Day in and day out I struggle to be a saintly wife and mother. It seems as though there's always some new weakness I have to overcome. It can be discouraging. As soon as I feel I'm getting anywhere there's a new "bump" in the road. One step forward, then a few steps back. My husband encourages me by telling me that he's seen a difference in me since we started dating, and indeed I have changed many dreadful things when I look at the big picture. But impatience, intolerance, my opinions and temper seem to be lurking around every corner, ready to bite the bait and cause me to fall. I hold very dearly to my heart many women of the Church who I feel are tangible examples of how to live a holy life. In each of their lives I find solace and encouragement. And, the even better part is that only one of them was perfect! The others messed up just like me. Well, maybe not just like me; I mean, they are saints after all and I still have a long way to go. But the journey is part of it. How can we be examples to others if they only see us as perfect, right? I will most likely be referring to these holy and courageous women often.
St Gianna Beretta Molla. If you're a Catholic the name may be familiar to you, either very much so or only a little. Growing up I knew her story and thought her life heroic. But this isn't what did it for me. We weren't yet "spiritual friends" per say. I didn't look to her for guidance or think of her almost every day as I do now. A household sister of mine (I'll get into households later on....) bequeathed me the book "Love Letters to My Husband" by St Gianna.
Intrigued I devoured it. And then re-read it over and over and over again. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for such a gift that I still treasure. My at-the-time-boyfriend (now husband) was being deployed with the United States Marine Corps. I was a sophomore in college and struggling. Our relationship seemed continually challenged by guys paying me attention away at school and friends confusing me because, looking back I honestly think they were jealous of my amazing find in dating such a caring and Catholic man and wanted nothing more than to mess things up. It's a long and rather taxing part of our relationship and so I will save the details and lessons learned for only the two of us to know about. His deployment worried us. Would we make it through these months apart? I would be studying abroad for five of the months and so correspondance would pose even more challenging as I missed many of his phone calls because I was traveling that weekend or I had horrible reception or no more minutes on my pre-paid cell phone. Yet this book was my inspiration. It seemed as though, through these beautiful letters of Gianna and her husband Pietro, I was nudged to keep going when I just want to melt in a corner and cry. Throughout much of their married life they were long-distance as Pietro travelled for work. They did the whole long-distance thing with three young children and here I would be sulking when I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world with no children left for me to tend to alone. Although his safety and the question of "us" remained at the forefront, I took comfort in their beautiful letters to each other. I wanted that so badly- a life and family with him, that is. Now, five years this past October 6th of his returning from overseas, after three blessed years of marriage and two beautiful girls later, we are back to him travelling often for work. St Gianna is always my little "prodder" and at the center of my thoughts when he travels. That poor book is dog-eared, highlighted and torn and I love it. I love the exchanges between them. Come to think of it, I wonder why my husband and I don't write handwritten letters anymore. I literally have boxes of our handwritten letters from previous years. Sometimes I would like to dismiss this digital age and all of its conveniences of texting and emails for something much more tangible. Hmmm, something to think about and try to put into practice. For now, I will have to leave my thoughts here as I hear the rustle of the girls waking from their naps. As one last thought, obviously I haven't even touched on the well-known reasons why this woman is so great and has been priviledged with the title of "saint". This isn't merely to teach a religious lesson but rather to share as to why I have such a connection to her. I have posted a link if you would like more information on her.