Latest Article on Catholic Exchange

My latest article on Catholic Exchange is entitled “NFP Q & A,” some common questions and answers about Natural Family Planning:

What is Natural Family Planning?

Natural Family Planning is a safe, moral and effective way to avoid and plan pregnancy. With NFP, a couple learns to interpret certain signs in the woman’s body that indicate her fertile and infertile times. If a couple is avoiding pregnancy, they abstain in the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during the fertile time.

To read the rest, click here:

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

The Many Benefits of NFP

My latest article at Catholic Exchange is entitled “The Many Benefits of NFP.”

In this day and age of healthful living, Natural Family Planning provides many benefits which not only ensure healthy living, this remarkable method of birth regulation is also environmentally friendly and promotes authentic marital love. Here are just a few of the many benefits of NFP:

NFP is safe.
There are no harmful side effects for either the husband or wife. It is completely safe, 100 percent natural and it involves no potentially harmful devices or drugs.

NFP is healthy.
There are no pills, invasive procedures, long term drugs. Women who use NFP know more about their bodies and can discover health problems sooner.

NFP is effective.
NFP can be 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy when there is serious need to do so. The beauty of NFP is that it can also assist some couples in achieving much-wanted pregnancies without chemicals and operations.

NFP costs very little to use.
This is especially helpful in this economy. Other than the cost of the course, materials and the replacement of thermometers, NFP costs very little to use over a couple’s 20 or 30 years of fertility, compared to purchasing condoms, diaphragms, Pills and other chemicals or operations.

NFP is environmentally friendly.
NFP does no harm to the environment. Charts can be recycled and there are no chemicals or other devices used.

NFP is marriage insurance.
In a study done by the Couple to Couple League, couples who used NFP had a less than two percent risk of divorce compared to the national secular average of 50 percent.

NFP fosters authentic marital love and allows a couple to love as Christ loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.

NFP is morally acceptable to all faiths.

NFP works with irregular cycles.
NFP is not like the old rhythm method, which depended on regular cycles. NFP’s charting system works with a woman’s present signs of fertility.

For more information on NFP:

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Common Mis-conceptions About the Church and Sex

My recent post at Catholic Exchange, “Common Misconceptions About the Church and Sex:”

In today’s secular culture, there are some common misconceptions (pun intended) regarding the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage. I believe the following attitudes (in italics below) illustrate that many modern Catholics, young and old alike, are poorly catechized, especially in this important area.

The Church is preoccupied with sex. Actually, it is the world which is preoccupied with sex. Several popes have written encyclicals and the Church has issued statements and teachings more in response to the world being so preoccupied. Turn on any television channel, look through any DVD store or surf the internet to find out that sex/pornography is a lucrative financial commodity.

The Church has no business in our bedrooms. In Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II wrote, “In the field of conjugal morality, the Church is Teacher and Mother and acts as such.”

Let’s consider for a moment that God created all of us
. And let’s also consider that each one of us was created us through our parents having sex. God is there in the bedroom with us. We can invite him to have a deeper participation in our sexual life by praying before sex (although I have heard people audibly groan when my husband and I have said this during our talks), by being open to life (never using artificial contraception or contraceptive behaviors like withdrawal) and by always putting our spouse’s needs ahead of our own. Inviting God to a fuller, richer, deeper relationship within the sexual embrace makes the experience not only more spiritually enriching, it makes it naturally more pleasurable and more emotionally satisfying.

To read the rest,

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Ecce Ancilla Domini

My first article at Catholic Exchange is entitled “Ecce Ancilla Domini” and is an updated, revised version of an article which appeared in Family Foundations magazine four years ago.

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord…” Mary’s words in Luke 1:38 echoed loudly in my heart when I found out that I was pregnant for the first time. To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement.

“A sword shall pierce your own soul.”
These prophetic words also echoed loudly in my heart when I lost twins early in that pregnancy. And, with the loss, came the realization that being open to life didn’t always mean having a baby in my arms.

“Openness to life” is a phrase often used to describe the attitude of those using Natural Family Planning, whether they are avoiding or planning a pregnancy. However, when it comes to actively seeking a pregnancy, another form of “openness to life” comes into play. I like to call it “openness to God’s will.” For, in this openness, a couple truly becomes vulnerable — naked, in essence — before God, exposing them to whatever God allows.

This type of “openness” can mean dealing with a whole range of possibilities: infertility, miscarriage, a baby with abnormalities, a pre-term delivery, a stillborn baby, or a healthy, full-term infant. But, in a sense, this is the same “openness” that Mary embraced when she was informed that she would be the mother of our Savior: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord…”

To read the rest:

Ecce Ancilla Domini

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach