Do We See?

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“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.

Matthew 10:28

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.

New release by Catholic teen fiction author T.M. Gaouette

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.”

Diary of St Faustina, #83

Catholic Teen Books ~ FaceBook Christmas Party

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What are you doing this Thursday, December 5th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM EST?

Several authors from CatholicTeenBooks.com are hosting a pre-Christmas party on Facebook. Won’t you please join us?

We will have games and prizes and a chance for authors and readers to get to know each other! No purchase necessary to play and win. You’ll find pictures of the prizes at the end of this post!


You stand a good chance of winning prizes but even if you don’t, maybe you’ll get some gift ideas! Books make great gifts, but faith-filled fiction is even better! Faith-filled Catholic fiction can inspire and support a teen in their faith and help them deal with the challenges today’s culture throws at them.

Who we are:

At CatholicTeenBooks.com you will find books in several genres: saint stories, mystery, contemporary, romance, fantasy, dystopian, speculative, and historical. Many of these books are award-winners. Many have been featured on Virtue Works Media and Catholic Reads. Many Catholic Teen Books authors have given presentations in schools and churches and might even be available to come to your parish, either in person or virtually.

Every book on the website reflects our faith through Catholic themes, characters, and perspectives. The characters in these stories struggle with challenges that we all face. Some stories follow the lives of saints, of those who dared to live counter-culturally and give themselves entirely to God. Other stories bring to light the beauty and power of the unique aspects of the Catholic faith. The Catholic element is more subtle in some works, but the worldview and themes bring the message of truth.

We hope that our fiction will challenge and inspire, that it will awaken within our readers some of the mystery, joy, and beauty of the Faith. We hope to stir within our readers a desire for something beyond themselves. Because God calls everyone to the fullness of faith and happiness, we invite readers of any faith or no faith at all to read our fiction.


Check out some of the prizes!

NOTE: If you plan to come, I encourage you to gather the following items for my game, which will be a SCAVENGER HUNT!

  • pencil
  • paper
  • family portrait
  • wedding ring (or any ring will do)
  • Christian Christmas ornament
  • Bible
  • I think that’s it but if there is something else, you’ll have time during the party to get it!

I hope to see you at the party!

Kids grow in their faith by learning about 8 great saints!

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The North American Martyrs served among the Native Americans of eastern Canada and the United States in the 1600s. Their lives are an amazing testimony to their love for God and for their fellow men. They are giants of the faith, yet they were also ordinary men who struggled with everyday problems like poor health, depression, unfaithful friends, spiritual dryness, and more. Though they lived centuries ago, their lives can still inspire us in our faith.

The North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book will bring the lives of these holy men alive for Catholic children. This 135-page paperback book includes bios, discussion and reflection questions, word puzzles, mazes, colouring pages and more activities about the lives of the North American or Canadian Martyrs. There are also quotes from the saints and suggestions for applying what kids have learned from each saint to their own lives.

Kids ages 7-13 will learn about St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Brebeuf, St. Antoine Daniel, St. Charles Garnier, St. Noel Chabanel, St. Rene Goupil, St. Gabriel Lalemant, St. Jean de Lalande and their friends and be inspired in their faith!

Intended for a multi-age audience, North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book can be used in catechism classes, homeschools, parish kids clubs, Catholic schools, and more.

Author Bonnie Way is a Catholic convert and homeschooling mom of 5 children. She and her family live in Vancouver, BC. She has a B.A. in English (with a minor in history) from Concordia University of Edmonton and a B.A. in Writing from the University of Victoria. She blogs about motherhood, homeschooling, books and more at thekoalamom.com.

Illustrator Katherine Babcock is a mom of 4 children who lives in Victoria, BC. Her art explores the West Coast in a variety of mediums, from watercolour to pen and ink.


North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book is available on Amazon: bit.ly/namartyrs

Learn more about the book: https://thekoalamom.com/na-martyrs-kids-book/

Learn more about the martyrs: https://thekoalamom.com/2019/05/north-american-martyrs/

Please follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kidssaintbook/?hl=en

New Catholic Children’s Picture Book by Dessi Jackson

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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.


Buy Now


Review

“Which child doesn’t love animal stories? In this magnificently illustrated picture book, bestselling author Dessi Jackson weaves an unforgettable tale of friendship and loyalty between a mischievous kitten and the young Saint Clare of Assisi. With delightful full-color artwork by the talented artist Martina Parnelli on every page, this book is sure to become a favorite in every Catholic household. Franciscan joy radiates from every page!

— Susan Peek, author of Animals of God series

About the Author

Dessi Jackson is the author of five popular picture books about saints, including Roses in the Snow: A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Felix and the Spider, Nikola and the Monk, and The Saint and his Bees. Her faith-filled children’s stories come from the depths of her motherly heart. A writer for Seton Magazine and a Byzantine Catholic, she lives in Croatia, where she is always thinking up new stories that will give glory to God and touch the hearts of little children.

Look up Dessi Jackson’s other books HERE.


About the Illustrator

Author, poet and illustrator Martina Parnelli draws on multicultural and multinational influences in her work. In addition to writing and illustrating her own books—including the Little Runty trilogy—she has illustrated books for popular Catholic children’s author Susan Peek. She currently resides in western Michigan, where she enjoys teaching chickadees to eat from her hand.

Learn more about Martina Parnelli and her books HERE.


About the Publisher

Books that inspire trust in the Divine Refiner, who is at work in each of our lives.

Silver Fire Publishing gets its name from Scriptures. “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap, he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and sliver” (Malachi 3:3).

This is a beautiful analogy of God’s refining fire in our lives. He is the refiner and His Word is the fire. We are the silver. And the more we immerse ourselves in Him, the purer we become. And even though the purification process might hurt a bit, He is with us through it all. And like the saints, we come to reflect His image.

We publish children’s, teen, and adult faith-filled fiction. It is our hope that the books published by Silver Fire Publishing will inspire greater faith and trust in the Divine Refiner, who is always at work in our lives. 

http://www.SilverFirePublishing.com

Day By Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections

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I am so glad to have this book DAY BY DAY WITH SAINT FAUSTINA: 365 REFLECTIONS by Susan Tassone during Lent, but I’ll use it the entire year. From the “Introduction,” this book is both a comprehensive introduction to Saint Faustina’s writing and it is a solid answer for those who want to apply her teachings and examples in daily life.

Saint Faustina will help you:

  • Grow closer to Christ in the Eucharist
  • Develop a stronger, deeper daily prayer life with the help of the angels and saints
  • Get along better with others, including those closest to you
  • Apply Faustina’s “secrets of sanctity”
  • Trust God more
  • Let the realities of heaven, hell and purgatory influence your choices now
  • Love the Blessed Mother even more and let her love draw you closer to her Son
  • Use your suffering to help others, including the souls in purgatory
  • come to better understand the spiritual powerhouse that is the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Become a person of mercy by learning from the Saint of Mercy

I can’t say how happy I was to get this book in the mail! With over 400 pages, this book is thick. And the cover is beautiful. Inside there is a quote from Saint Faustina, a reflection, and a prayer for every day. At the end of the book are several appendixes, which include more on the Divine Mercy, important Feast Days, and on indulgences.

I’ve been reading a meditation a day. Some meditations are profound and others a bit humorous, but they always stick with me throughout the day and help me to treasure the often-overlooked gifts of God or give me perspective in my trials.

Here is an example from April 5:
“God’s floodgates have been opened for us.” (Diary, 1159)


Reflection: Hang on to your hat, here comes mercy. If we want it, if we accept it, if we let it wash over us and transform who we are and how we live. Yes, the floodgates are open but, no, it’s our choice. Always, always, always.


Prayer: Divine Mercy, I choose You. Thank You for choosing me. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections, April 5

My thoughts: this simple reflection made me more aware of the great desire of Our Lord to transform us with His grace. He has so much grace every day for each one of us! So all day long, as I faced challenges and trials and they daily hum drum stuff, I reminded myself that the choice was mine and I repeated the simple prayer from the meditation.

Wow! How easy it is to let God in and walk with us!

Endorsements

“Susan Tassone’s new book is a means to experience God’s overwhelming love for each of us. By spending a little time each day reflecting on a bite-sized morsel of the Diary of St. Faustina—followed by a very succinct and eye-opening reflection, and then a short prayer—God can change our perspective and our lives through His powerful love. Seeing how God worked in the life of St. Faustina helps us see how He wants to work in our own hearts. This treasure of a book is a wonderful way to develop a very doable habit of ongoing formation. I highly recommend it!”

~Fr. Joseph Roesch, M.I.C.
Vicar General, Rome, Italy

Day by Day with St. Faustina gives us a wonderful approach to comprehending the infinite Divine Mercy of God. I’ve long hoped that somebody would be able to open the depths of St. Faustina’s spirituality in a way that would allow people to slowly acquire her ability to trust just as she slowly grew in prayer, in understanding God’s will, and eventually in fully trusting in His love.”

~Fr. Dan Cambra, M.I.C.
Holy Souls Sodality, The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy

“This much-needed introduction to St. Faustina, her spirituality, and God’s never-ending mercy is a wonderful choice for those (including me) who have felt a little intimidated by the depth — and length — of the visionary’s diary. Here, day by day, author Susan Tassone shares the key themes, beauty, and comfort the diary offers all of us. It’s a grace-filled nudge that encourages each of us to read the diary itself.”

~Fr. Edward Looney
Author of A Heart Like Mary’s: 31 Daily Meditations to Help You Live and Love as She Does

Where to get the book:

This book is available through any bookstore. Request it at your local Catholic bookstore. Or order online through Sophia Press, Amazon, or any online bookseller.

To learn about more great books, check out Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com

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.

Church Suffering, Militant, and Triumphant!

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I love the month of November and not just because it’s my birthmonth! This month reminds us that we are called to be part of something that transcends space and time: we are called to be part of the Mystical Body of Christ.

What is the Mystical Body of Christ?

St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “You are the Body of Christ, member for member” (1 Cor 12:27), and of Christ “the Head of His Body, the Church” (Colossians 1:18).

So St. Paul compares the Church to a body which has many parts with different functions but are still united. The members of the Church are bound together by supernatural life through Christ. This includes the members of the Church who are in Heaven, Purgatory, and still alive on earth, that is: the Church Triumphant, Church Suffering, and Church Militant.


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Faith or The Church Triumphant, oil on canvas painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1664 – 1665 (public domain)

This November begins with the Feast of All Saints, a celebration of those who have fought the good fight of the faith and have taken hold of the eternal life to which we are all called (1 Tim 6:12). They are our intercessors and our inspiration. “…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

 


Carracci-Purgatory

Ludovico Carracci circa 1610. Public Domain.

November 2, we Commemorate all the Faithfully Departed, keeping the Church Suffering close to our hearts and offering prayers on their behalf, for they can no longer pray for themselves. Several Franciscan saints have been great helpers of the Holy Souls.

Padre Pio encourages us with these words: “The souls in Purgatory pray for us, and their prayers are even more effective than ours, because they are accompanied by their suffering. So, let’s pray for them, and let’s pray them to pray for us.

 

If you aren’t sure what Purgatory is or you’d like to learn more, here’s a nice article about what it isn’t.


 

Ghent_Altarpiece_E_-_Knights_of_Christ

Knights of Christ in the Ghent Altarpiece. Public Domain

Next, on November 23rd in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a celebration of country, family, and our many blessings from Divine Providence. In a way, this is a celebration of the Church Militant, those who are in the world and actively involved in the great battle between good and evil. As we offer thanksgiving for our many blessings, including our faith, family, and Church, let us find ourselves renewed in zeal to continue fighting the good fight.

I am a Secular Franciscan and for us Franciscans, the themes of this month circle back to the Church Suffering and Church Triumphant, as we commemorate all the deceased members of the Franciscan orders on the 24th and celebrate all the Franciscan saints on the 29th.

No matter how dark the days or how heavy the cross we carry, let us never forget that we are part of something amazing—the Mystical Body of Christ. And we are called to be great saints!


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 of St. Gertrude

Summer & Books: The King’s Prey

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Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

 

kings prey front cover

Can’t afford a vacation this year? You are in luck! With Susan Peek’s latest release, The King’s Prey, you can take a trip back in time to the 7th century, and to Ireland! In addition to the heart-pounding action and lovable characters in this book, you will find beautiful setting details that will transport you into the story. Be prepared to hit the ground running!

About the Book:

An insane king. His fleeing daughter. Estranged brothers, with a scarred past, risking everything to save her from a fate worse than death. Toss in a holy priest and a lovable wolfhound, and get ready for a wild race across Ireland. Will Dymphna escape her deranged father and his sinful desires?

For the first time ever, the story of Saint Dymphna is brought to life in this dramatic novel for adults and older teens. With raw adventure, gripping action, and even humor in the midst of dark mental turmoil, Susan Peek’s newest novel will introduce you to a saint you will love forever! Teenage girls will see that Dymphna was just like them, a real girl, while young men will thrill at the heart-stopping danger and meet heroes they can easily relate to. If ever a Heavenly friend was needed in these times of widespread depression and emotional instability, this forgotten Irish saint is it!


I asked author Susan Peek why she chose this saint to write about:

 I first heard of Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of the emotionally disturbed, thirty years ago, long before I was a published author. The few known facts of this seventh-century teenage Irish princess who fled from her insane father took three measly pages in a tiny staple-bound pamphlet to tell. Apparently, almost nothing was known about her, apart from the fact that her evil, psychopathic dad desired her hand in marriage, forcing Dymphna to escape the castle and flee with three trusted friends. The king’s soldiers pursued them relentlessly across Ireland, and eventually beyond the sea. Although the tiny pamphlet didn’t tell any details of their desperate journey, I knew there must have been many wild adventures and near-death escapades for Dymphna and her companions along the way. Even three decades ago I possessed an author’s imagination and instantly recognized the potential this story had for one heckuva cool novel.

I searched high and low for more information about Saint Dymphna, but all I could find were those same few facts over and over again. By this time, my first two teen novels had been published, so my mind naturally turned to the story of Saint Dymphna as a potential third book. I realized that in order to write her story, I would be forced to fill in the huge gaps with fictional characters and events. In a sense, THE KING’S PREY would be my first stab at “fiction” which worried me. I put the challenge off and wrote SAINT MAGNUS THE LAST VIKING instead. But the idea of Saint Dymphna continued to haunt me. After fifteen years of procrastinating and experimenting, I finally wrote it . . . and admit I had a blast.

For some reason my writing gravitates more towards stories for boys rather than for girls. Don’t ask me why; perhaps it has something to do with having six wild and rowdy (and totally awesome) sons, who turn my hair a shade grayer each passing day (as opposed to my equally awesome but calm five daughters.) THE KING’S PREY is my first female saint story, but actually Dymphna shares the spotlight with the character of Turlough, one of her father’s soldiers who is pursuing them, but for reasons at odds with the rest of the troops. Turlough is the story’s hero as much as Dymphna is the heroine. Many readers have told me that because of this, it appeals equally to boys and girls.

My Review:

I discovered this saint years ago when praying for someone with mental illness, and I am so glad to be able to get to know her better through Susan Peek’s story. THE KING’S PREY is filled with emotionally-charged moments, humor, and high action; never a dull moment. Dymphna’s story is a difficult one. Her mother was a Christian and taught her the faith, but her father was a powerful pagan king with evil Druid advisors. Once Dymphna’s mother died, her father’s mental health deteriorated. He wanted his wife back and his confused mind saw her in his daughter. The teenage Dymphna, wanting nothing to do with a sinful arrangement—though it would provide all the comforts of life a king could offer—fled with the saintly Father Gerebran and others that you will meet in this story.

This story brings the ugliness of evil and sin (in the King’s actions and his Druid advisors) up against the beauty of faithfulness, self-sacrifice, and bearing all for the kingdom of God.

I am a fan of Susan Peek’s saint stories. And so are my boys. Every one of them touches my heart and increases my devotion to the saints. I am thankful that she has dedicated herself to bringing these little-known saints to life for us. St. Dymphna is so needed today as a role model for purity and an intercessor for all those who suffer from mental illness. Privileged to read an advanced copy of this book, I highly recommend it to teens and adults.

Visit Susan Peek and learn more about her and her books:

Website: http://www.susanpeekauthor.com

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.

CathTeenBooks

Summer & Books: St. Magnus, The Last Viking

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Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

 

finalStMagnusFrontCoverSt. Magnus Erlendson was the Earl of Orkney, and he lived from 1106 to about 1115. He is sometimes known as Magnus the Martyr.

His grandparents were Earl Thorfinn and Ingibiorg Finnsdottir. They had two sons, twins: Erlend and Paul. Erlend was Magnus’s father. Other relatives include the Norwegian Kings Olav II and Harald II. You can do an online search and find plenty of interesting historical facts—which I enjoy doing—but nothing compares to stepping into Susan Peek’s novel: St. Magnus, the Last Viking.

About the Book:

Come back in time 900 years, to the fierce and desolate Northern lands, where Norsemen ruled with ax and sword. A dying king, a shocking death-wish, his heirs divided with an oath of blood . . . In this fast-paced new novel by the highly popular Susan Peek, the conflict unfolds between Magnus Erlendson, a heroic young prince aflame with the love of God, and his outlawed cousin Hakon, who blames Magnus for his banishment from their kingdom. What follows is a tale of betrayal and revenge, bravery and forgiveness, as Magnus seeks to restore his father’s vanquished kingdom to its rightful hands. Entertaining and inspiring from start to finish, a must-read for all those who thrill to learn the life of a saint we never knew existed!


And now we have author Susan Peek’s answer as to why she chose to write about Saint Magnus!

After my first two novels, A Soldier Surrenders and Crusader King, were swiped up by big-name Catholic publishers (Ignatius Press and TAN Books) and incorporated into language arts programs in Catholic high schools and homeschool programs across the globe, I knew I had finally arrived as an author. My childhood dream was a reality. By now I had established a fan base (mostly teens, but surprisingly many adults as well), and my vision was crystal clear: I wanted to write fast-paced novels of obscure saints whose lives were filled with adventure and action, and in a style that would appeal to today’s modern youth. It was at this point that I decided to launch an actual series, which I thought I could call “God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little-known Saints.” Armed with a pen and a stack of lined paper, I sat down to write a brand new book. (Back then I didn’t even own a computer. Yeah, pen and paper . . . insane, I know.)

But after the blinding flashes of inspiration that had determined my earlier two heroes, I found myself painfully stuck. Who should I write about next? There were thousands upon thousands of saints out there, yet I had no clue whose story to tell. I went into a slump, spending a few years (yes, years) researching unusual and random saints. I experimented with outlines and wrote corny first chapters of countless holy people – everyone from St. Thomas Beckett’s parents, to King Sebastian of Portugal, to St. Gabriel Possenti, to St. Anthony of Padua, who isn’t obscure at all and shows how desperate I was getting. I wrote hundreds of ridiculous pages of Saint Dymphna, which ended up in the trash like everything else. Nothing worked. My writing career was over. With a heavy heart, I admitted defeat and gave up.

In the meantime, I went back to writing for a Catholic company that produced audio plays, which my husband and I had been involved with back in the 1990’s. While I never enjoyed writing plays in the same way I loved writing novels, it was still a creative way to pass a boring afternoon and earn a bit of extra spending money as well. At the time, all the rage in bookstores and movies seemed to be Vikings. Everywhere I looked were Vikings, Vikings, Vikings. Horned helmets, axes, and hammers of Thor stared at me from every video store and shop window. So, like everyone else in the world, I decided to cash in on the fad. (Awful, I know, but hey, business is business.) So I began an epic quest to find a Viking saint.

Easier said than done.

I discovered two. Only two. Saint Olaf of Norway, and Saint Magnus of Orkney, who isn’t TECHNICALLY a Viking, as he lived at the very tail end of the period. But he was close enough and less complicated than Saint Olaf, and besides, if ever a saint’s life held excitement and conflict, it had to be his. So I chose Saint Magnus. Or maybe he chose me. Either way, I whacked out an audio play and was stunned when I started receiving letters after its production. So many people wrote to tell me they loved the story, and requests poured in to adapt it into a novel. I didn’t take it seriously for a few more years, because I had gone back, yet again, to my idea of a book about Saint Dymphna (which still wasn’t working).

Eventually I did an author presentation at a school, where I learned that several of the boys had taken Saint Magnus as their confirmation patron after hearing the radio play, and one family even named their son after him. The students begged me to put Saint Magnus into a book, and that was the turning point, when I finally took it seriously. For the next several months I researched Saint Magnus in earnest, discovering to my horror that some of the facts in the audio play were way off the mark. I tweaked and changed and developed the characters fully, added more, loaded the story with battle scenes and adventure, and somehow ended up a year later with my third published book. It became a #1 new release on Amazon and I knew I had to keep going and write a fourth.

Again, easier said than done.

How I finally resurrected Saint Dymphna after years of failed attempts will be my last post in Theresa Linden’s wonderful blog. I hope you stay tuned. 🙂

Wow, I love to hear the reasons for all of Susan Peek’s stories! I can’t wait to hear about St. Dymphna!

My Review:

This story begins with the last will and testament of an 11th-century Norseman warrior, Thorfinn the Mighty. The opening scene sets the stage for the novel as the dying ruler makes a startling decision for the sake of the kingdom. The conflict begins here and never lets up. Peek pulls the reader from one tense moment to another. We go back in time and become witness to the dramatic trials Magnus endured and the sacrifices he made.

As the mother of three boys, ages twelve to fifteen, I can’t say enough about this book. My boys love to read and they enjoy saint stories, but Saint Magnus, The Last Viking appeals to them in ways no other saint books have. This is not a sterile retelling of the saint’s life. The characters leap off the page with energy my boys can relate to, keeping them completely engaged as the story of this saint unfolds.

With all the battles, fighting, and conflict, it’s obvious why this story appeals to boys, but I love it, too. As a writer, I thoroughly enjoy Peek’s powerful writing style and vivid descriptions. I marvel at her ability to develop every character in the story. Some lines and sections moved me so much that I found myself re-reading them for pure enjoyment.

Susan Peek’s inspired account of the life of Saint Magnus stirs up the desire to live as he did, with courage, perseverance, and brotherly love, faithful to God to the end. Peek has taken the life of this little-known saint whom time may have forgotten and whose story could’ve remained hidden, and she’s re-presented it to the modern Christian.

This book is not to be missed. I walk away from it knowing I will go back. The message of Saint Magnus’s life is a message for today and it remains with me even now. I can’t wait to step into my next Susan Peek book.

Visit Susan Peek and learn more about her and her books:

Website: http://www.susanpeekauthor.com

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.

CathTeenBooks

Summer & Books: Battle for His Soul

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Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

Battle For His Soul Front

Battle for His Soul, the third in the West Brothers Series, was released on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. It has become my favorite of the books I’ve written because I receive the most feedback from it. One teenage boy who doesn’t like to read stayed up all night to finish it, then he sent a text message to his teacher the next day, saying he loved it and wanted to read the next book in this series (which I haven’t finished yet). So I’d better get writing!

About the Book:

Battle for His Soul by Theresa Linden is a high-action, speculative Christian story. Jarret West, a rich teenage boy, has been accustomed to having control over others and getting his way. When his life begins to fall apart, his guardian angel, Ellechial, hopes now is the time for his conversion. Jarret must be freed from the deep clutches of Deth-kye, the demon bent on seeing him in hell. The fate of several others depends upon Jarret’s conversion.

While Jarret gets ensnared in Deth-kye’s traps, Ellechial can provide little help since Jarret doesn’t pray, doesn’t believe, and hasn’t listened to him in years. Ellechial hopes Jarret’s twin brother, who has recently found God, will be able to influence him. But Jarret goes on vacation with his father and younger brother where temptations only increase.

Meanwhile, Jarret’s twin and other teens form a prayer group and begin to pray before the Blessed Sacrament unaware of the power they provide the angels. Though Ellechial gains strength, Deth-kye wins victory after victory. His weapons: emotion, vice, and memories.

Who will win the battle for Jarret’s soul?

We all believe in things we can’t see. And I’m not referring to air, wind, or gravity. I’m referring to spiritual realities.

Each one of us has a guardian angel. And we know that evil spirits also prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. We don’t think about these realities often, but maybe we should. So I decided to write this story, in part, through the eyes of a guardian angel.

In this story you will find a lot of clashing and clanking of swords and scythes, gold and blue light flashing upon impact. But you’ll also learn a bit about angels. In order to add a level of realism, I researched the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote extensively on matters of faith—including angels. You can read a bit about my research in this post.

Please check out the book trailer! for Battle for His Soul. And you can also read chapter one.


Since it would be weird to write a review of my own book, here’s the most recent review, snagged from Amazon:

Wow! What a fantastic reminder that we are never alone. We are surrounded by angels, supported and encouraged by our guardian angel, and tempted by demons. Theresa Linden brings this to life with her fantastic visuals of the spiritual world. She just as successfully portrays her characters, from the individual personalities of each of the West brothers, to the struggles that pull at them internally. The author is also very detailed in her descriptions of settings. I really visualized the scenes, which, for me at least, is a plus in pulling me into the story.

There were also very powerful moments in the story that I can’t share on this post, for giving it away would spoil the story. So, you’ll have to read it for yourself. This is a great story for teens and a reminder that every choice we make, regardless of the size, is an opportunity to glorify the Lord or please satan. So, we must choose wisely. I look forward to reading more from this author.” ~TMG, review on Amazon

This book has the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.logo color CWG SOA (002)

Want to learn more about Theresa Linden and her books?

website: www.theresalinden.com

blog: Things Visible & Invisible

Facebook author page

Twitter: @LindenTheresa

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.

CathTeenBooks