A Joyous and Holy Christmas to All!

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11

“Fear not little flock, fear not. Come with me to Bethlehem. Let us celebrate a joyous Christmas. Let us be merry and happy no matter what because Christ is born.” Catherine Doherty

Wishing you a joyous and holy Christmas…

Vatican Reaffirms: Pope Never Legitimized Use of Condoms

LifeSiteNews has posted an excellent article on the Vatican’s statement regarding the Pope’s recent comments on condoms:

Vatican Reaffirms: Pope Never Legitimized Use of Condoms

In a statement issued today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office the pope himself headed for 24 years, has said that following the release of certain sections of the new interview book “Light of the World” “a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged.”

These have “caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality.”

“The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought,” said the statement.

Instead, the pope was recommending “humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning” of natural sex between spouses.

The Catholic Revolver with Jerry

Thanks to Jerry Weber of “The Catholic Revolver with Jerry” blogtalk radio show. James and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing NFP on his show yesterday! If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Natural Family Planning or about our experiences with NFP, this is the show for you! If you missed the live interview, click the link below to listen to the archived version:


The Boys Upstairs by Jane Lebak

Looking for a great holiday read? The Boys Upstairs by Jane Lebak is a delightful Christmas novella. The “boys” are homeless kids that Fr. Jay Farrell has taken in and sheltered in the upstairs of St. Gus’s rectory. Fr. Jay has little in the way of material goods and the priest is continuously depending on the generosity of others to help feed and shelter the children.

At the beginning of the story, Officer Kevin Farrell (Fr. Jay’s estranged brother) shows up at St. Gus’s rectory with three more children who need a place to stay until an appropriate foster home can be found. They had run away from their (different) foster homes because they wanted to stay together and were later found in a luggage alcove at the local bus station. Kevin knows that his brother will not refuse so it’s no surprise that Fr. Jay welcomes the children.

Fr. Jay is a veteran of the Iraq War. After a near death experience (which has left him with some lasting disabilities) he was inspired to serve God and others as a priest. However, his relationship with his brother, Kevin, is tumultuous, at best.

Kevin has his own issues with the holiday season. Two years ago on Christmas Eve, he had to inform a mother that her daughter had been killed in an accident. The incident haunts him particularly during the season and is one of the reasons for his current lack of faith.

The cast of supporting characters include Holly, a friend and waitress of the local diner, Mrs. D. the kind and generous secretary, Bill, Kevin’s partner, and numerous emotionally scarred children who comprise the “boys upstairs.”

I learned a new vocabulary word in this book: one of the characters uses “voluntold,” to describe someone else volunteering them for a task. I laughed out loud when I read this word, as I have also been “voluntold” to do things many times.

This is a wonderfully captivating and entertaining Christmas story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Boys Upstairs is filled with believable, well-defined characters, extraordinary writing and good morals. The author says it best: “The Boys Upstairs examines the real gift of the holiday season and how hope can transform the ones society condemns as not worth saving.”

I highly recommend this short novel to everyone. At 100 pages, it is the ideal length to curl up in front of a warm fire and read in one sitting.

The publisher and author have generously offered to give away a free e-book to one lucky reader of my blog. Just leave a comment in response to this review before eleven p.m. Tuesday (December 21st) evening and you’ll be entered into the contest to win this entertaining novel!

To purchase the book: http://tinyurl.com/jlebak

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Pregnancy and the First Advent

In my December column at Catholic Mom, “Pregnancy and the First Advent,” I share one of my favorite quotes from Catherine Doherty, as well as my thoughts on that First Advent:

“Pregnancy, an advent eternally renewed in every woman expecting a child, is a book written by the hand of God, with each page, each day, each hour, reminding us of the first Advent. Think of the first Advent now, when worlds were hushed and angels still…waiting, waiting for the answer of a young girl! Her fiat, spoken so softly as to be almost a whisper, shook heaven and earth, and began the ineffable, incomprehensible, most beautiful mystery of the Incarnation! Each pregnancy sings of the first Advent. Each time is a time of waiting, of joy so immense that it can only be encompassed by the eyes and soul of a woman in love and filled with the fruit of that love.” Catherine Doherty, Dear Parents

Every new life encompassed within his or her mother’s womb “sings of the first Advent,” as Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House, so eloquently said in her book, “Dear Parents.” Not all of these lives will actually be born. Sadly, some will be miscarried and others will be aborted.

However, for those women who nurture their babies lovingly in their wombs, pregnancy can be a great time for character growth. Mary was a wonderful example of patience and virtue during pregnancy, having to sit on a donkey for miles and miles, then having to give birth in a stable, with the accompanying sounds, odors and discomforts.

But Mary also acted as my consoler when I was miscarrying. For who else could understand the heartbreak of losing a precious child better than Our Lady herself, who stood under the cross and watched her Son die in agony, then embraced him lovingly after His death?

Let us embrace the end of Advent with Our Lady’s open welcoming of the Savior, the one she bore for mankind.

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Upcoming Live Interview on The Catholic Revolver

My husband, James, and I will be interviewed by Jerry Weber on The Catholic Revolver With Jerry Blog Talk Radio show this coming Tuesday, December 21st at three p.m. EST. To listen live, click on the link below on December 21st at three p.m. This link can also be used to listen to the archived interview at any time.


Here’s the short bio about us:

James and Ellen Hrkach have been a certified Natural Family Planning (NFP) Teaching Couple for the Couple to Couple League for 26 years. They are trained in teaching the Theology of the Body and have been speaking on sexuality and NFP at local Diocesan Marriage Preparation Courses for the past 27 years. Earlier this year, they participated in CCL’s pilot program for teaching NFP online to couples from all over North America. Together, they founded Full Quiver Publishing in 2004 (www.fullquiverpublishing.com) to promote the Church’s teachings on marriage and family.

We will be discussing Natural Family Planning and taking questions from callers.

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Liberal Catholic Turns Orthodox by Embracing Humanae Vitae

Wonderful interview with Patrick Coffin on the LifeSiteNews website:

Interview with Patrick Coffin

Here’s a short excerpt:

“Acceptance of Humanae Vitae is a nearly perfect litmus test for orthodoxy in other areas. If you hold to this vital part of Catholic teaching, you will also hold to the whole. Dissent from Humanae Vitae, on the other hand, is invariably joined to dissent from other “life issues,” as we call them nowadays. When was the last time you saw a gay activist group walking alongside pro-lifers at an anti-abortion rally? How many pastors who dissent from Humanae Vitae preach homilies against co-habitation? Humanae Vitae is the wall hook that holds up the entire garment of the Catholic sexual ethic.”

I highly recommend that you read the entire interview with Patrick Coffin at the link above. Patrick is the author of ‘Sex Au Naturel: What it is and Why it’s Good for your Marriage’. You can read reviews at the Amazon link:


This book has just made it to my wish list!

Infinite Space, Infinite God II

Looking for some great “Out of this World” Catholic Fiction? Infinite Space, Infinite God II edited by Karina and Robert Fabian is the ideal Christmas gift for the Sci-Fi lover on your list.

I was privileged recently to read a copy of this wonderful Catholic science fiction book. It is a compilation of 12 short stories which have both inherent science fiction and Catholic/Christian themes. It is similar to ISIG I but slightly different in that most of the stories focus on the individual. The editors state: “Institutions had let humankind down overall, so it was up to the individual…”

These are stories with Catholic characters and situations, most set far into the future, where Catholic priests are no longer limited to parishes on Earth, but are appointed to positions on other planets and in other solar systems. The people in the stories are not perfect but believable and well-developed characters who are presented with unusual sci-fi moral dilemmas.

I’m partial to time travel stories, so my favorite of the twelve is “The Ghosts of Kourion” by Andrew M. Seddon, about a widowed professor (Robert Cragg). After Professor Cragg tragically loses his wife and daughter, he travels back to 365 AD to the Greek city of Kourion. This is the ideal story to start off this book of short stories not only because of all the moral implications involved in time travel, but this emotional story captures the reader immediately.

The remaining stories include a tale about a nun who faces venomous snakes, a priest who battles aliens, a character who is genetically engineered and whose usefulness has ended, a clone named Lorraine and her friend, Father Markham, and much more. Although many of the stories have Catholicity woven throughout, this book is appropriate and fun reading for readers of all faiths.

Entertaining and well-written, ISIG II is filled with interesting characters and unique situations, beautiful imagery. ISIG II offers humor, sci-fi, Catholicity and suspense all in one book.

I highly recommend this entertaining book to everyone, especially to those who enjoy Catholic science fiction. This is an ideal gift, an “Out of this World” treat for all those on your Christmas list who love sci-fi.

To order this delightful book from the publisher:

It’s also available at Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?box=1606192310&pos=-1&ISBN=1606192310

And from Amazon: : http://www.amazon.com/dp/1606192310?tag=virtuabooktou-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1606192310&adid=0NE55AA7QR7XAB89EQ4C&

And available in e-book from Fictionwise: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b115867/?si=0

Last but not least, there’s a great promotional trailer for this book on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9JKtLWkchw

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Feast of St. Lucy

Today is the Feast of St. Lucy, the patron saint of the blind and those with eye ailments. The Women for Faith and Family website has an interesting collection of stories, readings and recipes in honor of St. Lucy:

“According to the traditional story, she was born to rich and noble parents about 283. Her father died when she was young. Fifty-two years prior to Saint Lucy, Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr was executed. Saint Agatha’s fame attracted many visitors to her relics at Catania. Lucy and her mother, Eutychia, made the pilgrimage, where Eutychia was healed of a hemorrhage. Lucy persuaded Eutychia to distribute a great part of their riches among the poor. This angered the young man to whom she was betrothed. He reported her as a Christian. She was executed by with sword in the year 303. She was first condemned to suffer the shame of prostitution but in the strength of God she stood unmovable and could not be dragged away to the place of shame. God also saved her from being set on fire. According to some stories, Saint Lucy’s eyes were plucked out during her torture and God miraculously restored her sight. Her feast day is celebrated especially in Sweden, where elements of light and sight, as well as the martyr’s crown, are combined in a beautiful family custom appropriate for Advent celebration.”

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the beautiful Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1531, Our Lady appeared in Mexico to a poor Indian, Juan Diego, at a time when human sacrifice was commonplace.

The following is an excerpt from a website with interesting background information and many images to download: www.sancta.org

“After complying to the Bishop’s request for a sign, She also left for us an image of herself imprinted miraculously on the native’s tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth, which should have deteriorated in 20 years but shows no sign of decay 478 years later and still defies all scientific explanations of its origin.”

Pope John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe the patron saint of the unborn.

To read more about Our Lady of Guadalupe:


There are many ways to celebrate this feast. Our family usually has a Mexican type dinner like tacos or fajitas. Although our kids are older now, in past years, we have celebrated by allowing them (youngest to oldest) to break open a pinata.

What does your family do to celebrate this beautiful feast day?