by June Foster
Tell us a little about this Christian contemporary romance.
Frances Matthew Hall is obedient to family tradition: all firstborn sons will serve as a priest. Now Matt officiates at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. But when on Easter Sunday, he notices a beautiful young woman who takes his breath away, he must fight against his attraction to her or leave the priesthood and alienate his entire family.
Mary Louise Graham is a middle school teacher and devout catholic. Yet no amount of service to the community can ease the heavy load of guilt she carries. God can never forgive her unspeakable mistake. But when Father Matt tells her about a forgiving God through His son Jesus Christ, she’s free. Only thing, the Godly priest now means more to her than he should.
Who would enjoy this book?
Women would benefit from it the most. Probably ages 30-70.
What inspired you to write it?
The real life story of my great grandfather and great grandmother. Father Francis Matthew Halbedl was a Catholic priest in the early 1900’s and fell in love with a young woman, Mary Louise Grosse. I’ve always wanted to publish this story, but unfortunately I don’t know enough facts to write a non-fiction, so I put it in a contemporary setting and fictionalized much of it.
What do we need to know about the characters?
The heroine in the story, Mary Louise Graham, (I changed their last names so they will be more familiar to today’s audience) is a young teacher who still carries the guilt of a mistake she made in high school. When she meets Father Matthew Hall, a born again priest, she realizes something is different about him and hungers for freedom from her guilt. In the story, Father Matt shows her the way to the Savior and for the first time, she’s free.
Father Matt is called to minister to at-risk teenagers through the joy of music. He wants to offer an after school program teaching teens how to play and perform in an orchestra showing them a higher purpose than merely hanging out on the street becoming exposed to the drug culture. I believe readers could easily identify with both characters.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” Father Matthew Hall lifted his eyes to the crucifix above the altar. Jesus hanging on the cross—the symbol of his faith. “We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You.”
The words of adoration for the crucified Savior of the world slipped from his lips so naturally, he barely looked at the lectionary. He lifted his baritone voice, offering the mass in song, something he didn’t usually do, but since today was Easter Sunday, he would. Easter,—the most significant date on the Christian calendar, was the perfect day to exalt God with the talent He’d given Matt.
He took a breath and opened his mouth again. “We give You thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King.” If Matt sang a billion words at each mass, it wouldn’t be sufficient to praise his Lord Jesus Christ, the mighty God Who’d created Heaven and Earth.
At the end of the gospel readings, Matt stepped to the podium and looked out at the parishioners. The homily he’d worked on last night would surely convey the joy of Christ’s resurrection.
He scanned the congregation again. Some sat, eyes wide, as if soaking up every word of his twenty minute homily. In the back of the sanctuary, two women whispered to each other and another filed her nails.
That was okay. He couldn’t expect his message to impact every heart, though he prayed it would. He’d sewed the seed, but the Holy Spirit would reap the harvest.
When he finished the sermon, he moved from the podium to the altar and picked up his lectionary. “Let’s rise for the reading of the Creed.” Uttering the proclamation of his faith out loud made the gospel even more real. “Let’s read together.”
The rumbling of people standing to their feet and the rustle of pages echoed through the sanctuary. “I believe in one God, the Father almighty…” Matt looked up from his book. “Maker of Heaven and Earth…”
In the second row to his right, a young woman, eyes on her missal, moved her lips, no doubt repeating the creed. Something about her enchanted him, luring his gaze to remain on her.
He wrenched his attention to the words in the book he held in his hand and cleared his throat. “Of all things visible and invisible.”
Against his will, the image of the woman with light brown hair drew him once again, and no words came from his lips.
He gulped and stopped repeating the creed, and his face heated.
Like a lone soldier, one man near the middle aisle continued to speak, and the rest were silent. The two women in the back quit whispering and gawked at him, as if he were a creature from another universe.
Matt gave himself a mental kick in the pants, forcing his attention to the mass once again. He knew the words by heart but looked to his lectionary.”I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God… “
His mind raced, searching for answers. He’d never been distracted by anyone in the year he’d served at St. Aloysius and not in his five years as a priest, especially not a woman. What was wrong with him? Priests weren’t supposed to look at females in that way, but still his heart pounded.
If he didn’t know better, he’d think her a beautiful angel who’d joined them at St. Aloysius today—a matter he’d take to the Lord later in the privacy of his quarters. He looked toward the congregation.
Lifting her eyes upward, the woman seemed to study the crucifix behind the altar.
Sweat rolled down his neck under his clerical collar. He carefully grasped the chalice to prepare the Eucharist. What would happen if he had to administer the Holy Communion to her? It seemed sacrilegious given his mental wanderings, but he had no choice since the head priest was attending a conference in El Paso. Even his friend, Father Andrew Pearson, was off today.
Matt held his breath as he flipped the pages to the prayer for Easter Sunday. The celebrants rose and stepped into the aisle then made their way to the altar.
“The Body of Christ.”
Two teen girls.
“The Body of Christ.”
An elderly couple, the whispering women, and the one with the nail file, a young man and his wife.
“The Body of Christ.”
From the corner of his eye, he peeked at the woman. She remained seated when the rest of the people on her row stepped into the aisle. He filled his lungs with a heavy breath and slowly released it.
Finally, the last parishioner received the Holy Communion and returned to his place.
“May almighty God bless you. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. The mass has ended. Go in peace.”
Matt’s words echoed throughout the sanctuary followed by the noisy chatter of conversation. He turned toward the door beside the altar instead of greeting anyone today. The sooner he could go to the Lord in prayer in his apartment, the better.
He hadn’t perceived the lovely woman in the filmy green dress as one of the regular attendees but rather had viewed her in a way that came close to violating the vows of chastity he’d taken when he first accepted his position as a priest. He clenched his jaw until it ached. And if she was married? Even worse.
About the Author
June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June’s characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. To date June has seen publication of 17 novels and 1 devotional.
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A few of the 17 books by June Foster