Saint Gianna is one of my favorite Saints. The pediatrician, wife, and mother knew well what modern life entails, balancing work and prayer in the mid-20th century—and she did it all by dressing stylishly and enjoying her favorite activities.
If she were alive today, I could see us chatting over a cup of coffee about cute clothes, decorating ideas, discernment and the simple joys of life—just like I would with other friends.
My favorite quote of hers (and my favorite saint quote of all) is:
Live holy the present moment.
What Does it Mean to Live Holy the Present Moment?
Saint Gianna encourages us to see that, in each and every moment, holiness is our goal, reminding me, and you, to seek God in all things, striving to make holy each moment.
That’s our Christian call: “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).
Yes, sometimes it’s easier at certain moments than others to truly live the moment in a holy way. We all know that well.
But it is a blessed aim for us each and every day, each moment. In between the joys and the sorrows, between what is going well and what is not, we must strive for holiness.
Let’s delve deeper into Gianna’s wise advice.
What is God calling you to do right now? Maybe you are busy with work, with deadlines, emails, and meetings. If so, I’m there with you; I’m over here, editing and writing. Maybe you’re a mom, focused on what your littles need and creating a flourishing domestic church with your husband. Maybe you’re a college student, busy with classes and discernment. Whatever your call, live fully, striving to do God’s will.
As we do God’s will, we are to do it all in a holy way. Think of how many moments Gianna lived in a holy way. The Saints are Saints because they exhibited heroic virtue (along with interceding in miracles through the power of God). Heroic virtue is defined as, “The performance of extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness and over a period of time. The moral virtues are exercised with ease, while faith, hope, and charity are practiced to an eminent degree.”
Gianna increased these theological virtues in her own life, as she went about serving her family and patients, praying and cooking and spending time with friends, and all the other things God placed before her each day.
How can we increase faith, hope, and charity in our own lives? Through being more patient at work or with little ones? Offering up sufferings? Doing service for family or friends or others in need?
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The Present Moment
Focus on the here and now. Not looking backward. Or forward. Be in the now. That’s what Gianna did. And she reminds us to do likewise.
God is with us each day, as Gianna reminds us in another beautiful quote of hers:
The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that he, in his goodness, sends us day after day.
As her daughter, also named Gianna (Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, who has followed in her mother’s medical footsteps as a geriatric physician), told me a few years ago:
“I think the world today particularly needs my mother’s life witness, and perhaps today more than ever. Her exemplary Christian life’s witness—her sacred respect for life, her great joy to live, her courage and spirit of sacrifice, her unlimited trust in divine Providence, her great love for life, for the Lord, for the Virgin Mary, for her family, for her neighbors and her patients, for my most beloved daddy, her most worthy spouse, for her children—[was constant] until her greatest gift of love: the sacrifice of her own life, giving birth to me. All these aspects are really like a bright light, a safe guide and a great hope for each of us on our journey towards holiness.”
She also shared how her mom was bolstered in joy and hope:
“Some people write to [tell] me that since they learned about the person and the witness of my mom, their life has changed. They are more serene, they live in a better way, with more joy and hope, and they would like to follow her example and became a saint.”
And, as I include in my book, The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women, Gianna encourages us on our Christian journey: “We, full of the joy that comes from Jesus, carry joy in our hearts with Jesus. He will be the strength that helps us.”
Mother Mary as Our Model
Gianna also points us to Mother Mary, who is the epitome of what it means to live holy the present moment, in this prayer of consecration that reflects how holiness is rooted in trust:
O Mary, into your maternal hands I place myself, and I abandon myself completely, sure of obtaining whatever I ask of you. I trust in you because you are the sweet Mother; I confide in you because you are the Mother of Jesus. In this trust, I place myself, sure of being heard in everything; with this trust in my heart I greet you “my Mother, my trust”; I devote myself entirely to you, begging you to remember that I am yours, that I belong to you; keep me and defend me, O sweet Mary, and in every instant of my life, present me to your Son, Jesus.
It is such a blessing to have our friend Saint Gianna show us the way as we, too, live holy the present moment.
How are you living holy the present moment today?
Amy Smith is the associate editor of the National Catholic Register, a service of EWTN, and you can read more about St. Gianna in The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women. Amy spends her days drinking coffee while editing features; she likes to write about everything from hope and Saints (her favorites are Thérèse and Gianna) to Jane Austen. You can find out more about her here.