The Mystic That Inspired Tortured Soul

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Ever since I was a young woman, I’ve been interested in learning all I could about the Four Last Things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. This led to me reading about purgatory. Which led to me reading about apparitions of souls in purgatory to the living. Which led to me caring deeply for the suffering souls. Which led to me praying for them.

I remember the suffering souls at Mass and, in addition to other favorite prayers, I often say the St. Gertrude prayer:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

Prayer given by Our Lord to St. Gertrude

For the past few years, I’ve felt inspired to write a story that will draw attention to the teaching on purgatory and to the need of the suffering souls for our prayers. Tortured Soul is that story.


This supernatural thriller is set in contemporary times and upstate New York even though it was inspired by modern-may mystic Eugenie von der Leyen, who lived from 1867-1929 in Germany.

Today I’d like to tell you a bit about the visionary. You can watch the video below or skip down to the modified transcript.

This story is unlike anything I’ve ever written. Most of my books are geared toward Catholic teens but this story was written for adults.

Eugenie was a princess who lived in a castle in Waal, Bavaria, Germany.

She was a well-educated and well-loved woman who seemed to know everyone in town, including a shepherd who died several years previously.

Eugenie was very devout but she was not a saint. Many saints have received visitors from the suffering souls and seen visions of purgatory–St. Padre Pio, St Gertrude the Great, St. John Vianney, St. Faustina–but I wanted to use Eugenie’s experiences because of the message it sends: praying for the holy souls in purgatory is not just the work of the saints but is something we are all called to do.

Another reason I decided to use Eugenie’s experiences for my story was because once she began receiving these unusual visits, her confessor ordered to write them down in a diary. After her death, this diary was given to Bishop Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII. In this diary, she recounts her experiences in great detail, telling what the souls looked like, what they said and did, and also how they made her feel. Sometimes she felt great pity and compassion but other times terrified, depending upon the level of purgatory the soul came from.

In one experience, she describes the soul who appeared to her as looking like a tree. While this soul terrified her, she prayed for him–showing just how courageous this woman was. She prayed for him at Mass, offering her Holy Communion, and with other prayers. She also sprinkled holy water on him and in a few days, he started to appear more like a person. After more prayer, she could tell that this was a man and not a woman. A few more days of prayer and she thought she recognized him–it was the shepherd who had died several years previously, a man she had pitied and prayed for during his life. However, he did not respond to his name. He could not speak until she offered more prayers on his behalf. Then he could tell his story.

I combined two of the souls that appeared to this mystic for the sake of the plot. One of these souls had a dark connection with the actual mystic, which I can’t share without spoiling the story. But Tortured Soul is very much a story of mercy.

The protagonist in Tortured Soul, Jeannie Lyons (her name is a modified version of the mystic’s name), is called to a great act of mercy. The soul in this story also makes known the profound mercy of God at work in his salvation. Purgatory itself is the mercy of God.

This teaching and other teachings on purgatory come to light in this story. For example:

  • the suffering souls benefit greatly from our prayers and sacrifices
  • the state of one’s soul at death determines the level of purgatory a soul goes to/through
  • the souls in purgatory experience the greatest pain–unlike anything we experience in the world–but they also experience the greatest joy–again, unlike anything we experience in the world
  • their suffering is a great longing for God
  • souls wouldn’t have it any other way; they want to have that purity needed to be in the presence of our All Holy God

“Nothing impure can enter heaven”

Revelation 21:72

I am honored to have the endorsement of Susan Tassone (the Purgatory Lady) for this book.

Visit my website to learn more: http://www.theresalinden.com

Tortured Soul is available on Amazon and through any bookseller. Support your local Catholic bookstore by requesting this book through them.

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I Am God’s Storyteller

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I Am God’s Storyteller invites children to use their gifts to shine God’s light and share the Gospel. Offering children examples of noted storytellers in Bible history (Sarah, Moses, Deborah, Esther, David, Isaiah, Mary, John the Baptist, and the Evangelists and early Church), this colorful and engaging picture book also looks at how Jesus used storytelling to teach and share his message of faith, hope and love. I Am God’s Storyteller concludes by asking children to be “God’s storytellers,” and helps them to understand that our world needs them now more than ever to shine God’s light.

Includes information for parents, teachers and caregivers, with suggestions and guidelines for building a love for storytelling in the hearts of children. With encouragement and empowerment, young storytellers are sent on a mission to engage the world around them with joy and creativity.


My Review:

I Am God’s Storyteller – the theme of this story really spoke to me, and not just because I am an author. Our Lord calls each of us to witness to Him and to the ongoing story of His love for us. With colorful illustrations on every page and clever insights, this book goes through salvation history with God’s story and His storytellers. And it challenges readers to see that they are part of this amazing story and they are God’s storytellers too!

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Am-Gods-Storyteller-Lisa-Hendey/dp/1640601627

Author Website: https://lisahendey.com

It was a pleasure to meet the author at this year’s Catholic Marketing Network in Lancaster, PA. She signed my copy of the book to my parish with a personal note. Lisa visits schools and parishes, but is also available for virtual visits.

If you’ve read this book, share your thoughts in the comments!

NEW RELEASE: The Power of Forgiveness

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The Power of Forgiveness
by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Published by Our Sunday Visitor

ISBN-13 978-1-68192-466-3

Retail Price $4.95

Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2YQq17k

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

How many times have we uttered those words in The Lord’s Prayer? How many times do we stop to consider what we are saying? We are asking God to extend mercy and forgiveness to us in the same manner as we treat those who have hurt us in some way. Do we really mean that?

It is hard to ask for forgiveness from God. It is difficult to admit that we have done wrong, that we have failed in our relationships with God and with others. This is one reason why people don’t take more advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is very humbling to have to say our failings out loud to another person. The bigger the failing, the more humbling it is.

In The Power of Forgiveness, you will come to understand more fully that God’s mercy is always there. Through true stories of the lives of saints and examples from the Bible along with a short prayer and reflection questions, this devotional helps us focus on the challenge and power of offering forgiveness.

The Power of Forgiveness is a useful reflection in preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation or for every day prayer.

Part of the Companion in Faith series.

About the Author

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is a lifelong Roman Catholic with a B.A. in Art and History and a Masters in Applied Theology. A homeschooling mother of three, she has been working as a Catholic writer and editor for the past fifteen years. She blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com and is editor of TodaysCatholicHomeschooling.com

contact: pfmacarthur@comcast.net


Sample Reflection

They Know Not What They Do

And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ – Luke 23: 34

Jesus forgave not only those who personally ordered and carried out his torture and crucifixion, but all those who contributed by standing in the crowd shouting, “Crucify him.” When we repeat those words on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, we are forced to think about our role in crucifying Jesus.

When I sin, my thought process doesn’t usually go that far. I’m not consciously trying to hurt Jesus. Instead, I’m thinking about what seems good for me in that moment. The devil is skilled at making what is evil seem attractive. My human nature is weak. The guilt comes later, after I’ve given in to temptation.

The same holds true when people sin against us. Very rarely is someone intentionally trying to ruin our lives or inflict long-lasting emotional pain. Instead they give in to their human weakness. They are tired, frustrated, or angry about the pain in their own lives and take out their rage on us…The sins are real; the pain is real; but they know not what they do.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, help me to forgive as you forgive those who hurt you.

Reflection

Looking over your life, can you recall the times that you unintentionally deeply hurt someone else due to your human weakness?

Book Tour for Award-winner The Other Side of Freedom

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 “The Other Side of Freedom.” is a 2018 Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval recipient! In 1925, the thirteen-year-old son of immigrant farmers witnesses a crime and must choose whether to remain silent as his father asks or defy evil to save his family.

The Other Side of Freedom

Summary:

In a southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

Excerpt:

The closer Sal got to Freedom, the more the butterflies in his stomach fluttered. For the first time in his life, he had to sneak into town. He didn’t belong anymore, wasn’t welcome, wasn’t even safe. None of his family was. All because of a crime they didn’t commit. 

My Review

As a fan of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney. This story, set in the 1920s, has so many historical and time-period details, from the 1924 Ford Model T Tudor to the mention of Al Capone and the first black man elected to the US Senate. The tension begins in the first scene when Sal finds well-dressed strangers at the door. And the tension mounts from there with an attempted bank robbery, a death, sneaking and spying, and a lot of tough choices and obstacles for thirteen-year-old Sal. Toney’s attention to descriptive and sensory details makes this story even stronger.

This coming-of-age story about Sal, who belongs to a tight-knit Italian family, helps readers to understand the difficulties of farm life during this time period, the ugliness of segregation, and the courage of the immigrant. It also brings out a strong message of courage and self-sacrifice. I highly recommend this book.

Connect with the author:

Website:http://www.cynthiattoney.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy/
Twitter:https://twitter.com/cynthiattoney
Instagram:https://instagram.com/CynthiaTToney

Author Bio:

Cynthia T. Toney writes for tweens and teens because she wants them to know how wonderful, powerful, and valuable God made them. Her novels include The Other Side of Freedom, which received a 2018 Catholic Press Association CPA Book Award, and the Bird Face series, which begins with 8 Notes to a Nobody. Her books include thought-provoking questions for classrooms and book clubs. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S., where she resides with her husband and several canines

Buy Links:
https://.amzn.com/1944120394/

Link on Catholic Teen Books website (has purchase links):

https://www.catholicteenbooks.com/the-other-side-of-freedom

Link on Tumblar House Catholic bookstore:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Catholic Children

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Books by Susan Peek,

author of fast-paced saint stories

ChristmasFrontCoverMeet Saint Anastasia, one of the greatest Christmas saints and the Patroness of Martyrs. Take her hand and let her lead you to the Crib! For centuries, this humble and unassuming martyr has remained hidden in the shadows of the stable. Yet of all the saints in Heaven, she is the only one whose feast day falls on Christmas itself! It’s about time she stepped forward and made some new friends! Join Saint Anastasia and her best friend, Saint Theodota, as they bravely prove their love for God and neighbor, even unto the sacrifice of their own lives.

AOGfrontCoverChildren’s Stories of Animals Who Encountered Saints . . . Told from the Animals’ Points of View! Three delightful stories for young Catholics, beautifully illustrated with black and white drawings. Includes Bonus Reproducible Coloring Book in the back! Stories in Volume One: “The Little Lamb’s Wish”  “The Hungry Gray Mule” and “The Loyal Friend”

AOGV2cover final front cover animals of god volume two (2)Two more stories of animals that encountered saints…told by the animals’ points of view! Stories include: “The Lion Who Lost His Appetite” Rex the Lion has it made. A delightful tale of a saint’s unwavering trust and God’s infinite power, told from the lion’s point of view! “Cuthbert for Breakfast” An endearing story of brotherly love and God’s unfailing mercy, told by the little goose’s point of view!

SmallFrontCoverGOD and learned to love Him enormously! Being different from others is never easy. Saint John the Dwarf, of all people, could tell you that! Forever standing on chairs to reach things, unable to play games with other children because of his size, and being teased by the village bullies were all hard things to bear, and could have made John bitter and full of self-pity. But John discovered a secret – a great BIG secret – which changed his life and turned him into a giant of a saint. Join Little John on his adventures – from his home to a desert cave, to the altar and beyond – and let him teach you his secret of holiness too!

WilliamFrontCoverMeet Saint William, a young French nobleman who could have had it all . . . and gave it all up!Riches, fame, knighthood, an easy life in a grand castle. These were the things that rightly belonged to William by his noble birth. Instead he chose to leave it all behind and give himself completely to God. Building a hut in the quiet woods, he planned to live out his days there in prayer and solitude. But God had other plans for William . . . plans that ensured his suitcase would never stay unpacked!Join William as God sends him one surprise after another, until William finally receives the biggest surprise of all!

MY REVIEW

Whether she is writing teen fiction or children’s stories, Susan Peek knows how to bring characters to life and send them on exciting adventures.

Every book has detailed, beautiful artwork that allows children to visualize scenes. The simple vocabulary makes her stories easy to understand and enjoy. The setting details and imagery Susan Peek uses will draw young readers deeper into the story, speak to their imagination, and stir their little hearts.

Peek’s stories definitely entertain, but they also encourage virtue. The message of each story will appeal to a child’s sense of awe and have them appreciating the Blessed Mother, the saints, holiness, and the Blessed Sacrament in deeper ways.

Visit Susan Peek’s website. Find all of Susan Peek’s books on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.


Little Runty Trilogy by Martina Parnelli

RuntyBook1FrontCoverA fresh telling – based on actual events! – of the trip taken by the donkey that went to Bethlehem, and all the wondrous things that he saw on the way and there at the cave. Full color illustrations bring to life more vividly this charming account of the classic Christmas story.

 

RuntyFrontCoverIn this exciting adventure, we join the donkey that was present at the crib of Bethlehem. Follow him as he accompanies the Holy Family through the events that occurred on their way to their new home in Egypt. Wondrous miracles, joyful happenings, visits from angels, or great hardships, Little Runty was there and saw it all!

 

Runty Book 3 frontAngels, miracles and adventures await Little Runty in this last of the Little Runty trilogy. The little donkey who went to Bethlehem and Egypt with the Holy family now rejoins them for the trip home. The trek is full of surprises and hardships and at its end there is the question of Runty’s return to the farmer from whom he was borrowed. Follow Runty through his journey and its happy conclusion in this last of the Little Runty series.

MY REVIEW

Author and artist Martina Parneli has created a delightful trilogy that will not only entertain but edify its readers. Parneli’s sweet and engaging writing style is sure to connect with children. Detailed and beautiful artwork fill these books, giving young ones a lot to look at while being read to. Inspired by Venerable Maria D’Agreda’s book The Mystical City of God these stories provide unique insights into the Christmas story and beyond. All three stories convey beautiful messages like trusting God even with your imperfections, knowing that He has a plan for you, making the best of a situation, working hard, and holding onto hope. Through these stories, readers will also grow in a deeper understanding of the trials and sacrifices the Holy Family likely experienced during Jesus’s early years.

Visit Martina Parnelli’s website. Her books are available on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.


This month I am linking up with Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com. What have you been reading lately? Feel free to link up your blog post too! You can find the details here.

Sweet Romances for Sweetest Day

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Sweetest Day ~ Saturday, October 20th

Are you ready?

I just discovered that Sweetest Day is mostly celebrated in the Midwest. Well, that makes sense, because I also discovered that it started in Cleveland, Ohio!

In 1921, Herbert Birch Kingston, an employee at a candy company, wanted to make the less fortunate happy, so he passed out candy to the homeless and orphans around Cleveland.

A year later, it became an official holiday!

So Sweetest Day is not just for couples. You can do something sweet for anyone! And while candy is nice, I think books are better!

This Sweetest Day, I would like to recommend a few sweet inspirational romances that will deepen your understanding of and longing for true love.

I’ve also interviewed the author, Carolyn Astfalk, so you can see what makes her books unique.


41MmpqQbnbLWith her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection. Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse. With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

Click here for reviews.  Click on the book covers to reach the Amazon links.


OG-Front-Cover-FINALAfter his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

An inspirational Christmas romance that spans every season.

Check out the book trailer here.


rightfully oursSixteen-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? Themes include premarital chastity and overcoming temptation.

This young adult Christian fiction is always listed high on Amazon’s “Values & Virtues” category.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.


Author Interview: Carolyn Astfalk

I’ve read all three of your published books. I found them all to be well-written and enjoyable with characters that remained with me even to this day. Stay With Meand Ornamental Graces are both adult romance and Rightfully Ours is young adult. Why do you write romance?

I didn’t set out to write romances. In fact, before I wrote the first draft of Rightfully Ours, which was my first attempt at fiction writing, I read very few romances. Somehow, as words spilled onto the page, what I imagined as a teen adventure morphed into a romance. And that’s what I’ve been writing ever since.

I’ve come to love clean, inspirational, and Christian romances. And I continue to read and write them because that spark of romance is not only fun, but provides opportunities for reflecting on the role of romantic love, which gives us a glimpse of the loving fervor with which God pursues each of us and helps us love as He loves.

Romance stories revolve around a central love story that ends in an optimistic ending. Christian romances are typically sweet (no explicit content) and they contain an element of faith woven into the plot. What makes your romance stories different from other Christian romance stories?

What sets my romances apart from other Christian romances is my Catholic worldview. Only a small minority of Christian romances include Catholic characters and themes.

I read heavily in the non-Catholic Christian genres and enjoy those novels very much. But there’s something to be said for seeing your own experience reflected in novels from time-to-time. So, when my characters pray, they’re more likely to bring out the rosary beads. If they’re practicing their faith, they’re at Mass on Sunday. They have the benefit of the sacraments and the grace that they offer. They’re more likely to be open to large families.

And, less significant, but contrary to what some Christian booksellers and publishers would condone, my characters enjoy a good beer, a glass of wine, or use a rare, well-placed mild curse word.

I also treat sexuality in a frank but non-explicit manner. I don’t gloss over the temptations we all face in remaining chaste, no matter our state in life. I try to communicate the joys and challenges of married sexuality lived in accordance with God’s plan.

I understand that themes in your stories reflect ideas found in Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. What is TOB and how do these ideas influence your writing?

When my husband and I were newlyweds, Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was becoming more widely known thanks to people like Christopher West, Janet Smith, and George Weigel. Simply put, the Theology of the Body, presented in a series of Wednesday audiences between 1979 and 1984, is a reflection on the body’s capacity for making visible an invisible reality manifested in our creation as male and female. It is an integrated look at the human person, made to love and be loved.

At the time, we volunteered for Catholic Engaged Encounter in our diocese and saw first-hand the extra challenges faced by couples who rejected the Church’s teaching on sexuality. As a consequence, I really delved into that aspect of theology and developed an affinity for it and a real love for Pope St. John Paul II.

While I never set out to write about the Theology of the Body, that holistic view of the meaning of our bodies always seems to find its way into my stories because it is integral to the intimacy between men and women and ultimately discovering our happily ever after.

How can a romance novel combat the false notions about love and sex that permeate our culture?

There’s a real dichotomy between the way love is often portrayed in modern media, often self-serving and fickle, and the kind of self-donative love we’re called to live.

The kind of romances I write are sometimes witty and flirty—at least I hope so! But, they also delve deeper. While the rush of attraction has an important role to play, I force my characters to move beyond those feelings to deal with what sustains love over the long term. So, that means they’ll wrangle with temptation, sin, forgiveness, mercy, and self-sacrifice.

Ultimately, that kind of love, self-sacrificial love, is more satisfying and fulfilling.

New Teen Fiction: 3 Things to Forget

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I am excited to share award-winning author Cynthia T. Toney’s newest release! This is the final book in the Bird Face series! To celebrate, the publisher has made book one FREE on Amazon on release day only:  October 16th! And the new release, 3 Things to Forget, is only 99 cents today too!


3 Things to ForgetNew People
New Challenges
And a whole new Altitude

In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana, at least for a while. But starting the summer at her friend Sam’s house and volunteering with Alaska Wildlife Conservation bring not only strange surroundings but also strangers into her life. And those strangers have a secret involving a troubled girl who threatens Wendy’s friendship with Sam.

As Wendy struggles to understand the Alaskans she meets and gets to know, will she be able to forget what she hopes to, or will her new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?


I was happy to have received an advanced copy of this book and so I’d like to share my review!

My Review

Cynthia Toney has written another strong story about friendship and the complicated issues that many teens face, this one with the beautiful messages of encouraging teens to share their troubles with their parents and offering kindness even to the unkind.

Wendy is such an admirable character in the way she longs to bring comfort and joy to her elderly friend who has Alzheimer’s. She is a three-dimensional character with interests in writing, sign language, and cute little wolf pups, but she also has room to grow. The more she tries to help her friends in this story, the more of a mess she makes! This is especially true of her relationship with Dev—a girl with many secrets. Wendy becomes so suspicious of Dev’s motives that she even starts to lose faith in her best friend, Sam. Her stepsister gives her great advice that we can all benefit from: “There’s always more to a person’s story than you think when you first meet them.”

With a beautiful Alaskan setting, mystery, and drama, teen readers are sure to love this fourth book in The Bird Face Series. If they’ve read the first three books, like I have, they will also enjoy revisiting favorite characters. Ever since reading 6 Dates to Disaster, I’ve been looking forward to finding out more about Sam, and this story does not disappoint.

Click here to get your copy!

Visit Cynthia T. Toney’s website to learn more about the author and the series.