The TV show series Desperate Housewives has ended and I can proudly say that I have never watched a single episode. However, I’ll be the first to admit that society is onto us Catholic housewives.
Really! Yes, we stay-at-home moms truly are the desperate types, only not in the way that our sexually polluted culture wants you to believe.
No, we pine for something far more grand and ambitious, for that which nothing worldly can satisfy: we want God and we burn for holiness both for ourselves and our families.
We are housewives desperate for sanctification.
Take that, society. Everything presented on that show (judging by its silly posters alone) is droll in comparison.
History provides us with examples of holy married women who embody this holy longing in their vocations.
For St. Catherine of Genoa, Bl. Zelie Martin and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, nothing less than a profound desire for God and for Heaven motivated them to be lead “where [she] would rather not go.” And it is these housewives desperate for heaven that I intend to model myself after, not the other, fake kind.
Bl. John Paul II quoted these words of St. Catherine at the closing mass of World Youth day 2000: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze."
These are inspirational words from a woman for whom married life was far from blissful. For anyone who has struggled with keeping God at the center of their marriages, St. Catherine shows us that with grace we can arrive at our true identity as children of God even in the midst of painful circumstances.
Pope Benedict XVI remarked about her life, "St. Catherine's life teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimate contact with Him through prayer, the more He makes Himself known and enflames our hearts with His love.” Read more about her here.
Bl. Zelie Martin raised five daughters all of whom joined the Carmelites, one of which became a doctor of the Church. Not bad for a woman, who, at one time found herself distressed that her toddlers showed “no signs of piety.”
The Martin family sought holiness in their daily life. Even the children, practiced making pious sacrifices at the encouragement of their parents. But they were also very ‘real.’ Zelie worked from home making lace and the children which she lost in miscarriage or early death were always considered active members of the family from Heaven’s side.
Zelie died of breast cancer when her youngest daughter, Therese. was only five years old. Both she and her husband Louis are beatified. Read tips for effective mothering from Zelie here.
Canonized in 2004, this wife, mother, physician and pro-life witness has been said to represent all mothers. She sacrificed her life for that of her unborn child, but many have said that she had been preparing for it the whole of her life. Here are some quotes from St. Gianna:
"The stillness of prayer is the most essential condition for fruitful action. Before all else, the disciple kneels down."
" We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love."
"Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything."
All of you holy women, desperate to transcend this world, to leave it behind and to instruct your family in ways of holiness, pray for us! And a happy belated Mother’s Day to all mom readers!
Copyright 2012 Marissa Nichols
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