If you have watched the movie Marcelino, you cannot miss Manvel – his imaginary friend, whom he spoke to and confided in often. Even though Manvel was just a figment of Marcelino’s imagination, to the little boy he was his constant companion, his friend. So real and tangible was Manvel to Marcelino that in the end he even conquers his fears with the help of this friend.
The saints are a gift from God to us. What a privilege to have these holy people who can be our constant friends and guides through life. They draw our attention to God and show us that a life of sanctity and holiness is attainable. It is an invitation to every single person, not just a chosen few. Every Person has a call and that call is to be holy, to be a saint.
Today’s world offers us many choices. We are faced with choices every day, big and small, but what do we do when we have to choose between our own life and that of another? That can be an extremely difficult decision to make, but not for St Gianna. When it came to the point of choosing between her life and her child’s, she had utmost clarity in her decision. .
During her fourth pregnancy she learned about the fibroma that was growing inside her uterus and the complications that could follow with regard to it. Since she herself was professionally a physician she knew it could cost her, her life. Just a few days before she could give birth this is what she told her husband “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate; choose the child – I insist on it – Save the baby.” How many today would have the courage to do that. This kind of selfless love can only come from a soul that loves God above everything.
St Gianna’s life not only inspires us, but it challenges us to desire and strive for holiness no matter who we are or what we do – be it a mother, a spouse, a professional or a religious. Whatever be our vocation we have a higher calling – that is to love God with all our heart, mind strength and soul . And to be able to say “a willing YES” to all that He asks of us .
A perfect saint for these modern times. She is a role model and an inspiration for all mothers especially those who dabble with the thought of being pro-choice instead of pro-life. Under the banner of “freedom of choice“, many evils have penetrated into our societies. Things that were once considered unacceptable have become a norm today and are being openly proclaimed.
St. Gianna’s choice echoes to the world what Jesus did for us on the cross. In her own words
“Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love”
She stood for what she believed in and her faith was deeply rooted in the conviction that love and suffering went hand in hand. She understood that to love, it must cost much.
Her passion for life was evident in the way she lived her life. Her daily life was nothing extra ordinary but her attitude towards it made all the difference. She embraced life and yet when the moment came to lay it down she did so willingly. Pope John Paul II at one of the international family conference’s remarked that
“her witness was a hymn to life “
Everything in her life stemmed from her deep love for God and the Blessed Virgin. A few of her famous sayings include
“I wish to fear mortal sin as if it were a serpent and I repeat I would die a thousand times rather than offend the Lord.”
“Love the Virgin Mary. She is our tender confidant in difficulty. Mary is the mother who cannot ignore our requests.”
I’m sure just like all of us, she too had weaknesses and there would have been times she might have felt like gratifying her own desires rather than doing the will of God, but in everything she made sure she never did anything to offend the lord.
Even as a Physician, she understood her vocation to be a mission, entrusted to her by God. Through her vocation she sought to help mothers, their babies and the poor more specifically. At her funeral mass, people spoke unendingly about her kindness and mercy and of course the virtuous life she led.
Though I had read about her life a couple of years back and was so edified by it, it was only sometime last year when I was expecting my third baby and developed certain complications that could have been threatening to the baby that I found myself seeking her help and intercession. Today my little girl Gianna (named after the saint) is eight months old and I know St Gianna continues her mission of saving lives through her powerful intercession in heaven.
Let us each look to this saint whose heroic virtue and exemplary life is a testimony of God’s grace and love working in the world.
Some of her quotes, simple yet so profound, give us a peek into the beautiful soul that she was.
“Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything.”
“Lord, keep your grace in my heart. Live in me so that your grace be mine. Make it that I may bear everyday some flowers and new fruit.”
With her assistance and intercession may we glow like little lights radiating the love of God in whatever we say and do.