Anyone But Him
A New Adult Mystery Romance
Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?
Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.
The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?
The book is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle:
Author website: www.theresalinden.com
Book trailer: https://youtu.be/A-R_7IagmV0
Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has six published novels, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.
“The author has a lot of elements going on in this story – mystery, romance, amnesia, and a pro-life message. How she intertwines and weaves all these pieces together is perfection.” ~Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning The Perfect Blindside
“Anyone But Him had me hooked from the start! Theresa Linden unravels the mystery layer by layer as Caitlyn questions whom to trust, who has changed, and how an unfinished investigation may be the key to it all. Told through Caitlyn’s eyes, Anyone But Him will keep you doubting, guessing – and maybe even falling in love – alongside her.” ~Carolyn Astfalk, author of inspirational romance Stay With Me
By Larry Peterson
We define the Catholic Church as “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” church. But when you witness those words coming to life right before your own eyes, it is an experience you will never forget.
My oldest son had been married in the Catholic Church once but due to unforeseen circumstances was granted an annulment. He married again on February 17. I freely admit; I had my doubts about this wedding. But I had forgotten something; I had forgotten this was a Catholic thing. I had also forgotten about the HOLY Sacrifice of the Mass.
When I arrived at Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport, FL, I was still feeling doubtful about what was about to happen. But something was different this time. I had not yet put my finger on it.
The pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church was a man from Kenya. He was a man of color and had been ordained in Kenya. His name was Father George Iregi. This day would be the first time he and I had met. About a third of the congregation was also people from Kenya.
The church was filling up, and the only the people I knew were those in my immediate family. In the back of us, occupying the next two pews were elderly nuns, Benedictine Sisters who lived in the monastery of St. Leo University about 40 miles north near Tampa, FL. Oh yes, the bride, my about to be daughter-in-law, was Father George’s sister, Philomena. She had lived with the Benedictines while she was studying for her degree (She had just received her Master’s Degree in Education).
The rest were parishioners of Holy Name parish, friends of Father George. It suddenly dawned on me that there was a common denominator among all of us. Whatever our skin color was (the word ‘diverse” fit perfectly), we were all CATHOLIC, and we all would be attending Mass together as ONE congregation. Skin color was irrelevant.
Father George had made arrangements for his parents to fly here from Kenya. They had never been out of Kenya and were in their late 70s. It was to be a surprise for his sister who had not seen them in three years while she was in school. And surprised she was.
Father George walked out into the sanctuary accompanied by Father Daniel Bowen, a Mercedarian priest who is stationed at my parish of Sacred Heart. Father Daniel had taken Jr. and Philomena through their marriage preparations (APOSTOLIC) and would perform the wedding ceremony. Father George would be the celebrant of the Mass and Father Daniel would concelebrate.
Everyone stood as the bride, with her mom and dad at her sides, began to walk down the aisle. The Kenyan wedding dress that Philomena wore was something I could not have imagined. It was absolutely beautiful with its display of colors and a headpiece that looked like a crown. They exchanged vows, and the intensity between them was pronounced. I believe everyone could feel that they meant every word they said to each other.
During the Mass, the diverse congregation sat, stood, and knelt in unison when appropriate. The Sign of the Cross was made by all when required. Even though many of us did not speak the same language, our Catholic faith united us all.
The wedding reception was attended by white Americans and dark-skinned Kenyans. We prayed together, ate together, laughed together and danced together. They served Kenyan food alongside Chicken Parmigiana and pasta. Much of the music was Kenyan, and some were standard pop and contemporary. The fact was, it was a wonderful wedding reception.
The significance of this marital union and the joining of such diverse families did not fully impact me until the next morning. And once again it was the Mass that framed the moment. February 18 is the anniversary of my mom’s death. She died 57 years ago, and the 8 a.m. Mass was being offered for her. I am an usher at that Mass, and since I did not expect anyone from my family to be there, I was planning to get someone to assist me in bringing up the gifts.
At 7:00 a.m., I received a text message from Jr. He and his new wife had decided to attend that Mass. They did not know it was for his grandma, a woman he had never even seen. The tears welled up as I watched my caucasian son walk with his Kenyan bride down the aisle with the gifts to be offered at his grandma’s anniversary Mass. The message for me was clear; “Everything is okay, Larry. Congratulations.
Being Catholic is truly a beautiful thing. But for human pride, it actually could unite the entire world.
copyright©LARRY PETERSON 2018
By Larry Peterson
It was the spring of 2014. Ed and Cathy Carmello (not their real last name) had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year I think. They had met when Ed was 60 and Cathy was 40. They fell in love and, never having been married, happily “tied the knot.” They had just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary and were simply enjoying retired life together.
There was a problem. Ed’s prostate cancer had returned with a vengeance and was destroying him quickly. Cathy was in her final battle with Stage IV melanoma. Since I was a prostate cancer survivor and my first wife had died of melanoma, I was able to discuss their cancers openly with them. They knew I understood.
It was a Thursday afternoon around 4 .p.m. when I left to take my daily walk. I headed down the street, and there was Cathy standing on her front lawn supported by her walker. I could see she was fighting to hold herself up. A bit anxious, I hurried over and said, “Hey, Cathy, what’s going on? Is everything all right?”
“I was waiting for you, Larry. I need to talk to you.”
I was dumbfounded. “Are you kidding me? I never walk at this time of day, and you say you were waiting for me?”
“I just knew you were coming by. I can’t explain it.”
A bit unnerved, I leaned against her SUV as she leaned heavily on her walker. “You know Ed is dying, right?”
“Yeah, Cathy, I know. We talked about it. He’s an amazing guy. What about your prognosis? Any change?”
She smiled and looked me right in the eye saying, “They told me I only have a few weeks left.”
I tightened my lips, took a breath, and asked, “What can I do?”
They knew that I was Catholic and an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion). Cathy asked me if I could bring a priest over. She told me that they had been non-practicing Catholics and had not been to church in years. It was time for them to “make things right with God.” I said, “I will put a call into Father as soon as I get back to the house.”
“Thank you so much. That is why I was out here waiting for you.”
I simply nodded. She smiled and thanked me and I walked her back to the house. She did not mention herself once, only her husband. She told me how she wished she could ease his suffering and how wonderful it might be if they could go for a bicycle ride just one more time. Then she mentioned how she thanked God for every moment they had had together.
We went inside and she, Ed, and I hung out for about ten minutes just chatting. Cathy excused herself and slowly walked back to the bedroom. Ed quickly told me how he wished he could ease her suffering and how God had been so good to him allowing him to find such a great woman to share his life with. I took in a deep breath. (You know, when God is present sometimes it is hard to breathe).
I called our newly ordained priest, Father Scott. He came over the next day and spent about an hour with Ed and Cathy. Ed and the young priest both had roots in Roanoke, Virginia, and talked and laughed and had a raucous good time together. Even though the two of them were separated by more than 50 years, it did not matter. It was as if they had grown up together. It was beautiful.
Father heard their confessions, anointed both of them and gave them Holy Communion. He told them he would come back the first chance he could. Sunday was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of Holy Week, and he would be busy. They all hugged and said good-bye. On Palm Sunday I had the honor of bringing them Holy Communion.
Easter Sunday I was again privileged to bring Ed and Cathy Holy Communion. In so doing, an unexpected sight was forever etched in my mind. They were lying next to each other in bed, holding hands. Ed smiled and said, “Larry, we are SO happy. This is the greatest Easter we ever had.”
He turned and looked at his wife who was smiling lovingly at him. She reached over and wiped his wet, happy eyes. They kept looking into each other’s eyes, and I thought they were maybe looking into each other’s souls. It was a moment that was filled with a shared spirituality I had never seen before. I could actually feel it. I have no doubt that at that moment Jesus was there with them holding their hands in His.
As for me, I thank God for their friendship and for being a part of their final journey. Sometimes I like to think that I took two people in love to the airport and watched them get on a plane for a a true flight to paradise.
copyright©Larry Peterson 2014
By Larry Peterson
Only seven years after Jesus death and Resurrection, on October 12, 40 A.D., an incredible event took place. That was the day the very first Marian apparition ever recorded took place. And yes, Our Lady was still alive at the time. This apparition occurred in Spain and it was Jesus’ apostle, St. James the Great, brother of St. John, who the Blessed Virgin appeared to. This apparition is known as Our Lady of Pillar.
During the very early days of Christianity, James had traveled to a pagan land called Zaragoza, in the Roman province of Hispania which today is better known as Spain or Espana. Zaragoza was a foreboding place and James was having a very difficult time evangelizing the people in the area. They just did not seem to care and they did not even like this strange man from a different country.
Legend has it that James, despondent and dejected had fallen into (what we call today), a terrible “funk”. No matter how much he tried he could not seem to lift his own spirits. One night, James was praying by the banks of the Ebro River. Suddenly a great light engulfed him. James knelt, staring into the light, and what he saw was beyond description. In the light was the Virgin Mary and she was surrounded by thousands of angels.
She told James that he should persevere because, ultimately, his work for Jesus would have great results and many would turn to the Faith. She asked that a church be built on the place where she appeared and left behind a pillar of “Jasper” to mark the spot where she had been. The Virgin Mary also left a small statue of herself holding the infant Jesus in her arms. The statue was sitting atop the Jasper pillar. Since the Blessed Virgin was still alive and living in Jerusalem, her appearance is considered an act of bilocation.
James immediately gathered some of his new followers and began work on a chapel on the designated site. The chapel is the first church ever dedicated to Mary and today, after many renovations, is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It is located in the exact place Our Lady appeared 2000 years ago.
James participated in the dedication of the small church and returned to Jerusalem. Ironically, he was the first apostle to die for the faith. In 44 A.D., Herod Agrippa, had James beheaded. The disciples of James took his body back to Spain for final burial. The statue and pillar were taken under the protection of the people of Zorogaza.
The many miracles surrounding the relic can attest to its heavenly origin. For example, it has been almost 2000 years and the statue has never needed dusting. In 1936, the Catholic-hating “Reds” bombed the shrine but the bombs that hit the church never exploded. No one is allowed to touch the statue except for the four priests assigned to its care and newborn infants can be lifted up to touch the image of their heavenly Mom.
Popes from the earliest times have attested to the authenticity of Our lady’s appearance at the shrine. Pope Calixtus III issued a Papal bull in 1456 encouraging people to make pilgrimages to Our Lady of Pillar. The miracle of the shrine’s foundation was even acknowledged.
The most prominent miracle occurred in the 17th century. A beggar named Miguel Pellicer from the town of Calanda, could not work due to having an amputated leg. He was constantly praying at the shrine for the Blessed Mother’s help. She answered his prayers for sure because his leg was restored. When word of this spread, pilgrimages greatly increased to the shrine and it has been so ever since.
Over the centuries many controversial stories arose concerning the authenticity of this shrine. Pope Innocent III, answering an appeal from Spain, had twelve cardinals investigate all the data available. On August 7, 1723, the Sacred Congregation of Rites, affirmed the original. In 1730, Pope Clement XII, allowed the feat of Our Lady of Pillar to be celebrated throughout the Spanish empire. Eventually she was declared Patroness of the Hispanic World. Our Lady of Pillar’s feast day is October 12.
One final thought. As a young seminarian, St. Josemaria Escriva, made daily visits to the shrine of Our Lady of Pillar. He always prayed for guidance and eventually founded Opus Dei. The members honor her feast day each year.
Our Lady of Pillar, please pray for us.
Photo courtesy: commons wikimedia.org