Saints in the family

This weekend’s beatification of Zelie and Louis Martin provided a beautiful opportunity to reflect on the important ways that a Christian family can and should be a school of faith and holiness.  Fr. Thomas Rosica offers still another insight into this with this reflection on his relationship and familiarity with the family of St. Gianna Molla.

A few years ago, Fr. Rosica was responsible for the production of a beautiful video about St. Gianna, which we have in our home.  (We love St. Gianna around here, and one of our daughters is named after her, though she was “only” a blessed at the time our Gianna was born in 2000.  Her canonization in 2004 provided a wonderful opportunity for a St. Gianna party in our home.)

Rosica writes of his close relationship with the Molla family.  St. Gianna’s husband is still alive and 96 years old now.  (He and his children, Gianna’s siblings, were all present at her beatification and canonization masses, in 1994 and 2004 respectively.)  Can you imagine being aware that your spouse was, literally, a saint?  (“Well, I guess that settles one question … we know those arguments we used to have about such-and-such were all my fault!”)

(Yes yes, I know saints aren’t without fault.  It was a joke.)

But I especially appreciated Fr. Rosica’s comments about Pietro Molla himself, as well as Gianna’s extended family. 

“Pietro Molla is a pillar and rock — a man of extraordinary faith, simplicity and holiness. I am certain that the story of holiness did not end with Gianna, who died in 1962 at the age of 39. In fact, the cause for the beatification and canonization for St. Gianna’s brother, Frei Alberto Beretta, a Capuchin missionary in Brazil, was opened last year in Bergamo, Italy…. 

“We may speak of the communion of saints in theological terms, but today I experienced it very much in flesh and blood terms — this group of people was and is for me the reality of communion of saints in real time: a husband of a saint, children of a saint, nieces and nephews of a saint. They are like us. Their love of God and neighbor, their fire and dynamism will indeed burn away the sadness and evil in the world today, not with harshness but with fiery love and ordinary kindness.”

Isn’t it true that many of us can think of members of our own families who are made of the stuff of saints, people who might well be considered for canonization, if only they were more widely known, if only the stories of their love and faith and courage were told in books or documentaries?  St. Gianna, and Blessed Zelie and Louis, stand for them.  Particularly until the Church’s roll of the saints is as evenly populated by laypeople as it is by religious and priests, that will be the case. 

St. Gianna, Blessed Louis, Blessed Zelie, pray for us!

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