Nothing chases away the winter chill like a mugful of a warm beverage.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite warm drink recipes (other than coffee and tea) perfect for cozying up on a cold night and that will help keep you healthy during the busy holiday season.
Hot water with Lemon and Ginger
This easy-to-make drink helps you stay hydrated while also giving your immune system a boost, improving digestion, and reducing inflammation. It’s also an excellent option to treat symptoms of the common cold or flu.
Combine 1 cup boiling water with 1⁄2 freshly squeezed lemon. Add some honey to taste. You can also finish it off with 1 cinnamon stick or piece of ginger for some added benefits.
Bone Broth Hot Chocolate
Bone Broth is a rich, flavorful stock that is packed with nutrients. It contains collagen which the body uses to make connective tissue; it also contains calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which contribute to bone strength.
You could use it in a soup or stew or you can add it to a smoothie or, everybody’s winter favorite–hot chocolate!
Just add a ½ cup Bone Broth to this hot chocolate recipe:
1 cup whole milk
1 ½ tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tbsp cacao powder
1 pinch sea salt
1 scoop collagen (optional)
Warm it on the stove and enjoy!
Golden Milk Latte
The ingredient that gives this drink its unique yellow color is turmeric. Turmeric contains many antioxidants to help boost your immune system and the additional spices of cinnamon and ginger can help protect against heart disease, lower blood sugar levels, and improve brain function.
A Hot Toddy with its combination of spirits, hot water, lemon, and honey offers some surprising health benefits, and has been known to alleviate symptoms of the common cold or flu, particularly a sore throat. Of course, with all alcoholic beverages, moderation is important.
1 ½ ounces liquor of choice like whiskey, brandy, or bourbon
2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
Garnish with lemon round and/or 1 cinnamon stick (optional, for garnish)
If you’re looking for another alcoholic warm beverage for your next Christmas party, Mulled Wine is a perfect fit. It’s a warm, spiced wine that will fill your home with delightful scents and your body with some delicious and healthful flavors too.
Again, moderation is key to enjoying the health benefits of mulled wine.
Wine offers your body antioxidants which can help boost your immune system as well as reduce cardiovascular stress. Spices like cinnamon and ginger have also been linked to improved cardiovascular health.
Are you familiar with the Miraculous Medal? It’s a powerful sacramental that is worn by millions of Catholics around the world and has many miracles attributed to it.
St. Maximilian Kolbe called it “our weapon with which to strike hearts” and “a bullet with which a faithful soldier hits the enemy, that is evil, and thus rescues souls.”
This devotion might just change your life.
The Miraculous Medal began with a series of apparitions of Mary to St. Catherine Labouré in Paris, France.
Close to Midnight on July 18, 1830, a young French Daughter of Charity novice awoke to a beautiful child bathed in a heavenly light. Catherine followed the child to the chapel where all the candles were lit. She heard a rustling
Our Lady appeared again on November 27, 1830; this time, however, Mary stood on a globe with her feet crushing the head of a serpent. She wore rings on her fingers from which dazzling rays of light beamed.
The Blessed Mother told Catherine that these rays symbolize the graces that she gives to all who ask for them and the stones on her ring that do not shed light represent the graces that people forget to ask for.
An oval then appeared around the Blessed Mother, with the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
The image turned, revealing the design for the second side of the medal–the letter M, intersected at the top with a cross and a bar, along with the hearts of Jesus and Mary surrounded by twelve stars.
Mary instructed Catherine to have a medal made of this image and promised great graces to those who wear it. Indeed, there have been many stories of miraculous physical and spiritual healings through the intercession of the Blessed Mother by those who wear the medal.
This small medal is full of meaning and symbolism, and serves as a powerful reminder of the important role the Blessed Mother plays in the lives of the faithful:
The Immaculate Conception
The inscription on the medal affirms that Mary was as the Scripture says “Full of Grace” or conceived without the stain of original sin.
The Miraculous Medal helped pave the way for this dogma.
Mediatrix of Grace
The medal also illustrates Mary as the “Mediatrix of Grace.” Jesus, through the “Yes” of his Blessed Mother, became the mediator of our salvation so we recognize Mary as a conduit of grace for the Church on earth.
Through both the symbolic rays of light coming from her hands and the intertwined M and cross on the back, the medal reminds us of Mary’s role in our salvation and invites us to approach Jesus through Mary.
Queen of Heaven and Earth
The medal depicts Mary as standing on a globe and crushing the head of the serpent, making it clear that she reigns as Queen both in heaven and on earth.
The whole world falls under her mantle of protection. Through her Son, Mary has the power to vanquish the evil one and can protect us from spiritual harm. Her arms are open to embrace those who come to her.
Mary told St. Catherine Laboure that despite being a Mother who wants to help her children so many people never turn to her. Don’t make that mistake!
Invite the Blessed Mother into your life. Wear the Miraculous Medal as a reminder to pray its prayer: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
In a culture that has cheapened the gifts of our bodies and our sexuality by promoting promiscuous and problematic behaviors, Catholic parents need a way to teach their children the truth about their bodies even from a young age.
The Theology of the Body (TOB) offers an integrated vision of the human person–a body and soul composite–that will serve as an unshakable foundation as your children grow up. And it’s never too early to introduce it to your kids.
What is Theology of the Body?
Theology of the Body is a series of 126 talks presented by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square from 1979-1984. These lectures presented the Church’s teachings on the human person, sexuality, and marriage.
It offers a profound reflection on the nature and dignity of the human person based on biblical and theological principles, and explains how our bodies communicate these invisible realities.
Why Theology of the Body for Kids Matters
Theology of the Body is an invaluable tool for parents to teach their children about the gift of our bodies.
While your children might be too young for “the talk,” Theology of the Body helps you create a foundation on which you can build upon as they get older.
Here’s what it can offer your kids:
Understanding God's Plan for the Body:
Our bodies aren’t accidental or insignificant, they are purposeful and beautiful. They are not just physical entities but have a spiritual and theological dimension.
Theology of the Body reveals God's plan for our bodies and sexuality, and illuminates the ways in which human love can and should reflect God’s love in the Trinity.
Respect for Human Dignity:
Teaching your children about the Theology of the Body instills in them a profound respect for the dignity of every human being. It emphasizes that every person regardless of age, gender, or background, is a unique and precious creation of God.
Formation of Healthy Relationships:
The teachings of the Theology of the Body promote healthy and pure relationships. Kids who understand these principles are better equipped to build strong, loving, and lasting relationships based on mutual respect and self-giving love.
It helps children prepare for their future vocation as well.
Countering Cultural Messages:
In today's culture, young people are bombarded with messages that often distort the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.
Schools are introducing concepts about gender and sex earlier and earlier, normalizing behaviors not in line with biology or God’s plan for men and women. However, you can help your students go against the culture and stay true to the faith.
Having a foundation in the teachings of Theology of the Body can help your children stand strong in the truth against harmful influences.
Introducing Pietra Kids! TOB Series
Children need an accessible and age-appropriate way to learn about the Theology of the Body, which is why Pietra Fitness has created a new series for children focused on this vital topic.
Introducing the new Pietra Kids! TOB series.
We will offer two series one for grades K-5 and the other for 6-8 that introduce children to the important teachings of the Theology of the Body while also helping them to move and use their bodies for the glory of God.
As in all of our Pietra Fitness classes, these series will combine strengthening exercises, sacred music, and Christian mediation–in this case, age-appropriate meditations on the foundational teachings of Pope St. John Paull II’s Theology of the Body including:
Fertility Awareness is tracking a woman’s menstrual cycle by recognizing and interpreting the physical signs of fertility that accompany the hormonal changes her body goes through during that cycle.
And it’s come a long way from the “Calendar Method” which perpetuates the myth that “every woman ovulates on Day 14 of her cycle.”
The Fertility Awareness Methods available today empowers women to know and take care of their unique body. It’s safe, it’s effective, and it can be used to improve a woman’s overall health.
What does the Church Teach of Fertility Awareness?
The Church promotes Fertility Awareness among married couples as an alternative to methods of contraceptives such as condoms and birth control.
Contraception has no place in a Catholic marriage because it eliminates a person’s ability to love fully and fruitfully within a marriage
Despite the language that is often used by secular sources, Fertility Awareness is not birth control. It doesn’t seek to control a woman’s body; rather it allows a husband and wife to discern their family size in cooperation with God–remaining open to His plan for their life and family.
Tracking a woman’s fertile time not only helps maintain the spiritual health of a marriage, it also benefits the physical health of the woman.
And the great news is that you don’t need to be engaged or married to use or benefit from Fertility Awareness; it can and should be used by women who want to better understand and take care of their bodies.
Dispelling the Myths about Hormonal Contraception
Hormonal Contraception wreaks havoc on a woman’s body and is completely contrary to women’s health.
Instead of offering wholeness to women, hormonal birth control suppresses a healthy body’s ability to function naturally, causing some dangerous side effects. Studies have shown that Hormonal Birth Control increases a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke, blood clots, liver tumors, HPV, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. ¹
Fertility is not a disease to be treated; it’s a valuable indicator of a woman's overall health.
Health Benefits of Fertility Awareness
Firstly, fertility awareness can help women and their healthcare providers identify potential gynecological issues, such as irregular periods, hormonal imbalances, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Your cycle also impacts many other aspects of a woman’s health, including:
For many years, researchers have believed that post-menopausal bone loss is caused by the lack of estrogen that occurs after menopause; however, new research has shown that progesterone plays an active role in maintaining women’s bone and in osteoporosis prevention. ²
Normal ovulatory cycles are necessary for developing bone mass that will last you past your reproductive years.
Estrogen and Progesterone play a major role in brain development. Estrogen creates plasticity in the brain and improves cognitive function; progesterone regulates glial cells (also known as the “glue” of the central nervous system) and helps to stabilize mood.
Estrogen and Progesterone levels in a healthy cycle also affect your heart health. Estrogen helps prevent heart disease caused by coronary artery calcification.³ Progesterone helps decrease blood pressure.
Other research suggests that “shorter total reproductive duration [defined as the time from menarche to menopause] was associated with a higher risk of incident total heart failure hospitalization in post menopausal women.”
Finally, fertility Awareness helps you work with your body, not against it. Reading your body’s fertility signs can help you make decisions that will enable you to make decisions more in line with your health and fitness goals.
As a woman’s body goes through several hormonal changes over the course of her cycle, the needs of the body–from nutrition to exercise–change too. Knowing where you are in your cycle can help you make decisions that maximize your health.
For instance, your follicular phase (or the weeks leading up to ovulation) when your hormones are at the lowest levels, is the perfect time for high intensity and strength training. During this phase, your body can better access stored carbs and more easily build/maintain muscle.
Then during your luteal phase after ovulation, your hormones are much more in-flux so lower-intensity workouts with more recovery time are ideal during this phase.
If you want to begin tracking your cycles using Fertility Awareness Methods, Natural Womanhood and Managing Your Fertility offer a plethora of resources to help you feel informed and to direct you on the next steps.
Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God's love commits me here, Ever this day, be at my side, To light and guard, Rule and guide. Amen.
Many children growing up in the Catholic faith learn this short prayer invoking their guardian angel; however, perhaps because of the cutesy depiction of angels in art or the misrepresentation of them in the media, very few believers give much thought to these powerful beings.
But you should.
The great saint Padre Pio implored others to pray that child-like prayer to their angel:
Oh, if only all men knew how to understand and appreciate this very great gift that God, in the excess of His love for men, has assigned to us this celestial spirit! Recall frequently his presence: you ought to fix your mind’s eye upon him. Thank him, pray to him…Repeat often [this] beautiful prayer…How great will be the consolation, when, at the hour of death, your soul will see this angel, who is so good, who has accompanied you throughout your life, who was so ample in his maternal care!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Guardian Angels, so let’s take some time getting to know them and building up a relationship that will last for your whole life.
Catholic Teaching on Guardian Angels
The modern, secular world often refers to loved ones who have passed as “guardian angels” but that’s not consistent with the Church’s teaching on our heavenly protectors.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that angels are “spiritual, non-corporeal beings…[who] are servants and messengers of God. (CCC 328-329) that have existed since creation.
They continuously behold God face to face and we believe that at Mass, we join in their endless adoration and worship of Him.
Human life, from its beginning until death, is surrounded by their prayer and care. Sacred Scripture offers many examples of angels as the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word” (Psalm 103).
They are heralds and servants in God’s plan for salvation– “they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets…” (CCC 332)
While the theology of angels is primarily shrouded in mystery, Catholic tradition also holds that an angel stands beside each believer providing both physical and spiritual protection and leading him to eternal life. We call these beings “Guardian Angels.”
Growing in Friendship with Your Guardian Angel
See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foe (Ex 23:20-22).
So how can you keep your angelic friend close? How can you hear and follow his guidance and allow him to lead your home?
Firstly, don’t try to name your Guardian Angel.
According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.”
Naming something denotes authority over it, which humans certainly do not have over the angels. Many experts also discourage you from trying to learn the name of your guardian angels for fear of unknowingly and accidentally opening yourself to the influence of fallen angels.
Secondly, pray to him every day; the little prayer at the beginning of this post is a perfect way to invite him into your day and the habit of praying it will attune your heart and mind to his presence.
Your Guardian Angels, like God, respect your free will so they can’t fight your battle against sin and evil for you, but they can fight alongside you–protecting you from bodily harm, guiding you away from temptation, shielding your mind and heart from spiritually dangerous situations.
Ask for his intercession for particular intentions or people in your life; talk to them as you would your dearest friend about your day, your thoughts, your fears, your joy. Ask for their help before an important conversation, in resolving disagreements, or in finding a parking spot.
Acknowledge his presence when you go to Mass or adoration, or when you pray. Invite him to help you pray and worship as you ought.
Everyone has heard of the importance of friendship, but did you know that meaningful relationships aren’t just good for your soul but for your body too?
Several scientific studies show that engaging in meaningful social relationships have short and long-term effects on your physical and mental health.
For instance, while studying mortality across industrialized nations, researchers found that “...individuals with the lowest level of involvement in social relationships are more likely to die than those with greater involvement.”¹ Researchers also found that social involvement also reduced mortality risk among adults who had documented medical issues.
Even among more formal social involvement, such in the case of actively participating in a faith community, is also associated with living a long and healthy life.²
There’s several reasons why this is the case:
Meaningful Relationships Can Enforce Healthy Behaviors
For better or for worse, your relationships play a major role in your health behaviors–or personal actions that influence health, disability, and mortality. Some behaviors such as smoking or heavy alcohol consumption can undermine health, while others like eating healthy and exercising will promote it.
Engaging in friendships that encourage positive behaviors will help you develop and encourage your own healthy habits.³
The Book of Psalms found in the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament, is a book not meant to be read, but rather prayed. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI called the Psalms: “the ‘prayerbook’ par excellence.”¹
The Psalter is a collection of 150 hymns originally used in Temple worship by the Jewish people. Over time they have become a vital part of Christian prayer and worship as well, being recited daily at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Tradition attributes 73 Psalms to David, twelve to Asaph, eleven to the sons of Korah, two to Solomon, one to Moses, and others to Heman and Ethan.
The Psalms express the wide range of human emotions: joy, sorrow, gratitude, desire for God, despair, hope. For this reason, it resonates with people across time and place. Again, Benedict XVI said that the Psalms are given to us “...so that we might learn to address ourselves to God, to communicate with Him, to talk to Him about ourselves with His words, to find language for an encounter with Him.”
Christ Himself also prayed the Psalms; we see in the Gospels that the Psalms were
constantly on his lips, reciting them in his prayer and teaching.
If you wish to pray as Christ did you must pray with the Psalms.
How do you pray the Psalms?
In the first centuries of the Church, the Psalms were the most common form of personal prayer and people often prayed all 150 psalms every week. (This was actually the basis for the 150 Hail Marys of the Rosary–until the recent addition of the Luminous Mysteries– which is why the Rosary has often been called the Little Psalter).
Farmers and workmen used to pray the psalms from memory while working out in the field or their shops, while women prayed them as they performed their domestic duties.
However, while the Church has maintained that priests and religious should pray with the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, it is not emphasized among the laity as it once was.
So how can the faithful today use it to express our interior life?
Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, is the daily prayer of the Church, imbuing your day with prayer. The USCCB writes that “The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer” and much of it is repeating the Psalms.
This repetition allows us to take to heart the words, so that their language becomes part of our language of prayer.
Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are the most “important” of the hours so consider starting with one or both of these. You can find the full prayers for each day here or listen to them chanted here.
Lectio Divina or “Divine Reading” is an ancient spiritual discipline involving a slow, thoughtful reading of the Scriptures. Read through the Psalm, meditate on its words and its meaning for your life.
You can read through a new Psalm each day or find a Psalm that expresses whatever emotions you bring to prayer and meditate on it.
Make the Psalms a part of your life.
Listen to them sung. Print out a few psalms and leave them around your home where you might see them as you go about your day. Text one to a friend or memorize one with your kids.
For many people, consistency in exercise can prove challenging. Carving out time for it each day can feel impossible when you’re overwhelmed with work, chores, caring for children, and everything else to which you’ve already committed, especially when so many workouts take between 25-40 minutes.
Micro-workouts offer an effective workout and are an excellent option to help you maintain (or build) your fitness habit even during busy seasons of life.
Micro workouts are brief exercises that you can do in 10 minutes or less. Performing these workouts 2-3 times a day can give you the weekly recommended amount of exercise (two and a half hours of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic fitness weekly according to the American Heart Association).
Micro-workouts can give you all the benefits of a traditional workout–improved heart health, boosted endurance, weight loss, stronger muscles, more effective insulin absorption, improved mental health–but provide the flexibility that many people need to succeed in their health journey.
In addition to our full workout classes, Pietra Fitness offers many micro-workouts for you to use alone or alongside our other routines.
Much of your daily movement depends on a strong lower body. This short workout focuses on strengthening these important muscles in the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Modifications are offered by the Instructor to accommodate all skill levels.
10 Minute Arms & shoulders (Intermediate)
You need strong arms to perform many movements and functions in your day to day. This 10 minute upper body class builds strength and muscular endurance without the need for extra equipment.
10 Minute Stability Ball Core (Advanced)
A stability ball helps you get more out of your workout by challenging more muscles with a single exercise, or deepening a stretch. This advanced class uses a stability ball to work out your core in new and fun ways.
10 Minute Upper Body
Strength training, especially of the upper body, has a place in every well-rounded fitness routine and now you can exercise these necessary muscles in 10 minutes. This short but powerful class will strengthen your upper body without any extra equipment.
10 Minute Cardio
Get your heart pumping with a 10 minute cardio workout. This short class will improve your strength, endurance, and heart health. Gentle and Intermediate level classes available.
10 Minute Legs
Build strength and power in your lower body by exercising all of the major muscle groups in your legs. Classes available for all skill levels: Beginner/Gentle and Intermediate/Advanced.
10 Minute Core
A strong core is vital to your posture, your balance and stability, every day movement so you should include it in your weekly routine. Use this 10 minute class to strengthen and tone your core with planks, reverse plank, side crunches, slow mountain climbers, forearm planks, and more!
Resistance training offers the same health benefits as strength training, but requires the use of less weight (you can read more about it here). This 10-minute class uses light weights to tone and lengthen the muscles and increase the endurance of your arms and shoulders.
Your back provides the main structure of support for your whole body; working out these muscles is a must for every good fitness routine. These muscles help stabilize your spine and help make achieving your fitness goals easier. This 8-10 minute class helps you strengthen your back muscles and is available for all skill levels: Gentle/Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.