Today is the feast day of St Gianna Beretta Molla, another courageous woman who offered her entire life for Love Himself.  For more about St Gianna’s story, head over here or here.

St Gianna is probably best known for giving her life for her unborn child, refusing surgery to remove a tumor in her uterus that would cause the death of her baby.  She died a week after giving birth to her daughter, Gianna Emanuela.  Gianna was present at her mother’s canonization in 2004.

While known for her death, it’s important to remember that you aren’t canonized for how you die, but for how you live.  St Gianna was only able to die for her child because she lived for her child.  All martyrs are only able to die for Christ because they lived their entire lives for Christ.  

Pope Paul VI called St Gianna’s sacrifice “conscious immolation” — “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation” — comparing Gianna’s act to Christ’s on the cross.  But her whole life was one of “conscious immolation” — spending her life as a physican serving the poor, the elderly, and mothers and their babies.  She fully embraced her vocation as wife and mother and pledged her life to “forming a truly Christian family.”

It was only with this vision for life — one of service, dedicated to the dignity of the human person, with a clear view of what her God-given vocation entailed– that Gianna was able to serve Christ to her death.  It was not with one heroic action that she acchieved sanctity, but through her embrace of the daily crosses and joys.

Daily crosses. Daily joys.  We all have them.  Are we waiting until our last breath to become a saint?  Or are we using what God gives us today?

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