Helping Our Children Grow in Wisdom: Advice from Parents of Saints


At Pentecost we received, among others, the gift of wisdom, a gift that directs the mind and will to increasingly love and follow God’s will. Wisdom helps us to get our priorities straight, prompting us to seek God first and to love His creation as He wills it to be loved.

Our job as parents is to help instill this heavenly perspective in our children who depend on us to set them off in the right direction. Daunting, though not impossible, job indeed, we can look to the parents of saints for some advice on how to do it.

Advice from the Martins: Face The Right Direction Yourselves

Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, proud parents of St. Therese, doctor of the Church, and four other saintly daughters, guided their ship surely toward God by first being firmly directed toward Him. In The Father of the Little Flower St. Therese’s sister Celine remarks that her parents made God’s abode “in the centre of their hearts” which were “all devoted to His service” (p. 5). The result, of course, was a beautiful one: a home wholly orientated toward serving God, the daughters of the Martins naturally facing in the same direction of their parents, working together to reach heaven as a family.

Advice from the Roncallis: Lift Your Children Up

When our children’s perspective is failing and their priorities seem out of whack, sometimes they need us to life them up to help regain a sense of what’s truly important. Now-Saint Pope John XXIII recalled a few instances of how his parents did this for him.

By his dad:

“When, following his election as Pope, he was carried on the sedia gestatoria for the first time on November 4, 1958, John XXIII recalled a time in his childhood when he was carried on his father’s shoulders: ‘Once again I am being carried, carried aloft by my sons. More than seventy years ago I was carried on the shoulders of my father at Ponte San Pietro. The secret of everything is to let oneself be carried by God, and so to carry him to others.’”

And his mom:

“Angelo’s first memory of childhood was of a pilgrimage to a local shrine, the Madonna delle Caneve. By the time his pregnant mother arrived at the shrine on foot, carrying her two youngest and leading the other three, aged 4, 5, and 6, the church was full and they could not get inside. But that did not deter Marianna, who lifted the children up one after the other to look through the window. ‘My mother lifted me up,’ Angelo recalled, ‘and said, ‘Look, Angelino, look how beautiful the Madonna is. I have consecrated you wholly to her.’”(St. James Cathedral, Seattle)

Advice from St. Monica: Keep Praying!

Ah, St. Monica, every mother’s hope when the children seem to be achingly lost. St. Monica is our precious example of the wonders that the tenacity of a mother’s prayers can work on even the most difficult of cases. When a child seems irrevocably stuck on a dangerous path, we need to take heart in the beautiful example of St. Monica’s answered prayers and lean on her to join us in supplication for the restoration of wisdom in our children.

Raising children to love and follow God is difficult but not impossible. Let’s not forget the help we have in our heavenly friends and intercessors to assist our children advance in wisdom and grace.

Copyright 2014 Meg Matenaer


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