punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Housewives Desperate For Sanctification

The TV show series Desperate Housewives has ended and I can proudly say that I have never watched a single episode.

However, I’ll be the first to admit that society is onto us Catholic housewives. 

Really!  Yes, we stay-at-home moms truly are the desperate types, only not in the way that our sexually polluted culture wants you to believe. 

No, we pine for something far more grand and ambitious, for that which nothing worldly can satisfy: we want God and we burn for holiness both for ourselves and our families.

We are housewives desperate for sanctification.

Take that, society. Everything presented on that show (judging by its silly posters alone) is droll in comparison.

History provides us with examples of holy married women who embody this holy longing in their vocations. 

For St. Catherine of Genoa, Bl. Zelie Martin and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, nothing less than a profound desire for God and for Heaven motivated them to be lead “where [she] would rather not go.” And it is these housewives desperate for heaven that I intend to model myself after, not the other, fake kind.

St. Catherine of Genoa 1447-1510

Bl. John Paul II quoted these words of St. Catherine at the closing mass of World Youth day 2000: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze."

These are inspirational words from a woman for whom married life was far from blissful.   For anyone who has struggled with keeping God at the center of their marriages, St. Catherine shows us that with grace we can arrive at our true identity as children of God even in the midst of painful circumstances.  

Pope Benedict XVI remarked about her life, "St. Catherine's life teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimate contact with Him through prayer, the more He makes Himself known and enflames our hearts with His love.”  Read more about her here.

Bl. Zelie Martin (1831-1877)

Bl. Zelie Martin raised five daughters, four of whom joined the Carmelites (one of which became a doctor of the Church) and one that joined the Visitation nuns. Not bad for a woman, who, at one time found herself distressed that her toddlers showed “no signs of piety.” 
The Martin family sought holiness in their daily life.  Even the children, practiced making pious sacrifices at the encouragement of their parents.  But they were also very ‘real.’  Zelie worked from home making lace and the children which she lost in miscarriage or early death were always considered active members of the family from Heaven’s side.

Zelie died of breast cancer when her youngest daughter, Therese. was only five years old. Both she and her husband Louis are beatified.  Read tips for effective mothering from Zelie here.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962)

Canonized in 2004, this wife, mother, physician and pro-life witness has been said to represent all mothers.   She sacrificed her life for that of her unborn child, but many have said that she had been preparing for it the whole of her life.   Here are some quotes from St. Gianna:

"The stillness of prayer is the most essential condition for fruitful action. Before all else, the disciple kneels down."

" We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love."

"Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything."      

All of you holy women, desperate to transcend this world, to leave it behind and to instruct your family in ways of holiness, pray for us!  And a happy belated Mother’s Day to all mom readers!


  1. Very nice article. Thanks, Marissa. But for two minor things:

    1. Zelie Martin's one daughter, Leonie, was a Visitation nun, not a Carmelite.

    2. Dr. Gianna Molla was a practising physician, not a full-time housewife.

    God bless.

    1. Thank's Anonymous! I will update the Zelie Martin one. I did know that about St. Gianna. She's the canonized 'working mom.' I wasn't sure if I wanted to make a distinction in my article. I hope that everyone reads your comment, though, just in case they were wondering the same thing. GB

  2. from Bill Foley

    I suggest a reading of The Victories of the Martyrs by Saint Alphonsus; in this wonderful, spiritual book one will find the stories of many Catholic wives and mothers who gave their lives for Jesus Christ.

    There is also the English martyr, Saint Margaret Clitherow, a married woman.

    1. Thanks, Bill for the recommendation. I have family in England (by marriage) and I wonder if they know of her..

  3. Bl. Ana Maria Taigi!! What a woman....and Bl. Conchita Cabrera. Both heroes of mine.

  4. Through this (EXCELLENT) post I found your (EXCELLENT) blog, and now am trying to figure out how to applaud while typing while laughing at your Christmas post about Baby Jesus and your toddler. I may spend all day on your blog. Good thing my laundry is folded.

    1. Thanks, Nancy! you're way ahead of me with the laundry...

  5. Well written.. Thanks for these thoughts..

    I think the quote "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze." is by St Catherine of Siena and not St Catherine of Genoa.

  6. What book on St. Gianna and St. Catherine do you recommend? I love Bl. Zelie, she will be on my next post. And I love your blog, by the way. You're going to be on my blogroll.