If you could ask a few male saints how they were raised, what do you think they would say? Certainty, every Catholic father wants to raise a saint, but not every father is willing to make the sacrifice or knows where to start.
The Father Of St. Thomas More
Let’s begin with John More, the father of St. Thomas More:
“The following story offers a glimpse into John and Thomas’s simplicity, while at the same time revealing the tremendous love between this father and son, which, after God’s love, became the foundation for Thomas’s future relationships with his wife and children. According to Monti:
The filial love More bore toward his father was as genuine as his love for his children. Thomas’ mother died when he was in his early twenties, but John More lived well into More’s adult life, dying only five years before his illustrious son. In life and in death the younger More manifested his unchanging devotion. Thus while serving as Lord Chancellor it was his habit, on passing through Westminster Hall where John More sat as judge in the Court of the King’s Bench, to pause and kneel down before his father to ask his blessing. This custom of his was all the more notable, for according to the anonymous author of the “Ro: Ba:” biography, at the time “men after their marriages thought themselves not bound to these duties of younger folks.” Thomas was most attentive to his father’s spiritual and bodily needs in his last illness, and when the older More passed away, his son, ‘with tears taking him about the neck, most lovingly kissed and embraced him, commending him into the merciful hands of almighty God’ and causing ‘many good prayers to be said for his soul’s ease.’75
The Father Of St. Ambrose
St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, who was more of a father to St. Augustine than his own father, reaffirms this importance of a father’s blessing in the following words directed at parents. Specifically, Ambrose declared, “You may not be rich; you may be unable to bequeath any great possession to your children; but one thing you can give them [is] the heritage of your blessing. And it is better to be blessed than to be rich.”76
While John More was financially well off and provided Thomas and his siblings with everything they could need in terms of material goods, it was his blessing that Thomas sought daily even well into adulthood. According to one biographer, Peter Ackroyd, “Every morning and evening, when he was a child, he (Thomas) would also have knelt down in reverence before his father.”77
The Father Of St. Josemaría Escrivá
And then there was José Escrivá, the father of St. Josemaría Escrivá:
“In addition to a life of simple prayer, José revealed to his son the importance of spending time with those we love. José loved to take walks through town accompanied by one of his children. On their walks together, José and Josemaría discussed various topics. José listened attentively and imparted wisdom should Josemaría seek advice. Josemaría liked the fact that whenever he asked his father a question, “He always took him seriously.”98 José and Josemaría were best of friends because the father made himself available and “invited him [ Josemaría] to open his heart.”99 Outside of his prayer, nothing seemed more important to José than being with his wife and children. This openness between parents and children as seen in the life of the Escrivás serves as a stepping stone for a child’s relationship with God where they can experience the sheer delight of being loved and realize that prayer is a conversation with God. José became more than just a biological father, but a spiritual father and somewhat quasi-spiritual director.”
Both John More and José Escrivá did nothing spectacular in the world’s eyes, but in their son’s eyes, they did. One revealed the power of blessing his son; the other revealed the power of listening to his son. Every biological father is called to be the domestic priest of his household. You need not do something great in the world’s eyes to win God’s favor; rather, you must only do the little things with great love, that is, being present to your child and loving them as God loves them. Next time your child goes to bed, bless him with holy water. Next time you have a free hour, go on a walk with your child and just listen to him. Every father’s greatest legacy will not be something he leaves on earth; rather, something he takes with him to heaven: his children.
Learn More About The Parents Of The Saints
Source: Parents of the Saints by Patrick O’Hearn, Published by TAN Books (pp. 241-242, 250-251).
As parents, helping our children get to Heaven is of the utmost importance. The only other alternative is Hell, and both destinations are for eternity.
As we look back through history and study the lives of the Saints, it is oftentimes easy to forget the role that the parents of these holy men and women played in their formation and ultimate salvation.
In Parents of the Saints, discover the hidden heroes behind Sts. Faustina, Giana Molla, Josemaría Escrivá, Pope John Paul II, Maximilian Kolbe, Padre Pio, Thérèse, and countless others. Learn how over 100 parents formed their children into great Saints by way of their virtuous lives.
There are seven hallmarks we can associate with the success of these saintly parents:
- Sacramental Life
- Sacrificial love
- Sacredness of Life
Each chapter of this book examines a particular hallmark in depth. If we want our children to get to Heaven, there are few examples we should pay more attention to than the ones put forth here. The time is now to fulfill our vocations as parents and lead our children down the straight and narrow path to salvation.
75 James Monti, The King’s Good Servant but God’s First: The Life and Writings of St. Thomas More (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 78
76 Mellis Muck and Anna Keating, The Catholic Catalogue: A Field Guide to the Daily Acts
77 Peter Ackroyd, The Life of Thomas More (New York: Anchor Books, 1998), 65.
98 de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei, 32. Originally cited by Álvaro de Portillo in Sum. 27 and Javier Echevarria in Sum. 1794.
99 Ibid., 32