By: Caleigh Flores
Growing up, as far back as my first holy communion, I can remember believing that the individuals who were called to the religious life were exceptionally special people. Their role was for the world–service to all. They would be especially educated, they would give up their world and their pleasures all to be either the bride of Christ, or to Father the Mother Church. I would think how ordinary it would be to have a family and fall in love. I never grew up knowing or even believing that being married would be anything equally as special or significant. To be honest with you I felt that being a religious nun would be closer to God and more fulfilling in my soul than being a wife and mother—so much so that from ages 13-18 I contemplated the religious life (and here I am now with four kids). I felt I was destined for something great in Gods kingdom–and I was but didn’t fathom it.
Now nearly seven years of marriage later– I can tell you differently. For the last eighteen months or so I have tried to emulate Mary and ponder these mysteries in my heart. I have told myself that my role as a wife and mother is very important but truthfully, I still hadn’t felt that it really was until I had a revelation during my quiet time in prayer. I thought to myself, “We know the miraculous and divine calling of the religious orders so where is the wonder of this vocation?”. It wasn’t until the last few months that I realized what exactly the wonder of holy motherhood was.
“Look at the mothers who truly love their children–how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give them their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong.” Saint Gianna
When I was trying to understand what the wonder of holy motherhood was I went out searching for Saints who were Married. I remember reading about the Blessed mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to know someone of our time. I mean we had Mother Theresa, and Pope John Paul the Second but what about the laity—where were the laity saints? As a child we would read books and choose saints that fit our personalities, and as an adult I wanted someone I could relate to nowas a wife and mother. That’s when I discovered Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, who was an Italian physician, devoted catholic wife and mother. She was a mother of four children, and she gave up her life so that her fourth child could be born. She had a complicated pregnancy and was told to terminate and ultimately, she knew that was not a choice–her baby’s life was more important. And so that child was born on April 21, 1962 and Saint Gianna passed away seven days later as a result of the complications that arisen from not terminating.
When I read about the Saints I always feel as though the way they talk about Jesus and their vocation–is always the same. It’s the little moments with God, the little acts of service, sacrifices and love they perform for him. Reading about Saint Gianna was no different and that really amazed me. How did she embody the wonder of motherhood? I hope that if I make it to heaven I can ask her personally– but for now I can share with you as a living individual what I discovered.
Without Mary’s fiat there would be no Christ, and without a mother’s fiat, there would be no religious orders–there would be no people. Saint Gianna’s husband and daughter attended Her canonization in 2004. The first time that has ever happened in the history of the Catholic Church— all because a mother gave her life. A mother chose Gods love and gave him her fiat and the future of modern evangelization continued.
Being speechless is an understatement—I was so taken back that my role as a mother played a part that was equivalent to someone who had religious orders despite knowing that it was still one of the sacred seven sacraments.
It makes me ponder on the last 14 years and the shortage of priests and the religious women. The church has been in this crisis and needing to fill the holy orders–but not focusing on the call to families. Looking at the modern-day times of our churches state I can say that I believe God’s focus has been on the family. The church needs holy mothers and fathers, husbands and wives—especially children. It’s our time as holy men and women to experience our divine calling and wondrous vocations. It is our time to share that with the new generation– teach them that being called to marriage is sacramental, it is divine, it is the future of our church—and it is now.
Through God’s love we give a resounding yes–our fiat. Following in the footsteps of Saint Anne and Joaquin, Saint Joseph and Mother Mary, Saint Gianna and her spouse. We fill the church with our crying babies, we baptism them that they may lead the future—that they may hear God’s word and speak it. We are the modern-day saints who take up the armor of God– our ears have been opened and our mouths speak his words. Together we will teach the future of Catholics, and they will become evangelists, mystics, prophets and priests, mothers and Fathers. The history of the church is miraculous to read about–but the future is here in our homes. Let us go forth and multiply–We are the New Evangelization.