Follow God’s Laws to Be Truly Free

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus and He knows it: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s.”

What belongs to God? Our bodies belong to God, and we should take care to nourish our bodies by eating healthfully, exercising, and moderation. Our hearts and souls belong to God so it’s important to feed our souls with the spiritual graces of the sacraments, prayer and fasting. God has given us our life. We give generously back to Him.

Yes, we have to pay taxes. Yes, we have to live in a country and must follow its laws. But our bodies and souls belong to God. We are free, but not free to do whatever we want. Since our bodies and souls belong to God, we must follow God’s laws to be truly free to do what we know is right. We must follow the law engraved on our hearts and in accord with our conscience.

St. John Paul II, whose feast day we celebrate today, said, “True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality … When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.”

Ponder:

What can I do to give more of myself to God on a daily basis? What can I do to be healthier, both physically and spiritually?

Pray:

God, please help me to see Your hand in all things. Give me the graces to give more of myself to You on a daily basis.

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Advanced Reviews for Julia’s Gifts

Special thanks to the following authors for offering advanced endorsements of my new book, Julia’s Gifts.

Can beauty and life survive destruction and death? Vivid writing transports readers to the past, where young love is forged and tested amidst the devastation of war-torn France. Graced with soulful sonnets and life-and-death situations, this is no simple romance. It’s a strong and tender Catholic historical novel about growing in maturity and fortitude while discovering the power of hope, self-sacrifice, and prayer. I read Julia’s Gifts within two days, but this touching story of faith and devotion is sure to leave a lasting impression!” Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author of Frozen Footprints and After the Thaw

“Award-winning author Ellen Gable has created a stunning love story set amidst the backdrop of World War I. Filled with adventure, romance, and intrigue, this gripping tale will keep you on the edge of your seat.  There is so much to treasure in this beautifully-written book: miracles of faith, the power of prayer, the strength of true love, and the grace in using one’s God-given gifts to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles make this an outstanding and unforgettable book.” Jean M. Heimann, author of Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World

“A sweet romance set amidst the carnage of World War I France, Julia’s Gifts is filled with fascinating historical detail and a reminder that love never fails and that miracles – great and small – happen all around us.”   Carolyn Astfalk, author, Stay With Me, Ornamental Graces & Rightfully Ours

“Julia’s Gifts is a sweet and touching love story laced with beautiful messages. Well-researched, the dialog and details make the story feel genuine, taking readers back to the WWI era where people shop at Lit Brothers department store, ride on trolley cars, and frequent the Horn and Hardart’s Automat. Following Julia as she works overseas as a volunteer medical aid opened my eyes to the hardships of war and especially the great trials and sacrifices of the nurses and volunteers. This story touched my heart in many ways, but the poems written by the character Major Peter Winslow are simply amazing.”    Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction

“In the new Great War Great Love series by Ellen Gable, Julia’s Gifts took me on a poignant journey into the midst of terrible suffering and enduring hope. A young woman volunteers to serve in a war-time hospital in France and encounters, up close and personal, the horrors of war. The descriptions of war-torn France felt very authentic and really helped me to envision actual environment. Julia’s dreams for her future husband face unexpected and ingenious twists and turns. Julia’s Gifts is a romantic drama that unfolds far from home—but takes us to the heart of home along the way.”  A.K. Frailey, author

Julia’s Gifts will be available on November 1, 2017!

Virtual Book Tour for Julia’s Gifts will take place November 1-22, 2017. Links coming soon!

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness – 2017

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day but the entire month of October is devoted to Infant Loss Remembrance. James and I feel very blessed and grateful to be the parents of five young adult sons (ages 18-30). I also think about the seven precious babies we lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. This month, we remember in a special way these seven little souls (and intercessors) in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Five Little Souls in Heaven (This article was written 22 years ago and published in the Nazareth Journal)

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

One of the themes of my first novel, Emily’s Hope, is pregnancy loss.

This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held onto Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart
beating fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

(End of excerpt.)

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

 

100 Years – The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. It is a wonderful occasion for celebration.  But it is also an occasion to examine our lives and examine whether we are following the many messages of Our Lady throughout the 20th century and continuing into this century. Our Lady of Fatima predicted many of the horrible events of the 20th century and her message is even more important today.  In many of the Church-approved apparitions, Our Lady has always encouraged — and begged — us to pray the Rosary and to fast.

You can read about Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions as well as the Miracle of the Sun here at this link.

There are many eyewitness accounts of this miracle recorded here.

In Scripture, we see many examples of fasting. Jesus fasted. Fasting was encouraged in times of great temptation or severe trials. Certain demons, “can be cast out in no other way except by prayer and fasting,” said Jesus. (Mark 9:29)

Our world needs us to fast. Our world needs us to pray the daily Rosary.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

 

Powerful Intercession of the #HolyRosary

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

October is the month of the Holy Rosary and I’d like to share a few personal stories about the power of the Rosary:

I share this particular one to show the speed in which Mary sometimes answers our prayers.

Years ago, a friend of ours visited us with a desperate plea for help. His girlfriend had been enticed into a cult and within days, all communication had been cut off. He couldn’t talk to her or contact her in any way. He said that he loved her and knew that he wanted to marry her, but felt helpless and didn’t know what to do.

With tear-filled eyes, he finally asked, “Would you pray that she is released?”

Our response was, “Of course.”

When he left, James and I immediately got out our rosaries, knelt down and began reciting a fervent, heartfelt rosary for Our Lady’s intercession, that the cult would allow this girl to leave.

At the time, we recited the rosary, oftentimes, more out of habit than a desperate plea for anything. This time, however, it was exactly that, a desperate plea on behalf of our friend to somehow get the cult to allow his girlfriend to leave.

The next day, he called us to let us know that the cult had decided to let her leave. The couple eventually married and they continue to be happily married to this day.

Copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Joy and Example in Parenting

Sadly, some parents see child-rearing as dull and boring.  Others maintain that their children are “their best friends.”  Still others say that they can’t see any joy in parenting.

Parenting is hard work.  No one will challenge that statement.  From my experience of over 30 years of parenting, there were some days I wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep for the rest of the day.  But we can’t do that because our children are our responsibility and they need us.

Another basic in Robert P. Newberry’s book, Green Beans and Legacies is:  A primary task for a parent is taking the mystery out of how to build a successful life.

Parents can help take the mystery out of how to build a successful life. The author of Green Beans and Legacies, Robert P. Newberry, discusses the difference between fun, pleasure and joy.  On the surface, he says, “it is easy for a child to think of these as being the same.” However, fun and pleasure are usually derived from single experiences and can be momentary and fleeting.  By contrast, “joy is the outcome of long-term commitments to worthwhile goals.”

Delayed gratification, perseverance and faith all lead to joy.

If you have ever fasted for an entire day, then you know how good food tastes when you stop fasting.  There is so much joy in giving up, but there is also much joy in eating when you finally break your fast.

When my boys were small, I would bake cookies.  While they were cooling on the table, they all wanted one NOW, especially the littlest of my children.  However, I would tell them they would need to wait for two minutes to make sure they didn’t burn their mouths.  Even the smallest ones were able to learn about patience. When the two minutes was over, they were able to eat and enjoy the cookies without burning themselves.

Another example was when our #4 son (then a pre-teen) wanted to buy an iPod.  He didn’t have the money and wanted us to lend it to him so that he could have the iPod immediately.  However, we wanted him to work for the item first and then buy it himself.  So he stacked 1200 pieces of wood over a month (hard work for a 12-year-old).  At the end of the two weeks, he had made enough to buy the iPod.

Our example in this regard is important.  How we live and the kind of life we lead speaks louder volumes than what we say.  If I tell my children not to eat a cookie hot out of the oven, but I do so, I am completely negating what I said by my example.

All of us want our children to be happy and have fun.  More importantly, we want our children to grow up and lead successful lives.  Successful adults don’t happen automatically.  We must be there for them and take the mystery out of how to build a successful life.

Check out Robert P. Newberry’s book, Green Beans and Legacies, available on Kindle and in paperback.

Also check out the author’s website:  robertpnewberry.com

 

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, so I would like to share some of my favorite quotes about the Holy 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