Harvey House Publishing

Harvey House Publishing




Catholic publisher of Olivia and the Little Way, Olivia's Gift, and The Gate
Excerpts from the Books
Excerpts
All written content on this site is not for use by any other person or entity for any reason, except for brief excerpts in a review.
Excerpts from the Books
All written content on this site is not for use by any other person or entity for any reason, except for brief excerpts in a review.
The Gate
Pie and I sat there in silence. From her picnic table, Myrna let out a couple of coughs and sipped her coffee.

“‘Ponder the fact that God has made you a gardener, to root out vice and plant virtue.’ Know who said that?”

I yawned, but Pie continued. “Saint Catherine of Siena. Know what it means?” Church talk again. I didn’t answer.

“Take a guess."

"I don’t have a clue.” I was so bored that I looked over at Myrna and tried to figure out what kind of book she was reading. It was probably a book about quilting. Pie forged ahead anyway. “Well, think about it, kid. There’s good and evil in the world, you know, like Father Leo says.” I rolled my eyes at the mention of Father Leo’s name, which Pie chose to ignore. “But God helps us look for the bad stuff, to weed it out like a gardener would, right? And we can plant good things, too, like this oregano here.” He held it up for me to see. “So we’re all, in a sense, gardeners. The trick is to plant the good stuff that doesn’t harm people, and keep an eye out for things that can be poisonous to us. I think that’s pretty cool if you ask me.”

I figured I’d play along, to humor him. “So I’m a gardener, huh? Wow, and I never knew it. Ab-so-lutely fascinating. I need a big straw hat and a hoe.” I held out my hands, palms up. “And gloves.”

“You’re a smart aleck, anyone ever tell you that?”

“Actually, I can think of a few people, yeah.”

“But you have a very creative mind. Do you write?”

“Write? Write what?”

“Stories. Stuff like that.”

“No, I don’t write. So tell me about vice. It’s bad?”

Pie took another whiff of the oregano. “Well, you should write. Creative minds make good writers. But you asked about vice. Yeah, it’s bad stuff that you look at, say, do. Those things are poisonous to our souls, kid. They offend God and put our souls in danger. Like I was saying before, they’re from the evil one.”

I could think of an awful lot of bad things I was looking at, saying, and doing lately. A lot.

“So?” I guess I was intrigued by his comments, but I didn’t want it to show.

Pie nodded knowingly at me. It made me feel weird, like he knew me or something. “Here’s the thing about poison, kid, and it goes for plants too. Poison looks really good at first, has pretty leaves, might even taste good. Just give it time, though. Deadly.” Sensing I wasn’t understanding, Pie tried another approach.

Pie went on to say that God gives every person a conscience that sends us warning signals as we decide right from wrong. “St. John Bosco always told his boys, ‘Be smart!’ He’d tell them that when they were tempted, they could always turn to Mary for help. There’s a way to see if you are having a ‘vice’ moment. Just ask yourself, ‘Would God be proud of what I’m doing right now?’ If the answer is no, that’s vice. So for instance, if you’re picking on some kid in your class, that’s a vice, right?”

I thought of how I liked to give Jason a hard time in school. Well, enough of that; I was eager to get on to something good, something happy, the stuff that didn’t make me feel guilty. “And so what’s the other thing?”

“Well, that’s virtue, kid. And Mary is the queen of virtues. Faith, hope, charity, patience— those are the biggies. An example of a virtue would be something God would be really proud to see you do, like sticking up for someone getting bullied. See the difference?”

I nodded, thinking of Kim, the overweight girl at school. The other day I had made mean cracks about her weight when I knew she could hear me. I didn’t see myself fitting into the category of virtue.

Then Pie said, “Or how about keeping an old man company like you do? That’s a nice thing. Or running over and keeping me from crashing into the dirt?”

I managed a smile.

“See?” he winked. “You’ve got some virtue in you yet, kid. I’ve got a few to work on myself.”

“I find that hard to believe, Pie,” I told him sarcastically.

“Funny. Nobody’s perfect, not even me. I’m telling ya, these saints are really something. They were completely human, had human problems and struggles. Some of ’em were bad to the bone until they found God. Look at St. Paul—well, Saul. Now he was something else, that one. Kills all of those Christians, then meets Jesus on a dusty road and gets converted on the spot, ends up writing half of the New Testament and becoming one of the greatest religious leaders of all time. If he can get virtue, anyone can."
Olivia and the Little Way
Olivia managed to follow St. Therese's Little Way without anyone fully realizing what she was doing well into the end of October, when the leaves turned from green to gorgeous shades of crimson, orange, and yellow. Having lived all of her life in Texas, Olivia was astonished to see the trees come alive in such vibrant colors right in front of her very eyes. They were so much prettier in person than in pictures she had seen.

Their beauty seemed to inspired her to do even more kind acts. She raked the leaves when they fell without being asked. She kept an eye on Lucy even when Mom was trying to cook dinner or take a phone call when she would rather have been reading alone up in her room.

Olivia dusted the living room when Mom wasn't looking. She picked up Lucy's toys and put them away in the toy box. Olivia realized that she loved doing these things in secret, nobody seeing her. She realized that God would approve of her doing these things without making a big show of it. She remembered that in school last year on Ash Wednesday, her teacher had read a Scripture passage mentioning that very thing:

Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;

otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father…And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you. Matthew 6: 1, 4

Still, Olivia had to admit that she enjoyed seeing the puzzled looks on her parents' faces when they noticed that these little things had been done without prodding. If they asked, she would own up to what she had done. After all, it wouldn't be right to lie.

The Little Way was proving to be quite fun. One day she left a raspberry white chocolate muffin she and her dad had baked on Sister Anne Marie’s desk. She attached a note with a smiley face and nothing more...
Olivia's Gift
“Should we see what’s on TV?” Hayley glanced at the bedside clock. “It’s nearly 8:00. The New Clique will be coming on.”

Olivia, who was lying on the bed doing a crossword puzzle, frowned slightly. She wasn’t allowed to watch The New Clique, a teenaged show about a high school’s popular group. The characters kissed a lot, skipped school, and were disrespectful to adults. She had begged her parents to let her watch it a few months ago, since so many people at her school watched it and talked about it at school. Not knowing much about the show, her parents agreed to preview the show first, without her there. After a few minutes of watching immodestly dressed teens making fun of their teachers and using bad language on The New Clique, her mom and dad had turned off the TV, looked at each other, and said, “Not gonna happen.”

Olivia had to admit that she wasn’t surprised when they told her no and discussed with her their reasons why not. Deep down, she wasn’t interested in watching teenagers kiss and be sassy, but watching The New Clique was the “in” thing to do. Every Friday morning, some of the kids would gather together and discuss the show from the night before: who went out with who, who was the cutest character, etc. She, Jenna, and Chad usually felt left out during that time. It was something she just had to deal with, she figured, since her parents had been absolutely firm on their decision.

“Um, how about the cooking channel? There’s that show where they take you on tours of potato-chip factories and stuff like that. That’s always fun to watch.”

“Instead of The New Clique? No way,” said Hayley, towel-drying her long hair. Then, in a lower voice, she said, “Olivia, if we close the door and keep the volume low, your parents won’t even hear us watching it.”

Olivia was tempted. She’d always been curious about the show. She’d heard so much about the characters that she wondered what they looked like. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to watch the show just once. Just one episode, just so she could say she’d seen it. How much harm could that do, just once?

Hayley took Olivia’s silence as the go-ahead she was seeking. She walked over to the adjoining door, closing it quietly. Olivia reached over to the nightstand where the TV listing card was and picked it up, checking the channels. She grabbed the remote, glancing around the room. Just then she caught sight of her pajamas sticking out of her suitcase on the floor, the pajamas with red roses all over them, reminding her of St. Therese. Oh St. Therese, she said inside her head, you always know when I need your help. You always seem to know when it’s time to step in to keep me from doing something stupid, something I’ll regret.
Harvey House Publishing © 2016