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The saint who shows us what to do when life isn’t going as planned

FRANCES OF ROME

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Cecilia Pigg - published on 03/09/21

This 14th-century powerhouse woman inspires us to do God's will no matter what.

Do you feel stuck living a life you didn’t ask for?

Maybe you feel called to marriage, but the right person hasn’t shown up yet. Or maybe you feel that you entered marriage too hastily and you should have waited or explored other vocations. To the feeling of being stuck, add the fact that you live in a culture that pressures you to follow your dreams. And to intensify the situation, imagine that you strongly feel God is calling you to do something that you can’t seem to achieve.

The saint whose feast we celebrate on March 9th, St. Frances of Rome, completely understands this particular frustration. She didn’t lead the life she had hoped. God was calling her to be a nun — she was sure about that. And that is what she wanted as well. But her father insisted that she marry, and she couldn’t convince him otherwise. She eventually gave in and begrudgingly married a man her father chose, a man named Lorenzo.

Frances spent her first days and months of marriage unhappy and distraught. This was not what she wanted for her life, and every aspect of it — from entertaining guests to running a household to getting along with her in-laws — was burdensome and difficult. In fact, her dissatisfaction and stress caused her to become physically ill. It was after recovering from this illness that she had a major turning point.

In a moment of grace, she realized that in order to do God’s will, she had to live her marriage with Lorenzo to the fullest. And that changed everything for her. She took concrete steps to embrace her life fully, even when she wasn’t doing what she felt called to. Here are a few of those steps. 

She found a friend and a spiritual accountability partner.

One of the women in her circle wanted to grow in holiness as much as she did. When Frances discovered this, they immediately joined forces. Together, they set up a little chapel and schedule of prayer as well as a schedule for going out to help the poor together. Their friendship helped them focus on what was important in their lives, and kept them moving forward when each might have grown lazy or weary on her own.

She fully embraced all of the duties associated with her life.

This meant hosting and attending parties, getting along with her mother-in-law, and eventually running a large household single-handed. All of these were things she naturally wasn’t interested in, but once she leaned in fully, she did well and was unstoppable.

Many of us have the ability to do well in situations we would not normally seek out. It often takes a change in perspective alongside some hard work and perseverance to transform unwished-for tasks and responsibilities.  

She devoted herself to her husband and then to their children.

She loved Lorenzo, and their children, with everything she had. She took care of them carefully and prayerfully, creating a warm atmosphere in which they could thrive. 

She let generosity guide her life.

Life in Rome was quite chaotic at various points during her marriage, and she made it her mission to share what she had with others. There were wars, famines, and plagues that affected everyone around her, but she never stopped bringing people supplies and support. Her father-in-law and husband were quite upset that she was so generous with their goods, but they eventually had a change of heart when they witnessed how their stores were miraculously replenished as Frances prayed.

Frances lived a full and fruitful marriage despite her initial frustration. But that’s not the end of her story. Later on in life she founded a religious community, where she ended up living after the death of her husband. The call to religious life that she had felt so strongly was indeed a valid call. But, it came to fruition much later than she expected.

Ask for St. Frances of Rome’s intercession if you’re feeling stuck or find yourself living a life you never really wanted. Let her help you fully embrace where you are in life, with love, trust, and surrender. 


FATHER MICHAEL MCGIVNEY

Read more:
Discerning your vocation? Turn to Father McGivney

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