Day Five, July 7: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Statue of Bl. Louis and St. Therese. Photo by Katie Boos.

Welcome to Day Five of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Five, Beyond All Suffering. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

*Please note that the prayers were written before their canonization, so feel free to substitute and ending like this one:

Deign to grant, O Lord, the graces that I seek,
through the intercession of the Saints Louis and Zélie Martin,

who are now recognized as models for today’s families for the entire Church. Amen.

Join Me in a Novena for Marriages to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin

With the Feast of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin on July 12, I am going to host the novena to them for holy families and marriages. Some of you joined me last year, and I know personally  of several marriages that reaped great graces from the intercession of the Blessed Martins. As they are being canonized this year, we have even more reason to pray to them, and given current events in our country we have even more reason to strive for sanctification in marriage. Another grace filled fact is that the Vatican is supposed to announce their canonization date tomorrow!

I have been written previously about holy families and holy marriages, taking much of my inspiration from the example of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin. You can read about their holy life together here. They lived out their marriage beautifully, centering the family around prayer, and both living lives of heroic virtue. As I wrote my articles, I realized that most marriages do not have an ideal situation for becoming holy. It takes the desire and devotion of both spouses to create a holy marriage, and a marriage that does not embrace all the graces of the Sacrament is missing out.

I am inviting you (and your spouse if he or she desires) to join me and my husband in a novena to Bl. Louis and Zélie Martin (from the site ““Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin: The Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux” run by a very nice lady Maureen O’Riordan) leading up to their Feast day on July 12. The novena will begin in one week on Friday, July 3 and end on Saturday, July 11. On the 12th itself, we will pray a litany to the holy couple. The novena itself has an imprimatur, so it is even Church approved!

If you would like to follow along with me in the novena, I will be posting reminders on this blog, Living With Lady Philosophy. You can sign up to receive emails with the reminders by following my blog by email in the left hand column, or follow the blog in a RSS feed. I will post reminders to Facebook daily.

Here you may also leave your intentions for your marriage or for someone else’s in the comments or you may email me your intention to livingwithladyphilosophy at gmail dot com (skip the spaces and use the actual punctuation), and I will add you to my list. If you wish to remain anonymous just give your first initials (ex. M&S) or your last initial (Mr. &Mrs. S) or even make up initials.

I am so excited to share this powerful novena with you my readers and to have this opportunity to pray for your marriages!

Seven Quick Takes: One for Each Year of Marriage

I married a really amazing guy seven years ago this month (believe it or not I began writing this before our anniversary almost two weeks ago). It is really hard to believe that it has been seven whole years, but I am not sure we could have done everything we have in less than seven years. And none of these things we could have accomplished without Grace and the mutual help we provide each other.

Seven years later, we have 4 children, a PhD (his, not mine), a great job with great colleagues (again, his, not mine), 14 peer reviewed publications (his), an awesome blog (mine), a house perfect for us, friends all over the country, a great parish, and hopefully a life of increasing grace, holiness, and love. And since we have made it seven years, I will take a peek at what each year brought us.

1. Year One: Our first year of marriage began a month after we both earned our Masters of Arts (theology for me, philosophy for him). We had a great wedding with lots of family and friends. We were married in St. Louis, honeymooned in MI, and moved to Buffalo, NY by July.

Our first year was the first of our thriftiness. Together we worked to live on a very small budget. The first summer was hard in many ways as M worked in a factory for six weeks (6:30am-3pm), I battled morning sickness and looked for work, and we worked on establishing friendships. M did everything possible to make way for a four year PhD track, working with his adviser on his Topical even then, excelling in coursework, working to publish papers from his coursework.

Nine months in we had our first little girl, and she has been our worst newborn sleeper by far. But we persevered through the first months of parenting, M supporting me all the way, doing work at home, changing diapers, spending hours awake at night with the baby. Our first anniversary we celebrated while visiting my sister and her family in Illinois.

A week before our 1 year anniversary.

2. Year Two: Our second year we continued to live in our one bedroom apartment, and having a baby brought me into the world of playdates with other awesome Catholic moms. We spent hours together at least one morning a week, fed each other, supported each other. M continued to excel in his work, and I worked part-time with G tagging along in a Religious Education office. By the time of our second anniversary, I was three months pregnant with our second and we had moved down the street to our two bedroom apartment.

In the Boston Commons in August after a day of sight seeing.

3. Year Three: It always seems like it takes a good two years to feel established in a city for me. At that point, you call it home without thinking any more. This year, we got more comfortable in Buffalo as our friendships were strong, our family was growing here, and we knew it would be our home for a couple of more years. M spent the summer doing dissertation research, and then decided to write something like two pages of his dissertation a day during that school year.

L came the First Sunday of Advent, and it was my favorite Advent. For some reason it is easier to sit around and rest when the rest of the world is rushing to buy gifts in the daily Buffalo snowfall. We did not travel that Christmas, but family came to us, and by the time Christmas was over, I was ready to be up and about.

Going to a wedding in Buffalo.

 4. Year Four: Here begins the most stressful time of our marriage. That summer M finished his dissertation drafts, and got ready to apply for jobs. Everything was up in the air about where we were going to be after this year. It was a very bittersweet year as well, as we have awesome friends in Buffalo, and while we wanted him to get a job, we knew we would have to leave.

Thanksgiving trip to visit (great) grandparents in Georgia.

M applied to 80 job openings, some more relevant to his expertise than others. Right after Christmas he went to the APA conference for interviews, and then spent all of February flying out to various on-campus interviews. February 17, he got the job offer in St. Paul, and life seemed a lot brighter. But then we had to find housing, pack up, say goodbye, and move. We had a lovely vacation weekend with friends about a month before we moved.

5. Year Five: Our fourth anniversary was our last in Buffalo, we then embarked on a five week interim, leaving our stuff in Michigan in my in-laws garage and basement. I was second trimester pregnant with F that summer. It was stressful and relaxing at the same time. By August we were moved into a colleague’s house in St. Paul (they had funding to do a year of research elsewhere).

During our five week tour of the midwest.

Once unpacked, I spent a lot of time getting ready for baby and trying to get oriented in our new city. It helped that the philosophy department is full of awesome Catholic families, and we got to know some people right away. But even so, nothing prepared me for having a newborn right at the beginning of my first Minnesota Winter.

That winter we decided to buy a house, I was treated for postpartum depression, I started writing for Truth and Charity, we house hunted, we bought a house, and we adjusted to having three kids. It was a lot. 

6. Year Six: Newly moved into our 1950s first ring suburban house, we thought things would finally settle down. We took an awesome vacation with our closest college friends and all the children resulting from marriages since college, only to come home to the great basement flood of 2013. Our finished basement was waterlogged. Fortunately, it was an interior leak, and insurance covered an entire renovation of our basement. I suppose it was worth the five months of waiting for insurance companies, contractors, and all of that home renovation hassle to have a brand-newly finished basement.

Summer of the flood.

Once the basement was complete, we tried to settle into normal life. But by March we learned we were expecting again and by early May we had buried our first child, JP (lost through miscarriage). I again faced PPD, and by our sixth anniversary we were ready to have a happy year. We had already been through so much. I believe that our little baby in Heaven blessed us in our marriage, and we have grown better and stronger since the.

7. Year Seven: This last year has been one of healing and peace for me (for the most part). We enjoyed our vegetable garden, canning, and house painting last summer. I finally got used to three little girls, and we learned about little T (born three weeks ago) in September. We have settled well into our house. M is still very happy in his work. And my hesitation about having another baby has been overcome.

We had a successful kindergarten homeschooling year, survived a not so bad winter which brought us up to over 20 degrees nearly once a week. M and I dabbled in movie reviewing (more still to come!). Things are going great! We have been so blessed in our marriage and in our life, and I would say something more profound but baby brain has gotten the best of me.

All the family that came out for T’s baptism last weekend. Four generations worth including great grandparents, grandparents, us (parents), and our children, plus cousins and great-aunt and uncle! And this is about 5% of the whole immediate extended family that M and I have.

And since these are supposed to be quick takes, I am linking up super late with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

When My Motherhood Came Under Spiritual Attack

It is time to do a follow up on my thoughts from a few weeks ago, How I am Really Feeling About Having Another Baby.

I don’t know about yours, but my social media feeds have been filled with lovely posts about motherhood and mothering and mothers for the past week.

These were the ones that struck me most:

Marion Fernandez-Cueto wrote (reprinted from 2009), “When Satan Tells you ‘You’re Too Good For’ Motherhood”

Haley Stewart wrote, “Have you ever felt like being a mother has ruined you?”

Jenny Uebbing wrote,“The Best Mother’s Day Gift Ever (And it is probably not what you’re thinking”

Photo by my father.

I had my first child, G,  9 months after getting married, and a little over 10 months after college graduation (granted it was my Master’s graduation). I was 22 years old when she was born, and while we had made some friends in our new city when she was born, I did not really know them very well.

Being home alone with a baby, I spent a lot of time online. I looked on as my college and high school friends posted about jobs, Friday and Saturday evenings out, and I felt like I was the only one posting about having a baby. Of course, they all supported and loved me and my husband as the first parents in our group of friends, but I still felt isolated.

Like Marion Fernandez-Cueto wrote, I daydreamed about what my life could have been, had I not had a child so soon. If I had not gotten married, I probably would have continued in graduate school. Instead I was working part-time as an administrative assistant for a parish Religious Education program while my husband made a graduate student fellowship wage while studying for his PhD. Money was tight, and we were frugal.

When my first was born, I was so self-centered and immature that I have been spending years getting over the selfishness of my childhood. Like Haley Stewart wrote, motherhood broke me, and now that we are about to have our fourth, it still is breaking me.

But it will also be my salvation, if I live my vocation as I should.

Last week, in a fit of pregnancy hormones, I completely lost it. My husband, at my request, had set up the co-sleeper bassinet for this next baby to sleep in, and it haunted me the whole day until that night when I lost it.

I sobbed and whined, and my husband, who always is right when I am being selfish, could not reason it out of me. I was irrationally afraid of life with a newborn again. I was irrationally not wanting to give the gift of physical care to the child I have been carrying for 8 months. I was so afraid.

Then it hit me, the irrationality was a spiritual attack. I was being attacked by the evil one in my very motherhood, in my very vocation.

My motherhood and wifehood is not about being blissful and comfortable day to day, it is about giving myself as a gift to others, so that one day I can have the ultimate human end of eternal happiness with my Creator and Savior. And it is hard. It will never stop being hard, but it is the gift I am called to give.

Our earthly vocation will not always make us happy now, but if we persevere in it, we will be happy forever. It is the same in any vocation, to priesthood, religious life, consecrated single life, and marriage; we will not always be happy.

I then asked my husband to pray for me, for protection from this spiritual attack, for grace to overcome my fears. And he did, as he always does. He lay his hands on me, and we prayed. Peace came over me as we prayed, but the aftermath of the raw emotions took awhile to wear off.

I prayed about it through Sunday Mass the next morning, and as I went through my checklist of things to get ready for the baby the following week.

I realized that I had been looking at this coming baby selfishly. I was anticipating everything from my lonely fears. I had forgotten that I am not alone in my vocation to motherhood. My motherhood is tied irreversibly to my husband’s fatherhood, and, oh, what a wonderful husband and father he is. We are here to help each other in our vocations. 

And now, I am naturally a little nervous about all the things I worried about before, especially the impending labor, but I know that grace will help me love through it all.