The time away from it all allowed me to sort through what I needed and wanted in terms of my spiritual and physical well-being. I was able to set priorities and developed a spiritual life that has really blessed me. I found a spiritual director and attended a retreat where I learned about Ignatius discernment. Ultimately, and not coincidentally, this all slowly turned my good intentions into a reality.
Maybe that is the key to success: taking the time necessary to pray and discern and truly understand who you are as a person created in the image and likeness of God—and how to tend to that unique person in the physical and spiritual sense.
With the New Year fast approaching, many people will begin making resolutions with good intentions. To help turn those good intentions into reality—and not become a path to Hell—I wanted to share some valuable resources that truly address the wholeness and holiness we all seek…
Kate Wicker is a delightful young mom whose writing I have always enjoyed. She has a nice balance of wit and reality—of reverence and candor. Kate has a new book out titled “Weightless.” “Weightless” is the sort of book that should be on every woman’s nightstand. And I don’t say that lightly (pun intended); I promise there are passages in it that will be highlighted and will be returned to frequently! Although “Weightless” begins with the oft-trotted-out warning about media messages—and maybe rightfully so—Kate really hits her stride in the chapters that follow.
(I know many women whose bad body images have nothing to do with media messages but was very much affected by things said to them while they were young; so while I can understand the influence of media messages, I really would like to see someone explore more in-depth how susceptible young girls are to ALL messages. I believe in Wicker’s capable hands, this could be an issue more fully explored and understood. My own interest in helping girls “vaccinate” themselves against bad body image at a young age is behind my work on the tween book “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…What is Beauty, After All?”)
I absolutely loved when Wicker wrote about why we exercise; her insight and wisdom here is worth the price of the book. I also found her encouragement to see ourselves through the eyes of our family as truly words we ought to take to heart. They jumped off the page at me. Wicker’s “Weightless” combines just enough real-world statistics with Scripture to make it the ideal sort of book to be a background to whatever health and wellness you seek as a Catholic. This is why “Weightless” is first on my list of resources: “Weightless” is a book that women should give themselves and give their friends. Now, since I know that most women would worry about why their friend has given them such a book—but because I also think this book should be a gift given to every Sister-in-the-Lord—I ask that if you receive the book, you receive it with the spirit in which it was given—love! I highly recommend “Weightless” as the foundational piece for the health and exercise program you seek as a Christian woman.
The next two books I recommend are actually listed in Wicker’s “Weightless” book: “The Rosary Workout” by Peggy Bowes and “Fit for Eternal Life” by Kevin Vost. Working with Peggy on her book a few years ago, I truly began to see how my Catholic faith and my interest in physical health could be combined. Peggy is one of the most interesting women I have ever met and her understanding of wholeness and holiness is something I truly admire. Her book, “The Rosary Workout,” isn’t just about walking and saying the Rosary. Bowes’ book is about understanding the ways in which our bodies work—and when they are working well how we can more fully live out our vocations. Bowes flew planes for the Air Force and is a certified health and fitness instructor. Her knowledge of health and passion for her Catholic faith are beautifully shared in “The Rosary Workout.”
When I first read “Fit for Eternal Life” a couple of years ago, I was taken by Vost’s ability to draw from Scripture while explaining how to get the most out of my strength training. I found his book to be the perfect complement to the aerobic training I was being introduced to in “The Rosary Workout.” Since then I’ve been able to combine the two into what has become my routine. More importantly, each day, because of the works of Vost and Bowes, I am able to view my body in a more wholesome and holy way.
Since their work (Vost and Bowes) became so important to me, I invited them to write a devotional—which they did. Along with Shane Kapler (who followed Vost’s advice in Fit for Eternal Life and lost 40 pounds!) who is also an author (“The God Who Is Love”), the three recently released “Tending the Temple: 365 Days of Physical and Spiritual Devotions” which I have had the good fortune to publish. I’ve got to admit, for a daily dose of encouragement, nothing beats what these three authors offer in “Tending the Temple!”
The other resource I want to mention for the Catholic health and fitness enthusiast—or the enthusiast in the making—is the book and DVD by Michael Carrera, “Catholic Workout.” Like Wicker, Vost, Bowes, and Kapler, Carrera’s great passion helps us see the whole self as a temple to be cared for and whose purpose of serving God is best accomplished through its loving care. Although simply made, the DVD does offer something new for anyone seeking a Catholic bent on their exercise routine.
(I’d actually like to see some entity or production company or person with great vision to use the talents of all these excellent, knowledge and creative authors and explore what can be brought to bear in the way of a Catholic Health and Fitness television or radio program—or a DVD series or something!)
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In the meantime, wherever the Holy Spirit is taking you in terms of your physical and spiritual journey, I am sure that you will be greatly blessed by any—or all—of these resources so that your good intentions become actions. You will be more fully equipped, with knowledge obtained through their passions and expertise, to better serve God who created you.