Celebrate God’s Gift of Married Love! NFP Awareness Week July 22-28 #HV50

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National NFP Awareness Week – JULY 22 – JULY 28, 2018

2018 theme:
Generations of Love
Humanae Vitae (1968-2018)
Celebrate God’s Gift of Married Love!


“Celebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality.”

On July 25th, 1968, Blessed Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) which reaffirmed the 2000-year consistent teaching that artificial contraception is morally wrong. Read my stories about HV here and here.

 

Why Natural Family Planning Differs from Contraception

Pope John Paul II

(In 1998 Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to Dr. Anna Cappella, director of the Center for
Research and Study on the Natural Regulation of Fertility at Rome’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The occasion was a convention commemorating Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical. Excerpts are reprinted below.)

I hope that everyone will benefit from a closer study of the Church’s teaching on the
truth of the act of love in which spouses become sharers in God’s creative action.
The truth of this act stems from its being an expression of the spouses’ reciprocal
personal giving, a giving that can only be total since the person is one and indivisible. In the act that expresses their love, spouses are called to make a reciprocal gift of themselves to each other in the totality of their person: nothing that is part of their being can be excluded from this gift.

This is the reason for the intrinsic unlawfulness of contraception: it introduces a substantial limitation into this reciprocal giving, breaking that “inseparable connection” between the two meanings of the conjugal act, the unitive and the procreative, which, as Pope Paul VI pointed out, are written by God himself into the nature of the human being (HV, no. 12).

Continuing in this vein, the great pontiff rightly emphasized the “essential difference”
between contraception and the use of natural methods in exercising “responsible procreation.” It is an anthropological difference because in the final analysis it involves two irreconcilable concepts of the person and of human sexuality (cf. Familiaris Consortio, no. 32). It is not uncommon in current thinking for the natural methods of fertility regulation to be separated from their proper ethical dimension and to be considered in their merely functional aspect. It is not surprising then that people no longer perceive the profound difference between these and the artificial methods. As a result, they go so far as to speak of them as if they were another form of contraception. But this is certainly not the way they should be viewed or applied.

On the contrary, it is only in the logic of the reciprocal gift between man and woman that
the natural regulation of fertility can be correctly understood and authentically lived as the proper expression of a real and mutual communion of love and life. It is worth repeating here that “the person can never be considered as a means to an end, above all never a means of ‘pleasure.’ The person is and must be nothing other than the end of every act. Only then does the action correspond to the true dignity of the person.” (cf. Letter to Families, no. 12).

The Church is aware of the various difficulties married couples can encounter,
especially in the present social context, not only in following but also in the very
understanding of the moral norm that concerns them. Like a mother, the Church draws
close to couples in difficulty to help them; but she does so by reminding them that the
way to finding a solution to their problems must come through full respect for the truth of their love. “It is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing
from the saving doctrine of Christ,” Paul VI admonished (HV, no. 29).
The Church makes available to spouses the means of grace which Christ offers in
redemption and invites them to have recourse to them with ever renewed confidence. She exhorts them in particular to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is poured out in their hearts through the efficacy of their distinctive sacrament: this grace is the source of the interior energy they need to fulfill the many duties of their state, starting with that of being consistent with the truth of conjugal love. At the same time, the Church urgently
requests the commitment of scientists, doctors, health-care personnel and pastoral
workers to make available to married couples all those aids which prove an effective
support for helping them fully to live their vocation (cf. HV, no. 23-27).

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Building a Culture of Life #prayingforIreland


In John Paul II’s encyclical, Familiaris Consortio, (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), he states (p. 45) “The Church is called upon to manifest anew to everyone, with clear and stronger conviction, her will to promote human life by every means and to defend it against all attacks, in whatever condition or state of development it is found.

Our society has become a culture of death. This is most especially evident now that Ireland will be reversing its anti-abortion laws because of a recent vote.  Morality is not dependent upon the majority rule.  Murder of the unborn child will always be wrong.

“The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then defend life.” St. John Paul II

Here in Canada, since there is no law against abortion, killing an unborn child is legal right up to the moment of delivery. Some contraceptives are actually abortifacient (cause early abortions), rather than preventing conception. In certain parts of the world, pre-born baby girls are being killed by the thousands simply because they are female.

We need to fight against the culture of death by building a culture of life. Here are a few ways to do so:

Prayer and Fasting
Never underestimate the power of prayer and fasting. Daily Mass, the daily rosary, a weekly fast (especially on Fridays) and other forms of prayer have more effect than we can possibly realize. Spiritually adopting a baby in danger of abortion (http://www.spiritualadoption.org/) is a beautiful way we can build the culture of life. Try to recite the Litany of the Saints daily. We can never know the effect that our prayers have had (until we die), but be assured this is one of the most important ways to build a culture of life.

Chastity, NFP and Openness to Life
All Christians (not just Catholics) are called to practice chastity and be open to life. Being chaste before marriage and practicing marital chastity (faithfulness) is essential for building a culture of life. Contraception is “intrinsically evil,” (CCC 2370) it harms marriages and separates couples physically and spiritually. Natural Family Planning (www.ccli.org) is a safe, moral and effective way to avoid and plan pregnancies.

Vote Pro-Life
Make sure that your voice heard. Register to vote and vote often and whenever the opportunity arises. This can be no more evident than in our upcoming presidential election. Although I have been living in Canada for 36 years, I am still a US citizen and I have continued to vote in US Federal Elections.

Corporal/Spiritual Works of Mercy
Performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy will also help to build a culture of life because these works will help build spiritual character. When we are closer to Christ, we are closer to a culture of life.

The corporal works of mercy, based on Matthew 25:31-36, are: 1. feed the hungry 2. give drink to the thirsty 3. clothe the naked 4. shelter the homeless 5. visit the imprisoned 6. care for the sick 7. bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy, commanded or encouraged in many places Scripture, are: 1. admonish the sinner 2. instruct the ignorant 3. counsel the doubtful 4. comfort the afflicted 5. bear wrongs patiently 6. forgive all injuries 7. pray for the living and dead.

Peaceful Pro-Life Events
Attend peaceful pro-life events like the National March for Life (in the USA it is held every January; in Canada, it is held every May), the Hike for Life and other Pro-Life rallies.

Patience and Charity
It’s important to be patient and charitable when speaking to, interacting with or debating with those who are pro-abortion. Many of these fiercely pro-choice women have had abortions.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” Try not to be judgmental of the person (always separate the person from the sin). In some cases, these women were coerced by their partners or parents (those who should’ve been protecting them) into having an abortion.

Be a Good Example
Being a good example of Christian virtue is another great way to build a culture of life. Volunteer at a pro-life women’s shelter, embrace faithful Catholicism and donate money to causes that build the culture a life.

If each of us does our own part, we can help to rebuild a culture of life, one that is an antidote for our current culture of death.

Copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

A Living Reflection

copyright Ellen Hrkach

copyright Ellen Hrkach

In this year of the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, here is another reprint of mine from three years ago.

Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother.” St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World)

Children are indeed a “living reflection…a living and inseparable synthesis” of a married couple’s love. This can be evident physically (as children often look like a combination of both parents), but is evident spiritually and emotionally as well.

It is also been said that the greatest gift you can give to your children is to love your spouse.

James and I have been blessed with five sons (now ages 19-30) but we have also faced the heartbreak of losing seven babies through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Born or unborn, each of our 12 children is an unrepeatable and eternal sign, an outward expression, that we love one another.

This truth that children are a “living reflection” of a couple’s love was not something I fully appreciated until a trip to the beach many years ago.

It was a beautiful July evening and our sons (then ages 4-16) were running and playing in the sand, their laughter like sweet music to our ears. The sun was setting and the sky a brilliant pink and orange, reflecting off their bodies as they ran in the sand. Watching them, I had a ‘light bulb’ moment. “Those children exist because we love each other,” I whispered to my husband. James, ever wise, said, “And because God loves us. Pretty awesome, eh?”

Precisely because of the truth that “children are a living reflection of their love…a living and inseparable synthesis…” divorce can have a negative impact on the children (even adult children). While separation is sometimes a necessity if there is abuse, divorce is too often used because a couple “stops loving one another.” We all have a choice to love.

As a “permanent sign of conjugal unity,” a divorce can sometimes make a child feel like he is being torn in two directions. My husband, whose parents separated when he was 16, said that is exactly how it feels. So when we became engaged, James (only 18 at the time) said, “Ellie, are you sure you want to be married for the rest of your life? Because we will be together for life. We will never get a divorce. I do not want to put my kids through that.” Although we have experienced ups and downs, challenges and loss, we both know that divorce would never be an option.

A Catholic couple we know was facing divorce court. They had lived together before marriage and had used birth control for many years, eventually drifting apart. They had tried secular counseling, but it didn’t seem to work. Even before physical separation, some of their children had begun to show signs of depression and irritability. They agreed to sit down and speak with a priest. This priest urged them to try one more time, and he gave them books on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. While this is a simplification of their story, they eventually rediscovered their love for one another and are now happily married. They still face challenges, but their love for one another is evident in their relationship with each other and their children.

It is awesome to experience the gift and wonder of new life, as children are indeed the illustration and reflection of a married couple’s love. This love for one another is the greatest gift you can give to your children.

Smfamily photo2012

Hrkach Family 2012

My story of love, loss and conversion is the basis of my novel, Emily’s Hope, which is available on Kindle and in print.

Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Learning to Love With the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Jean Heimann

Learning to Love mockup copy (1)Today, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, this is also the first day of Jean Heimann’s Virtual Book Tour for her new book, “Learning to Love With the Saints.”

New Book Helps Readers Learn to Cultivate a Personal Relationship with God and to Trust in His Mercy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WICHITA, KS (May 13, 2016) Mercy Press announces the release of author Jean M. Heimann’s new book,  Learning to Love With the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir. Available in digital ($2.99) and paperback ($13.99) editions at Amazon.com, Learning to Love with the Saints gives us practical insight into the abundant love and mercy that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus to our hearts when we learn to trust in His love and mercy.  The lives of the saints convey precious lessons of love and guidance on how to live virtuous lives. When we befriend them and ask for their prayers, miraculous transformations can occur in our lives and the lives of those around us.  Learning to Love with the Saints shows us how to develop a personal relationship with God, to grow more deeply in love with Him, to trust in His mercy and to use the saints as our supporters and spiritual guides.

Learning to Love with the Saints is the inspiring personal witness of how Jean M. Heimann was wooed by Jesus to return to the Church after being raised Catholic and then leaving her faith for fifteen years. In this riveting memoir, Jean tells the story of growing up in the Midwest in a French-Catholic family during the tumultuous times of the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War and mass misinterpretation of Vatican II in the Church in the ’60s.

Jean grew up in a stable home environment with devout, hardworking Catholic parents. As a young adult, she deeply desired adventure and romance and yearned for love; however, she searched for it with unsuitable partners. Her life took some treacherous turns as she entered into marriage with a drug-addicted abusive man, which was soon followed by divorce, causing her to leave her Catholic faith.

Throughout her life, Jean faced numerous sufferings and trials: unemployment, loss, divorce, chronic illness, financial difficulties, and emotional heartaches. In spite of personal and professional accomplishments and successes, she describes feeling empty inside.  In this intimate account, Jean shares her fears, her pain and the graces she received from God to rise above her circumstances.  She reveals how she came to see her own value in the eyes of God, to surrender to Him and to embrace His tender love and mercy.

Jean expertly weaves Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Scripture passages, brief biographies of the saints, and poignant quotes from the saints into her story to illustrate how the saints served as spiritual guides who interceded for her, resulting in some astonishing miracles. Through all these trials, it was the saints who restored her faith, kept it alive and helped her discover the meaning of true love.

JEAN M. HEIMANN is a Catholic author and freelance writer with an M.A. in Theology, a parish minister and a diocesan speaker, a retired psychologist and educator, and an Oblate with the Community of St. John.  In addition to her highly acclaimed first book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, Jean has had her work published in a variety of Catholic periodicals, some of which include: National Catholic Register, Catholic Exchange, Canticle Magazine, and St. Anthony Messenger/America. Visit Jean at her award-winning blog, Catholic Fire http://catholicfire.blogspot.com/

To receive a review copy of Learning to Love with the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir or to obtain an interview, contact mercypress3@gmail.com

MY REVIEW: Jean’s new book is a compelling memoir filled with experiences, both positive and negative, and with many references to the saints (including St. John Paul II, St. Therese of Lisieux and more!) Through Jean’s testimony, the reader can learn to “cultivate a personal relationship with God and to trust in His mercy.” With Learning to Love With the Saints, Jean Heimann has written a beautiful and moving memoir that illustrates how the holy saints’ examples not only increase our faith, but give us the strength we need in difficult times. Highly recommend!

To purchase the book on Kindle, click here.

To purchase the paperback book on Amazon, click here.

Please visit the other bloggers!

Book Blog Tour Schedule for Learning to Love with the Saints:  A Spiritual Memoir

Saturday, May 14 — Rosemary Bogdan, Review, A Catholic Mother’s Thoughts

Sunday, May 15 — Carolyn Astfalk, Review, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

Monday, May 16 — Lisa Mladinich, Interview, Patheos

Tuesday, May 17—Nancy HC Ward, Review, Joy Alive in our Hearts

Wednesday, May 18 — Esther Gefroh, Review, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

Wednesday, May 19 — Barb Szyskiewicz, Review, Franciscan Mom  and Catholic Mom 

Thursday, May 20–Jeannie Ewing, Interview, Love Alone Creates

Friday, May 21– Patrice Faganant McArthur, Review, Spiritual Woman

Saturday, May 22 — Melanie Jean Juneau, Review, Association of Catholic Women Bloggers  and Joy of Nine

Sunday, May 23–Virginia Lieto Review, Virginia Lieto

Tuesday, May 25 — Tony Agnesi, Review, Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life