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In Zelie’s Footsteps

It’s school holidays at the moment and we’re nearing the end of the second, of three weeks, rest from the rigid and demanding school routine. And the kids have been sick the whole time.

Master 8 brought a cold home for the holidays, and it gradually infiltrated the rest of the family. Kids fell like flies swotted, the perfume of Euky Bear fills the house and the sound of noses being blown and wet chesty coughs are currently the background track, stuck on repeat.

I could feel sorry for myself in my state of exhaustion. I haven’t slept uninterrupted in two weeks, especially because a very sick Master 2 decided the best place to sleep was Mum’s bed in order to ‘feel better’. Which was the complete opposite of Master 3 months who felt that sleeping for 15 hours overnight was the best way to overcome his illness and any breastfeeding mum can tell you that this is a somewhat painful situation and was hard to remedy as he refused, flat out, to feed.

But, surprisingly, you might say, I don’t feel sorry for myself and it’s all thanks to Saint Zelie (or Azelie, which I have dibs on if God’s blesses us with another baby girl) Martin who cast a little light on my situation.

How to Walk in St. Zelie's Footsteps as a Catholic mother

I have been reading “A Family Of Saints” by Fr Stephane-Joseph Piat and I have to admit that I immediately became absorbed in it. And I mean really, absorbed, to the point where I would often recollect parts of it during the day.

Zelie Martin was very inspiring and so resigned to God’s will. She knew that all of her crosses, her trials were part of her sanctification – that they were necessary – and boy, did she suffer. She lost four children in infancy, three through diseases that could not be cured and one through the negligence of a wet nurse. Yet her trust in God remained steadfast. (After all of these losses, Saint Therese of Lisieux, was born and would be the glory of her parents).

The night after I read of the decline and death of Zelie’s daughter Melanie, my youngest child became ill wit bronchiolitis. He was lethargic and refused to feed. Master 3 was not himself. And after refusing for over 5 hours to feed, we were recommended by a GP friend to take him to the hospital if he didn’t feed in the next hour to prevent him becoming dehydrated.

I was worried. What mum wouldn’t be? The thought of taking my baby to hospital was confronting. And yet in amongst all of this I thought of Zelie Martin and her resignation to God’s will. Instead of fighting my son’s ill health, I prayed for her intercession and, eventually I gave in to God’s will.

Our son fed then, for over 40 minutes and within the next 24 hours was, though still affected by symptoms, smiling and cooing.
The danger had passed.

And I couldn’t but feel that Zelie had interceded for me

And I couldn’t but feel that Zelie had interceded for me and used this as a way to show me that I needed to resign myself more to God’s will for me and my children; that I needed to accept the crosses He gave me for there was no other way for me to achieve sanctification. That each of these trials was really a blessing in disguise if I would only recognise it as such.

That is, perhaps, the hardest part to understand; that we mothers will be sanctified only if we resign ourselves to God’s will and accept our crosses within our domestic sphere. If we are to achieve eternal life we will do so in amongst the pots and pans, vapourisers and sick beds of our home.

If we follow in the footsteps of Saint Zelie Martin we will raise saints in our midst and eternal life for ourselves.

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Emily Shaw is a former award winning Catholic journalist and editor now wife and stay at home mum of five children aged 9 and under. When’s she not busy blogging she’s kept on her toes by her youngest sons who are slowly helping her grow in the virtue of patience (hopefully). She and her family live on a farm in regional Australia where they have become part of an organically constructed Benedict Option style community.

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One thought on “In Zelie’s Footsteps

  1. Love your blog and can feel your faith…
    keep going… praying , trusting, working, loving…

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