Holiness after a lifetime of mourning…
Aleteia English – 10/03/2020
Just like Our Lady, these holy men and women have suffered the torment of losing a child.
Parents who mourn the deaths of their children know that they are not alone, standing as they do with the sorrowful Mother of God. But there is great comfort in the witness of other grieving parents who found holiness after a lifetime of mourning (and some measure of healing in their grief).
St. Emilia of Caesarea (d. 375) was the mother of St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Macrina the Younger. But it was one of her three lesser-known sainted children whose death she witnessed, nearly losing herself in the process. Emilia struggled with the temptation of many mothers to idolize their children and was understandably heartbroken at the death of her son St. Naucratius at age 27. When she was unable to find peace with the loss of her child, her daughter Macrina called on St. Paul, telling her gently but firmly: “It is not right for a Christian to mourn as one who has no hope.” Macrina wasn’t denying her mother’s pain but reminding her of the hope all Christians have that we will meet our loved ones again in heaven. Encouraged by this wisdom, Emilia was able to grieve in a way that didn’t threaten to consume her.
Sts. Peter Choe Chang-hub and Magdalena Son So-Byok (1786-1840, 1801-1840) were the parents of a young daughter when they lost their second child as an infant. And their third. And their fourth. Nine children in a row. All died as infants. Finally, another little girl who survived, a balm for the grieving parents’ souls, though they must surely have ached for the little ones they had buried. In 1839, when their oldest daughter (St. Barbara Choe Yong-i) was a young mother and their youngest daughter was only 2, the family was arrested along with Barbara’s husband (St. Charles Cho Shin-chol). Having entrusted their surviving children to others to raise, all four adults were tortured and martyred.
Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin (1823-1894, 1831-1877) were the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and her sister, Servant of God Léonie Martin. In addition to their other three daughters who lived to adulthood, they had four children who died: a 5-month-old in 1867, an 8-month-old in 1868, a 5-year-old in 1870, and an infant six months later. Through all this, Zélie clung to the hope of heaven, reminding herself, “We shall find our little ones again up above.” This hope sustained her through life and sustained Louis after her death as he sent his daughters to the convent one by one and awaited reunion with the wife and four children he longed to see once more.
Read more (Aleteia English)