This morning we celebrated the Mass for St. Hedwig. She was a very pious and generous woman, the daughter of the Duke of Croatia, and a devoted wife and mother. There are a couple of things that struck me about St. Hedwig. First of all, she would take on physical penances for the sake of the sick and the poor. In his sermon, Father mentioned that we should consider similar practices in our own spiritual lives. For example, getting out of bed 30 minutes earlier and offering the discomfort this causes as an act of redemptive suffering is a form of physical penance. Fasting or abstinence from meat is another. These acts of self-denial help us to become more detached from our earthly lives and more focused on our journey towards Heaven.
The second fact I learned from Argent’s post on St. Hedwig. St. Hedwig was the maternal aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The reason this detail resonated with me is that I have been spending a lot of time reading and writing on the importance of the family in developing and strengthening the Faith. It is interesting how many times canonized saints runs in families. Certainly, St. Anne as the mother of Blessed Virgin Mary merits sainthood. St. Monica (my personal favorite as the patron of nagging mothers) and her son St. Augustine are another family pair. St. Eulampia and Eulampius were sister and brother who were martyred for the Faith in the fourth century.
This morning I was exercising and listening to a podcast by Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. He was discussing the five pillars that support a Catholic family. The first pillar is to know why God made us. Our family must reflect that our earthly life is just a journey towards our eternal life in Heaven. God made us to know him, to love him, to serve him, to adore him, and to reside with him in Heaven. Therefore, the family must keep all of its members oriented towards Heaven. Husband and wife must lead each other to Heaven. Parents must lead their children to Heaven. Siblings must lead one another to Heaven.
I have been doing a series of posts on keeping your kids Catholic. It is important to refocus on why we want to keep our children Catholic. It is not a matter of earthly pride or joy. Though I admit, the mental image of my children, grown with families of their own and all still faithful to the Church is very satisfying. Still, the purpose of all of our efforts to keep our children Catholic is because we believe this is the path to Heaven. None of my children may be canonized, but I do pray they will each someday reside with God in Heaven. I pray they will each become a saint.