Holiness is for Everyone

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It's a miracle worthy of examination.  You've finally made a promise to yourself and God to get up early, read the bible, pray, and today you are doing it!  After spending what seems like only a minute or two checking email, you dive into Scripture (for a verse or two) or maybe if you're lucky, get one decade into the rosary before your thoughtful plans toward possible canonization collapse in mere moments.

Life begins to stir in the house.  The 3-year-old jumps out of bed with a thud and a war-cry for milk that wakes two of the other children and possibly a dog down the street.  The noise volume suddenly goes from “Monastery Solitude” to “Rock Concert Chaos” in less than 5 minutes.   Your “quiet” time has officially ended.  Now overwhelmed with demands for equality among the many siblings, you relent to those demands – a busy day now in full swing and a prayer time that never really happened. Well…at least you got up early.

At times, it seems as though sainthood is only possible with a soundtrack of lulling monastic chant, a day spent solely in Eucharistic adoration and reflection, writing poetry, perhaps a delightful bit of gardening, possibly weaving a basket made out of old Magnificats, or maybe brewing a beer that will bring people to Jesus upon its arrival at their lips.  But the vocation of marriage and potentially motherhood/fatherhood?  Bah.  Ain’t nobody got time for contemplation there!  Those people are never left with much silence, much less alone-time. Need any convincing?  Visit the cry room on any given Sunday.  We parents – the brave, the proud, the exhausted – comprise the vast majority of the Church and instead of a life serving the Church in prayer and silence, we deal with world-rocking events that strengthen our patience and stomachs – like teaching a young human to poop in the potty.

Still, as Vatican II reminds us, Christian life means a “universal call to holiness”.  It’s nothing new.  All of Scripture shouts that holiness is for every human person.  This is precisely why we’re made!  This includes married people, people with one child or four, or even parents of large families who – let’s be honest – we sometimes stare at during Mass wondering why we don’t just canonize them now!  But each one of our “calls to holiness” are vastly varied at different stages of life.  The grace and beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony is meant to lead us towards beatitude… if we learn how to cooperate with it.

At the very outset of the New Covenant we see married sanctity lived out in the lives of some of the Church’s saints.  Look no further than the sacrificial, life-giving union of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph!  And in the same family are Mary’s relatives – Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah, parents of St. John the Baptist.  Saints Salome and Zebedee were followers of Jesus and parents of the apostles Saints James and John.

And the witness continues throughout the centuries.  St. Monica prayed her son St. Augustine into the Church even in the midst of a difficult marriage. St. Thomas More was happily married with four kids and a busy job when he was martyred.  St. Frances of Rome was a mother of six, wife for forty years, helper of the sick, foundress of the Oblates of Mary, and mystic with frequent visions including her guardian angel being visible to her for twenty-three years.  Bl. Frederic Ozanam, father and husband who would bring his wife a bouquet of flowers on the twenty-third of every month to commemorate their wedding day, founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Bl. Louis and Bl. Zelie Martin (whose feast we celebrate today), the watchmaker and the lace-maker, both toyed with the idea of entering religious life themselves.  Instead, they married and had nine children; four of them died in infancy and the other five consecrated their lives to God as religious.  This union gave the Church and the world, the beautiful soul of St. Therese of Lisieux.  She learned devotion to the poor and to prayer by her parents’ examples.  Later she would write, “If I with my disposition, had been raised by parents who were not virtuous, or even if I had been spoiled only by Louis, I would have become very wicked and might even have been lost.”

The list is endless.

These incredible married saints give us a glimpse of how we soak up limitless grace from the life-giving power of the Sacrament of Matrimony, and pass it to the dying lips of the traditional family in its worldwide demise, transforming our own families into communities that then transform the world.  Essentially, when we answer this call – to trod and struggle and suffer along our own path to holiness – Christ is made real to those among us…our children.   And that, my brave, incredible, married people of faith, is worth a thousand mornings: having our children interrupt our silence, catching us in prayer.

“The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” Bl. Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio.

Brad & Joia Farmer

About Brad & Joia Farmer

Brad & Joia Farmer were united in the holy sacrament widely known as "Marriage," 14 years ago. Together, they fight the forces of evil, diapers & toilet cleanings, all while taking care of their 4 beautiful children, Jack, Ava, Caedmon & Simon. Brad is currently the Director of Youth Ministry at 4 parishes in the Denver area and is the Co-founder of APeX Ministries - an itinerant ministry that brings death-defying juggling, side-splitting comedy and heart-changing Jesus to the young people of the U.S. and Canada. Joia, a speaker, musician & health/wellness coach, wrote the 2009 National Catholic Youth Conference theme song "Christ Reigns," and was a featured speaker at the 2012 Rally for Life in Washington, D.C. You can find either at www.apexministries.com, www.joiafarmer.com or www.saintmakers.com.