By Tom Maguire | Associate editor
Anne Costa knows how to revive with fire.
The Catholic wife, mom, and author presented a talk to “revive the heart” Aug. 8 at Holy Family Church in Syracuse. Sponsored by the John Paul II Center for Women at Holy Family, the talk focused on “God’s loving prescription for marriage and family life: Do I really need one?”
“Anne is extremely passionate in her beliefs and really was on fire last night and really got people really enthusiastic for spreading the word of love, the love of God the Father, and how much we are all loved,” attendee Donna Alvaro, office manager at Holy Family, said in a voicemail.
“I think I helped them to understand that they are loved deeply by God,” Costa said, “that they are called to a holiness and a dignity that embraces his plan. … They want to be alive in their hearts. So they look to the Church.”
Costa, whose spiritual director is a diocesan priest, has been writing and speaking on Catholic topics for about a dozen years. Now she is forming a nonprofit ministry called Revive!: “It’s a “Holy Spirit–driven apostolate drawing all people to the heart of God the Father through media, hands-on healing, and exhortation in the name of Jesus through Mary.”
In her talk to 41 people at Holy Family, she touched on “Humanae Vitae” (Human Life), the encyclical written by Blessed Pope Paul VI 50 years ago, and the Catechism, and how it defines freedom. She also highlighted the diocesan offices of Family/Respect Life Ministry and Fertility Education/Natural Family Planning.
“The first thing we talked about,” Costa said, “was the idea that God’s truth for our lives, our family life, our bodies and souls is never changing. … God is truth, and the truth is deposited within the church that he created, the Catholic Church.”
So what is God’s plan for our families?
It’s that we should be “free, fruitful, and faithful in our lives to one another,” she said. “It’s in ‘Humanae Vitae,’ but it’s in the Gospels too. God created family, it’s his institution, it’s not our creation. It is the way in which he decided to manifest his love and selflessness in the world. So we are called within our families to magnify that.”
She continued: “We’re not here to give our children soccer practice and Sunday morning leisure time, and God is gonna ask us when we get up there not how many pairs of shoes they got, … but whether we taught them the faith or not; that’s what we’re called to do here. That’s what our religion teaches us, that’s what the Catechism says, that’s what God said.”
Asked about the difference between philosophy and action, she said: “Whatever we do in our lives, we do either for or not for God, so it’s not philosophical. It’s the truth that’s written on our heart and activating that in our daily life through obedience to the Father.”
In what other ways do people soldier on?
“Refraining from gossip,” she said, “refraining from tearing each other down, looking for ways in which we can build one another up, not competing with one another, not envying what somebody else has, but accepting that God has gifted us and loved us so we don’t have to compete and compare.
“It means forgiving people when they betray us, it means doing that hard work of forgiveness; I wrote a book on forgiveness called Lord, I Hurt, and it talks about the grit and the grace of forgiveness.
“We have to put the work in, but God gives us the grace. So forgiveness is a really big thing. Getting rid of our addictions is another way.”
Costa said the attendees saw that the prescription that God has for them is better medicine than what has been prescribed by the world.
“She’s just a real evangelist and got the women very excited about sharing this message with their families and their friends,” Alvaro said, “trying to help people understand that the answer that they’re seeking for happiness is not drugs and alcohol and pornography and all that kind of thing, but in the love of God.”
Alvaro said Costa also noted that God has a plan for people whether they are single or married. “She was great to listen to,” Alvaro said. “I hope she keeps coming back here.”
Costa “really did a beautiful job highlighting the truth of God’s plan for us” through “Humanae Vitae,” attendee Rita Condon, coordinator for Holy Family’s Elizabeth Ministry, which focuses on the dignity of human life, said in an email. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, “Humanae Vitae” “provides beautiful and clear teaching about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life.”
“I will be continuing teaching through Revive! to offer these kinds of presentations which are really exhortations to bring people closer to God and his will for them,” Costa said.