and a campervan. You can find out more at www.UnSeenBooks.com.