As I wait to receive my patron Saint for 2012, I have also looked back at 2011 and my patron, St. John Berchmans. In my post last year, I hoped that St. John might help me find greater simplicity and holiness in everyday life, and that his youth might help me stay in touch with my own youth.

I have to say, I have not been a very good companion this year. I have not devoted myself to cultivating my relationship with my patron as much as I would have liked. And yet, being the Saint that he is, St. John has been faithfully present with me, working behind the scenes, gently steering me toward where I need to go. This past year has been fraught with difficulty, and yet I have come through it with a simple grace that I cannot attribute to myself alone. In fact, it has sometimes been in the midst of difficulties that I have come to understand the great value and necessity of simplicity and of childlike faith and humility before God.

Although I cannot pinpoint any specific lessons, I can definitely say that I have learned a lot over this last year. That is often how God and the Saints and the angels work in our lives. They rarely come upon us like flashes of lightning. Rather they gradually kindle a flame in us, nurturing it to a lasting glow. Eventually, we come to see that our lives and the world around us have taken on a new color, a new clarity.

I thank God and St. John Berchmans for being with me this year, speaking softly to my soul and helping it grow.