I am not yet a parent. In fact, I’m not even married. So you might be thinking: “Why in the world is SHE writing this article?”
Well, for two reasons, actually.
First: see, the thing is, in my short twenty-something years on this earth I have nannied and babysat a LOT of children—possibly even hundreds. It’s tough enough trying to feed, comfort, and corral children during a 1, 2, 4, or even 10-hour period of time. So I can at least begin to imagine what it’s like to actually RAISE children.
Secondly: I’m at that time of life where a LOT of people I know are starting to get married and have their own kids. This has helped me to think and pray more intentionally about the vocation to marriage and family life.
Keep reading: Heroes and Homemakers: 10 Patron Saints of Marriage
The more I think and pray, the more I realize that it’s a rather large task to nurture and raise wobbly, messy, lovely-little God-fearing human beings.
A Slight Problem, and A Quick Solution
Whenever I find myself overwhelmed by a task, or doubting whether I can live holiness in a given situation, I try to turn to my favorite saints for advice. That being said, I figured that I should turn to the saints in regards to the call to marriage and family, as well. But I encountered a slight problem, and perhaps you will, too, because when it comes to the list of popular saints I have, it is often the case that a favorite saint was, um, celibate.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT to say that saints who were priests or sisters can’t have incredible advice on parenting. I myself discerned Consecrated life for several years, and I can tell you that the life of spiritual motherhood and fatherhood in the Consecrated life is VERY real.
But you also have to admit that there’s something special about gleaning wisdom from a friend or mentor who has gone through the same situation in which you find yourself. I think this also can apply to the unique insight on parenting from saints who raised a physical family.
All that being said, I decided to compile a list of saintly reflections on the joys and struggles of raising little apostles after God’s own heart.
Thoughts and Prayers on Parenting and Finding Holiness at Home From 10 Saintly Mothers and Fathers
“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.”
“One earns Paradise with one’s daily task.”
“Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love."
“Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms. Amen.”
Read St. Gianna story of sacrificial love and motherhood here!
“Nothing is far from God.”
Keep reading: Prayers to St. Monica for Wayward Children
Venerable Elisabetta Tasca Serena:
When her children asked to get a TV, Elizabeth replied:
“Channel 1 – Go to the first Mass; Channel 2 – Recite the Rosary; Channel 3 – Make the stockings and mend the clothes; Channel 4 – Work in the stall; Channel 5 – Teach the lessons to the children and prepare for school; Channel 6 – Prepare the food; Channel 7 – Do the laundry; Channel 8 – Sing for joy; Channel 9 – Wish well to everyone; Channel 10 – So many jobs to do and never idleness for a moment!”
St. King Louis IX:
In a letter to his son:
“If God send thee adversity, receive it in patience and give thanks to our Saviour and bethink thee that thou hast deserved it, and that He will make it turn to thine advantage. If He send thee prosperity, then thank Him humbly, so that thou becomest not worse from pride or any other cause, when thou oughtest to be better. For we should not fight against God with his own gifts.”
Blessed Hildegard Burjan:
“Believe me, for everyone life is a battle. Aware of it or not, each of us advances slowly on the rocky road to Calvary. Let us thank God for giving us the opportunity to climb it.”
"The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will."
"If I had to advise parents, I should tell them to take great care about the people with whom their children associate...Much harm may result from bad company, and we are inclined by nature to follow what is worse than what is better."
"We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives—that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him."
Blessed Karl of Austria:
To his wife, Servant of God Zita of Austria:
“Now, let’s help each…get into heaven.”
“It would seem to the unthinking that mothers of children, whether of one or a dozen, are intensely preoccupied with creatures: their little ones, food, clothing, shelter, matters that are down to earth and grossly material, such as dirty diapers, dishes, cooking, cramming baby mouths with food, etc. Women’s bodies, heavy with children, dragged down by children, are a weight like a cross to be carried about. From morning until night they are preoccupied with cares, but it is care for others, for the duties God has given them...The point I want to make is that a woman can achieve the highest spirituality and union with God through her house and children.”
Learn more about this incredible convert and social activist's life here.
St. Zelie Martin:
Letter 72, speaking about her four children who died from miscarriage or in infancy:
"When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and when I buried them, I felt great pain, but it was always with resignation. I didn’t regret the sorrows and the problems I had endured for them. Several people said to me, ‘It would be better to never have had them.’ I can’t bear that kind of talk. I don’t think the sorrows and problems could be weighed against the eternal happiness of my children. So they weren’t lost forever. Life is short and full of misery. We’ll see them again in Heaven. Above all, it was on the death of my first child that I felt more deeply the happiness of having a child in Heaven, for God showed me in a noticeable way that He accepted my sacrifice. Through the intercession of my little angel, I received a very extraordinary grace.”
“It is Leonie’s future which worries me most. I ask myself, What will become of her when I am gone? It frightens me! If the sacrifice of my life were necessary to make a saint of her, I would gladly offer it.” (Zelie’s daughter Leonie was declared a Servant of God in 2015)
St. Louis Martin:
“Soon we’ll have the intimate happiness of the family, and it’s this beauty that brings us closer to [God].” (Letter 229)
Motto for Zelie and Louis’s marriage, inspired by Saint Joan of Arc: “God is served first.”
Which saints do you turn to for wisdom in parenting?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!