St. Catherine of Siena

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Have you ever had a saint burst into your life and you’re not sure why? St. Catherine of Siena has been pursuing me recently, so I became inspired to look more closely at her life and teachings.

I am a convert who has been Catholic for 32 years and I continue to be amazed at the lives of the saints and how we can develop such personal relationships with them. The saints watch over us and assist us when we call on them. They are our heavenly friends who teach us and intercede for us at different times in our lives and stand along side us on our march toward heaven.

St. Catherine of Siena is a doctor of the Church, canonized in 1461, and she is a patroness of Italy and Europe. She was a third order Dominican who lived to the age of 33. She was a spiritual guide to many, and in the words of Pope Benedict, “guided  people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory XI who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.”

She had a profound “mystical marriage” to Christ whom she loved with intimate faithfulness. She is one of a small group of saints who Pope Benedict identified as having an extraordinary devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

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I feel connected to St. Catherine in many ways; I admire her directness and the poignant simplicity in her words inspired by her love of Christ and her understanding of the spiritual life. “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.”

It’s funny how sentiments from centuries ago resonate in our times. “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.” 

Her words inspire me to deeper reflection with Lectio Divina.“All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’”

Just as our friendships with certain people seem to start almost naturally, and can feel like we’ve known them forever, our friendships with saints can happen in the same way. 

During this month of All Saints, St. Catherine nudged me along as she became our Walking with Purpose table name. I discovered that was the saint in a small image that I had in my kitchen (who I mistakenly thought was St. Teresa of Avila until a friend cleared that up!) St. Catherine’s reflections jumped off the page as I was preparing SoulCore Rosary meditations for All Souls Day. And I am blessed to lead SoulCore at, where else but, St. Catharine of Siena Catholic Church.

I continue to pray for this amazing saint’s intercession to help me stay centered on Christ, to be courageous in speaking the truth and guiding others to Christ with humility. May we all open our  hearts to this saint, friend and “coach” as we seek to discern and live out the mission Christ has in mind for each of us.

Changes in Our Spiritual Lives

I’m writing to you from the dock on our backyard pond and I am contemplating change. While it feels like a mid summer day, it is fall, and change is in the air. Leaves are landing all around me and the wind and sun’s warmth on my face is intoxicating. This spot in nature is where I pray the Rosary, talk to Mary and Jesus, wait and listen for God to prepare me for the day.

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As I reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, I feel a rush of uncertainty in the change of seasons. While I tell my friends that I like change, I know that with change comes new responsibilities. With the advent of fall, the fireplace needs cleaned, firewood ordered and stacked and gardens and porches cleaned and prepared for winter.

Isn’t it the same in our spiritual lives? Change can be seasonal, constant, comfortable, unpredictable or a little of all of these. As we head into the winter months, we might have a tinge of excitement about change and our plan to start a new spiritual book, begin a bible study or make a retreat.

It’s funny … at the gym, my students tell me one of the things they like most about how we exercise is that it’s never the same. It may feel that way, but there is a consistent structure, and while the tools and movements vary, the change has a pattern that is familiar and comfortable to them … so there isn’t as much change as they think.

Similarly our spiritual lives may change in the way we feel called pray, but we have the sturdy anchor of the Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and perhaps a calling to pray the prayers of the Catholic Church, such as the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The Church and our parishes give us a sturdy structure, along with other constantly changing ways to grow in our faith no matter where we are on our spiritual journey. 

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When I contemplate change, I think of the Blessed Mother and her preparation for the birth of her Son who would change the world forever. Change must have been on her mind on her long journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also expecting a son, John the Baptist. She must of known that her life would be one of constant change, but with the sturdy structure of uniting her will to the will of the Father. May her example inspire us to stay strong in our faith amidst the changes in our lives.

Let us pray: Blessed Mother, you give us the perfect example of embracing change according to God’s will for your life. We pray to imitate your surrender to God’s plan for our lives with joy, trust, and patient perseverance. Amen.

How Much is Enough?

When it comes to exercise, the general train of thought is that more is better. Sometimes my first task as a fitness coach is to gently move people to a new way of thinking that developing quality technique is more productive that doing lots of work without careful attention to how the body is moving and recovering.

Most people are exercising for general fitness and overall health for life and sport. Even when they are training for a specific event, such as an obstacle course race or a marathon, focusing on the quality of training, rather than the quantity, is essential to prevent injury and ensure they are well prepared.

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I was reminded recently, in a conversation with a friend, that sometimes we have the same view of our prayer lives … that more is better. That may not always be the case.

If we set a goal of a specific quantity of prayer, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us as to what and how to pray, we might not even start, or if we do, we might rush through without any heartfelt contemplation at all.

We might be expecting too much from ourselves based on our vocation and especially with our full lives serving family, community and our employer— which, with the proper intention, are also forms of prayer.

Asking the Holy Spirit to guide our prayer lives and coach us on how to pray can be freeing and spiritually productive — without a time element. So we start by setting aside a little time and space, in our schedule and in our hearts, and trust that the Spirit will move us to pray in the way he desires us to pray.

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St. Teresa of Avila said, “Much more is accomplished by a single word of the Our Father said, now and then, from our heart, than by the whole prayer repeated many times in haste and without attention.”

What if it isn’t clear how we should pray? 

We can stop, listen and have an openness to the gentle movement of the heart to pray, for example, a fervent decade of the Rosary for a family member. Maybe later in the day the Holy Spirit will prompt us to pray another decade. We may have a lunch date cancel and we have a desire to attend noon Mass. We might comfort a suffering friend with spontaneous prayer. We can pray the Gospel for that day in a few minutes at bedtime. The possibilities are endless and the Holy Spirit might just surprise us!

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I know that each of us have had ‘God instances’ when we asked for help with time to pray and get everything else done too. Then we look back over the day and see how Our Lady and her Son worked it out all in a way that we could never have imagined.

St. John Vianney reminds us that prayer is love rather than an item on a checklist. “Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.” With that thought in mind, let us pray with joy and confidence in the way the Holy Spirit is individually and intimately moving each of us.

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Baseball

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My husband Al and I enjoy Cleveland Indians baseball. Over the last few years, I’ve learned more about the rules and I have became a true fan as we enjoy attending games once or twice a month each season.

Interestingly, many of the virtues and habits that are necessary for professional baseball players to excel on the field are also important in helping us on the road to sainthood.

Patience. Baseball games are long — typically 3 hours or more. There can be rain delays, multiple coaching visits to the pitching mound, catcher-pitcher discussions and extra innings. Fans and players need patience. On the road to holiness, we may sometimes feel like there are a lot of extra innings when life, work and family needs reach a crescendo. St. Francis DeSales said, “Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.” 

Perseverance. In a game where you strike out more often than you hit, you can’t give up. For example, players work on their ability to hit different types of pitches such as the curve, slider, sinker and cutter to improve their odds of hitting. Perseverance is key to the spiritual life as well. Even when it’s tough to pray, we do it. Even when we don’t feel God close, we trust, keep loving, serving and asking for God grace to assist us in our endeavors.

Humility. When a player makes an error on the field, it is recorded and announced as an Error — to the whole world. Even though they are the best at their sport, they make mistakes that impact the entire team— and they still have to get up play the game again the next day, nearly every day for six months. Humility is a great teacher. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world.”

Wisdom. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made in a split second in a baseball game. Experience, skill, luck, training habits,  and physical and intellectual gifts of the players contribute to the development of a player and his ability to make wise decisions whether at bat or in their fielding position. In the example of King Solomon, we can ask for wisdom. St. Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

Trust. The success of a team is dependent on everyone doing their job well. Trusting in each other's skills, supporting and encouraging each other is important. When a pitcher is struggling, and the pitching coach walks out to the mound to check in, the infield players gather around the pitcher to show their trust in him. In our own lives, we have many ways to be encouraged and to trust on our spiritual journey when we build strong family bonds, holy friendships, frequent the Holy Eucharist, grow close to our Blessed Mother and share in the communion of saints.

 Cleveland Indians Shortstop Francisco Lindor is known for praising God for his baseball success.

Cleveland Indians Shortstop Francisco Lindor is known for praising God for his baseball success.

Faith. I am always moved when a player goes up to the plate and makes the Sign of the Cross, kisses his Miraculous Medal or Cross and even occasionally bows his head in prayer (or in the photo, looks up to heaven!) Our gifts, no matter what they may be, are given to us by God to share with others. It gives me hope to see million dollar athletes honoring God in the public eye even if only for a few seconds … and even if it’s a prayer for a hit.

Out of My Comfort Zone

Many years ago I attended an outdoor workshop in the mountains of West Virginia where we learned and practiced physical skills. We tent-camped for a week and I was definitely out of my comfort zone with camping and also with physical movement in nature.

I was an athlete in the gym, but moving in nature presented challenges that made it unpredictable — sun, rain, wind, insects, foliage, heat, cold, terrain and my own insecurities about all of that and more.

I discovered that I couldn’t balance on a log very well and in fact I was fearful of falling off of everything. I felt that my physical kills were below that of the other students in the workshop and my apprehension was hindering my progress.

I also learned that I was concerned about looking silly and I didn’t want people to see me struggle and fail.

That was an important realization and an opportunity for growth. By the end of the week, my biggest takeaway was that I needed to continue to practice letting go of tension and concerns, being in the moment, doing my best, and simply enjoying the experience.

This doesn’t just apply to learning new physical skills; it is an equally applicable to our daily lives, and more specifically, to our spiritual lives.

Very recently I went out of my comfort zone to attend a three-day out of town Catholic retreat by myself. No one I asked was free to attend, but the Holy Spirit kept prompting me to go anyway.

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I’m glad I went as it was a wonderful weekend of growing closer to Jesus through Mary, receiving the Sacraments, attending presentations, and learning more about myself through God and through others.

I met a young man there who is discerning a call to the priesthood and we instantly connected. Several years ago, I had the privilege of working with the Diocesan Office of Vocations and I greatly enjoyed getting to know the seminarians and their families. God has given me a joyful heart for seminarians.

The young man whom I met at this retreat has a beautiful devotion to Mary. With a Rosary in-hand constantly, I believe he was praying unceasingly! It appeared, through his words and actions, that he was letting go and letting God lead his life as he shared his plans for college, seminary, and continued discernment. He was at this retreat of 250 people, by himself, one of very few men, and the youngest by far at the age of 18. 

One might think that he was out of his comfort zone, but he was not. In fact, it seemed to be just the opposite. He was truly excited and grateful to be there and inspired to be with other like-minded Catholics, even if none of us were his age. 

In what I consider a small act of great love, he would rush to open doors every time a group of us entered a building. He found ways all weekend to make self-offerings. It seems to me that falling off a log wouldn’t bother him at all. In fact, I bet he would welcome it.

It’s amazing to see how God works with us so individually and his generosity is always greater than we can imagine.

I went on retreat to receive the Sacraments, hear inspiring talks and to pray. I walked away with all of that and so much more with the example of spiritual strength in this future seminarian. 

Thanks be to God for the nudge to get out of my comfort zone sometimes!

Interior Focus

One of the aspects of strength training that I really enjoy is executing a heavy barbell or kettlebell lift with careful, thoughtful, methodical precision. You are interiorly focused, especially if the weight you are lifting is near your maximum effort. You are not talking or laughing or thinking about what you have to do later that day. For that moment, you are laser-focused on the lift. You apply patient perseverance and trust your body to make a go at cracking the bar off the floor or heaving weight overhead.

Thinking, feeling, moving mindfully, and with perfect technique can be challenging especially if you haven’t developed an interior focus. New students often comment that the hardest part of lifting weights is the ability to think, feel and concentrate without distraction.

It can be like that in our prayer life as well. We might not be used to sitting in silence, interiorly focused, and waiting patiently for God to speak to us in our hearts. If we are able to quiet the mind, and ease out distractions, speaking to God and listening can be a transformative time of prayer.

Yet for many of us, that silent interior focus can be elusive.

So when I heard that Robert Cardinal Sarah, with Nicolas Diat, had written a book about silence, I felt drawn to it immediately. While I seek silence to pray, I often fight restlessness, so I sought inspiration and insight from Cardinal Sarah’s book, The Power of Silence. A sample:

“Without the moorings of silence, life is a depressing movement, a puny little boat, ceaselessly tossed by the violence of the waves. Silence is the outer wall that we must build in order to protect an interior ediface.” (pg. 68, paragraph 112)

This topic of silence and deeper interior focus is critical to a strong contemplative prayer life to grow closer to our Lord and illuminate God’s will for our lives. 

You probably agree that spending time in silence is counter-cultural; more than ever it can be challenging to find silence even in our own homes. Cardinal Sarah refers to this as the dictatorship of noise.

Back to our lifting example … when we lift heavy weights, the muscle fibers in our bodies change, grow and and over time we become physically stronger. We may not see the changes right away, but we know it’s happening as we progress to heavier weights. 

Similarly, our time in prayerful silence transforms our hearts even when we don't immediately see changes or feel any different. We trust that God’s grace is at work in us and that over time a strong interior prayer life will yield sweet fruit in our lives.

June is Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The month of June is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is recognized as the saint associated with the Sacred Heart of Jesus due to her private revelations in 1673-1675. She responded to Jesus by promoting the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart, First Friday devotions, and the Holy Hour of Reparation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 478) states that Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: "The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me." He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, "is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without exception.

When I contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the beautiful statue in our Church, I am reminded that he is constantly pouring out his grace to us to strengthen and guide us. With the present day challenges, turning to devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus can comfort us and prepare us for what lies ahead in our lives.

When Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will rest, for My yoke is easy and My burden light.” (Mt 11:28-30) he is truly calling us to share in his love … love poured from his Most Sacred Heart and we are called to respond to his love by building a loving relationship with him and with our neighbor.

We recently enthroned our home to the the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. This a beautiful and way to bring Jesus and Mary into our hearts in a new and special way to receive his grace. Visit www.sacredheartcolumbus.org for information about home enthronement.

The Sacred Heart Feast Day is June 23 and here is a beautiful prayer to the Sacred Heart:

O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.

Living the Gospel in Athletics

St. John Paul II welcomed and addressed sports teams at athletic events all over the world throughout his many years as pope.

His words inspire and remind us that in athletics, as in every area of our lives, we are called to live the Gospel message. There is no ‘time off’ from being a Christian or trying to grow in virtue.

“Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is, a faithful and courageous witness to his Gospel.” -St. John Paul II

He viewed the playing field as an opportunity for educational and spiritual growth that helps to “build a more fraternal and united world; sport which contributes to the love of life, teaches sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person.” -St. John Paul II

We learn a lot about ourselves in any athletic activity, whether recreational or competitive. The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is a gift that is to be respected body, mind and soul.

“Every care must be taken to protect the human body from any attack on its integrity, from any exploitation and from any idolatry.” - St. John Paul II

In a 2004 address, St. John Paul II reminds us that the playing field is a place to grow virtue. 

“The Christian can find sports helpful for developing the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance in the race for the wreath that is “imperishable,” as St. Paul writes.”

His words of encouragement to athletes often center on being a joyful, virtuous and humble role model who leads others by example. 

“I believe that we do not err to recognize in you this potential for civic and Christian virtues. In a world in which we often painfully recognize the presence of youth who are lifeless, marked by sadness and negative experiences, you can be for them, wise friends, expert guides and coaches, not only on the playing field, but also along those paths that lead to a finish line of the true values of life.” -St. John Paul II

By keeping the role of sport in the proper perspective, we can, as St. Paul said, "Glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:20).

“The body, according to Christian concept, deserves due interest, real respect, loving and wise care, invested as it is with natural dignity, capable of a mysterious sacrality and destined to ultimate victory over death itself, as our faith teaches us.” -St. John Paul II

Striving

We strive to improve how we execute kettlebell and barbell lifts and movements in the gym. The word striving makes me think of working harder and doing more. In fact, one definition of strive is to ‘struggle or fight vigorously.’ 

Often what we really need to do when learning a new skill is to relax, slow down, feel and learn, be patient and let the process of learning and advancing unfold naturally and gently over time, rather than forcing it.

Our spiritual lives can be the same way. We might be striving for holiness by doing lots of actions … volunteering at a shelter, joining parish committees, praying multiple rosaries a day and being a caregiver to a family member or friend. 

While these are wonderful ways to serve God, it’s easy to get caught up in doing so many tasks that there is little time to get filled up with God in silent prayer and reflection. We might even get so caught up in striving for holiness, that we place our volunteer responsibilities before our family needs.

I think part of our striving should be to stop striving … to give God freedom, open space and unstructured time to do his gentle and quiet work in us — to fill us up and rejuvenate, renew and strengthen us so our service continues to bear fruit. Even 15 minutes of heart-felt prayer daily can be life-changing.

Some of our striving, or our rush to accomplish, is the nature of our secular culture where we place a high priority on productivity, setting goals and achieving results. The spiritual life is different. God already loves us just how we are; he created us, and like a loving parent, is always there waiting to guide his little children. He gives us the freedom to decide when, how and how much time we spend time with him in prayer. I think St. Francis de Sales said it well:

Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.

While we are called to serve others, we are called first and foremost to love; to love God and love our neighbor. Growing in any loving relationship requires time, patience, gentleness and commitment. So giving God latitude to work in us in prayerful adoration, in contemplation, and through the Sacraments is less about striving and more about being faithful to slowing down and trusting that, over time, he will transform our hearts.

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.” -St. Augustine of Hippo

My Journey to SoulCore

Some of us enjoy being physically active for recreation and some also enjoy combining prayer and physical movement. Walking or running while praying the Rosary is a popular practice, but it’s not one I was ever able to do well. I also tried to pray between sets of lifting weights … and that led me to look for a method of praying the Rosary with gentle movement.

I discovered SoulCore and attended a SoulCore Prayer Leader Retreat and discerned a call to share SoulCore with others. SoulCore is gentle stretching, strengthening and movement (not yoga) done while praying the Rosary. We reflect on the fruits/ virtues of each Mystery with Sacred Scripture passages and wisdom from the saints. 

As it turns out, the Hail Mary prayer is the ideal amount of time to hold a stretch or to move in and out of a position, such as a squat or single-leg balance hold. Praying the Our Father prayer during planks or pushups is an excellent body and soul offering because it’s challenging!

 Auspice Maria ... Under the Protection of Mary

Auspice Maria ... Under the Protection of Mary

Exercise helps strengthen the body and settle the mind and heart in prayer and is a beautiful physical and spiritual offering to Jesus through Mary. 

Praying this way feels natural to me as our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit that should be celebrated with joy, gratefulness and gentleness. Being made in the image and likeness of God, and honoring our bodies in this way, is refreshingly different from the methods of exercise in our secular culture.

As with any physical activity, there must be rest and recovery. With SoulCore, we pray a reflection for each Mystery, while in a quiet and reverent position, where we can reflect on the Mystery, the life of Christ and his great love for us.

I will close with this beautiful message about our bodies from St. John Bosco:

"Health is God’s great gift, and we must spend it entirely for Him. Our eyes should see only for God, our feet walk only for Him, our hands labor for Him alone; in short, our entire body should serve God while we still have the time. Then, when He shall take our health and we shall near our last day, our conscience will not reproach us for having misused it.”

The Lost Sheep

The group of adults who I have the privilege of teaching to use kettlebells vary in their athletic backgrounds. Some people pick up the skill of lifting heavy things very quickly. Most students make steady progress over time. Every now and then someone really struggles to learn to move well for a variety of reasons.

I find the greatest joy in helping that struggling student progress. The student has to first have the courage to start, then the persistence to persevere and practice, and finally the patience to allow their bodies to adapt to the movement over time.

We have a supportive, non-competitive gym environment, but it can still be tough when you feel like you’re the only who isn't getting it in the group.

So that student is the one who makes my day when they step up to a challenge or improve in a weak area. That one improvement is more exciting to me than if the entire group lifted heavier than they ever did before. That one student is the one my husband will hear about when we have dinner together that evening.

That may be why one of my favorite Scripture passages is Luke 15 3-7 about the one lost sheep.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

An interesting thing about the one lost sheep in the gym is that the other sheep also rejoice when that person makes progress. They might even applaud that person. Before you know it, that lost sheep might inspire others to accept new challenges or to develop a new spirit of gratitude for what their bodies can do.

Aren’t we all lost sheep at some point in our lives, whether spiritually, physically, emotionally or intellectually? Aren’t we happy when someone notices and comes after us to help us?

We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us who needs us and how we can help. One person, powered by God’s grace, can do great things to help another.

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” ~St Teresa of Calcutta

Rosary Beads

I always enjoy reflecting on the incredible Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference experience. This year was different for me as a Vendor sharing SoulCore, but just as spiritually moving in a different way.

The day was about faith and fellowship. 

As a Vendor, I didn’t listen to the speakers that day (I did listen on CD later!), but I was blessed to participate in Holy Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

 Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Photo by Tomorrow's Memories by Christi.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Photo by Tomorrow's Memories by Christi.


The rest of the day was devoted to sharing the SoulCore mission of prayer with gentle movement and talking with so many faith-filled sisters in Christ about how praying the Rosary vocally in community is so moving.

 The varied and wonderful vendors at the Conference.  Photo by Tomorrow's Memories by Christi

The varied and wonderful vendors at the Conference. Photo by Tomorrow's Memories by Christi


It was a joy to meet women from all over our diocese and beyond, hearing their stories, sharing their excitement about praying the life of Christ through the mysteries of the Rosary, and growing closer to Jesus with SoulCore Rosary prayer and movement.

 Sharing our love of prayer.  Photo by Memories by Christi.

Sharing our love of prayer. Photo by Memories by Christi.

We have a common love of Jesus, Our Lady and prayer.

At the Vendor table, I had the nearly 6-foot alabaster Rosary and the candles that I take with me when I visit a parish to lead the Rosary with SoulCore.

The Rosary especially attracted many women to the table who wanted to touch the beads, admire the beauty, talk about how much they love to pray the Rosary and some even inquired if I would sell the giant Rosary beads!

Prayer transforms our hearts.

Our senses can be a powerful way to experience Jesus in our lives. Touching the beads can remind us how Jesus and Mary touch us with their love, and how much grace and peace Jesus desires to give us through prayer.

The tactile experience of having the beads in our hands can unite us with Jesus through Mary silently, gently and powerfully.

We are called to share His Love with others.

In a related story about Rosary beads ... a few days before the Conference, a friend shared how she almost always has her Rosary beads in her hands throughout her day. She said she isn’t always praying the Rosary, but the beads comfort her and remind her to give rosaries to others -- which she does often!

What a powerful sign of our Lady and her Son working in her heart and leading her to evangelize the world by giving away rosaries!

The grace-filled day at the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference inspires me to to do more for Christ. The prayers of the Rosary unite us, strengthen us and teach us about the Way, the Truth and the Life who we are all called to emulate by being His love to others.

Jesus and Mary, pray for us!

Prayer Tracking

Wearable fitness trackers measure heart rate, number of steps, sleep patterns and the variety and intensity of exercise. These are popular and the information can be useful in helping build new healthy habits.

While this tool can make a difference in how much we exercise, and our approach to exercise, I like to take a break from technology when I’m exercising. 

In fact, I thrive on fitness freedom, and maybe you do too. 

Moving, lifting, and stretching is a sensory experience for me and a much-needed break from the phone, computer, iPad and television. I like the challenge of listening to my body and responding appropriately with varied movements and intensity without technology.

I like freedom in my prayer life as well.

There are plenty of books available about how to pray, methods to use to grow closer to God, and at certain points in our lives, those resources can be helpful, if not critical. But we know from Scripture, and wisdom of the saints, that methods of prayer are secondary to simply giving time to the Lord in prayer to grow in a loving friendship with him.

Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything. ~St. Theresa of Avila

How we feel called to pray can vary and the freedom to pray any way we’d like, anytime and anywhere, is a beautiful gift that reminds me just how personally God works with us.

While I’m not a fan of fitness trackers, I think it would be interesting to track how many times a day we think about God,  pray, read holy books, mediate on Scripture, pray the Rosary, offer an action or sacrifice to God, make a change in behavior due to a prompting from the Holy Spirit, fast, or give alms.

We are called to pray unceasingly, and even our desire to pray pleases God, so it would be interesting to see just how much time we spend with God daily compared to the other activities in our lives. Unlike fitness tracking, this type of information could be life-changing! So let's make prayer a priority in our daily lives.

Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love. ~St. Theresa of Avila

Columbus Catholic Women's Conference 2017

It is with great excitement that I invite you to the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference.

Every year this event gets even larger -- and this year we are in a new venue, Cardinal Hall.

The speakers will inspire us and it is always wonderful to reconnect with old friends and make new friends.

I am excited to be involved in the Conference as a SoulCore vendor this year, so please stop by our booth and say hello and find out more about this Catholic Lay Apostolate that combines Rosary prayer with gentle movement.

Please see the Women's Conference blog for an announcement about SoulCore.

A Season of Renewal

Christmas is a time of renewal in many ways. 

We renew our relationship with the Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the humility of Jesus’ birth. We are renewed by God’s great love for us in the act of sending his only Son to us as the Incarnate Word.

Our spirit is renewed by special times with family and friends during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

We are renewed by a change in routine — some time off from work, maybe some travel, more prayer time, and carefree timelessness with those we love as other activities slow down for a while.

All of this renewal is good for the soul and can spiritually strengthen us to move into the new year with a fresh perspective and a desire to grow in holiness and healthiness.

At our parish, St. Joseph-Plain City, OH, we’ll be offering a Women’s Day of Renewal on Sat., Jan. 14 from 9-noon with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, SoulCore Rosary prayer, a talk and small group sharing, and concluding with fellowship and lunch. 

Please join us for a beautiful morning of spiritual renewal and fellowship to prepare our hearts and minds for what God is calling us to do in the new year. All women are welcome -- any parish, any denomination, teens and adults.

Please email Lori to reserve your registration at lori@movestrongkbs.com by Jan. 9.