Your Labor of Love
by Agnes Penny
You Are Not Alone
"That you become not slothful, but followers of them, who
through faith and patience shall inherit the promises." (Hebrews 6:12)
When you are feeling lonely, you may find consolation in becoming acquainted
with some of the wives and mothers who belong to the Church Triumphant in Heaven.
Reading their biographies, praying to them, imitating their virtues and asking
them for their prayers may aid you in your spiritual life and console you in
your hours of trouble.
You have many Saints from which to choose: St. Anne the mother of Our Lady
and grandmother of Jesus, is the patron saint of housewives and of mothers in
labor. St. Felicity, we are told, was mocked by the Roman prison guards for
crying out in pain while she gave birth to her baby in a prison cell. (Isn't
it consoling to think that even a holy martyr did not bear childbirth in silence?
You can see there is no need to be overanxious about appearing stoic before
your husband and your doctor when you remember this Saint.) St. Perpetua, her
companion, nursed her baby boy in prison while awaiting her martyrdom. St. Frances
of Rome is famous for not letting anything, even her prayers, cause her to neglect
her domestic duties; we are told that one day she was interrupted at prayer
fives times by household concerns, and each time she attended to the household
problem without complaining, and then returned to her prayer. When she opened
her prayerbook for the fifth time, the prayer she had been saying was written
in gold. St. Dorothy of Montau lived a very difficult but heroic life with a
wild, unloving husband (who eventually repented and converted) and with several
sickly children. St. Bridget of Sweden brought up her eight children so piously
that one of her daughters, St. Catherine of Sweden (also known as Karin of Sweden),
was canonized as well. St. Elizabeth Seton was a wife, mother, convert and widow
who educated her own children and others by founding a religious order. St.
Margaret of Scotland helped her husband rule their country wisely and peacefully,
so that she brought not only her immediate family closer to God, but her entire
nation as well. Some women find Blessed Anna Maria Taigi particularly appealing
because, unlike many other canonized wives, she did not enter a convent in later
years, but spent her entire life ministering to her husband and seven children.
And God has seen fit to keep the body of this humble housewife incorrupt.
Reading the life of Venerable Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux,
may also be especially helpful because she led a very holy and yet very ordinary
life as a wife and mother. Women with medical complications might pray to Blessed
Gianna Beretta Molla, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer when expecting her
fourth child and chose to die rather than abort her baby, who survived birth
and is still alive today. Even more recently, Maria Corsini and her husband,
Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi, were beatified for their great example of Christian
marriage and parenthood (three of their four children gave their lives to God
as priests or nuns) and for courageously sheltering refugees in Italy during
World War II. And there are many more wives and mothers recognized by the Church
for their holiness, such as St. Rita, St Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Monica, St.
Sylvia, St Hedwig, St. Helen, St. Jeanne de Chantal, St. Matilda, St. Louise
de Marillac, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Margaret Clitherow, et cetera, for
Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, understands our need for models of married
life and motherhood to help us along the pathway of sanctity.
Pray to these Saints. Look for their biographies. We will try to discuss as
many of them as we can in this short work, but additional information may be
useful to you. Remember that these women went through the discomforts of pregnancy,
sometimes with a cold husband or unsympathetic in-laws; they wept when they
felt sick or scared or lonely, and ultimately they found strength in Christ.
Weep with them, talk to them, especially if you have few or no friends who have
embraced motherhood at the same time as you. Then be sure to make friends with
these women who have endured what you are enduring and who have triumphed in
Seeking Physical Comfort
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory in
Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and
confirm you, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10)
When a woman is feeling sick or suffering minor ailments of body or mind, it
is all too common for her to seek consolation in pleasure, especially by eating
too much junk food. An expectant mother faces even greater temptation to justify
gluttony because friends tell her she is "eating for two." Furthermore,
she may very well be experiencing unusually strong cravings, or if she is suffering
from morning sickness, she must eat whatever food does not actually repel her.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with satisfying a craving or enjoying good
food, but an expectant mother is very vulnerable, and she must guard against
seeking all her comfort in these fleeting pleasures and also be wary of developing
habits that will be hard to break after the baby is born. The bottom line is
this: if a woman's prayer life is strong, then her strength will come from God,
and she will not feel the need to overindulge herself in physical comforts;
if her prayer life is weak, then she will naturally turn to something - frequently,
food - to fill the void within her.
A strong prayer life is indispensable to your spirituality and growth in holiness.
Morning prayers, first of all, turn your attention to God from the very start
of the day; a Morning Offering is especially beneficial, for in it, you offer
all the work, sufferings and joys of the day to God, so that all that you think,
say or do all day long becomes a prayer. For your night prayers, kneel down
(if you can!) and go over your day from God's perspective; thank Him for any
blessings you have received or goals you have accomplished; beg His forgiveness
for any sins or imperfections you see in yourself; ask His help in all that
is troubling you; and call down His grace upon your loved ones. Beginning and
ending your day with God is crucial if you want to have any kind of relationship
with Him at all.
However, this is not enough. If you want to grow closer to Christ, all the
Saints agree you must spend at lesat fifteen minutes a day with Him, aside from
morning and night prayers. Thsi will fill the void in your soul. If you are
not used to doing this, now is the perfect opportunity; pregnancy is a time
of preparation, of spiritual renewal, as well as of great personal need. Try
it. It is easy. The method most highly recommendedis to find a good spiritual
book - the Gospels, above all others - and read one section or chapter slowly
and prayerfully. Any time you feel an inspiration to pray, stop reading and
converse with Him who is always listening. When you have no more to say, continue
reading in a like manner. If you feel no inclination to stop and pray, read
the chapter again, even more slowly. God will see your effort and perseverance
and will be more pleased with your continued attempts than He would be with
the most eloquent prayers. If, over several days, you still feel unmoved, perhaps
you could try another book. Not all spiritual writers appeal to everyone, and
even different books within the Bible itself may move you in varying degrees
at different points of your life.
This, my Friend, is the only antidote to the void in your heart; you can turn
to food as so many others have done, but food alone will not satisfy you. You
can turn to your husband, and he may help you, but even he cannot give what
he does not have. He cannot take the place of the Infinite God in your life;
only prayer, conversation with God, will truly lead you closer and closer to
a more intimate, more deeply satisfying relationship with Christ than you ahve
Accepting Your Vocation
"But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and
keep it." (Luke 11:28)
Christ's reply to the woman in the crowd who blessed His mother can be a little
disturbing. (See above.) At first it sounds as though He may be disparaging
motherhood, or expressing ingratitude toward His own mother. (According to Scripture
scholars, the word translated as "rather" in this passage means something
like "indeed also," instead of expressing opposition or contrast.
-Publisher, 2003.) But neither of these attitudes would be consistent with the
rest of His teaching. Therefore, whawt does He mean by His words?
Perhaps He is telling us whawt aspect about His mother, and about all mothers,
is most precious in His sight. It was Mary's fiat - "Be it done unto me
according to thy word" - that is most precious in His sight. It was Mary's
fiat that proved her worthy. Int is our obedience that makes us worthy. Mary's
salvation came to her through being God's Mother, just as our salvation comes
to us through our vocation as mothers. But what is it about motherhood that
brings salvation? It is our acceptance of motherhood, with all its discomforts
and sacrifices, that makes our souls beautiful to God. Christ was obedient unto
death - reversing Adam's Original Sin of direct disobedience to God. Our Lady
co-operated in His plan of salvation, uttering her fiat, her statement of absolute
obedience to the Divine Will, thus reversing Eve's Original Sin. We must follow
her lead, making our fiat to God, accepting our new vocation and all that comes
During pregnancy, concentrate on uniting your will more than ever to the Divine
Will. Accept with joy the trials that God sends y ou. Try not to rebel against
Him when you feel tired or sick or lonely, but ask Him for the strength to be
among theose blessed who "hear the word of God and keep it." For those
who were not desiring to conceive, and thus found out about their motherhood
with more dismay than delight, remember that it is never too late to accept,
and even embrace, your motherhood. You have a greater challenge, but also a
greater opportunity to grow in holy resignation, to acquire a spirit of obedience,
and to learn hwo to trust in God. Meditate often on the infinite wisdom and
goodness of God, who brings good out of evil and rewards those who have confidence
in Him. Do not be weighed down by worry or feelings of guilt, but allow yourself
to be joyful and excited about the precious innocent life growing within you.
Our Lord does not want us to be down-hearted or guilt-ridden; He wants us to
confess our sins and then to start anew, which means accepting our situation
and using it to grow in love and trust in Him.
But how can we accept sufferings with joy? By bearing in mind always that we
are suffering for love - most obviously, for love of our baby: this new, innocent
little person ensconced so securely in our womb. But we are also suffering for
Jesus, our crucified Saviour. What can we give Him for all that He has done
for us? Do not our cheerful offerings please Him and console His Heart, so saddened
by the sins of the world?
Taken from Your
Labor of Love by TAN Books
& Publishers, Inc.
Other pages discussing Catholic
doctrine and history:
- Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Sacred Heart
of Jesus - Learn all about this beautiful devotion to Our Lord.
- The Shroud of Our Lord -
Discusses the convroversy over the Shroud of Turin - is it real or a forgery? Evidence points to its authenticity.
- Infinite Mercy of Jesus - Learn how
the Heart of Jesus has a strong desire to love and pardon sinners who sincerely return to Him.
- The Blessed Virgin Mary
- The Blessed Virgin Mary
- Immaculate, pure, and our most powerful intercessor after Our Lord
- The Holy Slavery
- To Jesus, through Mary -- the same way Jesus came to us (through His Mother)
- Edifying and Beautiful -
Learn about God's Providence in regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary, her graces and merits, the details of her life!
- Our Lady of Fatima - Her predictions and warning for the future.
- Saints who Saw Mary
- Tells the story of 17 great Saints who saw and heard the Blessed Mother, whom they were so devoted to!
- History and Culture
- Wearing Pants Incites Men to Lust
- Learn how women's fashions have corrupted, how evil forces are behind most modern fashions, and much more! Includes practical advice.
- How to Run a Catholic Family
- Discusses how to bring the Catholic Faith into family life! How the family can best celebrate feast days, and make use of good Catholic customs.
- A TRUE History Book -
This premise of this history book: The coming of Jesus Christ was the most important event in history.
- Catholic History Workbook -
Fascinating; hard to put down! It makes more sense of History than secular books which explain things in a disjointed manner.
- Homeschooling Workbook -
With questions for every chapter of Christ in the Americas - multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/false, and more!
- Crisis in the Church
- Read about St. Athanasius - faithful and courageous, known as the "champion of orthodoxy". One of the 33 Doctors of the Church!
- St. Athanasius - The great defender of the Catholic Faith against Arianism
- Crisis in the Church - How the enemies of God plot to overthrow the Church from within.
- Revolution in the Church - How Vatican II and its aftermath caused a crisis in the Catholic Church.
- Freemasonry - Pope Leo XIII unmasks this evil society, and forbids all Catholics to join.
- Combination of ALL Heresies - Pope St. Pius X unmasks the Modernists, giving us their doctrine and methods!
- Vatican II - Impartially discusses what happened at Vatican II -- mostly quotes from the men that were there!
- Fascinating if true - A man's deathbed confession.
- St. Therese, the Little Flower
- St. Therese the Little Flower - Under obedience, she tells the story of her childhood, religious life, etc.
- Mother of St. Therese - Learn about the woman who raised 5 saintly daughters, all of which entered the religious life!
- Father of St. Therese - Learn about the man who let the holy family of Lisieux so well, that his 5 daughters entered a convent!
- From the Sister of St. Therese - In her biography, she writes many things not found in
Story of a Soul.
- Lives of the Saints
- Learned Mystic and Theologian -
St. John of the Cross suffered greatly, even prison, for the Carmelite Reform. Father of the Discalced Carmelites.
- Beautiful story of a young girl -
Anne de Guigne was clever and passionate, yet practiced humility and all the other virtues -- and she died at the age of 10.
- Refuge for Billions of Catholics -
Catholics have always prayed to these saints in their necessities. St. Blaise, St. Christopher, etc. Includes countless novenas!
- St. Anne - Grandmother of Our Lord -
According to Ven. Mary of Agreda, she possessed all the virtues, especially purity. Learn more about her!
- Young Italian Maiden -
Who suffered the Stigmata every Friday, and was pious from her youth. St. Gemma Galgani, called the "Gem of Christ"
- Heroic Chastity -
Read how St. Maria Goretti had to give up her life to preserve her purity! She is called the patroness of youth.
- All Glory to Almighty God -
Well documented cases of the miraculous taken from the lives of the Saints. Fascinating!
- Defeated Persian Sorcerers -
The glorious life of St. Jude Thaddeus, Apostle and cousin of Our Lord, as taken from ancient Catholic traditions.
- Angels and Devils -
Learn all that Scripture and Tradition teaches us about the pure spirits God created. Fascinating and enlightening!
- Life of Mary Magdalen - Learn fascinating details of her life that you didn't know before! From the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich.
- The Angel of the Judgment
- At a critical point in Church history, his preaching and miracles served as a warning of impending chastisement.
- Miracles All His Life -
The miraculous was very common in the life of St Gerard Majella, great saint and Patron of Expectant Mothers.
- Eyewitness to Gospel events -
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich saw so many biblical events in her visions. Be inspired and edified by her virtuous life!
- United with Jesus Christ -
She suffered for souls and for the Church, and received countless visions all her life. One man wrote down her visions for YOUR sake!
- Never a Moment Wasted
- this zealous missionary and client of Our Lady is a model for all Catholics. Read about his saintly life.
- She saw her Guardian Angel
- this innocent girl tells us the story of her saintly life -- beautiful, inspiring!
- Servants of Satan
Establish Paganism - Astrology, witchcraft, and countless systems of idolatry
set up after the Confusion of Tongues.
- Fervent Catholic Indians - Father De Smet was like an Apostle, suffering greatly to bring the True Religion to the Native American peoples.
- Classic Sermons for Lent - On the Last Things, aimed at moving you to serve God even more
faithfully. By St. Francis de Sales.
- Those Who Met St. Padre
Pio - Stories of conversions, miracles, etc. from those who met this living Crucifix. Recently canonized.
- Beat Up by the Devil
- This great Saint had prophetic visions in the form of dreams, and often physically struggled with the devil.
- Life of St Gertrude
- Our Lord appeared to her many times, and she was much loved by Him because of her purity.
- Jesus Dearly Loved Her
- Because of her love and confidence in him, her heart was His favorite place to dwell, after the Blessed Sacrament.
- The Dolorous Passion - Giving never before seen details of Our Lord's Passion! From
the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich.
- Braving the English
Torture - St. Margaret Clitherow was a wife and mother - and she kept the Faith even to martyrdom!
- Details of The Good Thief - Learn about his life with a gang of brigands, how he helped the
Holy Family, and much more.
- Classic Catholic Sermons - You won't fall asleep here! Sermons by a Doctor of the Church, filled with energy and the spirit of Faith.
- Miracles Taking Place Today - St. Philomena is famous for the number of miracles surrounding her shrine - here are some of them.
- Isabella of Spain - A holy Catholic queen, and a valiant defender of Christ's kingdom.
- St Anthony - the Wonder Worker - His life was filled with proofs that God was with him.
- St Vincent de Paul - famous for his charities, this great Saint was canonized only 77 years after his death!
- The Cure of Ars - Three of him could destroy the devil's kingdom! Read about his physical struggles with Satan.
- St. Rita - Nothing is impossible with God! Her life is an example for us all, especially to mothers.
- Sermons of St. Francis de Sales - Here he speaks all about the kinds of prayer.
Learn what (and what not) to do!
- St. Teresa of Avila - She founded many convents, which were to adhere to the strict observance of the Carmelite Rule.
- St. Elizabeth of Hungary - Known for her generosity to the poor
- Alexandrina - A victim soul who suffered the Passion on Fridays
- The Spiritual Life
- Jesus, Prisoner of Love
- Meditations on the most beautiful doctrine of the Catholic Faith - the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
- Spiritual Exercises
- Written by a great saint, these meditations have converted millions of souls.
- Manual of the Spiritual Life - Your duties as a penitent toward your confessor/spiritual director.
- Lessons from Calvary - 31 meditations on Our Lord's Passion that will help you to easily avoid sin.
- Finding Peace of Heart
- Only by knowing how to follow God's will, can a person be truly happy.
- Strategy for Getting to Heaven - We must learn how the devil works on us, how to avoid his snares, to win the "War for our Souls".
- How to Fight the Deadly Sins - Timeless advice on how to combat each of the Capital sins.
- A Manual for Confession -
How to benefit from the Sacrament of Penance: common pitfalls, scruples, how to make a good exam of conscience, and much more.
- Seven Deadly Sins -
Learn about the different forms of pride, avarice, lust, anger, envy, gluttony and sloth.
- How to Pray Well -
How we should pray to God - with confidence, perseverance, simplicity. Advice from St. Alphonsus Liguori!
- Marriage & Family
- How to Raise Good Catholic Children - With examples from the saints and wise and thoughtful commentary - a must-read for every parent!
- Haunted by Children She Aborted - Testimony from her own mouth: how she had 7 abortions, and how her life changed afterward.
- Catholic Doctrine on Marriage - Common sources of marital strife and how to avoid them, the differences between the sexes, periodic abstinence, and more.
- Your Labor of Love - The author talks about isolation, sufferings, the modern culture, and more.
- Spiritual Growth during Pregnancy - How expecting a child can bring a woman closer to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Includes much practical advice.
- St. Joseph
- St. Joseph - After Our Lady, the holiest mere man who ever lived
- Privileges of St. Joseph - Why St. Joseph receives so much honor in the Church
- Novenas to St. Joseph -
Universal Patron - Pray to St. Joseph for all of your needs - Jesus, now in Heaven, still listens to him as a father!
- The Last Things/Afterlife
- Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven - The Saints always thought about their last end, and so should we. Brings the reality of eternity before your eyes!
- Life Everlasting - Discusses death, judgment, heaven and hell; also the vices and virtues
- Beyond the Grave -
What we know about Purgatory from sacred history and the lives of the saints.
- Peaceful Rest or Almost Like Hell? - Discusses the two opposing Catholic viewpoints on the subject of Purgatory.
- Purgatory - Learn what the Catholic Church has always taught on this subject.
- What Will Hell be Like? - Discusses the sufferings of Hell in detail.
- Eternity of Hell - Including a story from a soul who was sent there!
- Catholic Doctrine and Dogma
- What is Sanctifying Grace? -
Learn all about the nature of Grace, what it does for us, how to increase it in our souls, and its importance.
- Catholic Dogma of Grace - God's grace vs. man's ability to merit for his actions.
- Sin and Forgiveness - True Catholic doctrine with quotes from Scripture and the Fathers.
- The Intellect of the Angels - What Catholic theology says about the angels.
- Simple Easy-to-Understand Catechism - For Catholics to better learn their faith, or to give to possible converts.
- Sodomy Condemned -
The Catholic Church has always condemned this unnatural vice - see proofs from the Magisterium, Church laws, Scripture, canons, and more!
- The Mass Keeps the World in Existence - and other lofty considerations; helps Catholics
appreciate the real value of the Mass.
- The Catholic Mass - Why it is so priceless; relates actual events which prove it!
- The Catholic Faith - Easy to read and follow, using the most solid Catholic doctrine. Very thorough.
- What Does The Bible Say About Marriage? - Find all Bible quotes about "Anger", for example, gathered into one page.
- Defending the Faith/Apologetics
- The REAL Luther - From the pens of Protestant historians, and Luther's own (foul) mouth -
learn about the real man.
- The Faith of our Fathers - A topic-by-topic explanation of what the Catholic Faith teaches. Great for apologetics!
- The Bible Explained - Why were all those various stories placed in the Bible for us to read? Here is why!
- How Christ Changed Society - Compare the ancient world with the world influenced by Christ.
- Scripture Alone for Salvation? - Even the Bible itself denies this! Read 21 compelling
reasons why Tradition is also necessary.
- The Bible is a Catholic book - Convincing arguments show clearly that criticism of the Catholic Church has no truthful basis! Excellent apologetics based on history.
- Defend Catholic Dogmas - Find rational arguments for what Catholics believe.
- Theory of Evolution
- Evolution Hoax Debunked -
A learned scientist discovers that there is no evidence FOR Evolution, but plenty AGAINST it!
- Proofs against Evolution -
Plenty of evidence against Evolution is out there, but it is often ignored by the media. Fascinating!
- Evolution is a
Fraud - So say countless biologists and scientists! Read more...
- King of Jerusalem
- Balwin IV of Jerusalem leads the Crusaders in this exciting novel.
- Exciting Adventures
- Tom Playfair and his friends at a Jesuit boarding school. Exciting, Catholic, fun!
- More Catholic Adventures
- written by Fr. Finn - Percy Wynn meets Tom Playfair and friends, and enters the boarding school (St. Maure's).
- Perpetual Motion Boy
- The Fr. Finn boarding school universe expands with Claude Lightfoot and other interesting characters.
- That Football Game
- written by Fr. Finn - Which is more important? English class, a math competition, or an upcoming football game?
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