Be Ready

copyright 2010 Josh Hrkach

My latest post at Catholic Mom:

Be ready then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matt 25:12-13)

We all have stories of “sudden deaths” in our families.

In 1909, my great-grandmother – the mother of eleven children – collapsed and died in the middle of the street while on her way to pay the rent. Her two youngest daughters (twins) were 18 months old. My grandmother was one of those twins.

My husband’s uncle was tragically killed in a bakery accident when he was only 15. My mother-in-law was only 13 at the time her brother died, and he was her closest sibling.

My own father died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 49.

From those killed on the Titanic in 1912 to those who died in the World Trade Center during 9/11, none of us knows the exact hour and day that we will enter eternal life. For many of us, it will be sudden and without warning. It doesn’t matter how old we are. All of us need to be ready and spiritually prepared when our time comes.

It doesn’t matter whether we are teens, young mothers, middle-aged or elderly, the following points can help us to “be ready.”

  1. State of Grace

Attend Mass at least weekly, more if possible. The graces from receiving the Eucharist are abundant and help us to be the best we can be. Go to Confession frequently, even if there are only venial sins on your soul. Confession has so many beautiful benefits and graces.

  1. Prayer Life/Adoration

Spend time in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Make sure you have a prayer life: Morning offering, Daily Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, Divine Mercy Chaplet. If you don’t have a lot of time for prayer, get a Rosary CD or a Divine Mercy CD for your car that you can recite on your way to work or coming home from work. If you’re a young mother, pray with an audio CD of the Rosary or say a decade while you’re doing the dishes or changing a diaper. Take your children to Adoration, even if it’s only for ten minutes.

  1. Forgive and Ask for Forgiveness

It sounds easy, but it’s not. However, if we want God to forgive our sins, we must forgive those who have sinned against us. And ask forgiveness from those people you have offended or hurt. No one is perfect and we all need to ask forgiveness.

  1. Fast All Year Round

Fasting is not just for Lent. When we add fasting (having lighter meals and abstaining from meat) to prayer on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, there are many benefits. Fasting invites the Holy Spirit into our hearts, helps us to increase in virtue, and adds weight to our prayer intentions. When we fast for others, we are truly the Good Samaritan. If you can’t fast from food, then fast from social media, treats or the internet. Any fasting is positive!

  1. Pray to Your Guardian Angel

Be open to your guardian angel’s promptings. Our Guardian Angel has been placed in charge of protecting us and leading us to heaven.

  1. Surrender

“Not my will, but yours be done.” Surrendering to God’s will is not easy in this day and age. Our pride often gets in the way because we think we know best.

  1. Give of Yourself to Others

I have a plaque over my desk that reads “I Am Third.” God should always be first in our lives, others (i.e. our family) second and “I am third.” Visit the sick and shut in, help others in need.

  1. Share Your Love With Your Family

Don’t wait for tomorrow to tell and show those you love. And remember that love isn’t just a “feeling.” It’s a choice to will the good of the other. It’s a decision to love even when a person is not lovable.

 If we are always ready and if we stay close to God, we will be prepared for eternal life and for the day when we reach the gates of heaven and hear the words of God: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”  (Matt 25-23)
Copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach
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A Wonderful Find!

I recently connected with a second cousin on Ancestry and discovered that he had uploaded a photograph from Christmas of 1903 which included our great-grandmother, far left (Mary Regina Smith Hamilton 1866-1909) and our great-grandfather, far right (Thomas Scott Hamilton 1865-1945) and their children (one son is missing and one toddler daughter had passed away a few years earlier).  Both lived in Philadelphia their entire lives.

I have been researching my family tree for over 35 years and this was the first time I had ever seen a photo of either of my Hamilton great-grandparents. So I was so thrilled to find this!  And very happy to be able to put faces to names I had known almost my entire life.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  My great-grandmother looks less-than-excited (she was probably tired!) My great-grandfather looks a bit creepy and perhaps mad.  My grandmother told me about how strict he was, but I’ve also heard stories about what a kind and good man he was.  The house (if indeed it was theirs) looks more upper class than I had previously believed.  The toys were certainly those of at least an upper middle-class family.  My great-grandfather was a clothing cutter so I don’t imagine they were rich. Looking at the house and beautifully-decorated tree, it appears as though they were quite comfortable.

This is such a beautiful snapshot in time.  My great-grandparents would go on to have three more children (including one set of twins — my grandmother, Margaret Hamilton Gable, was one of those twins).  Just six years after this photo was taken, my great-grandmother dropped dead suddenly when her twins were only 18 months old, leaving her husband and oldest daughter (Kate, the smiling one on the right) to raise the children.

This photo illustrates such a different time in history than we are living, a simpler time.  Yes, mothers and fathers still die suddenly and widowers and widows are still left to raise children. But many Catholic families are limiting the number of children they have.  I can’t begin to judge any other couple, but I know in our own case, we remained open, despite the doctors’ orders that we stop having children.

We can learn so much from our ancestors. Back then, contraception wasn’t even a thought in most Catholic couples’ minds and really wasn’t readily available anyway.  Most welcomed children as they came.  I’m thankful to my Hamilton great-grandparents for welcoming children as they did, even when it was so obviously difficult and challenging.  My grandmother, Margaret Hamilton Gable, was one of twins in Mary Hamilton’s last pregnancy. If they had stopped having children, if they had discovered contraception, I wouldn’t be here today.

My grandmother (Margaret) went on to elope with my grandfather (Fritz) and eventually they had four children (my father was the second oldest).

This was indeed a wonderful find!

 

Hamilton Family 1903, with thanks to Rich Boyle

 

How Do You Pronounce Your Last Name?

Over the past ten years, I’ve attended many Catholic conferences and retreats, selling and signing my books. The question that people most often asked was not “How do you find time to write” or “How do you come up with ideas for your cartoon” or “Are you working on any new novels?”

The one question that people most often ask me is “How do you pronounce your last (married) name?”

This is probably the main reason that James and I decided that I should use my maiden name (Gable) as a pen name. Hrkach is decidedly a name that people have a hard time pronouncing, mainly because there are not enough vowels (Hrkach is Croatian in origin. James’ grandfather was born in Mostar, Yugoslavia).  The original spelling of the name was: Hrkać.

It is actually an easy name to pronounce (once you know how) and when people have asked me, I give the same answer: “It is pronounced Her cash…and then I add, “as in…my money.”

So now you know how to pronounce my married name:  Her cash, as in my money.

And here’s a cool photo (below) with my name on it!  No, I haven’t been writing since 1739. This is from the Ben Franklin Museum, a fun gadget that allows you to put your name on the front page of an old book!

 

Copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach

 

Julia’s Gifts Cover Reveal

 

My new novel series, Great War – Great Love, begins with Julia’s Gifts, which will be published on November 1, 2017.

Synopsis:

As a young girl, Julia Murphy began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.”

Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Will the realities of war dishearten her from pursuing her beloved? Will Julia’s naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?”

From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.

Summer Blog Tour – The Three Things Divorced Catholics Need to Know

From the Publisher’s Website: You find yourself in a profoundly painful position: you’re a Catholic, and you’re divorced.

Friends and family probably have lots of opinions and advice. But who do you listen to? You might have searched online or in books for answers, but find the information confusing or unreliable. How can you trust what you’re reading? Or you might be so devastated you’re not sure where to turn.

Now in this short, easy-read booklet, divorced Catholics will learn three important things they need to know now:

1. What the Catholic Church really teaches about divorce

2. How and when divorced Catholics can receive the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. What annulment is, how it works, who needs it, and why it matters

Using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal documents, Scripture, and personal stories, author Mary Lou Rosien provides you with facts that can shape your decisions and actions, along with the encouragement and compassion that can only come from someone who has been through it herself.

My review:  This is a short, easy-to-read and very informative book that will help clarify what the Church teaches about divorce. Ideal to give to those who are divorced or comtemplating divorce.

To purchase the paperback book or ebook, go to the publisher’s website here at this link!