A big thank you to Elizabeth Rich this week for sharing with us her personal and unique experience of walking The Camino with her family last fall! The following are her reflections.
So last year my family hiked the first 120 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago and it was one of the most mentally challenging things I have ever done. Walking 15 miles every day, even when it felt like someone was hitting my feet with a mallet and it was 100 degrees outside, was pretty miserable yet for some reason I absolutely loved it.
My first 2 1/2 days were filled with unhappiness and anxiousness that I could not explain. I didn’t know why but I couldn’t stop being antsy and not only was I making the trip hard on myself but also on my family. Finally, my mom pulled me aside and we separated from the group to say a Rosary asking for peace of mind and a revelation as to why I was so anxious. The results were almost immediate.
The first thing I got from the rosary was the desperate need for confession. Back at school and camp I went once a week and this was officially the longest I’d gone in a while without going to confession… and I felt it on my soul. But, more than that, I felt God calling me to be present. I offered my Camino up for a couple of things, one being my vocation, and for some reason I got it in my head that if I didn’t meet my husband on the way then God was calling me to religious life (it sounds much sillier when I say it out loud but I promise in my head it was very real, haha).
I was so focused on getting to the next city, of talking to the next person, that I couldn’t live in the present moment, and it was affecting everyone else’s trip. I was so focused on the destination that I wasn’t actually experiencing the Camino.
I still struggled after that rosary to live in the present moment, just because that is how I have been my whole life, always looking forward, until I forgot my Camino passport and had to go backwards… and in going backwards I met Carlo, a 35 year old university art teacher from Florence, Italy. He had seen us in the church where I left my passport when he was saying a rosary and carried the passport for 5k until he saw us again running back towards the church. It sounds dramatic but that man saved my trip…
Carlo was the most amazing man and I’m pretty convinced God sent him into my life to wake me up a little bit. He was walking the whole Camino alone and while he left at 6 am like most people he was usually one of the last people to get to the next town. I saw him jumping off bridges into the water to take a 20 minute swim break and sit under a tree and sketch out a church while we kept miserably walking. He stopped in bakeries that I just longingly stared at but didn’t want to stop to go in. He went to Spain to hike the Camino and he hiked it well, and in the process changed my perspective.
I started enjoying the walk and meeting the most phenomenal people who I would never have met if I just plowed through the Camino. I stopped to put my feet in water and had a life-changing conversation with a young man who just experienced Jesus for the first time and my relationship with my family immediately became so much better as we started to laugh and really enjoy each other’s company… and it was all thanks to the amazing man Carlo who inspired me to not only live in the present moment, but to live in it well.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m done living in a future that doesn’t exist and being stressed about things I can’t control. I’m done with anxiety and feeling lonely and belittling men to just “are you my future husband?” I want to live life and I want to live it well. Even as I left the Camino I felt myself asking WWCD (what would Carlo do) and as I sat on a beach writing this post I felt ready to live freely, trusting that God has it all figured out. Will I still get anxious or plan too often? Most likely, but having that example of someone who is trusting in God’s plan so well was eye-opening to me and I will never be the same.
Here is a captured image of me as I see Carlo off in the distance and he yelled out to me, “My friend!”… one of the best moments of my trip to be honest.
Here is an image of the infamous Carlo standing in the water (photo may be a little creepy but completely necessary).
This post and all photos were originally published on Elizabeth’s personal blog. Elizabeth Rich is a Fashion Blogger dedicated to changing the narrative of our modesty to one of dignity, beauty, and self-love through the eyes of our Father.
Together we can build His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Together we can dare to dream big as we stand firm in knowing that through love, all is possible.
May our Blessed Mother reign down from heaven and fill us all divine light and love so abundant, that it overflows and ignites the light in others. One heart at a time, one blessing at a time…one love!
This past week My Saint My Hero had the honor to sponsor and be present at the Focus Conference in Chicago. Amy was able to stop in after her QVC feature earlier this week, and Christine’s daughter, Lizzy Rich, was one of the friendly faces at our booth – as well as an enormous help. We want to thank Lizzy for sharing her experience with us. Below you can find her beautiful reflection of what this week meant to her. Let us pray for all those who were present and involved in this powerful convention, that they may carry back home what they felt burning in their hearts, and spread the fire of truth and love at school, work, and in their families.
Where do I even begin. How can I sum up the eternal works of our Father in so few words. I could talk about the hundreds of men and women I met at the My Saint My Hero booth who brought joy into my days. I could talk about how beautiful and inspiring every speaker was and how God used every single one of them to move me in some way. I could talk about becoming friends with the other vendors and being truly changed by their hearts. I could talk about Jim Caviezal surprising the crowd and shouting the Brave Heart battle cry speech, calling us to freedom. There was so, so much fruit and goodness in this week but what I really want to talk about is the gift of freedom God placed in my heart.
The Holy Spirit was ever present in this whole conference and filled me with a bold confidence unlike ever before. I experienced a freedom to be myself, have vulnerable conversations, dance in praise and worship like no one was watching and I did so without any fear. God revealed to my heart what it would be like if I was fully present in Him all the time. He showed me the freedom that comes with following His will. He showed me that He will always take care of me, provide for me, protect me, and love me. He showed me that He, the God of the Universe, is bigger than any problem. My Merciful Father called me back into His Sacred Heart and I know He is doing the same for you too. It can be so easy to be enslaved by this world, to believe the lies we hear over and over again, but our God is whispering into our hearts words of freedom and reconciliation and we must hold on to those with everything we have. We must run to Him and never look back and we must trust that He is a merciful Father who leaves the 99.
SLS2018 was a call to freedom and a call to be a missionary disciple in every aspect of my life. We are all called to these two things and we must accept them confidently, knowing that our all loving Father in heaven will always figure the rest out.
Sometimes writing something down helps me reflect on what it means for me right now.
After a much-loved and appreciated Christmas break, most of us are back at work, school and ordinary life. Let us not be quick to forget our New Year resolutions, the blessings we received from the Infant Jesus, and the hope this new year brings.
If you woke up this morning a little deflated and hesitant, I invite you to simply BEGIN.
Surround yourself with those things that uplift and encourage you, such as a Blessing Bracelet, and with your trust solidly set in God, embark from whatever shore you find yourself on and set sail towards the new horizons of your dreams and goals. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying, as every attempt is in itself a victory.
Something that has personally helped me immensely is this advice: if you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer amount of tasks or work ahead of you, then simply choose one easy task and just focus on doing that. Then do another. Then another. Get the ball rolling. Begin. Start somewhere and you will find yourself making progress and overcoming those fears that held you back.
Let’s take advantage of the momentum that comes with a New Year. Ride the wave of those feelings of resolve within you, find strength in those goals you’ve written down, and the voice within you that fuels your hope to begin again. To begin anew. Lastly, remember that you are not alone. Let your wearable Blessing pieces remind you that when you feel discouraged, that you are loved, that you are being prayed for, and that your efforts and prayers are helping others just like you. Take heart!
In the weeks leading up to this week of Advent we’ve focused on our misery, the darkness we live in, the need for our redemption, and the desire of our hearts to be rescued by a Savior.
This week, however, just as the colors of the candles on the Advent wreath, our reflections take a turn, from longing to rejoicing. Gaudete! This week is all about the joyful hope that springs from our faith that He, our Savior, is indeed coming among us! The reading today (Song of Songs 2: 8-14) is absolutely gorgeous.
“Hark! my lover–here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills.”
Our Lord is the Ultimate Romantic
” My lover speaks; he says to me, “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!”
When was the last time you allowed Our Lord to romance your heart? To allow yourself to be washed by His merciful love, let His love heal your heart, fill the voids and chase away the darkness of fears, doubts, and sin? He longs for you today,
“O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.”
Do Not Be Afraid
Do not be afraid of such love, for your heart was designed for it. That longing in your heart was put there by God Himself for Him to fill. His love is beyond our comprehension and stronger than death, doubt, or any fear. But He waits for you, until you open the door of your heart, even just a crack, because of His love and respect for you. He desires you to desire Him.
This Christmas He is born for you. He comes as a tiny, helpless babe so you can let down your guard. He calls to your heart and yearns to be nestled in your arms. Let this love melt away any hardness and draw your heart to Him in gratitude.
Fr. Mike from Ascension Press is one of my favorite priests to listen to. He has the gift of taking important theological teachings and explaining them in a way that is relatable and easy to understand. Today, I want to share his video about Christmas with you in case you haven’t watched it yet. Not only is it humorous but also has a very deep and important message.
“There’s something about when we approach the Lord that we want to give Him our best…of course we do. I want to play my best for Him. Of course you do… that’s awesome. That’s so great. But I’m going to invite you to do this new thing this Christmas. This Christmas don’t just give God your best, I want you to give God your worst. Because what did Jesus come to do? Yeah, He came to redeem our best and make it even better, but He also came to take our worst, and set us free…”
During the holidays it’s easy to fall into the temptation of “putting on appearances”. Appearance to have the perfectly decorated home, the perfect outfits and gifts, the perfect party…the perfect Christmas. We want the best of everything because, well, Christmas deserves the best, right? There’s nothing wrong in wanting to give God our best, as long as it’s for God and not for the sake of our own vanity. Fr. Mike reminds us, although it is so good that we want to give God our best, God also wants our worst. Now there’s the challenge.
“If you have real pain in your life, real abandonment in your life, if you have real sin in your life, if you have real brokenness and wounded-ness in your life… that actually makes you more qualified to celebrate Christmas than someone who doesn’t. Because why? Because the Lord, He takes our best and desires our best, but He also desires our worst. This Christmas play your best for Him. Let him have it, give it to Him, offer it up to Him…but also give Him your worst. Play your worst for Him. Give Him even the things of your life that you are not proud of, that you’re actually ashamed of maybe, because if we do that, then we give Him our lives, we give Him our all… and then everything is able to be redeemed.”
I hope this message gives you hope as it did for me. May this Christmas be a time when we can come before God just as we are, with our best and our worst. He wasn’t born in a lofty castle but a lowly stable so everyone could approach Him, so we can approach Him as we are, without fear.
Christmas is a time to reflect on the true spirit of giving; a time to give what counts.
Sometimes it’s too easy to get lost in all the sales, checking items off our gift lists, meeting deadlines and the overwhelming amount of extra to-dos and obligations that seem to fall on our shoulders every holiday. It can leave us feeling burnt-out, guilty, stretched thin, overwhelmed, empty as much in our inner selves as our bank accounts. Although we begin well-intentioned and eager to be more Christ-like each year, it is ever so easy to lose sight of the true spirit of Christmas. We are only human after all.
So let’s take a moment to reflect upon what Christmas is really all about: it’s celebrating the birth of a baby, of new life brimming with hope, the coming of a Savior who will bring peace to our longing and tired souls. At Christmas time we give gifts because we, too, desire to emulate the greatest gift God has ever given: His Son! Our gift-giving is merely an extension, an outward sign, of the gift of ourselves, our love, our gratitude, our time and effort. We want the recipient to truly know that he/she matters to us, and that we love him/her. In the end what really matters, however, is not so much the gift, but the fact that we give of ourselves. Let us not forget that!
All this being said, sharing gifts is a lovely and important tradition that is beautifully and wholly human, and which makes each more like the Father. We are as much body as soul, and it is often through the physical gift that we comprehend the deeper spiritual gift.
“They bring me comfort and joy. I bless my family and friends with these pieces all of the time.” -Cheryn
Be the One to give a Blessing this Christmas.
Whether it be through one of our versatile and beautiful Blessing Bracelets (a great gift for everyone), or through another gift, I invite you to be the one to give a blessing this Christmas through your gift and presence. Be the vessel of God’s grace to those you gather with, the stranger you meet at the check-out counter, and most of all to those closest to you.
As you draw near the manger and kneel before the Infant King this Christmas, open yourself to the invitation to be an extension of the love brimming from the Christ-child’s heart. Be His hands, His feet, His voice and His arms to all those He came to save. May His personal love for you be the greatest blessing and gift you receive this Christmas.
Wear this bracelet as a reminder that pure joy rests in the love of God. May you be surrounded by His unconditional love this Christmas Season, and always.
Today’s post and photos comes to you from our Brand Curator, Madi. A big thank you to her for sharing her experience and reflections with us!
Advent, which began on Sunday, is the beginning of the new year in the church. The word itself means coming. Oh the beauty of new beginnings, the freshness of new seasons. How beautiful is it that we have a church that starts its new year in winter, a season of darkness and nature taking its course to journey to new life. It’s so like Jesus to do that, to give us newness in the old, to come in the darkest night, the darkest time of the year, and bring His dazzling light in the form of a child in a manger in Bethlehem.
One way to prepare this Advent is to dive into traditions and prayer with the family. This season is such a sweet time of traditions, preparation, hope and the chance to start anew.
The Advent Wreath
Our My Saint My Hero Experience Boutique hosted an Advent Experience this past week. We gathered around the table in community to make Advent Wreaths, something we’d love to share with you in the hopes that you too can find renewal in the season with your family. If you wanted to make your own simpler Advent wreath, all you’d need is faux eucalyptus garland around a gold wreath candle holder and Advent candles.
Why Have an Advent Wreath?
Our dear friend, Father Kalu, shared with us the meaning of this beautiful tradition, emphasizing “the family that prays together, stays together” (Father Patrick Peyton). He explained that there are four candles in an advent wreath, one lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Each candle symbolizes the four centuries of waiting before Christ’s birth. On the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent, the purple candles are lit, symbolizing prayer, penance and the royalty of Jesus. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit, symbolizing the joy of the Lord.
The Advent wreath is a beautiful opportunity for prayer as the candles are lit, especially together with the family. You could reflect on Scripture together or pray over a different person each week. Amongst the women that were there, we shared glory stories of the Lord’s faithfulness in prayer within our families – it is hard, vulnerable, and attacked, but the fruits of this prayer together are so worth it all.
Let’s gather together this season, friends, and begin again this Advent season to prepare a way for the coming of our Savior. Let’s light the world up today with His love, especially amongst our families.
Providentially, early this month, on the feast of All Saints Day, we celebrated the grand opening of our experience boutique store located in Rolling Hills Estates, California. It was a huge success and we thank each and every one who contributed in making this event an unforgettable experience, from our team members, to our families and friends, to our amazing support team…each of you!
“Mainly the vision was a sacred space…and it’s an experience boutique, somewhere people can experience their own dignity as daughter or son of the King. All the aspects of the space from the raw, cracked floor with silver lining, to the deep, starlit ceiling, are meant to elevate people to majesty beyond ourselves…a place to connect heaven and earth.” -Christina Yep (chief store interior designer)
The starlit ceiling while it was being completed.
We hope you can relive this incredibly blessed day through these videos and photos, and invite you to come experience the store firsthand. It truly is an experience! Our prayer and hope is that you may tangibly feel God’s presence and your worth and dignity as His daughter/son. Know you matter and make a difference in our world. God is real, prayer works, and love heals. You are called to be an instrument of God’s love: first to experience it deeply, and in turn, to share that love in your daily life.
Fr. Francis blessing the store.
We are not like any other store because our mission reaches far beyond numbers. We know the spiritual and missionary aspect of the My Saint My Hero business model is what drives, moves, and leads us, and ultimately is the goal and measure of our success.
Louisa DiBernardo, our store manager, shared these thoughts with us and it beautifully illustrates the spirit behind all that we do here.
The beginning of every month I worry how will we achieve our goals. The only answer I come up with is “Only by the grace of God.” He sends us a balance of customers to achieve our goals. We touch souls, we spread our mission, we pray with those in need. HE gives us our balance and we need to make sure that we hear Him.