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

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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