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There’s nothing I like better than to curl up on a comfy chair (or the end of a dock) with a good book. I’ve been an avid reader since I was seven years old. I remember the first time my father took me to the library to get a library card. “You mean I can take any book I want?”
“Sure,” he said, “you can take up to four, but we’re just borrowing them. You have to bring them back in three weeks.”
I remember the joy I felt upon returning home to spend hours reading those four books.
By the time I was a teen, before my re-version, I devoured trashy, explicit romance novels (all available at the public library) like they were candy.
The 50 Shades books are quite popular and the movie is coming out just in time for Valentine’s Day. Women and men of all ages are devouring these books that promote illicit lifestyles, domination and abuse of women. It’s sad, really, but not surprising given our current culture of death and “anything goes” secular society.
Like anyone, I love a good story, but I especially enjoy a compelling romance or suspense novel. As I grew in my faith, I no longer wanted to read fiction with explicit sex scenes or novels that promoted abuse of women. So I began seeking out Christian fiction. However, I yearned to read good, compelling fiction with Catholic themes.
In response to this desire, I started writing my first novel, Emily’s Hope, in 2001. Not only did I want to write a compelling story, I also wanted to include information on the Theology of the Body and Natural Family Planning. If I was going to write a novel, I wanted to write one that had the potential of evangelizing. Admittedly, this book’s target audience is small (NFP teachers love it), so I decided to widen my audience, improve my writing and include the Catholic/Theology of the Body themes in a less overt way.
Since then, I’ve written four more books and each one has been on various Amazon bestseller lists. My newest novel, A Subtle Grace, just hit #1 in Christian Historical Fiction, Christian Historical Romance and Christian Romance. And my publishing company now publishes other authors’ novels.
St. John Paul II said we can “overcome evil with good.” Here is a list of contemporary Catholic novels with Theology of the Body themes that can uplift, inspire and serve as an antidote to ALL the secular, trashy novels that promote illicit lifestyles. These novels encourage virtue rather than vice, respect rather than domination and love rather than lust.
Emily’s Hope (Ellen Gable, 2005, FQP)
Passport (Christopher Blunt, 2008, Pelican Crossing Press)
Midnight Dancers (Regina Doman, 2008, Chesterton Press)
In Name Only (Ellen Gable, 2009, FQP)
Stealing Jenny (Ellen Gable, 2011, FQP)
Finding Grace (Laura Pearl, 2012, Bezalel Books)
Angela’s Song (AnnMarie Creedon, 2012, FQP)
Rapunzel Let Down (Regina Doman, 2013, Chesterton Press)
Vingede (Friar Tobe #2) (Krisi Keley, 2013, S & H Publishing)
Don’t You Forget About Me (Erin McCole Cupp, 2013, FQP)
A Subtle Grace (Ellen Gable, 2014, FQP)
The Lion’s Heart (Dena Hunt, 2014, FQP)
A World Such as Heaven Intended (Amanda Lauer, 2014, FQP)
Working Mother (Erin McCole Cupp, 2014, FQ Publishing)
Do you have a favorite Catholic novel that is uplifting and edifying? Please feel free to comment below.
Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Image: Tim Baklinski (Two Trees Photography)
We have been teaching Natural Family Planning (or NFP) for nearly 28 years. We have volunteered a lot of our time preparing and teaching classes over the past 28 years, as well as lecturing to marriage preparation courses and youth groups. However, I’d like to share what we have gotten out of it.
Admittedly, when we first decided many years ago to become NFP teachers after only two years of marriage, we thought about what we would give, not what we would receive. We had no idea of the abundant fruit it would bear.
First, we have made so many wonderful friends through teaching NFP. Most of our close friends are couples we have taught over the years.
One particular couple was considering sterilization when they met us 20 years ago. Having four children born one right after the other, they were being pressured by friends and relatives into having a permanent procedure done. We taught them NFP and they used it for many years. Eight years ago, they welcomed another child into their family.
Second, we have been able to evangelize in a way that has allowed friends and relatives to take a second look at NFP. Our many contracepting friends and relatives have seen what NFP has done for our marriage. They see a couple with a loving, sacramental relationship, with God as the third partner. And while they may not ever use NFP, they cannot argue with the success of our marriage.
As well, we have convinced some of these friends and relatives that contraception is not only physically unhealthy, but also spiritually unhealthy. One day we were at a friend’s anniversary party and a woman asked how we knew the couple celebrating their anniversary. “We taught them NFP.”
“What’s NFP,” asked the woman. This started a 45-minute conversation on the benefits and morality of NFP. At the end of the conversation, the woman told us to sign her up for our next class.
Third, teaching NFP is a good example to our children because they are seeing us give our time freely to other couples. They see us doing something to try to “change the world.” When our oldest son was a teenager, he came with us to a pro-life conference. We were speaking on the “Joys of NFP.” Later, he asked us, “What can I do to change the world? What can I do to help make the world a better place?’
“What brought this on? Why do you ask?”
“Because you and Dad teach NFP, do chastity talks, go on pro-life marches, help out with marriage preparation. I mean, you do so much. I’d like to do something like that.”
I was shocked that he had even noticed.
The rewards we have received through friendships, evangelization and example to our children are priceless.
Teaching NFP is one of the most time-consuming things we have ever set out to do. And although there are frustrating times, it is definitely one of the most satisfying decisions we have ever made.
We now teach NFP online (photo above). If you’re interested in learning NFP or in teaching it, email us at info(at)fullquiverpublishing.com
Photo and text copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach
A few weeks ago, we taught an NFP (Natural Family Planning) class. Earlier in the day, we looked over the notes. That evening, we logged onto the teaching website. We tested the audio and video. We uploaded the slides and videos to the whiteboard, then waited for class to begin and for the eight registered couples to log on and join the “virtual classroom.”
Welcome to NFP in the 21st century! We don’t have to leave our home to teach NFP and student couples can learn NFP in the comfort of their own homes. They can see and hear us on the audio and video. If students have questions, they use the chat function.
For us, it’s been the answer to a prayer. Three years ago, after teaching NFP for 24 years, we were frustrated at the lack of interest in couples wanting to learn NFP. We felt fortunate to be teaching one or two couples a year. We had this enthusiasm to share our knowledge of NFP with others and wished there were more interested couples.
In the past 27 years, we have traveled all over Ontario to teach NFP classes. The most recent was three years ago when three different couples all inquired about the possibility of learning the sympto-thermal method of NFP in the Greater Toronto area. For the first two classes, we agreed to meet at the halfway point (each of us traveling two and a half hours) and for the last class, James and I traveled down to Toronto to teach Class III. It was an expensive venture, but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to teach NFP to enthusiastic and interested couples. However, I told James that I wish that we could teach NFP online.
I didn’t have to wait long for my wish to come true.
A few months later, we discovered that our NFP organization, the Couple to Couple League, was looking for teaching couples to pilot a new online NFP teaching course. We immediately said yes and have never looked back. Since then, we have taught more couples in the past two years than in the previous 15 years.
The obvious advantage of online NFP classes is convenience. Most of the couples we’ve taught enjoy the convenience of not having to leave their homes and get a babysitter, although a few couples have missed the fellowship with other student couples.
One obvious disadvantage is when the internet isn’t working properly. It’s also hard for us as NFP teachers to judge whether a particular student is grasping a certain point because we can’t see facial expressions. In a large group, it’s necessary to test the couples frequently to make sure they’re understanding. And…it’s not unusual at least once during each class for some sort of technical malfunction to happen.
For the most part, however, it’s been a joy to teach NFP to so many couples, couples who may not have been able to learn otherwise.
Natural Family Planning is safe, effective and morally acceptable. Learning NFP has never been easier or more convenient. Materials and course fee are required to take the class.
If you’re interested in registering for an upcoming virtual online course: https://register.ccli.org/virtual
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Photo and text copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach
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.
An important part of a healthy lifestyle also includes making good choices regarding birth regulation.
Moral considerations aside, Natural Family Planning, or NFP, is very healthy. It is a highly effective method of birth regulation, and it also poses no physical side effects. In my experience, NFP fosters a greater understanding and appreciation of the couple’s combined natural gift of fertility. There are no pills or chemicals to harm a woman’s delicate system. There are no devices or operations for either man or woman.
Other methods, however, are not so health-inducing.
Each prescription for chemical contraception (Pill, patch, vaginal ring, injectables) includes an extensive insert outlining the numerous possible physical side effects: an increased risk of weight gain, mood swings, headaches, breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots. Vasectomy comes with an increased risk of prostate cancer and dementia. Women who undergo a tubal ligation have a higher risk of chronic pain and hysterectomy.
For those who are especially concerned with the health of the environment, chemical contraception is a likely culprit in contributing to the feminization of male fish. Although chemical contraception isn’t the only cause, the following link includes more detail on chemical contraception’s effect on fish:
A new year can be an opportune time to adopt healthier lifestyle choices. It’s also a great time to learn NFP.
My husband, James, and I are certified NFP teachers and we even teach NFP online. For more information on NFP, check out my previous column entitled, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About NFP, But Were Afraid to Ask” or email me at info(at)fullquiverpublishing.com.
Text Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Photo purchased on iStock
Natural Family Planning provides many benefits which not only promote healthy living, this remarkable method of birth regulation is also environmentally friendly and fosters authentic marital love. Here is a list of NFP’s many benefits:
NFP is safe
There are no harmful side effects for either the husband or wife. It is completely safe, 100 percent natural, and involves no potentially harmful devices or drugs.
NFP is healthy
There are no pills, invasive procedures or long-term drugs. Women who use NFP know more about their bodies and can discover health problems sooner.
NFP is effective
Used and taught properly, NFP can be 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy. In our experience as an NFP user couple, we have never had an unplanned pregnancy in 28 years. NFP can also assist some couples in achieving much-wanted pregnancies without chemicals and operations.
NFP costs very little to use
In this economy, NFP is very cost effective. 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 is morally acceptable
Married couples who use NFP are spiritually healthy because NFP fosters authentic marital love and allows a couple to love as Christ loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.
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.