Angelic Letters tells story of authentic love

by Tom O’Keefe


“Angelic Letters” by Henry K. Ripplinger. A seven-book series published by Pio-Seelos Books.

The Angelic Letters is a seven-book series written by Henry Ripplinger. Six of the books are currently in print, and the seventh is scheduled to be released this summer. Those of you who are not avid readers, don’t be discouraged by the size of this work. I, and many others to whom I have spoken, have found the series to be a page-turner. I read the first book on my kindle and found myself downloading the next book at 11:30 p.m. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened in the next.

Angelic Letters tell a riveting story, chronicling the lives of two main characters over five decades. Henry Pederson meets the new girl in town, Jenny Sarsky, the summer before they start high school in Regina, Saskatchewan in the 1950s. Their love, strengthened by divine intervention from their guardian angels, survives countless obstacles, challenges, and difficult life situations.

Ripplinger does a masterful job of character development in the series, not only for the two main characters, but also for the many family members, friends, and villains that cross paths with Jenny and Henry over this 50-year time span. The reader is taken emotionally deep into the story as we anticipate a happy ending, then are disappointed by another life turn, rally to experience joy, and pause to reflect upon similar experiences in our own life.

Angelic Letters is not just another romance novel popular in the secular world. It is a story of a chaste love, founded in virtue, and firmly rooted in Catholic teaching and principles. The challenges faced by Henry, Jenny, and the supporting cast are not unlike those we have experienced or will experience in our own lives. Abortion, pre-marital sex, marriage, divorce, betrayal, materialism, anger and inability to forgive, are central themes of the story. With each of these themes, Ripplinger allows us to struggle with the situation. He realistically portrays the inner turmoil we all go through as we are challenged by sin, anger, and un-forgiveness. We see the devastating effects that can happen our life and in the lives of those we care about if we don’t turn to God for healing and forgiveness. But we also see the joy and peace that comes from following the teachings of the Gospel and incorporating it into daily life.

Ripplinger emphasizes the role of communion with each other and the church. Young Henry meets an aging store keeper, Mr. Engelmann, who becomes his lifelong spiritual advisor and mentor. Engelmann teaches Henry how to truly love his neighbor and forgive people that, through human weakness, commit offenses that many would not forgive. The impact that each character’s choice to forgive or not has huge ripple effects in the lives of the other characters.

For a young adult, Angelic Letters provides a framework for moral decision-making based upon the teachings of the Church. For a parent, the series gives opportunities to have discussions with children about sensitive subjects like sex, lust, and abortion. For a grandparent, like myself, the series leads to reflection and an examination of conscience. Do I have people to forgive? Do I need to ask for forgiveness? Have I truly loved my neighbor like myself?

Intellectually, we want to believe in angels and miracles. What Angelic Letters does is brings those beliefs to the heart. We have a guardian angel that intercedes on our behalf. We have a loving Father that rejoices when we forgive and love our neighbor. When we take time daily to pray, read scripture, and meditate, we can change our own lives and the lives of those around us. Through some of the most difficult situations in life, there is a path to joy and peace.

Tom O’Keefe directs the dining services, janitorial services, facilities and maintenance at New Life Center, a Christian multi-faceted emergency and crisis service center. Prior to joining the mission, Tom worked in health care administration for 25 years. He is a registered nurse and holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration.