Husband & Wife Articles


 

Sacred Name Game

I’ll get by with a little help from my heavenly friends

By Ashley Kepper

I hope to be a great saint one day, but I have a long way to go. I am thankful that my husband and 2-year-old daughter provide me with ample opportunity to grow in virtue (especially patience). I remember the weeks following her birth, in which I literally felt a “death” to self. It was a painful but necessary purification period in which my selfishness was being stripped away. Her needs were greater than any of my own desires or pain. From the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew that I was born to be her mother. I also knew that I needed examples and prayers of holy saints to help me in my journey.

Choosing a child’s name should not be taken lightly. This name will be theirs for all of eternity. Scripture is filled with stories about the significance of names. In naming our children after saints, we are permanently linking them to prayer warriors in heaven.

My husband proposed to me in a little side chapel inside of the Church of St. Anne in Houston, Texas. We were married 10 months later in Annapolis, Md., on Saturday, August 27, 2011, the feast of St. Monica.

Four months later, my husband and I took a pilgrimage to Rome, where we prayed for our newly conceived baby at the tomb of St. Monica, located in the Basilica of St. Augustine. We decided to honor Sts. Monica and Anne, models for all mothers, by naming our daughter Monica Ann. We chose these particular saints not only because of their significance to our personal story, but because we felt they would serve as authentic heroines and motherly role models throughout our daughter’s life. I felt an even deeper connection to my daughter once I began specifically praying for her by name.

Sts. Monica and Anne will forever have a special place in my heart. They serve as powerful role models for me. At times, simply saying my daughter’s name prompts me to ask for their prayers. When losing patience, I picture them in the room and ask myself how I would respond to a particular situation if they were actually looking over my shoulder. This quick reflection helps me to act more charitably.

The Holy Spirit inspires me to ask for prayers from the Communion of Saints throughout the day. For example, seeing an image or statue of Jesus or the Blessed Mother in our home reminds me to keep my eyes toward heaven. When I see my daughter cuddling her dolls and stuffed animals, I pray that she will properly discern her vocation and have the strength to follow God’s will. I pray for her future spouse if she is called to marriage. When I am cooking or doing the laundry, I recall that Mother Teresa encouraged us to do “small things with great love.” I ask for the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker for my husband’s job.

With the bond of marriage consistently under attack in our culture, it is vital that we bathe in prayer our marriage and the marriages of those close to us. The moral decline of marriage and family can turn around only through prayer, fasting and mortifications. Daily, I ask God to help me grow in my vocation as a wife and mother, and pray that my spouse does not fail in his vocation as a husband and father. Learning about the lives of married saints serves as motivation in our spiritual journey, and these holy couples will intercede before the throne of God on our behalf.

July 26 is the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of our Blessed Mother and the grandparents of Jesus. While we know little about them, we can have confidence that they were faithful followers of the Jewish law and models of virtue for Mary. They were her primary educators and raised her to love God and to discern and follow his will. Sts. Anne and Joachim are powerful role models for parents and grandparents. We can rely on their help to guide us in the divine institution of marriage, and to pray for us as we raise our children in today’s world.

Ashley Kepper and her husband, Jimmy, live in St. Marys, Ga., with their 2-year-old daughter.