Sunday Snippets – April 29

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets where we share posts from the previous week.

I’m going to be on EWTN/Sacred Heart Radio’s Son Rise Morning Show this Monday, April 30th at 8:50 a.m. (Eastern time) talking about
“The Spiritual Consequences of Sterilization.”

Here are my posts from last week:

Is NFP Effective is my latest column at Catholic Mom.

Seven Quick Takes Friday
In this Quick Takes Post, I mention that, for a limited time, Stealing Jenny Kindle Edition is only .99.

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Before I get to the Quick Takes, I wanted to mention that this Monday, April 30th, I will be on EWTN’s Son Rise Morning Show at 8:50 a.m. talking about “The Spiritual Consequences of Sterilization.”

1. For a limited time only: my bestselling novel, Stealing Jenny, is only .99 on Kindle!

2. I am still in awe of the fact that I have “fans” and I receive “fan” mail (below). In fact, since last year, when I began selling over 100 e-books a week, the fan mail has been frequent, mostly positive and at times, emotional. Many of the letters come in the form of e-mail, others arrive as letters.

3. Plans are under way to travel down to Nashville in July to attend my sister’s first profession of vows and receive her black veil. We are all so proud of her and her decision to join the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. The photo below was taken last September during my visit to the St. Cecilia Motherhouse.

4. I’m finally getting the knack of Pinterest and I’m having a great time “pinning” all sorts of things to different boards I’ve created. Of course, like any social media, it can be addicting, so I’m limiting myself to five minutes a day. If you are on Pinterest, please consider following me:

5. One of our earlier cartoons entitled “Cease Fire.”

6. In a few days, both my youngest son and myself will be celebrating our birthdays. Paul was my favorite birthday present 13 years ago. Below is a photo of my oldest son and youngest son 13 years ago.

7. Great article on NFP and Marketing: “Truth in Advertising: How We Talk About NFP.”

For more quick takes, please visit Conversion Diary.

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Is NFP Effective

My latest column at Catholic Mom is entitled “Is NFP Effective?”

Although there is less skepticism with regard to NFP’s effectiveness these days, Natural Family Planning still gets a bad rap from many in secular society. I’ve heard more than a few people say, “NFP didn’t work for us.”

When the rules are followed, NFP can be 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy and works well to achieve pregnancy.

A brief overview of how NFP works: a couple charts the woman’s signs of fertility and determines when she is fertile. If the couple is avoiding pregnancy, they abstain from marital relations in the fertile time and only have relations in the infertile times (the average length of abstinence is between one and two weeks, depending on the couple).

Here are some of the most common reasons people think NFP isn’t effective:

1. The couple chooses not to follow the rules or they take “shortcuts.” On numerous occasions, a couple indicated that they were using NFP to avoid pregnancy, then they became pregnant. Upon questioning them, the couple shared that they had relations during the fertile time. “It was only one time.” One time is all is takes for a normal healthy young couple to become pregnant.

2. The couple chooses to use barrier methods in the fertile time. Couples who use contraceptive methods (condoms, diaphragm) during the fertile time may experience an unplanned pregnancy at some point if they continue contraceptive use. NFP’s 99 percent effectiveness rate depends on abstinence in the fertile time. If a couple does not abstain, the effectiveness rate will drop to whatever barrier they’re using. Contraceptive use is contrary to the teaching of the Church and is considered serious sin.

3. “We can’t abstain.” Abstinence is difficult. We don’t try to skirt the issue. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. A strong sacramental life is essential to assisting couples having difficulties with abstinence.

4. “My cycles are irregular.” NFP is not the old rhythm method. Most of the calculations and rules are based on a woman’s present cycle. Therefore, women with irregular cycles can use NFP effectively. As well, irregular cycles can sometimes be an indicator that something unusual is going on in the body. Improved nutrition, exercise and simple changes in lifestyle can often produce dramatic results.

No method of birth regulation is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. NFP is around 99 percent when the rules are followed and works well to achieve pregnancy too.

Our own experience illustrates the effectiveness of NFP. My husband, James, and I were very young when we got married, so for the first four years of our marriage, we used NFP to avoid pregnancy. At the end of James’s last year of university, we decided to use NFP to seek a pregnancy. We became pregnant (with twins) in the first cycle. We unfortunately lost those babies early in the pregnancy. But over the next 25 years, we have been successful in avoiding pregnancy when we have had a serious need to do so; and equally successful in becoming pregnant when we have desired it (we have five sons ages 12-24). We were able to use NFP in the postpartum periods and have been able to use it effectively during pre-menopause.

When the rules are followed, NFP is extremely effective in avoiding pregnancy and can work equally well in helping couples to achieve pregnancy. (This is the only method that can work both to avoid and achieve pregnancy.)

We currently offer NFP classes online (classes are limited to eight couples). If you’re interested or have any questions about NFP or its effectiveness, please contact me at or leave a comment below.

copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – April 22

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets, where we share posts from the previous week.

Here are my posts:

Family Life Humor Our latest cartoon from Family Foundations Magazine

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco Book Review

Amazing Catechists Declares No Topics Off Limits

7 Quick Takes Friday- A Free Book, Book Reviews and Other Cool Books

copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – A Free Book, Book Reviews and Other Cool Books!

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. FREEBIE ALERT! In Name Only, my second Gold-medal winning novel, is FREE today and tomorrow on Kindle. Please spread the news!

2. My latest review over at Amazing Catechists is for Sarah Reinhard’s wonderful new book, Catholic Family Fun. If you’re looking for fun ideas for your family, look no further. This is a great book!

3. This might be a good time to lament about the most recent bad reviews that Stealing Jenny has gotten. I’m thankful that it has had nearly 50,000 downloads on Kindle. However, some non-Christian and pro-feminist readers feel like they need to bash the book and mention every single thing they think is wrong with it (especially the religious aspects) and a few are downright mean-spirited. Admittedly, there are only three bad reviews on Amazon and about five on Goodreads and my husband said, “Ellie, you’ve only gotten that many bad reviews for 50,000 books downloaded, that’s pretty good!” My husband, the optimist. And he’s right. I’ve gotten many more good reviews. Anyway, when I began writing, I knew I would have to grow a thick skin, but I still find these sorts of reviews hard to take (sigh).

4. I recently posted a review for a great Catholic novel called Sons of Cain by Val Bianco. Powerful stuff! Read my review here.

5. Another book I recently read and would like to recommend is Leticia Velasquez’s beautiful book“A Special Mother is Born.” Included in this book are the inspiring and sometimes challenging stories of mothers with special needs children. My full review will be posted in a few weeks.

6. isn’t a book, but it certainly covers just about everything catechetical. Check out Lisa Mladnich’s article at Patheos, entitled “Faith, Sex and Suicide: There’s Nothing We Won’t Talk About” which promotes this wonderful website.

7. Did I mention that In Name Only is FREE on Kindle today and tomorrow?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach Declares: “No topic off limits!”


CONTACT: Lisa Mladinich

For Immediate Release Declares: “No topic off limits!”

New York, USA – Just four months after the popular site underwent an exciting re-design, has established itself as a premiere haven for catechetical leaders, catechists, and parents for connecting and exploring topics of urgent importance.

“Our readers like us because we believe two things: 1) That absolutely anything can be illumined in the light of our Catholic faith; and 2) that teaching and learning the Catholic faith can and should be thrilling!” says the site’s founder, Lisa Mladinich, author of Our Sunday Visitor’s highly-regarded catechetical series, “Be an Amazing Catechist.”

“It’s a phenomenally vibrant and engaging team of contributors,” says Mladinich. “Many of the site’s 25 veteran catechists and catechetical leaders are also active in the Church as authors, bloggers, podcasters, speakers, and retreat leaders.”

A special column in the Catholic portal at this week called, ‘Faith, Sex, and Suicide: Nothing We Won’t Talk About,’ highlights the distinctive flavor of the site, achieved through a wide variety of faithfully Catholic approaches to teaching, living, and learning the Catholic faith, and provides links to help readers join in the conversation.

Hot topics addressed in recent postings include: the spiritual effects of voluntary sterilization, talking to teens about suicide, the power of the Passion, the dangers of yoga, finding a slice of heaven on earth, evangelizing through storytelling, and much more.

Amazing Catechists TM

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco begins with a prologue describing Pope Leo’s horrifying vision of Hell, the vision that prompted him to write his famous “St. Michael Prayer.”

Misery loves company. One need only look at the present state of the world to see that Satan is hard at work trying to gain souls to keep him company for all eternity. Those who do not believe in the devil will think twice after reading this compelling and frighteningly realistic novel.

The cover is eye-catching and enticing. I was easily swept up in the story. The setting is well done. Characters are well-developed and believable; I especially enjoyed Fr. Picora (and I guessed early on who this character is supposed to be). Bianco’s writing style is solid and easy to read. Although the author uses a lot of back story (which I normally don’t like), I understand why he did. Extensive background is needed to understand the plot. The “good” characters are well-developed (although not perfect). The evil characters are evil. There’s no sugar coating or watering down objective truth. Catholic teaching is inherent in the story without being preachy.

My favorite quote from this book is “The completion of a life well-lived, no matter how untimely the death, is the beginning of eternal bliss.” I also liked the term “Christ-like masculinity” to describe the main character, Nick Rieper, and his fellow Knights of Longinus, who have pledged their lives, their fortunes and their honor to battle international Satanism. Too often in our secular society females are attracted to womanizers who can’t say no to sex (i.e. Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind; James Bond, to name a few).

True masculinity, “Christ-like” masculinity, is embodied in Nick Rieper, a handsome, muscular, strong, Mass attending, rosary carrying ex-Navy Seal who embraces the virtues.

One minor criticism: a few times, a chapter would take place in one setting, then the next chapter takes place in a different setting the day before. I found this confusing and it made me stop for a moment to figure out what was going on.

The bottom line, however, is that this is an incredibly good read. I especially encourage readers to check out the “What’s Real” section on the author’s website. Fascinating information! Sons of Cain is available in Kindle or print from Amazon.

Highly recommend!

(With thanks to the author, who provided me with a free Kindle copy of his book.)

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Wow Moments

Join me and other Catholic Bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

My post today is entitled “Wow Moments.”

1. Although it’s been five years since my mom’s passing, I recently discovered her special box: Click here to read the entire post about my mom’s special box.

2. This photo shows my oldest son holding his youngest brother a week or so after his birth. My youngest son is now the age of my oldest son in this photograph.

3. This was one of those “Wow moments” that caused me to age about ten years. My middle son (below, on bottom) had a job working at the local parachuting club and one of the perks was free skydiving. I prayed a lot and gained more than a few gray hairs in those 20 minutes or so. I later wrote an article about the experience and it was the featured article in Family Foundations magazine.

4. No matter how many times I see St. Joseph’s Oratory, I still say “Wow.” My second oldest son attends Concordia University near this beautiful church in Montreal. Set on a hilltop, it can be seen from virtually any part of the city.

5. It was sad when my stepdad passed away a few months ago. We will all miss his gentle and quiet humor. Just before the funeral, my siblings and I were surprised to find out that my sister’s entire novice class would be attending the funeral. (My sister is a novice with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville). Dressed in white and exuding an infectious enthusiasm for the faith, these beautiful young women made quite an impression. This is a photo from the funeral reception.

6. Now that some of my sons are living away from home, I always feel like it’s a “wow” moment when we’re all together (and that happened recently on my husband’s birthday).

7. Our wedding day, 30 years ago, was the happiest day of my life.

For more “Quick Takes,” visit Conversion Diary.

Next week: More Wow Moments
Photos copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach and Josh Hrkach
Text copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach