Crosses in Marriage Make Saints

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  November 16, 2017   

John 15:13: "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends"

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God calls all men to holiness by living a life of sacrificial love in community. The four states of life are sanctified single life, married life, priesthood and religious life.

Vatican II stressed the point that holiness isn't just for priests and religious. Paragraph 39 of the Council's document, Lumen Gentium, reads, "[E]veryone, whether belonging to the hierarchy or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: 'For this is the will of God, your sanctification.' ... [It] is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity."

The first married couple to be canonized together, Ss. Louis and Zelie Martin, became saints by carrying their crosses for their family. One such cross for Zelie was her daughter, the now famous St. Therese of Lisieux. Zelie wrote that Therese was "incredibly stubborn. When she has said 'no,' nothing will make her change her mind. One could put her in the cellar for the whole day."

Zelie died when Therese was but four years old. The loss weighed heavily on Louis, who also gave up his five daughters to religious life. Although struggling with loneliness, Louis never hesitated to make such sacrifices.

"It is a great, great honor for me," he said, "that the Good Lord desires to take all of my children. If I had anything better, I would not hesitate to offer it to him."

Carrying crosses for others in the family setting is living sacrificial love. In John 15:13, Christ exalted this form of love: "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." Saint Thomas Aquinas affirms that the friendship between spouses is the rarest form of friendship this side of Heaven. Many hundreds of Catholics have become saints through Holy Matrimony, as this list attests.

Watch the panel discuss this marriage as a path to Heaven in The Download—Married Saints.


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