Photo from: Married Saints and Blesseds: Throughout the Centuries.
You may remember our posting a while back on the life of Eliza Vaughan - her story is in the compilation of stories from the Adoration, Reparation and Spiritual Motherhood booklet. She was an inspiring example of a mother of a large family who prayed daily for vocations and God rewarded her with six of her eight boys becoming priests and four of her five girls taking the veil.
I wanted to share a similar story of a family that was being raised with great sanctity a hundred years ago - the Kronsteiner family. Once again it is a story of a mother of a very large family and yet like Eliza Vaughan, Mother Kronsteiner made the time for an hour's prayer and Mass every day. From this Austrian family there were eight religious vocations from eleven children. To me, I see the direct fruits of daily Mass/adoration/mental prayer of a mother, planting within their own children the grace of a vocation to the religious life.
The Kronsteiner story comes from the book, Married Saints and Blesseds: Through the Centuries. (I highly recommend this book.) Hedwig and Ernst Kronsteiner were both holy parents but I want to focus on Hedwig and her spiritual life. One of their priest sons went on to write a book “Eine Metture und elf Kinder” (A Mother and her 11 children) it is in it’s fifth edition but unfortunately it is not in English.
Both Hedwig and Ernst came from anti-clerical, liberal families but despite this they both came to a deep realization of God and His goodness before they entered marriage. Hedwig impresses me deeply, she lived for God and her family, it never altered, she lived this until her last day on earth. Mental prayer was a fundamental part of her life and the fruits born from this all through her life are very evident. I will quote from the book:
“During the years of marriage that they spent together, the mother took the lead in religious matters, deliberately bringing her husband and children along with her into her world of faith and prayer. She led a life of prayer that was extraordinarily deep. Her prayer life followed a fixed order of an almost monastic sort; she not only said her daily prayers, as was her duty, but, despite her many chores, she recited her Rosary, spent an hour in meditation, and attended Holy Mass each and every day. Moreover, Mother Kronstiner knew very well how to turn the entire day, with its toils and worries, its work and its cares on behalf of a large family, into a prayer through a “good intention”, which she formulated as follows: “You have to do everything for the love of God; anything else is worth nothing!”
I think her words above reflect her generous time in mental prayer each day, understanding mental prayer to be conversing with God in love. The grace from her "conversation with God" flowed over to the rest of her 23hours in the day – “everything for the love of God, anything else is worth nothing!” The lifetime fruit of this mental prayer was eleven children, eight who were called to the religious life. Isn’t that astounding?
I’ll continue to quote again: “This mother raised her children with astonishing wisdom and generous freedom, in keeping, nonetheless, with the twofold principle: “The children don’t belong to me, they belong to God!”, and “Anything rather than a moral sin!”
Here are her eleven children:
Anna – Sister Cecilia of the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, organist & choir director
Agnes – Sister Theresita of the Carmelite Monastery in Linz, cantor & organist
Hedwig – Sister Lucillia in the Missionary Congregation of the Holy Ghost Sisters.
Ernst – master clockmaker and director of a church choir.
Franz – Lay Brother in the Congregation of the Steyler Missionaries (working in Chile & Argentina)
Berthold – married, first a clockmaker then a policeman
Joseph – A priest in the diocese of Linz, a choirmaster and highly esteemed composer
Otto – married, a clockmaster as well as mayor for 15years of Losenstein.
Aloisia – Sister Elfriede of the Holy Ghost Sisters in Stockerau, organist
Hermann – priest of the diocese of Linz, professor of a music academy and composer.
Rudolf – he had entered the Benedictine Abbey in Seckau to become a monk but WW2 prevented him pursuing this vocation, missing in war.
And how did this faithful mother die? Her last words once again are a testimony to her faithfulness to mental prayer, as I quote for the last time:
“Hedwig Knonsteiner, got up early, at 4:00am, on April 19, 1940, as usual, and had her “conversation with God” in her customary one-hour morning meditation. At 7:00 am she took her missal to attend Mass, as usual, in the parish church in Losenstein and received Holy Communion, unaware that it was her Viaticum. (food for the journey) She spent the day as “Grandmother” in the company of her son Otto and his wife, Justina, and watching her little grandson Otto.
Around 8:00 pm she went with her husband – as she did every evening – into her bedroom to the family photo to bless her children and to pray for each of them. Then the husband and wife, as was their custom, each made the sign of the cross on the other’s forehead and prayed the prayer of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After this, Frau Kronsteiner went again to the kitchen to make some final preparations. While there she had a fainting spell. After a time, her husband found her unconscious. They brought her to bed, called the doctor and the priest; the latter administered the Anointing of the Sick. At midnight, the courageous woman died in the peace of Christ, after managing to write down a sentence as a sort of testament: “Grant (O God) that I may love Thee always, and do with me what Thou wilt!”
Hedwig Kronsteiner, please pray for spiritual mothers, pray for vocations!