Spiritual Fitness: Setting the Pace

Today, the feast day of my favorite saint Teresa of Avila, I got a letter from Joanna Davis, a grad student and SPO missionary from my church. Joanna is living and working with a group of college students to help them grow strong in the faith. Although she is not married and has no children, in a sense she too is an “Extraordinary Mom,” for she is using her spiritual gifts to raise up spiritual children.

In today’s letter, Joanna writes:

We are currently fighting quite a battle against apathy – that deadly weapon of our Enemy!  Many of the men and women in our households – especially those on our student missionary corps – are seasoned veterans of household life and mission work.  Though they have made a commitment to the Lord and to one another by choosing to live in household and/ or serve as student missionaries, many are starting to lose their zeal for this Christian life and for the call that God has placed on their hearts to live radically for him.

We need your prayers if this work is going to continue.  The more I think and pray about this apathy that we are fighting, the more I am convinced that nothing I can do will change the hearts of the women and men in our households.  Nothing I can say, no amount of encouragement or incentive can transform this apathy to zeal.  BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN DO IT!

Today, on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, we remember that the desire to express our love for God within the responsibilities of our vocation, pleases Him. Whether that means scrubbing walls or volunteering at school or paying the bills, the meanest work is transformed into the holiest of prayers when it is done for love of God.

Today at “Behold Your Mother,” Sarah has posted a special rosary-themed Carnival. I’ve found that praying the rosary is a lot like a trip to “Curves”: It takes about 30 minutes, but it frees my mind and gives me energy to meet the challenges of the day. When the pressures of life build, each bead is like a little release valve, helping me to return my thoughts again and again to the littleness of my own life, and the great mystery that is at the heart of faith.

We like to think of ourselves as autonomous adults, fully capable of directing our own lives and making our own decisions. In reality, this is an illusion. So much of what happens to us — ourselves and our loved ones — can only be managed, not controlled. The rosary reminds me of this, too. With each prayer I become a little more that child who reaches out to her loving mother, who leads us to the Son and His Father. There, united as a family, the uncertainties of life aren’t nearly so scary.

No matter how “spiritually fit” we may be, this kind of spiritual retreat is vital to our ability to remain healthy over the long term. Years ago, Twila Paris produced a song called “The Warrior is a Child,” which speaks to the heart of this combination of faith-filled tenacity. The second verse, my favorite, goes:

Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing, never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies that lay me at His feet

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down,
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around.
I drop my sword and cry for just awhile,
Cause deep inside this armor, the warrior is a child.

For full lyrics, click here.

1 thought on “Spiritual Fitness: Setting the Pace

  1. I really like this, Heidi, especially where you compare the rosary to exercise – that’s a comparison I hadn’t thought of, but it’s so RIGHT ON for me!!! 🙂


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