Archives for September 2010

Interview with Author Ellen Gable Hrkach

Listed below is an interview My Catholic Blog held recently with Ellen Gable Hrkach, the author of “Emily’s Hope” and “In Name Only“. We were very grateful that Ellen was able to spend some time answering a few questions for us, and we are very pleased to share the interview with you.

For more information on Ellen Gable Hrkach’s books, simply click on the book images.

Ellen, you cover a LOT of pertinent, relevant topics for 2010 in these books. In your book, “In Name Only” you seem to have a terrific grasp of historical settings. Tell us, were you a history student? Why did you choose 1870 Philadelphia as the setting for this story?

I was not a history student but I have always loved history. In particular, I find Victorian history fascinating because it was during this period that history was able to be captured photographically. I have a book on the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 (which took place in Philadelphia) with many photos. Several years ago, I was daydreaming about attending the exhibition and what it must have been like in 1870’s Philly. I thought it would make an interesting setting for a fictional story so I quickly jotted down an outline and within a year or so completed my first draft.

OK. Now, in Emily’s Hope, topics range from marriage today, difficult choices to be made, dealing with society issues, family relations, families. Can you share with us the feelings of fear and grief you started writing about in your journal years ago?

I began writing in a journal years ago after I experienced my third miscarriage. I naively thought that if my husband and I were open to life, then God would automatically give us as many children as we wanted. At the time, we already had two sons, but we felt called to have more. I was grieving and at times, I needed to talk (like in the middle of the night) and didn’t want to disturb anyone (least of all, my husband). So I began jotting down my thoughts and feelings. I did have a fear of having more miscarriages and there was part of me that didn’t want to try for another pregnancy because of the fear of possible miscarriage. But I knew I needed to trust that God knew what He was doing. We are now blessed with five wonderful sons ages 11-23.

Ellen, would you encourage others to write down (electronically or in longhand) their fears and worries? Can you explain how this process helps accomplish settling your mind and setting aside worries, fears?

Yes, I would encourage others to write down their feelings, fears and worries. For me, writing in a journal was like talking to a friend, and sometimes it was like talking to God. My notes eventually became somewhat of a prayer journal. That, combined with sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, helped me to grieve and heal and to be able to trust that God knew what He was doing and to stop trying to control every little thing that went on in my life. Sometimes, just the process of jotting down my feelings helped me to see things in a different light.

You have been busy. Congratulations on the recognition you have received for your work! But there is (apparently) more to Ellen Gable Hrkach. What is next?

Thank you so much. I am working on five different books to be published in the next few years by my publishing company, Full Quiver Publishing. The first is my third Catholic novel called Stealing Jenny. The second is called Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship. The third is a book I’m editing for parents written by Carolyn Smith. The fourth is an NFP Devotional Book. The fifth is a sequel to my historical novel, In Name Only. In the midst of it all, I homeschool my two youngest sons and my husband and I teach NFP, lecture at Marriage Prep courses in our Diocese and do chastity talks for young people.

Tell us about the Family Life cartoons, Catholic Mom and Amazing Catechists. And, by the way, you have a very impressive blog! I enjoyed the post about how you explain pronouncing your last name (her-cash)!

The Family Life cartoon currently appears in Family Foundations magazine and on the Amazing Catechists website. It is a cartoon which is based on our own family life with caricatures of us and our children. My husband is the artistic genius and I am the writer, the one who comes up with the ideas for the cartoon.

Amazing Catechists is an incredible resource for Catholic catechists. I write a column called “Sexually Speaking,” which discusses and explains Theology of the Body issues. I do a similar column over at Catholic Mom as well.

Did you think — twenty years ago — you would be here now? Is this what you imagined, and how has God helped shaped your path?

Although I have been doing freelance writing for 15 years, I never envisioned myself as a novelist. In early 2001, after having an experience in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I came home and told my husband and he suggested that I write a novel based on my life and my great-grandmother’s life. After writing my first book, I soon felt called to continue writing novels, especially novels with a strong moral message.

Ellen, may God bless you and thank you for a terrific interview!
You’re very welcome!  I appreciate the opportunity!

Upcoming: Author Interviews and Book Reviews!

Great news!

I have a few interviews conducted recently with some excellent authors in the field.  They are getting ready for posting.  I think you will absolutely LOVE them.

I have also been asked to review books from a particular publisher, these reviews will also be posted shortly!

Please promise to take some time from our busy schedules and reflect on what September 11th means to you.

Protected: Interview with Lynn Goodwin, Author

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Vatican Apostolic Library set to re-open

“The Vatican Apostolic Library will be reopened again this month after three years of reconstruction. As its director explained to Vatican Radio, it aims to be a cultural aid, to offer a glimpse of the “great truth of the world of God.”

Vatican Radio interviewed the library’s prefect, Msgr. Cesare Pasini about the grand reopening set to take place on Sept. 20.

Noting a series of initiatives scheduled to mark the reopening of the library this fall, the prefect also spoke of the value of the library to all people.

He said that by reopening the library, “we not only show scholars and the world what we have done … but we remodel ourselves on this fundamental spirit, on our mission, so that we don’t just make it a place to consult books.”

The library, which allows scholars from all walks and creeds to study its volumes, has an aspect of universality and cultural preservation because it conserves materials “for today and tomorrow,” he said.

Msrg. Pasini also promotes culture by allowing works to be “used, seriously studied and then probed to find any further fragment of truth.

“There are many truths,” he said, “historic truths, truths that make investigations into the reality of things, and these little truths form part of the great truth of the world of God.”

In an article he wrote for last Sunday’s edition of the L’Osservatore Romano, Msgr. Pasini described some of the 15,000 letters and e-mails his office has received hoping for the prompt conclusion to the restoration work and describing the library’s importance to studies. Responding to the interest, he said that in looking around the now “silent and shining” library, he has seen that “only the friendly presence of our scholars is lacking.” He added, “may they know that they are warmly awaited.”

Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, will present the renovated, restored and restructured library in an on-site press conference next Monday.” – “Vatican Library Prepares to Reopen After Three Years of Restoration”, EWTN

This article from EWTN was a cool one to read about. The Vatican’s library has been closed for quite some time now, and it seems like the reopening will be a great success with scholars and Catholic enthusiasts from all over. After three years the library will hopefully be much better and more updated. This should make the great library and even greater place to research information and topics on the Catholic Church. This was very exciting to hear about!

Feast of the Nativity

This article from A Nun’s Life was a great one about Mary from yesterday’s Feast of the Nativity. If you would like to check out the full version of the article please, click here. Mary is one of the most important figures of the Catholic Church and we should all try a little harder to remember her in our daily lives. Hopefully yesterday you said a quick prayer to her in remembrance of the Feast of the Nativity. If you didn’t then you should take some time right now to do that!

“Today we celebrate the birth of Mary. Although scripture says nothing about the circumstances of her birth, it is rich in stories about her adult life. The stories are the source of lots of images and titles for Mary. One of the best known is Theotokos, the God-Bearer.

I love this particular image of Mary and what it symbolizes. For Mary, “God-bearing” wasn’t a one-time event. It didn’t end when Jesus was born. Mary witnessed to God’s goodness and kindness with her whole life. Scripture tells of many times when Mary stepped in to help others, sometimes asking her son to lend a hand too, as in the wedding feast at Cana. She cared for the people in her life and was a faithful friend, mother, and wife. To me, the image of Mary as God-Bearer reminds me that we all have the capacity to be “God-bearers” through the compassion and love we extend to others. So, my birthday gift to Mary is the extra special attention I’ll give to being the best God-bearer I can today.

What images of Mary have special meaning for you? How will you celebrate Mary’s birthday?” – “Feast of the Nativity of Mary”, A Nun’s Life

Vatican Does Not Approve of Koran Burning

I am glad to see through this timely posting by EWTN that the Pope does not lament the absurd plans of burning the Koran. The notion that somebody even suggested this poorly thought out idea at all makes me question the human race as a whole. I am glad to see Pope Benedict XVI telling these people off for their awful idea of a 9/11 memorial. This is the last thing that any self-respecting Christians should be thinking of doing.

“Although the charismatic Christian church planning a Koran burning on Sept. 11 only has around 50 members, the spectre of the impact on Muslim relations led the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to issue a statement today expressing its “great concern” over the plan and stating that “deplorable acts of violence … cannot be counteracted” by burning another religion’s sacred book.

The communique from the pontifical council began by noting that the proposed “Koran Burning Day” is scheduled for the anniversary of “the 11 September tragic terrorist attacks in 2001 which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and considerable material damage.”

Expressing its great concern, the council said, “These deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.”

The council for inter-religious dialogue also stated that religious freedom is a factor in the situation. “Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection. We are speaking about the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters.”

Instead of outrageous ceremonies, the council suggested that September 11 would be much better observed by first offering “our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorist attacks” and then praying for them and their loved ones who lost their lives.

“Each religious leader and believer is also called to renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion,” the council affirmed.

Quoting from John Paul II’s 1999 address to the ambassador of Pakistan, the council insisted, “Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions.” Pope Benedict XVI similarly expressed in 2006, “violence as a response to offenses can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion.”” – “Vatican Council Calls Planned Koran Burning Ceremony ‘Outrageous'”, EWTN

Pope Tells of Saint Hildegard

“Pope Benedict said the life of medieval nun St Hildegard of Bingen demonstrated that “women make a special contribution to theology”.

He was reflecting on the life of the 12th-century German Benedictine religious who experienced mystical visions that “were rich in theological content … They referred to the main events of the history of salvation and use a mainly poetic and symbolic language,” the pontiff said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.

“In the central part of her work she develops the theme of the mystical marriage between God and humankind which came about in the Incarnation.

“Even in this brief outline,” he continued, “we see how theology can receive a special contribution from women, because they are capable of speaking of God and of the mysteries of the faith with their specific intelligence and sensitivity.”

“Hildegard’s popularity led many people to consult her,” the Holy Father recalled. “Monastic communities, both male and female, as well as bishops and abbots all sought her guidance. And many of her answers remain valid, even for us.”

“With the spiritual authority she possessed, in the last years of her life Hildegard began to travel,” the Pope recounted. “She was considered to be a messenger sent by God, in particular calling monastic communities and clergy to a life in conformity with their vocation.”” – “St Hildegard an Example for Women in Theology: Pope”, CathNews

This posting was from CathNews.com and is all about Saint Hildegard. It is good to see Pope Benedict XVI spreading to people how awesome Saint Hildegard was in her life. She is not one of the most popular patron saints, but none the less did wonderful things with her life.

Relics of Padre Pio Shown in Brisbane

This post from CathNews.com talks all about Padre Pio who I have written of previously on here. His relics have been traveling around the world lately for all those faithful to see. It is great to hear about these large numbers turning out to see this wonderful saint’s things. The list of guest speakers in attendance to speak of Padre Pio is also impressive!

“Thousands of faithful in Brisbane gathered last week to be blessed with the relics of beloved Italian mystic, St Pio of Pietrelcina.

Our Lady of Graces’ Church, Carina, was packed on September 3 as was St Brigid’s Church, Red Hill, the following day, as people gathered to listen to Italian Capuchin Father Ermelindo Di Capua speak about the life, sanctity and humility of “Padre Pio”, reports The Catholic Leader.

Fr Ermelindo, one of the people to be close on a daily basis to then Padre Pio at the end of his life, was a confidant and English translator to the Italian mystic and saint.

Organiser Capuchin Father John Spiteri was overjoyed with the first Australian visit St Pio of Pietrelcina’s relics.

“It was a great success,” Fr Spiteri said.

“He spoke simply and very clearly about the spirituality and the holiness of Padre Pio,” Fr Spiteri said.

“One of his outstanding quotes was ‘Padre Pio was a simple, humble Capuchin’.”

Padre Pio was ordained a priest a century ago, on August 10. He first reported stigmata wounds – which remained permanent – to a spiritual advisor in 1910.

Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio a saint in 2002.

“Fr Ermelindo was able to testify to the eminent holiness and the simplicity and the suffering Padre Pio endured,” Fr Spiteri said.

“It was wonderful to hear Fr Ermelindo speak so strongly about the holiness of Padre Pio without exaggeration.

“There was no sentimentality, no exaggeration, he spoke about the man as he was.”” – “St Pio Relics Draw Crowds of Faithful in Brisbane”, CathNews

Peace Attempts Being Made Over Holy Land

“As the Palestinian and Israeli governments seek an agreement in Washington D.C., the Israeli president and Pope Benedict XVI hoped for “lasting peace” on Thursday. The Pope was recognized by the Nobel Prize-winning Israeli leader Shimon Peres during a meeting between the two as the “Shepherd” leading to the “the fields of peace.”

President Shimon Peres was accompanied by five others for the visit to the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, including the director of his office, Ms. Yona Bartal. They spent the morning visiting on-site gardens and met with leaders of the Vatican secretariat of state before the 11 a.m. audience with Pope Benedict.

According to a statement released by the Holy See following the 40-minute encounter, the resumption of direct talks between Israel and Palestine was primary among the themes of discussion in the private meeting.

On Thursday in Washington D.C., through U.S. government mediation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are returning to the negotiation table after a nearly two-year absence of talks.

According to a Reuters report, President Barack Obama hopes that the two sides can reach an agreement that, within a year, would establish the parameters of the Palestinian state and ensure security for Israel.

President Obama said on Wednesday, “This moment of opportunity may not soon come again. They cannot afford to let it slip away.”

For their part, President Peres and the Holy Father hoped that the return to speaking terms might “assist in reaching an agreement that is respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples and capable of bringing lasting peace to the Holy Land and to the entire region.”

Peres received the Nobel Prize in Peace 1994, jointly with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, for his work towards the creation of peace in the Middle East.” – “Pope and Israeli President Hope for Peace in Holy Land”, EWTN

This article reported by EWTN.com discusses the recent attempts for peace in the Holy Land. Obviously the Holy Land has long been fought over, and this is wrong. It is a land of great importance for numerous religions and it would be really nice to see some cooperation and peacefulness there. Numerous politicians met with Pope Benedict XVI at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo. We will see if the outcome of this is good, and I will pray that it will be.

Missouri Catholic School in Contest for $500,000

“Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic School, a 480 student elementary school in Missouri is competing for half a million dollars in a Kohl’s department store online contest that ends Friday night. Though they still hope to be among the winning schools, they can already see the positive effects the contest has had on the community.

The school, located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri is currently ranked in seventh place in the Kohl’s Care Foundation’s $10 million online contest. The top 20 schools in the country receiving votes via Facebook by Friday night will each receive $500,000.

Principal of Our Lady of the Presentation (OLP), Jodi Briggs told CNA that the school decided to participate in the contest in July in order to raise needed funds.

If the kindergarten through eighth grade school is one of the 20 winners, Briggs said, it will use the money to improve technology and add classrooms and spaces for students. “We are looking into adding additional classrooms or creating mobile computer labs” as well as “adding wireless capabilities” and “creating a multi-purpose space for band and choir,” she added.

Facing a growing number of students, the principal explained the expansion is needed as they currently “have to limit the number of students in classrooms, therefore creating a waiting lists for students wanting a Catholic education.”

Despite having an enrollment under 500 with the majority of students under the contest’s minimum voting age of 13 years old, Briggs explained that the school has successfully promoted the contest so far due to “the huge volunteer base of parents and parishioners that have come on board to help.”

“Our parish, diocese and community have rallied behind us,” Briggs continued. At the parish level, she said that the OLP priests have been “encouraging people to vote after Mass.” In addition, parents of students have volunteered time to help retired parishioners set up Facebook accounts and vote in the school computer lab.” – “Catholic Elementary School Makes Run at $500,000 Prize”, Catholic News Agency

This posting from Catholic News Agency tells about a Catholic school in Missouri attempting to win a big prize to make some changes to their school. Hopefully they are able to win this contest because Catholic schools all over could always use a little bit of extra money to invest into making their school a better learning facility. The entire parish has been pushing very hard to try and win and I hope their efforts work out for them all. To read the full article, click here.