During this year's Synod on the Family, Pope Francis canonized Louis and Marie-Azelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese. What's particularly interesting about the Martin family is the vocations that came out of it. The Martin's had 9 children, four of whom died in childhood. Of the five who survived, all girls, each entered the religious life. This true model of holiness in a family has me thinking, what will it take for me to raise a family of saints?
From an American perspective, I think that it's important to address the sheer number of vocations from this particular family. I have two thoughts. First, it's clear that the love of Christ was at the center of this family. Their faith so permeated every aspect of the family life that the only spouse any of their daughters would be satisfied with was Christ Himself. Second, I think it's equally important to note that not every family is called so deeply into the consecrated life. I think this is the message that the Church sends with the Martin family. The religious life can be a path to holiness (and consequently, sainthood), but equally so can the married life be a path to holiness.
As for me, what can I do, working with Alison, to raise a family of saints? I think that I need to first look to myself. I need to move my spiritual life to the next level. I need to work on my prayer life so that it's not an appointment on my calendar, but instead is precious time in my day. I need to spend more time contemplating holiness and working on my own inner flaws. I then need to share my faith with Benedict. He doesn't see me pray in the morning because he's asleep, so I need to find ways to incorporate the rhythm of my prayer life into the day so that we can share it together.
Like any New Years Resolution or fad diet, the allure of a rich spiritual life tempts us to run very hard, very quickly, only leading to burnout. A rich spiritual life can only be attained through perseverance, diligence, and hard work. This is something that will take a lifetime of work, placing the lowest priority on my own needs and the highest priority on the needs of Alison and my family.
It's easy for us to see a family like the Martin's and think that that could never be us, but what we really need to see when we look in the mirror is a future saint. No path is straight, no saint is perfect. We all mess up and we all have to decide for ourselves what kind of life we will lead. Will we embrace the difficult things today in exchange for true happiness, or will we waste our days on those that will be fleeting? We can be saints, and we can raise a family of saints, if we align our desires with the desires of God.