The saints are our spiritual guides, our companions on life's journey. Their experiences show us the path we are to take in our own lives. In Real Women, Real Saints: Friends for Your Spiritual Journey, Gina Loehr profiles a hundred womenósaints, the blessed, servants of Godówe can use as models of holiness.
REAL WOMEN, REAL SAINTS
Saints’ sanctity never formulaic, not monotonous
Sanctity will never fit into a formula. We were created in the likeness of an infinite God whose grandeur surpasses all earthly categories. The more perfectly we embrace this divine image, as the saints have done, the more expansive we become. That's why we can't reduce the saints to a sappy stereotype or a monotonous mold. Holiness is too vast for such boring minimalism....
Just as many different instruments merge into the melodic glory of an orchestra, so too this radical diversity of the communion of saints blends into one magnificent hymn of praise to God. The communion is the result of a common union: union with Jesus Christ....
The Catholic Church doesn't create these virtuous souls out of thin air, of course. Canonization can't make saints; it merely offers a public acknowledgement that a particular person in indeed in heaven, sharing the company of countless other saints who will never receive this earthly pronouncement....
Indeed, the Church recognizes the value of having specific role models and helpers to assist us during the course of our daily lives. This is why certain saints are given patronage of particular groups, activities or situations, which are usually connected with some aspect of their lives. In this way we can develop special relationships with saints whose causes align closely with our personal needs.
And so we turn to the saints for guidance on our own spiritual journey. Like them, we seek to nurture faith, hope and love, the theological virtues planted in the soul at baptism. Like them, we strive to cultivate all the cardinal virtues—prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. And as they once did, we call upon the intercession of that ever-growing blessed communion in heaven, those spiritual companions who through their prayers continue "to do the good" from their celestial watch posts on high.
St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440)
Life can seem like a battle of wills: Our will versus God's will. We sometimes fight God's plan when it challenges our own. Emotional attachment to our plans—or emotional resistance to God's--can obscure the wisdom of his ways.
The virtue of prudence produces peace in this battle. It enables us to look at a situation reasonably instead of just reacting emotionally.
As a twelve-year-old girl, St. Frances of Rome was stuck on her own will. She wanted to be a nun. When her father chose a young nobleman for her to marry, Frances stubbornly refused. She cried and prayed, not that God's will be done but that he would prevent the marriage. In the midst of this, her confessor asked her, "Are you crying because you want to do God's will or because you want God to do your will?"
Frances finally agreed to marry, surrendering to God's apparent plan for her life. She embraced her new vocation as wife and became the mother of three sons, but she still longed to be united to God through prayer and service. Her sister-in-law also wanted to live a devout life instead of bowing to the cultural rituals of the wealthy Roman housewives in their social circle. The two women would pray together in a makeshift chapel in an abandoned tower of the family palace.
Then they ventured out to serve the poor of the city. Eventually Frances founded a lay community of women, the Oblates of Mary, who faithfully served the poor and sick during the Roman famine and the plagues of the time.
For all her piety and devotion, Frances never lost sight of her primary vocation as a married woman. While she might have desired to be elsewhere at times (a feeling many women can no doubt relate to), she always put her family first. She offered these words of wisdom to other wives: "It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping."
Frances continued to live with her husband until his death, after which she took up residence with the Oblates, becoming their superior at age fifty-two. In the end God granted her the desire of her heart, to live as a bride of Christ.