Gianna Molla is a newer Saint, one canonized recently by John Paul II. She was raised in a large Catholic family of twelve children and lived in the Lombardy region of Italy. Her parents were devout and often prayed the Holy Rosary together as a family. During her teen years, Gianna began to participate in Catholic Action. She would also mentor young girls in this group, helping them prepare for their live’s vocations and teaching them about sacrifice. Tragically, she lost both of her parents when she was only twenty years old. After the death of her parents, Gianna chose to study medicine, earning a medical degree at age twenty-seven.
Briefly, she considered serving as a missionary doctor in Brazil, where one of her brothers was a missionary priest. However, upon the advice of her spiritual director and others, she chose not to follow this plan due to ill health. She was uncertain about her vocation for a period of time and made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, and put her vocation in the hands of the Blessed Mother. Upon her return to Italy, she began to see a certain gentleman more and more often. This gentleman’s name was Pietro Molla. They first met at a mass on December 8, 1954. Soon after this, they began to discuss marriage. Pietro and Gianna became engaged and married on September 24, 1955.
Pietro and Gianna had two children. During her third pregnancy, Gianna began to develop complications. The doctors told Gianna that she could either choose an abortion, a hysterectomy, or to have the mass removed. Gianna had the mass removed, but this did not mean that the rest of the pregnancy would be smooth sailing. In her prayers, Gianna was aware that she could face a choice, either her life or the life of the child. She made a brave choice, telling the doctors that they must save the life of her child first. Her baby was delivered and Gianna died during the delivery. Gianna Molla is a true pro-life witness and a Patron Saint for marriage and the family.
There are many lessons from Gianna’s life for singles.
1. MENTOR YOUTH
Gianna was part of Catholic Action and as a member of this group, she often spent time with young girls. She taught them about virtue and helped them prepare for their eventual vocations. As singles, we should be embracing spiritual maternity or spiritual paternity by giving time to the children around us. You can tutor youth, accompany them on mission trips, get involved in your parish. You can also reach out to nieces and nephews, spending time with them and teaching them. You can help them grow in virtue and learn more about their faith. Take an interest in them. Help them to grow.
2. LOVE MODESTY
Gianna Molla was someone who lived the virtue of modesty. She was a modern woman who loved fashion, but she chose to look classy and feminine. As single women, we need to be thinking about how our style of dress affects men because we want to get to heaven and we want to get our brothers in Christ to heaven as well.
Gentlemen, look like gentleman. Take pride in how you dress. You are a son of the Most High God. On a date, you can wear a jacket and slacks or jeans. A jacket always looks classy. Splash on some clean-smelling cologne. Have a nice and trim haircut. Take pride in your appearance! You are one of God’s masterpieces!
3. CHASTITY & RELATIONSHIPS
St. Gianna was trying to be a Saint in her life. She and Pietro had a chaste courtship. Gianna was a romantic-she wrote love letters to her husband during their engagement and marriage.
One of the most beautiful books I have read on this subject is Reverend T.G. Morrow’s Christian Courtship in An Oversexed World: With the Thought of C.S. Lewis and Pope John Paul II. The most recent edition of this book has a few changes and is now called “Christian Dating in a Godless World”. I recommend this book to every single, every dating couple, every engaged couple, and every married couple. It has so much wisdom!
For singles, the author talks about using your time of singleness to better yourself, to develop your prayer life, to have some fun each week. For dating couples, he proposes the friendship dating model for the first one-three months of dating. This means dating without kissing, just focusing on getting to know the other person to see if you are compatible. Hugs are fine as they are something friends do. It also means steering away from romantic language during this time as this kind of language can stir up emotions. Be like St. Gianna and write love letters or notes of encouragement! This book offers a lot of ideas.
While I agree with almost everything that Fr. Morrow proposes in his book, I disagree with his statement that every couple regardless of their age should date for two years. I like his idea about friendship dating from one-three months at the onset of a relationship. also disagree with what he says about being careful about the man who proposes after two to three months. I think that a man who does this, could just be following God’s will after praying about a person. St. Gianna went from the first date to marriage with Pietro in nine months.
Singles, you can do it! You can have a chaste dating relationship and courtship. As singles, we have to build a new culture, one with God at the center of it. We need to truly love each other, not exploit or use each other.
4. PRAY ABOUT YOUR VOCATION
Gianna definitely spent quite a bit of time praying about her vocation. She made pilgrimages and asked God to help her. You can do the same. I recommend rosary novenas to find a spouse, also trips to Marian shrines. Be praying for yourself, but also be praying for your future spouse. He or she might just be going through a difficult time in life and need your prayers for healing and grace. Your future spouse is someone you can begin loving and sacrificing for now. Have masses offered for your future spouse. Great graces and even miracles can come from the mass.
5. WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Gianna was a wife, mother, and a doctor. She had a difficult balancing act. Singles have a lot of activities going on. We have jobs, homes, families, etc. Practice good boundaries at work. Try to get your work done well and quickly within the time allotted. Avoid too much overtime. This can cut into time that should be spent on God and family. For singles, this can cut into time that should be spent working on relationships with future spouses or seeking future spouses. Ask God to help multiply your time at work to get it all done. If your job is taking too much time from your life and you have tried the above strategies, find a new job. Ask God to help you. Ultimately, family, vocation, and your future spouse are more important than some job.
St. Gianna, pray for us!