Can My Special Needs Child Become A Saint? by Rachel Fusselman
God created each human being in His image. What does that mean? It means that what God sows in the human soul, He calls back to Him in heaven. Your child has a soul made by God in His Image. The beauty of our faith is that this truth has been illuminated in our hearts. Every single person created has a unique path to sainthood. Special needs children are so unique and colorful. Can you imagine what great saints they are called to be?
I will highlight a couple of saints today that can help you and your child be inspired. I am partial to these two for a variety of reasons. However, there are many more of our brothers and sisters in heaven that can motivate your special needs children. I hope you are encouraged today. We are all called to be great saints.
Dymphna was a young girl of 14 when she felt the call to consecrate herself to Jesus. Raised with a broken and abusive father, she fled her throne of Northern Ireland with her confessor, the king's jester, and two servants. They settled in Belgium. Imagine being so young and, while trying to recover from your mother's death and the advances of your own father, you decide to turn suffering on its head and minister to the mentally ill. That's right! She established the very first mental hospital- focused on giving respite and charity to those who struggled in this area. Long before diagnosis. Long before science prevailed over superstition, she chose to see the image of God in the ones who, even now in our modern world, puzzle those who do not understand. Sadly, her father found her by tracing the coins she used to fund her mission. He beheaded her confessor first, then murdered her in the same way because she refused to go back to Ireland. What a brave and forgiving young woman! A powerhouse witness to purposeful youth! St. Dymphna, pray for us!
Therese was the youngest and self-admittedly bratty child of a large family in France. Her mother died of cancer when Therese was only four years old. She adopted her oldest sister as her new mother. Once her sister became a Carmelite nun, it was like losing her mother all over again. Therese had a mysterious illness and mental breakdown following the first visit to her sister in the convent. The Blessed Mother took over things from there. A miraculous thing occurred: the statue of the virgin which was placed in Therese's bedroom smiled at her. After that, Therese fell in love with Jesus for the first time. All the lessons, many many prayers with her parents (who are now canonized saints themselves), and hours of witnessing holiness from those around her pierced her soul like a sword. It meant something now! The seed that was sown blossomed into a simple, unique, beautiful little flower. She
eventually became a Carmelite nun herself and doctor of the church. The "Little Way" for which she is famous provides a simple, straightforward path to Heaven for all of us: Living in the Present Moment. St. Therese, pray for us!
How do we, as special needs parents, teach our children the way of holiness? After all, we are on the journey as well and have failed so many times! The answer is simple: loving well. God has different standards for your child because He knows them more than you do. He reads their hearts. He knows how to reach them. The best way we can evangelize our children is to love well, witness to His Love in our own lives, and hopefully, that will sow the seed to holiness.
We are all called to be saints, especially those with special needs! What a powerful witness our children can be to others! What a beacon of hope to those who feel alone and marginalized! Look to the Communion of Saints as a community around you and your child. They were just as human as we are. God knows the unique path for your child to heaven. The best way we can serve that guidance is to simply love them well.
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance, and praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us. Amen.
-St. Therese of Lisieux
A native of Cajun South Louisiana, Rachel is a wife and stay-at-home autism mom with four kiddos living in Allen, TX. You can find her on Instagram: @rayrayfuss