Saint Gerard’s Life and Legacy
A saint for all?
Soon after the death of Saint Gerard, many women sought his intercession in all aspects of motherhood. This is most fitting, since Saint Gerard’s miracles were not limited to childbearing. He always offered loving service, especially to the poor and most abandoned.
Furthermore, motherhood is more than physically bearing children. We are blessed with all kinds of mothers in our world—physical as well as spiritual ones. Consider that we refer to both the Church and to the Mother of God as our mother. Vowed religious, widows, teachers, doctors, nurses, catechists, and all sorts of women may serve as mothers, though many of them have never physically borne children. All mothers—both spiritual and physical—live in constant hope and expectation for their children. These women offer us loving service by nurturing, comforting, caring, educating, and protecting us. And while the duties of motherhood can be daunting, mothers can take comfort in knowing they can call on the assistance of Saint Gerard.
Gerard’s whole life was a testimony to the power of love through sacrifice. Saint Gerard meditated on the crucifix. In his meditations, he realized a truth Saint Paul knew: The power of Christ shines through our human weakness. This human weakness is not the weakness of sin, but the weakness of being finite.
Many mothers face this weakness in loving service to their children. Perhaps a mother is a single parent, divorced, or in the midst of a separation. A mother in such a situation is faced with balancing a very busy schedule. She has to work, take care of a home, rear her children, and take care of herself. Oftentimes she may feel she has no one to help her with the housework, preparing the meals, doing the laundry, paying the bills, and performing ordinary daily tasks. This pressure can make a mother feel abandoned, exhausted, frustrated, impatient, and depressed. She might feel she has neither the time nor the energy to give what is constantly demanded of her. In these moments, mothers can find comfort in the intercessory prayers of Saint Gerard.
This great saint understood human weakness. Being frail, poor, and always of service, he knew what if felt like to be helpless. Thus, when we feel we have nothing more to give, we can turn to Saint Gerard, and through the empowerment of Christ, continue in loving service. We do not serve on our own; it is Christ who serves others through us.
This is the source of Saint Gerard’s miraculous intercessory power. Consider how many of Gerard’s miracles are exactly what Christ did in his life. Jesus gave bread to the poor, raised the dead, walked on water, accepted unjust accusations and punishment, and brought healing and mercy to the poor and the abandoned. Saint Gerard knows how to help us call on the power of Christ in our time of need and human weakness, giving the power and glory of God room to shine in our lives.
Yet Saint Gerard assists all mothers in another way. All good mothers, both physical and spiritual, nurture their children by taking care of their needs, educating, and protecting them. Good mothers have some degree of anxiety for the welfare of their children, despite their age. They want what is best for them, even after they become adults.
Our world is full of many voices that might lead children astray. Peer pressure, radical individualism, materialism, and consumerism are all distractions that keep children from heeding the voice of God. Saint Paul would refer to these voices as “worldly thinking.” Too many mothers are saddened by the fact that their children have left the Church and thus fail to accept responsibility for their lives. Many even become involved in morally dangerous situations. In these moments, mothers can call upon Saint Gerard, who will pray for their needs and the needs of their children. Therefore, when a mother does not know what to say or do, she can ask for the assistance and the intercession of this holy man.
Saint Gerard had the gift of reading hearts. He could see into a person’s pain and help that person find hope and new life. He was famous for educating people in the faith and leading them to reconciliation. The Redemptorist missionaries would take him on their missions so he could help the most lost and abandoned souls to transition their lives away from “worldly thinking” to enter “the life of the Spirit.”