Every morning, our homeschool day begins with me reading aloud to the kids from a book about a saint. Oh, how rich these stories are! The first one we read together was Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi by Helen Walker Homan. Reading a chapter a morning, my children were surprised to hear how Francis wasn’t such a holy child in his youth! He and his friends were quite mischievous, which provided many laughs, and also helped us all to understand better how God makes saints of all sorts of people.
We also read about sweet St. Catherine of Siena, and how, in contrast to St. Francis, she had heart for God as a child and longed to live only for Jesus from an early age. We read about the confidence and bravery of St. Joan of Arc and we have read about the humble beginnings and life of St. Jean Marie Vianney.
All of these stories are rich in our Catholic faith, demonstrating how God equips those whom He calls to do His work. As we learn the daily lives of these pious Christians we are challenged to hear how they fasted and did penances not only for their own sins, but passionately sought these sufferings to offer to God for the sins of those around them who were not so interested in the states of their souls.
These books have been a much needed influence of authentic Catholic teaching and living that is hard to find in our modern age. Yes, I have taught my children the faith through their catechism lessons and I am doing what I know how to do in living a life according to our faith. Moreover, we are blessed to not only have three priests at our parish who are all phenomenal homilists, but we are further blessed with the opportunity to work daily Mass into our homeschool schedule every day to hear these men teach us the faith. However, these books are filling a gap for both myself and the children, which is an intimate look into the daily lives and thoughts of everyday people who God drew close to Himself to show us for generations how a Christian could fully live his or her life for God.
I’m not going to be leading the French army in battle in my lifetime, but the way St. Joan suffered no blaspheming of any sort from anyone she was around, soldiers, generals or royalty, was sobering as I chastise no one for such things, save my own children. I won’t be a priest in my lifetime, but I learned from St. Jean Marie Vianney and from St. Francis just how little I could survive on if I placed all of my trust in God. I won’t be a Doctor of the Church like St. Catherine of Siena, but my eyes were opened to how God prepares the called (not calls the prepared) when I learned how God gave her the gift of literacy when she so desired to learn more about Him from the Scriptures.
If you don’t already have the habit, I encourage you to read the lives of the saints for yourself or with your kids! Not just the couple of paragraphs available on his or her feast day, but delve into biographies and be inspired and transformed. Make a new friend in Heaven.
All Holy Men and Women pray for us!