If The Morning – March for Life #uniquefromdayone

Since the March for Life is being held today in Washington, I wanted to again share the words of the pro-life song my husband wrote as a teenager. It’s called “If the Morning,” and these lyrics are also included in my novel, Emily’s Hope:

If the Morning

Words and Music by James Hrkach

If in the morning the Savior didn’t rise
Would there be sunshine in your eyes
And in the springtime if the world wasn’t new
Would love still see its way through
And do we stand only to lose it all
By standing just a little too tall

Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know he’s got the right
I know he’s got that right
Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know He’s got it right
And I know that we have got it wrong

And if the dreamer never woke to tell his tale
Would hope be born still by our hands
And if the baby never sees the light of day
Will nightmares conquer all man
And do we stand only to lose it all
By standing just a little too tall.

Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know he’s got the right
I know he’s got that right
Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know He’s got it right
And I know that we have got it wrong.

And if the baby never saw the light of day, of day, of day…

Lyrics copyright 1978 James Hrkach
Photo copyright 2011 Josh Hrkach

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NFP and Resolutions for the New Year #NaturalFamilyPlanning

Enjoying the sun

photo from istock

The following is a reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago:

The beginning of a new year often prompts many to make resolutions regarding lifestyle. Some will decide to exercise more or to eat better or to get more sleep.

Nowadays healthier lifestyle choices are encouraged: a diet rich in whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, low in saturated fat. Unhealthy habits are discouraged: poor diet, inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking.

Part of a healthy lifestyle also includes making good decisions regarding birth regulation.

Moral considerations aside, NFP, or Natural Family Planning, is very healthy. It is not only an effective method of birth regulation, it also has no physical side effects and, in my experience, helps a woman to understand and know her body better. There are no pills or chemicals which go into the woman’s delicate system. There are no devices or operations for either man or woman.

Other methods, however, are not so health-inducing.

Each oral contraceptive pill or patch prescription includes a lengthy insert outlining the many physical side effects: an increased risk of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, headaches, breast cancer, mood swings, weight gain. Vasectomy comes with an increased risk of prostate cancer and dementia. Women who undergo a tubal ligation have increased risk of pain and hysterectomy.

For those who are especially concerned with the environment, the Pill is a likely culprit in contributing to the feminization of male fish.

http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/environment/study-us-fish-increasingly-feminized/

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/86/8608cover.html

For more information on NFP, this is a great, informative video:

http://www.phxnfp.org/

My husband, James, and I are certified NFP teachers and we also teach NFP online. If you have any questions regarding NFP or the classes we teach, email me at fullquiverpublishing (at) gmail (dot) (com)

Copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Photo copyright Josh Hrkach Used with permission

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon OwensIf St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply?

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body is a moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more. By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure. Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.

With a Foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owens, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.  Edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable.

Warning: mature themes, content and language.

Reviews:

Barb writes: “What, exactly, are “literary reflections on the Theology of the Body?” They’re stories and poems about how we live, and how we live our lives in relationship with each other, with our bodies, with our souls, and with God. It’s not some complicated, esoteric subject. Because it’s an anthology, there’s something for everyone, from detective stories to poetry to tales of family life that range from the harrowing to the uplifting. These stories and poems are about life. Like life, they are not always neat and tidy and packaged in a pretty box with a crisply-tied ribbon. I’ve come to expect just this from other work from Full Quiver Publishing: this publisher does not shy away from difficult subjects and situations in its commitment to promoting the culture of life and the Church’s teaching on marriage and family.”

An Open Book Family says: “Recommended for reading, reflection, discussion, and even entertainment. A gritty but beautiful introduction not only to the Theology of the Body as it is lived (or rejected), but also to the breadth and promise of Catholic fiction being written by contemporary authors. These shorts are accessible to any careful reader, whether familiar with the Theology of the Body or not.”

Readers can buy the paperback book on Amazon at this link.

It’s available on Kindle at this link.

An Open Book – January 2019 #openbook

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. It was a busy month before Christmas and during the holidays we had many visitors so there wasn’t as much time for reading as I would’ve liked.  But here are a few:

Prodigal Daughters

Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church

by Donna Steichen

Amazon Synopsis: In this memorable book, seventeen women of the Baby Boom generation tell their poignant personal stories of apostasy and repentance. Each left the Catholic Church to seek autonomy and fulfillment on the major cultural battlegrounds of this era. Each eventually turned homeward to find, like her prodigal brother in the best-loved of Christ’s parables, that her Heavenly Father had been calling her throughout her absence, watching and yearning for her return.

Feminists in the bureaucratic networks of Catholic dissent continually predict that women will abandon the Church en masse unless they are soon admitted to the hierarchy. The women who recount their experiences in this timely and important book prove the dissenters wrong. They are representative of a growing stream of “reverts” who have recognized and repented of their errors when they rediscovered the living heart of Christ at the center of the Church.

Today, when virtually all faithful Catholics wait and pray for the return of some family member or friend who has strayed from the Church, these accounts of faith reborn offer hope and direction to lift the heart of every reader.

My review: I found this a compelling read. I’ve read it once before, but it’s the perfect sort of book to read when you don’t have a lot of time to do so.  I read individual conversion stories over the period of about two weeks. Highly recommend!

Perilous

Perilous Days: Bravehearts # 1

Amazon Synopsis: Awarded the Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval Award!

As this unforgettable adventure story begins, the quiet life of this peaceful Catholic family is thrown into turmoil by the start of World War II. A Nazi soldier knocks on the door of the farmhouse where teenager Felix Culpa Schmidt lives with his family, including his younger brother, Willy, who is a child with Down Syndrome. The draft notice is tersely delivered. “Report on January 11th and bring your birth certificate.” Felix becomes an unwilling soldier in the German army, forced to serve Adolph Hitler, a man who enacts a plan to kill thousands of ‘useless eaters’- citizens who are elderly or disabled, citizens like his brother Willy. Felix and his loyal dog, Rolf, are assigned to rescue wounded soldiers on the battlefield, working closely with a mysterious soldier who reveals shocking secrets. Perilous Days is book one in the Brave Hearts series of books about Catholic heroes and heroines. Historical fiction for readers ages 9-14. Now more than ever-we need heroes! Learn more about the Brave Hearts series at kathrynswegart.com

My review: Perilous Days is a beautifully written story that will inspire, educate, and entertain all who read it.  Swegart uses rich imagery to transport the reader back to that perilous time of World War II, Germany. Well-developed characters, compelling story, and rich imagery make this the ideal read for young and old alike. Highly recommended!

 

Miracles

Christmas Miracles

Magical True Stories of Modern Day Miracles

Amazon Synopsis: At Christmas, our hearts are touched by reports of wondrous occurrences that make us stop, reflect, and hope. This luminous book shares true accounts of Christmas miracles — inspiring events that happened to real people at Christmas time, including:

A Christmas Mystery: A deaf boy’s generosity is miraculously rewarded

First Christmas: Newlyweds take part in the local Christmas pageant — and receive a surprising lesson in timeless love.

A Heart for Christmas: A series of coincidences brings new life to a little girl

The Stranger: A gentle, mysterious Christmas Eve visitor awes a family

Christmas Saved My Mother: A rabbi tells how his mother, fleeing the Holocaust, was spared on Christmas Eve.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” If you believe in miracles — or want to — let Christmas Miracles light the candle of hope in your heart this year.

My review: I read this book every Christmas. Miracles do happen! My favorite stories are Chester and The Town that Gave Christmas.

Gift

The Christkindl’s Gift by Kathleen Morgan

Amazon Synopsis: When Anna Hannack’s father-in-law brings home a wounded stranger only days before Christmas, Anna’s not happy. Christian charity moves the Hannack family to help the injured man, but the young widow Anna keeps her distance. The tragedies of life have shattered her trust, and she’s determined not to let another stranger threaten her family. Could it be, though, that this rugged Scotsman is actually the gift Anna’s young children have asked of the Christ Child this Christmas?

My review: This is a beautiful Christmas romance.  I read it every year at Christmastime.

Advent, Faith, Trust and NFP

Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_023

The Annunciation by Murillo, 1655–1660, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg (Wikimedia Commons)

My latest at Catholic Mom.

Advent will soon be upon us. It is a beautiful time of preparing and waiting.

It dawned on me a few years ago when I was flying back home from New Jersey that it takes tremendous amount of trust to get on a plane. We rely on the pilots to fly the plane with precision, expect that the builders created a solid, well-performing plane, and trust that the mechanics have serviced the plane properly.  After all, which one of us wants to be 20,000 feet in the air when a mechanical problem happens or when a pilot encounters a situation he’s not trained to handle?

Of course, the same can be said for any situation.  We depend on and have faith in our doctors, food companies, school bus drivers and others.  On a daily basis, we are called to rely on humans who have the potential of making mistakes.

Consider how most couples “trust” with regard to their fertility.  They take pills, get injections, apply chemical patches, insert devices, consent to operations.  Instead of working with their fertility, they try to eliminate it. Instead of embracing their fertility, they fight it. They “trust” that by using contraceptives, they will be able to “control” their fertility.

Newsflash: none of these chemicals, devices or operations are 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.  Only complete abstinence is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.  And yet millions of couples put their “faith” in the contraceptive methods on a daily basis.  If the methods “fail,” and a child is conceived, many will resort to abortion.

So what does this all have to do with Advent?

When told that she would be the mother of our Savior, Mary replied, “Be it done to me according to your word.”  That took tremendous trust and faith in God’s plan for her.  She didn’t say, “Hmmm, let me think about that for a few weeks and I’ll get back to you.”  Without her yes, we would not be preparing to celebrate the beautiful feast of Christmas. It must’ve been difficult for her to give birth in a stable, surrounded by the smells and sounds of animals.  And yet Mary believed and trusted that this was God’s plan for her and accepted it without question.

So what is God’s plan for us especially regarding our fertility?  I can tell you what it is not: God’s plan is not for us to destroy the gift of our fertility with devices, behaviors, chemicals or operations.  This reliance that many couples place in contraceptives can sometimes result in an unwanted, permanent loss of fertility and can lead to numerous other consequences as well.  St. Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) talks about one of the most common consequences of contraceptive use: “A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”(HV 17)

God’s plan is for couples to embrace their fertility and to be generously open to life.  Does that mean that God wants us to have as many children as possible?  No, it doesn’t.  God gave us the gift of reason and he also gave us a built-in natural method of avoiding pregnancy that works with fertility and not against it. God, the Author of life, wants to be part of our decisions regarding our fertility.

Couples who want to trust God with their decisions will trust Him with all of their decisions, including the beautiful gift of fertility.  When couples have serious need to avoid pregnancy, Natural Family Planning is a moral way to do so.  NFP uses no devices and works with God instead of against Him. Wives who use NFP seldom feel used by their husbands. NFP also works well to achieve pregnancy. It’s healthy, effective and safe.  NFP encourages good communication and strengthens marital relationships. And it’s environmentally safe.

Advent is an ideal time to ask ourselves:  do we depend on a chemical company or condom manufacturer…or do we trust God, the Author of Life?

Learning Natural Family Planning nowadays is as simple as turning on your computer. For more information on NFP, check out the following websites:

Couple to Couple League

Billings Ovulation Method

Creighton Method

Copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

New Reviews for Charlotte’s Honor

Charlotte's Honour Front Cover sm

Many thanks to all the bloggers that posted about my new book during the past three weeks! For the complete list of the VBT, click here.

Here are three new reviews:

“I am unabashedly an Ellen Gable fan! I love that her stories are authentically Catholic without any preachiness at all. Since the books in the Great War Great Love series are what the author calls “Clean Romances” I can pass her books down to my daughters  and know that they will identify with her characters, while being inspired by the selfless nature and true hearts of her heroines. In a current culture of questionable values, Ellen reminds her readers that goodness, mercy and true love are timeless and attainable virtues.”  Mary Lou Rosien, author, blogger, Dynamic Women of Faith

“Her latest book specifically conjures up for our jaded minds the concept of honor. Honor stands as a contradiction to the utilitarian society which we inhabit, a society in which everything must have a tangible and immediate purpose, without causing the least inconvenience. When human life itself causes inconvenience, it is eliminated. Charlotte’s Honor, on the contrary, depicts a heroine who is willing to risk her life to bring comfort to those who no longer have a visible purpose, namely the dying. Ellen’s “Great War~Great Love” series illustrates on several levels how God is present  even in the darkest times of human history. Amid enormous pain and suffering there is always a chance for mercy and redemption and often human love acts as the channel for God’s plan. Charlotte finds deep and lasting love where she had not thought to find it; it is through her imperfections that she finds that love. God can bring good out of the worst disasters as well as out of our failings. Not only did the novel remind me of those truths but it also brought home once again the price paid by our veterans. War is hell, yes. It brings out the worst in people and in societies. Yet even war can be turned to serve God’s purpose, as a testing ground for honor which many heroes and heroines uphold even in the “bleakest of times.”  E.M. Vidal, Tea at Trianon

“Ellen Gable has delivered another impressive YA novel in “Charlotte’s Honor.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read in just a few sittings. “Julia’s Gifts” together with this newest novel in the Great War Great Love Series would make a super gift for any pre-teen or teen girl. I love the gentle but powerful lessons about true love (that it involves sacrifice—always) and found the characters realistic and engaging. I look forward to her next release in the series.” Meggie Daly, author