With Lent nearly upon us, it’s time to start praying and discerning which practices the Holy Spirit is calling us to in this season. Some years, especially those in which my life has been especially unpredictable, I’ve found fruit in repeating a practice that I’ve undertaken in the past. Other times, I sense a desire for something that will stretch me in a new way, that will ask something different of me, that will encourage me to reflect on my relationship with God, the world and myself.
A new offering from PeakDay, SoulCore and Temple & Table looks to do just that, incorporating practices for the whole woman — mind, body and soul. I had the opportunity to connect with Katie Zulanas, executive director of the Couple to Couple League (CCL), an organization that has been promoting and teaching Natural Family Planning for 50 years, and Heather Murphy, development director of CCL, about Revelation90, a “90-day wellness program that provides a holistic approach to fertility awareness, centered on nutritional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing.” The first session begins on Ash Wednesday — which is Feb. 14 this year — and promises to offer healing and hope to those women who answer the call.
Radiant: What factors or observations about women and our culture led to the creation of Revelation90?
Heather Murphy: So many women have come to us at Couple to Couple League for classes or coaching saying, “Why didn’t I know about this before? Why didn’t anyone talk about it?” This led our team to start thinking about how we can go beyond our traditional teaching method and reach women — particularly young adults — with the message of fertility awareness. Revelation90 is a great way to introduce the beauty of cycle tracking, nutrition and wellness to create a baseline of knowledge and improve that over the course of three months.
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We recently had the opportunity to participate in the SEEK24 Conference for young adults and speak with hundreds of young women at our PeakDay app table (where we also shared Revelation90). So many of these women want to make good choices in accordance with Church teaching, but the cultural messages are drowning out the true and beautiful resources available to them. There was an overwhelmingly positive reaction when they discovered PeakDay and Revelation90 as an easily accessible starting point.
The difference between men and women
Radiant: Obviously men can’t chart their cycles, but how else is Revelation90 different from Exodus 90? Where do you see similarities between the two?
Katie Zulanas: Men’s confidence is often tied to their internal beliefs while women are, many times, influenced by external feedback. Exodus90 addresses these internal beliefs and uses aestheticism and spiritual exercises to help men achieve spiritual freedom. For women, the challenge is to spend the time and effort to understand and value the gift of their fertility and femininity — away from all the negative external feedback women receive from society. So both programs ask their participants to step away from the noise and confusion of the world and to make room in their lives for God — and they do this in a way that seeks to strengthen each in their vocation of manhood or womanhood today.
The overwhelming emphasis on equality of women and men has caused loss of understanding of the beauty and goodness of our unique nature as a woman or man. Theology of the body tells us our body — which expresses itself as woman or man — matters! We — our body and soul — are created in the image and likeness of God. Taken from that perspective, each part of us must be tended to. We must respect and cultivate holy and healthy practices to honor and improve our relationship to God and our brothers and sisters in faith.
Radiant: What impact would a woman’s relationship status have on her participation in the program?
Heather: Any woman can participate in Revelation90 regardless of relationship status. Fertility awareness is for everyone, even if you’re not actively trying to achieve or postpone a pregnancy. Revelation90 is a perfect introduction to cycle tracking for women wanting to know more about their cycles and potentially improve their cycle health. It’s also beneficial to those with a deeper knowledge of their fertility when they have the opportunity to tangibly track how their nutritional, spiritual and fitness goals work in tandem with their cycles.
A holistic approach
Radiant: Tell us more about the holistic approach of the program. Say a woman already has a good handle on one or more of the pillars of the program — exercise, nutrition, cycle tracking or her prayer life. How do you hope approaching all the pillars together, rather than as isolated aspects of a lifestyle, will lead to lasting change?
Heather: The resources provided in Revelation90, particularly the journal, PeakDay app and online content, provide participants the opportunity to see how mind, body and spirit are all connected. The program is designed so that each participant can create their own journey through Lent based on where they want to see the greatest growth. For example, if someone is already proficient in tracking their cycle, they may want to focus their goals on improving their nutritional habits or reducing stress through prayer and exercise to see the correlation between these changes and their fertility signs. There’s a great deal of flexibility in how you use the materials in each of these pillars to customize the program.
Theology of the body
Radiant: I see glimpses of Pope St. John Paul II’s teaching on the theology of the body throughout this program. Were his teachings any part of the inspiration for this program?
Heather: Couple to Couple League is rooted in the teachings of (Pope St. Paul IV’s) Humanae Vitae as well as John Paul II’s theology of the body. We want every woman to understand the gift of her femininity and appreciate how her body was designed. Revelation90 is a journey based on that knowledge and designed to reveal a happier, healthier, smarter fertility.
Radiant: Can you tell us a little about what it was like to bring all these organizations together for one shared effort?
Katie: Since each of our ministries cares for the whole person, it makes perfect sense for us to join forces to support this program. With all the confusion in society today, each of our ministries is providing tools to make some order and meaning in our lives. Each of us is beautifully and wonderfully made, and taking the time to use prayer, exercise and nutrition to manage and improve our fertility gives us a pathway into a happier, healthier, holier lifestyle.
To learn more about Revolution90 and to register, visit learnnfp.org/rev90.