Have you ever felt inadequate for the task? Have you ever sized yourself up to others and felt you had climbed into the wrong ring to fight?
This was no less how I felt going into the, "Women Alive! In God’s Mercy Conference" for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Prayer and a total abandonment to the Lord and and His mission for me brought me through this, but seriously, the accolades of my fellow women speakers are astonishing! I will highlight them in full so you may also be drawn to their work. They are true material of the heroic, from Helen testifying to truth in the belly of the beast in the realm of academia and ideas, to Sr. Rosemary defying the most tangible of evil, one which enslaves and tortures children, with her simple smile and lots of thread. I introduce you to them such that you may also find their work invaluable!
Helen Alvaré is a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She is an advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, founder of WomenSpeakforThemselves.com, and an ABC News consultant. She cooperates with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations as a speaker and a delegate to various United Nations conferences concerning women and the family.
I thought Helen delivered an especially disturbing talk, and rightly so, because she was delineating the struggle facing us in regards to family, personhood and gender in this country. She knows well the statistics and the quantifiable reality of the trends were are setting and promoting here and elsewhere. It is with firmness of purpose that she remains out there in our defense even leading the charge against the HSS Mandate.
The most frightening realization came with her saying that everything we are "offering" as a Church to the "woman" and the "person" is seen and heard as anti-human rights and completely hate speech, so twisted are the times. She is a versatile and well read lawyer doing indispensable work while keeping her Catholic Faith as her highest priority.
Sr. Rosemary is a champion for humanity!
For the last 30 years, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Juba, South Sudan, has served the least among them from the epicenter of bloody and violent civil wars that have decimated northern Uganda and South Sudan.
Armed with only a sewing machine, Sister Rosemary openly defied Joseph Kony and the rebel soldiers and commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in their 20-year reign of terror. Since 2002, Sister Rosemary has enrolled more than 2,000 girls who had been previously abducted by the LRA or abandoned by their families.
She is the director of Saint Monica School in Gulu, Uganda, where she has taught these brave girls to make their own clothes, grow their own food, learn a valuable trade, and show mercy to others that are less fortunate.
Sister Rosemary was named by TIME magazine in 2014 as one of the world’s most influential people and in 2007 received the CNN hero award.
I was particularly impressed with the powerful witness of this mover and shaker in the Faith. She is unafraid to do what is right and nothing short of that! She has a "backbone" and maybe more than one! She was a delight to watch as she related the pain and fear that she heals everyday. It was, in fact, a hardship for her to come back to the U.S. for this speaking engagement because her school was very short on food and she had to set out to break up new ground and place more seeds in the earth to ensure a better future and food for the many women and children under her care.
She shows the courage of a saint and the frailness of a sinner. Her end mission is to help rescue these people from enslavement to sin and hate. She encourages all of them to offer mercy and forgiveness for even the worst of crimes perpetrated against them. She frees the girls at her school to make a way secure into their future through business and farming. Some are child warriors who were made to return to their hometowns to kill even their own siblings. Others of them are young sex slaves who conceived several children by a warlord from whom they escaped or were rescued.
You and I living in our safe bubbles of this life cannot hardly understand these realities. I will continue to support her and help her girls find their wings because someone somewhere has a heart to care.
She has a Netflix movie and book both entitled “Sewing Hope.” Get your hands on these!
Sacred Heart Church Pittsburgh, PA
My efforts seem seriously dwarfed by the contribution these two greats of the Church, and yet, here at Fit Catholic Mom I am planting the seeds of a new kind of revolution. One where the Catholic mother can hold a road map to being fully healthy in the Truth. She will understand the Church’s mission within physical exercise and how it lends itself to the moral excellence and character requisite for a healthy spirituality. She will go forward unafraid of the anti-family message of the world which promotes the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it’s sake. She will undergo a new education, and along with the Church, know how to properly promote the harmonious development of the whole person as the Catechism calls us to. She will become a force among giants. She will regain power within her family to help her family search for and communicate the Truth more effectively through a rightly ordered physicality. She will even become an “attractive Catholic” showing the world a still more excellent way to follow Christ and communicate the beauty He offers through her body and soul.
So go amongst the giants today with your heart prayerfully attuned to His power in you. As Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati says, “apart from God you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your actions, you will reach the goal.”
Living authentically as Catholics requires that we be happy, healthy and holy during this Easter Season and all other times of life. I base this on the premise that we are to be stewards of our mortal flesh, the place of the indwelling, divine, immortal Holy Spirit.
"...For the Church cannot but encourage everything that serves the harmonious development of the human body, rightly considered the masterpiece of the whole of creation, not only because of its proportion, vigor, and beauty, but also and especially because God has made it his dwelling and the instrument of an immortal soul…” POPE SAINT JOHN PAUL II
If our efforts are in this perspective than it is truly possible to find a harmonious physical and spiritual balance and a deep focus on Christ.
Take a look at three points below that I have rephrased for a better understanding of stewardship:
1. Happy = having a deep joy, a blessed assurance, a peace the world cannot give, living in a state of grace, looking at what you do have instead of what you don't, attitude of gratitude, big picture stuff
2. Healthy = living an invigorated life, mastery of habits, fully conscious decisions for the flesh and the spirit, aiming towards wholeness, seeking the “real”, weeding out falsity of every kind
3. Holy = being devoted, focused, a disciple rooted in discipline, unity with the beloved, living for “other" and dead to “self”, a passionate humble presence, other worldliness, unshakable in faith
All these lived in season and out of season, when you feel up to it and when you don’t, whether alone or in public, safe or captive, rich or poor, etc...
The fruit of your labors flowering.
I have great recourse to St. Paul’s many profound words like those of 1 Corinthians 9:27
“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
This is when living meets its full expression in the gifts given to you by Christ, which are many, even if yet undiscovered by you. However, this is not a wealth and health gospel! You will suffer after the pattern of Christ because none are immune to it. It is his death and ours, which lead to resurrection. It is therefore a matter of how we choose to suffer and what lense we see it’s meaning through.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
This week, be an OVERCOMER! Christ has trampled death by death.
Try to do these simple things: 1 visit to the Blessed Sacrament at a Catholic Church, 1 more workout than you’d normally do, a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a tennis match…, 1 meal without any sugar or grains, just veggies and good grass-fed quality meat.
Tackle 3, you’ll see…progress.
Praying for you,
Slow down. Take time. Listen in prayer.
Guest Post By: Corral Darrow
Have you ever thought you’re not enough or life is too difficult? Indeed, we’ve all been tempted to think negatively about ourselves. Every person has at least felt those words and even let them have a paralytic effect on personal growth. Yet, truth speaks into the heart of every person at the same time; our Creator counters slothful tendencies and affirms, “You are more than enough and I love you.” The crucial moment is in deciding which voice to listen to and which actions to take.
“We must fight the urge to let sadness arise from the fact that the good is difficult.”
Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas
While interviewing mother and athlete, Rebecca Dussault, I found her journey fascinating as adversity in life didn’t stop her but, rather, pushed her forward. Deciding at a young age to believe in herself left little room for complacency. “We must live in anticipation of Heaven,” she told me. True greatness does not depend on how worthy or accomplished we feel but on the work we’re willing to do. Like a seed, we must cultivate personal success and harvest the fruit later; delay gratification for the sake of reaching a higher place, a greater good. In essence, her efforts are not for personal glory but are means for reaching God. Adhering to First Peter 2:9 she aspires and inspires the pursuit of a peculiar journey, “Each person is innately gifted and responsible to love and share that gift.”
As a pre-teen she claimed her God-given dignity, embraced the message of Christ and His Church, and literally started sprinting to tell the tale. After her parents’ divorce, athletics became a large part of building her confidence and future lifestyle. The struggle and pain which was all too familiar to her as a ten year old from a broken home, providentially, pointed her in the right direction. She began to build her life on a sturdy foundation of faith and fitness rather than crumble under her present circumstances. Through the knowledge and awareness of her Heavenly Father’s deep love and support she understood her own greatness was only a matter of responding to the grace He was endlessly offering.
At age 19 she married her best friend’s brother, Sharbel, who was also faith-filled, passionate, and athletic. Recalling when she met his family a few years earlier she said, “Their household became my Heaven.” The Dussault family was a devout Catholic family and the practice of attending early morning Mass paired well with her morning athletic training. Over time she became more and more aware of the power of both physical and spiritual strengthening.
Not long after marriage Sharbel and Rebecca conceived their first son and became accustomed to traveling as a family. Many viewed their family-centered and faith-filled lifestyle as far from practical. Traveling globally was necessary for her sport as she continued to excel. Rebecca was determined to keep her family, faith, and fitness thriving. Their openness to life and devotion to Sunday Mass, for example, set Rebecca apart when she declined team parties to joyfully search for a Catholic Church. She reflected on how grateful she was for the universality of Catholicism, “I could find the beauty and truth of the Catholic Church everywhere I went… and this gave me much hope.”
Rebecca went from home-schooled-high-school-athlete to wife, mother, Cross Country Ski National Champion, and Olympic Competitor all before age 25! Today she is still training, coaching, speaking, homeschooling her four children, and preparing to give birth again! While it didn’t all happen overnight, the success she is experiencing today is still, in her own words, “The efforts of a weak and feeble woman who simply disposed herself to receive.” She began running the true race before many of her competitors; integrating her spiritual life with her physical life as St. Paul describes, “Practicing self-control in all things (1 Corinthians 9:24).” She emphasizes with her clients that ill health, lethargy, and excess weight are not merely physical issues, but they stem from a lack of practiced discipline. Without daily taking up the task to order our thoughts and actions according to what is good we inhibit our ability to steward our own person. “We ought to be attractive Catholics by the way we chasten our inordinate desires and take on the image of the Divine Life of Christ within us.”
“My spiritual life influences all areas of my being and they in turn influence my spiritual life,” she explained. While believing life is infused with unique beauty and purpose Rebecca knows she has the means to reach her goals but is also aware of her imperfections which have to be continually put in check so as to not get in the way of progress. With gratitude she shares this powerful knowledge, “You can be athletic and faithful!” The key is in your own disposition. One of the most important questions she poses to her followers is, “Are you putting yourself in a position of receptivity?” Going regularly to Confession and Mass, for example, creating time for prayer, devotions, and meditation etc. is the only way to stay humble, open, and receptive to God’s grace which in the end makes all the difference.
“Spiritual fitness removes vanity and makes room for glorifying God!”
True happiness is about remaining faithful to what is good and allowing the Spirit of God to enter! Each individual is called to a unique form of excellence but the fundamental principles remain the same. Either we choose to move forward in training or let ourselves backslide. The truth is that by remaining humble and committed we will not fail except by our own volition.
“Daily accomplishments may look very different from person to person,” Rebecca encourages. What many do not understand is that a belief must be followed up by action for true success.“Nothing is going to make you great – not even a gold medal,” she noted. Grace is infused when a person physically cooperates with a spiritual calling. Only some victories will be recognized by the world. All victories, interior and exterior, will be recognized by God. His judgement is just and his reward is proper. One day we will see the few who are truly victorious. In awe we will wonder at the beauty and radiance we did not see before!
“Let go of the distractions, time traps, and negative belief. Make room for the Divine Life of Christ to fully animate you for His good works.”
Pillars of a Faithful and Fit Family!
Nutrition – Give your body what it needs to thrive!
Exercise – It’s not about vanity; it’s about health!
Environment – Take care of the home God gave you!
Spirituality – Your heart and soul need time and attention too!
Fun facts! Rebecca and her family benefit from the use of doTerra essential oils. Her favorite way to use them personally is to take a hot soak with the precious “oil of truth,” Frankincense, and the “joy of the mountain oil,” Marjoram.
To learn more about essential oils Click Here or you can contact me on Facebook!