Review – Danny Gospel by David Athey

Danny Gospel is one of those novels that I know will stay with me long after I’ve finished reading it. This book is an absolutely delightful tale of a young man who’s “kinda different” but his “heart is pure.”

Set in Iowa, the novel begins with Danny waking up to a woman, dressed in white, who kisses him. For the rest of the book, while he searches for this mysterious girl, we learn about Danny’s tragic life, told in his own peculiar and unique way. Danny’s own words are “I’m always in mourning, even when I’m happy.” This should have been a depressing read. On the contrary. It is an incredibly uplifting story filled with humor and innocence, joy and hope. At one point, Danny is provoked into a fight and seriously harms someone and, although he wants to stay, his friend gives him money and a car to leave town. During his travels, Danny drives down to Florida. Eventually, though, he realizes he must return home to Iowa.

To read the rest of my review at Catholic

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

In Name Only Now Available in Japan and England

My second novel, In Name Only, is now available on Japan’s Amazon website:

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And on England’s Amazon website:

NFP: Cheapest Method

In this economy, saving money has become a priority for most couples. It might seem like a simple concept, but Natural Family Planning is actually the cheapest method a couple can use for birth regulation. Depending on the course, fees vary from free to $150. If you add an extra $20 or so for thermometer replacement (for couples using the sympto-thermal method), it still brings the total to no more than $170 over the course of 30 years.

Compare that to the cost of chemical methods (like the Pill, contraceptive patch) or expensive surgeries. Even devices such as condoms and diaphragms are expensive when you consider that a couple will be using them frequently over 30 years or so. Compare that also to the fact that most methods of contraception pose some risks to the users and those costs should also be factored in. NFP is safe and healthy, with no side effects.

While cost was not the reason we initially used NFP, it certainly has become a bonus for us.

Couples can now learn NFP online anywhere in North America. For more information, leave a comment or email me at

Note: Cartoon images are owned by Full Quiver Publishing and may not be used without permission.

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Family Foundations Magazine

My son, Tim, was featured on the cover of the September/October issue of Family Foundations magazine. When he first saw the magazine, he said, “Look at that. I’m famous!”

The magazine contained an article I wrote about “Letting Go.” Here is an excerpt:

Last summer, Tim (then 17) landed a “dream” job at the local parachuting club. A few weeks after he had started, Tim called from the club and calmly explained that his boss had shared with him that one of the perks of his job was free skydiving. So he asked if he could go skydiving, that afternoon – in about two hours, to be precise. I immediately dismissed the request, saying, “Tim, forget it. You’re not jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet.” I had spent the last 17 years of Tim’s life trying to protect him from danger, so why would I stop now?

“But, Mom,” he said, “I’ll have a parachute on and there’ll be an experienced jumper with me.” I hesitated, wanting to shout at him, “Are you crazy? Why would you want to jump out of an airplane?” But I didn’t. Instead, I said, “Couldn’t you just wait until another time?”

“Mom, today there are perfect conditions; it’s clear and there aren’t many tandem jumpers. They said I could do it today. Please.”

The instructor who made the tandem jump with Tim assured me that there were all kinds of backups and safety precautions: extra parachutes, an experienced jumper making the trip down with him, etc. But I was not happy about it. I prayed from the moment he stepped onto the airplane and continued praying. It was the longest 20 minutes of my life. My hands were shaking and I don’t think I actually breathed until he stepped onto the ground.

When he was close to landing, we could hear him screaming. In that first half-second, my motherly instincts kicked in and I panicked. “Is he okay?” I frantically asked my husband, standing nearby. Then I heard loud hearty laughter from Tim, still in the air above us.

He finally landed and the bright and happy expression on his face said it all. He kept saying thank you to the tandem instructor. But what surprised me was when he said, “Thanks, Mom, for letting me do that.”

I nodded, now relieved and happy that he was safe.

He tapped me on the shoulder. “Can I do it again next week?”

copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach
With thanks to Ann Gundlach and Family Foundations magazine

Rosary Quotes

October is the month of the Holy Rosary, so I would like to share some of my favorite quotes about the rosary:

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” Pope Blessed Pius IX

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.” Saint Dominic

“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort

“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!” Saint Bernardine of Siena

“Recite your Rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”
Pope Saint Pius X

“Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” Sister Lucia of Fatima

“How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening.” Pope John Paul II

“The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world.”
by Pope John XXIII

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.”
by St. Josemaria Escriva

“When lovers are together, they spend hours and hours repeating the same thing: I love you! What is missing in the people who think the Rosary monotonous, is Love.” Sr. Lucia of Fatima

Family Size, Who Should Decide?

My new column at Catholic Family Size: Who Should Decide:

Sometime ago, I was admiring the newborn son of a young couple at our parish. An older woman from the parish approached the group of us and heard me say, “What a beautiful baby you have!” To which the older woman replied, “Ellie, don’t you get any ideas.” Generally speaking, I don’t take offense to comments like that, but it was the third time that month that people had taken it upon themselves to tell me that I shouldn’t get any ideas of having another baby.

My somewhat belligerent personality wanted to respond: “At my age, if I get pregnant, it won’t be my idea, it’ll be God’s…” Instead, I kept quiet and laughed off the comment.

In our modern secular society, many people seem to think that they have some sort of role in a couple’s intimate decision-making process of deciding whether to plan a pregnancy or avoid one. You’ve heard of the pesky grandmother nagging her kids to give her a grandchild or another grandmother telling her son and his wife that they have enough children and that they should “just stop.” Or the well-meaning relatives who don’t think you can “afford” another child.

To read the rest:

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

The Path to Happiness

Inspiring and beautiful words of John Paul II, spoken at World Youth Day, Rome, 2000:

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life: it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”