It’s so easy to forget the impact our home environment has on our children. We underestimate the effect of a mother’s loving presence, a father’s instruction, and the togetherness of prayer. The family is where the seeds of holiness and happiness are planted.
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Louis and Zelie Martin understood the importance of holding their children close to themselves and close to God. Daily Mass, prayer, and conversation about the spiritual realm were a routine part of their lives. They upheld their children’s virtue formation with the strictest authority, and showered them with love like that of our merciful and generous Father. They constantly sought to perform acts of charity. They avoided worldly pleasures, instead finding true leisure and refreshment in the simplicity of family time and time spent out of doors.
The Martin’s gentle yet firm parenting methods and their quest for holiness proved fruitful. They raised one of the world’s most beloved saints, St. Therese of Lisieux, along with four other daughters who all entered the religious life. The four children they lost in early infancy and toddlerhood proved to be jewels in their heavenly crowns, as even through their suffering, they only sought the will of God.
In his beautifully written biography about the Martin family, A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux, Saints Therese, Louis, and Zelie, Father Stephane-Joseph Piat describes the Martin home as being governed by three principles: the sovereignty of God; faith in his Providence; and abandonment to his will.
Studying the Martin family has left me wondering: How can I apply their principles of living to my own family and home? The following are some questions I’ve been pondering as I’ve meditated on how our family can imitate the ideals and lifestyle of the Martin family.
The Sovereignty of God
Do we make daily prayer a priority, even when life gets busy and everyone is tired?
Are our schedules created around Mass times, holy days of obligation, and observing the holiness of Sundays?
Is our family engaged in parish life? Do we make attending services and events at our church a priority?
Does our family observe the liturgical seasons through appropriate sacrifice, fasting, or celebrating?
Do our children see us spending time in prayer, making sacrifices, and attending meetings and prayer groups at our parish? Do we sometimes include our children in our personal spiritual pursuits?
Do we fill our homes with symbols of our faith, like religious artwork, statues, and sacramentals?
Does the love of our marriage teach our children the meaning of service, devotion, and gift of self?
Is our family more focused on material pleasures than on heavenly goals? Do we spend as much time and energy nurturing our spiritual lives as we do in quest of worldly achievements?
Is Christ the King of our home?
Faith in His Providence
Do we attribute all of our successes and blessings to the goodness of God?
Do we thank God every day for all of the wonderful gifts He has given us?
Do we trust that God will give us the strength to persevere in holiness, even on days when we’re discouraged or feel we have failed completely?
Do we remain positive and hopeful as we converse about the things of this world? Do we convey a sense of peace to our children that, no matter what happens during our lives on earth, God will protect and care for us?
Do we pray for the souls of others, with trust in the merciful love of God?
Do we demonstrate true leisure to our children, like a good book over screen time, nature walks over listless time indoors, and face-to-face conversations over social media?
Abandonment to His Will
Do we try to control our daily lives by our power alone, or do we entrust our efforts to God, ready to peacefully accept the sufferings along with the joys?
Do we always answer the promptings to acts of charity and allow ourselves to be the hands and feet of Christ, even when it is difficult or inconvenient?
Do we treat “difficult people” with patience and understanding?
Do we encourage our children to help the “poor” of this world, whether by donating their own money, serving at a homeless shelter, or extending friendship to the classmate no one else will talk to?
Do we teach our children to respect the bonds of family by maintaining relationships with our relatives? Do we keep those family members who have gone before us in our prayers?
Do we remind our children that times of difficulty can help us more clearly see the beauty and hope of heaven?
Do we give ourselves completely to the vocation to which we have been called, rather than wishing we could live a different sort of life?
“Our heart is satisfied with nothing as long as we’re not seeing the infinite beauty that is God. The intimate happiness of the family [is the] beauty that brings us closer to Him.”
--St. Louis Martin
Copyright 2016 Charisse Tierney
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist in training. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.