As part of our message series for the New Year about how to make simple spiritual changes that will improve everyday life, we decided to ask and write about techniques our own staff and close friends use to grow closer to God. Here’s one such article with some practical advice about calling on our patron saints.
Catholics have a very special relationship with the saints; contrary to many people’s popular beliefs, we do not worship them — we ask for their intercessions on our behalf. During this series of Spiritual Life Hacks, as we’ve discussed re-energizing our faith lives, we’ve talked about the importance of prayer. Prayer always, prayer through everything and everyone. But what about the times when we can’t find the words? When we need guidance, but cannot articulate what exactly it is that we are looking for? When it seems as though no words would be able to convey the depth or breadth of our feelings? That’s when the saints come in for us.
“When I was in the Major Seminary, our professor encouraged us to get personal with the saints by choosing a saint who we could always turn to for intercession,” Fr. Celestine said. “I chose St. Rita, the patron saint of impossible cases. I have found that when I am challenged in any regard, I can pray through St. Rita, and my prayers will be answered.”
During the Protestant Reformation, praying to the saints fell out of fashion due to some questionable canonization practices, which is why confusion can still occur about the role of saints in the Church. They are our departed brothers and sisters in Christ — they lived lives full of devotion and commitment to God, and now reside in heaven with the special task of offering our prayers to God.
They are not mediators between us and God — that is the role of Jesus — but intercessors, just as we can be intercessors. We believe that we can always pray on another’s behalf, and we believe that life does not end after earthly death; so, too, can the saints (though they are departed from us) pray for us.
We seek to learn from them (in all their humanness and inconsistencies), grow in our spirituality through and with them, and to live as they lived. In the book of Revelation, John makes reference to the saints in heaven, “elders [who] fell down before the Lamb...each [holding] a harp and golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones” (Revelation 5:8).
“When you choose a saint to take as your own, read about them and learn from them, and you will find peace and tranquility knowing that you always have a friend in them to take your intercessions to God,” Fr. Celestine said.
There are approximately 10,000 saints recognized by the Catholic Church. There are saints for each day of the year, each occupation, each ailment, each hobby, each concern — for almost any concept or idea, it is almost guaranteed that there will be a patron saint.
“Become friendly with the patron saint of your profession or field of study. For example, if you are a student, try St. Joseph Cupertino, the patron of exam takers; if you are a firefighter, try St. Florian; if you are a teacher, try St. Gregory,” Fr. Celestine said. “Just get a saint to always intercede on your behalf, even when you lack the words to pray.”
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco. Check out our exciting featured news articles.