I take much inspiration from the Saints. I enjoy reading several different Saint-of-the-day and "lives of the Saints" type books regularly. I have a great devotion and love of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Monica, St. Gianna Molla, and St. Anne (my middle namesake) and of course the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of all the Angels and Saints. Personally I find so much comfort and solace in their lives as they were human and lived in a corrupt and fallen world just as we do today. When I read about a particular Saint and become inspired by their example, it creates an enthusiasm and energy within me to share it with my family and to enter more deeply in praying for others through these blessed people. I also find that if I miss a few days of readings that my focus seems to shift into a more hurried and unfettered approach to my day, rather than a prayerful examination of the day or week ahead. I love this quote from my newest Liturgical Year resource, The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, previously out-of-print:
"The Saints, Our Lord, and Our Lady are our teachers, and they teach us in many delightful and beautiful ways. We should invite them into our homes every day of the year, joining our prayers to theirs, asking them to pray with us, now and then (when we have the time) creating a happy custom with which to celebrate their feasts. We are not without calculation in this matter. We look for profit and gain. A man is known by the company he keeps."
This really hits home with me. "A man is known by the company he keeps." So, what company are you keeping these days??? Are you clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, tending the sick?? As mothers (and especially SAH mothers) this is *the* vocation isn't it??
Are you looking to a secular medium to gain perspective and affirmation??
On top of it add home education and we are also entering into a grand discipleship with our children and their path heavenward. This discipleship I take very seriously and my secret weapon is teaching and celebrating the lives of the Saints that pepper our Liturgical Year calendars. We have a duty and obligation as put forth by the Magisterium to be first and foremost the educators of our children, so this would naturally follow that the Liturgical Year is pretty important in the eyes of the Church, therefore it is important for my Domestic Church as well.
Now, how to live out the beauty of the liturgical year in the Domestic Church? For our family, it means bringing the lives of the Saints into our homes on a regular basis and joining our prayers with theirs, sometimes begging, sometimes asking a mere intention for those less fortunate or hurting. But they are truly company and we dress up our days with feasting their presence in our lives. The mere thought of an approaching Feast sets a different tone within the family and gives them a longing and joy to keep the company of these fine souls that God created to go before us into his divine Kingdom.
Our current liturgical season is Ordinary Time. This is such a beautiful time before Advent and the beginning of the new Church calendar, and in my mind really sets the tone for Catholics. Ordinary Time gives us the basis with which we need in order to prepare for the higher times in the Liturgical Year such as Christmas and Easter. I love how Catholic Culture defines Ordinary Time:
"The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life - with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing."
Isn't that just perfect and beautiful?? It's clearly a cue for me to take this idea and encourage it to blossom and grow within our family as we mature in our faith together.
We are currently celebrating the month of the Holy Rosary for October and this gives us a lead in to renew our devotion to this beautiful and prayerful time with Our Lord and his Mother. If you've fallen away from saying your Rosary, I implore you to start small with this powerful prayer and begin with a decade each day. Pretty soon, you'll truly start to notice the graces in which our Sweet Mother can bestow upon you, it truly is remarkable.
From A Moment With Mary: "The Rosary is both meditation and supplication. Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. She is “all-powerful by grace,” to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady. This is a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people.
The supreme poet Dante expresses it marvelously in the lines sung by Saint Bernard: “Lady, thou art so great and so powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings.”
When in the Rosary we plead with Mary, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35), she intercedes for us before the Father who filled her with grace, and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us."
This is so beautiful and I have to fully agree with Dante and St. Bernard, “that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings.”
St. Augustine says, “If they, why not I? – If these men and women could become saints, why cannot I with the help of him who is all-powerful?” He also says in his Confessions: “My desire now was not to be more sure of You, but more steadfast in You.”
I personally feel that desiring to be more steadfast in the Lord by living and breathing the liturgical year can lead to sainthood, this is what I desire for my dear children, we are keeping the company of the Saints as often as possible!
Admittedly, it can be difficult surrounding ourselves with the Saints. We seem to somehow become less or displaced within our own sins, but this is all the more reason to immerse our focus on the Saint’s lives and to bury ourselves in Our Lady’s mantle, the safest haven for solace and comfort.
We have been enjoying many wonderful Saints throughout the month (and year). As month's end approaches we can also renew the “company we are keeping” by celebrating the wonderful Feast of All Saints Day on November 1st. To me this is the pinnacle or climax of our Autumn celebrations in Ordinary Time and gives us pause before we head into the season of Advent.
Some wonderful sources for your perusal:
Starting Small, or Baby Steps to Keepng the Company of the Saints:
1. Identify Saints to be celebrated for each week and find a reading about them (check links above online, or here's a lovely recent post on choosing Saint's books)
2. Locate a holy card or image, statue of Saint and a candle (or several candles)
3. Designate a prayer table or area in your home for setting up your display (kitchen table works great for us)
4. Plan one activity to start: Mass, cake, tea, craft, special meal or truly, any combination of these, for the Saints, the skies the limit, but remember to start small
5. Plan to say a prayer or begin a Novena to the Saint (or Mary) to be celebrated
These are the very basic and simple ways to begin keeping the company of the Saints. When celebrating keep in mind the meaning a Saint may have for your family (namesake of a child or parent) then you will celebrate accordingly. Some days it's grand and royal, some days more casual and low-key, remember, we're striving for action, not marathons or keeping UP with the Jones' :) You're on a path heavenward, keep it simple!
My next piece of advice, Just Do It!! I know a little corny, but hey if Nike can get it to work, then why not for celebrating the Saints :) Play special music during your celebration, encourage respect and reverence for the occaision. Light a candle or several and begin with a prayer, "Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them a spirit of love." Follow with your reading for that Saint and any other special prayers. Do your craft or have your treats. Always finish with a prayer asking the celebrated Saint to intercede for your family and any other intentions. It will be wonderful and you will love it as much as your dear children!! You will be creating a tapestry of love for your children and yourselves and you will find delight in asking these Holy people into your home. It will be the best company you keep! I Promise!!
Many blessings in ALL your Saintly celebrations! This post is lovingly dedicated to my special friend in ALL THINGS SAINTLY, dear Alice at Cottage Blessings :)