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Yes, my Patron Saint for 2014 is none other than St. Peter! St. Peter

I think I can imagine why he might have chosen me as his charge. I think he and I have one major character trait in common: an impetuosity that can be a good thing and a bad thing, a strength and a weakness. It can be bold and brave. It can also be reckless and imprudent. It can grow like an oak from devotion, determination, and steadfastness. It can also serve as a coverup for weakness, doubt, and cowardice. It can be zealous, and sometimes over-zealous. It can be firm and steady as bedrock.

For all of St. Peter’s faults, Christ saw his good qualities and encouraged them. His grace helped St. Peter to become the Church’s first pope. It also helped him become a martyr in the end.

I pray that I may grow in the good qualities of that impetuosity and that I may be open to Christ’s grace. I pray to understand that Christ loves me and sees so much good in me, and that He will lead me to become the best person I can be if I will just follow Him and His will. I need to grow in faith and in hope–I am constantly in need of that!

Dear St. Peter, thank you for making yourself my patron for this year. Please pray for me!

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I have received a very illustrious Patron for 2012: St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109).  Benedictine abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church, and one of the intellectual giants of the Middle Ages. While he preferred the quiet monastic life, he was not afraid of asserting himself against the secular powers-that-were. He clashed with kings over Church autonomy–you could say he was an early fighter for the separation of Church and State. He was exiled more than once for it. He was also an early pioneer in opposing slavery and the selling and buying of human persons.

Doesn’t it just go to show that the world doesn’t change that much? The issues St. Anselm faced almost 1,000 years ago are still very much present in the modern world. We modern folk are not as unique as we sometimes think we are. There is always common ground to be found, no matter how distant in time and space we may be. And that is a good thing, an instructive thing. We are never alone, and we never have to start from scratch in dealing with the ills of the world.

I may not be an incredible philosopher and theologian like St. Anselm, but I definitely feel kinship with him when it comes to taking a stand against the secular world when necessary. Perhaps he can teach me greater courage, patience, and graciousness–things that can become especially difficult when a big election season is heating up.

St. Anselm of Canterbury, pray for us!

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.

 

There is a wonderful new year’s devotion that involves finding a Saint to be your special patron during the year. To learn more and to find out who your patron will be for 2012, visit this post at the blog A Catholic Life. You can sign up by leaving a comment on that post; you can sign up any time during the month of January.

I am eagerly waiting to see who my patron will be!

About the same time that I received St. John Berchmans as my Patron Saint for 2011, Pat McNamara posted the story of the miracle that finalized his canonization!  A stunning miracle it was!  It happened in 1866, in a tiny rural town in southern Louisiana called Grand Coteau.  The recipient of the miracle was Mary Wilson, a young Catholic convert who had entered the convent at the Academy of the Sacred heart.

Here is an excerpt from Mary’s testimony:

I do not think I had eaten an ounce of food for about forty days. During that time I had taken nothing but a little coffee or tea, which for a week before I recovered I could no longer take. And for two weeks no medicine had been administered. The doctor said it was useless to torture me more. So, he stopped giving me any. The last two days I was unable to take even a drop of water. I endured the pangs of death. My body was drawn up with pain; my hands and feet were cramped and as cold as death. All my sickness had turned to inflammation of the stomach and throat. My tongue was raw and swollen. I was not able to speak for two days. At each attempt to utter a word, the blood would gush from my mouth.

Being unable to speak, I said in my heart: “Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise give me patience to the end. I am resigned.” Then, placing the image of Blessed Berchmans on my mouth, I said: “If it be true that you can work miracles, I wish you would do something for me. If not, I will not believe in you.”

I can say without scruple of fear of offending God: I heard a voice whisper, “Open your mouth.” I did so as well as I could. I felt someone, as if put their finger on my tongue, and immediately I was relieved. I then heard a voice say in a distinct and loud tone: “Sister, you will get the desired habit. Be faithful. Have confidence. Fear not.”

I had not yet opened my eyes. I did not know who was by my bedside. I turned round and said aloud: “But, Mother Moran, I am well!”

Then, standing by my bedside, I saw a figure, He held in his hands a cup, and there were some lights near him, at this beautiful sight I was afraid. I closed my eyes and asked: “Is it Blessed Berchmans?” He answered:” Yes, I come by the order of God. Your sufferings are over. Fear not!” For the glory of Blessed John Berchmans, whose name be ever blessed! I deem it my duty to declare here, that from the moment of the cure I never experienced the slightest return of my former ailments.

It is exciting that this incredible story took place not too terribly far from my neck of the woods.  I will have to try to get down there for a visit!

I read at that St. John died before he could be ordained a priest.  So it is not surprising, and indeed it is wonderfully fitting, that he would obtain a miracle for another person who was facing death before entering religious life.  It’s a powerful and reassuring reminder of the bonds that exist between the Saints and us.  Let us thank and praise God for giving us the Communion of Saints!

Thanks to Mr. McNamara for sharing this story, and to the kind reader, Mr. Bertrand, who sent me a link to it!

St. John Berchmans (1599-1621), a Jesuit novice and Patron Saint of altar servers and young people. From SQPN:

John Berchmans was not noted for extraordinary feats of holiness or austerity, nor did he found orders or churches or work flashy miracles. He made kindness, courtesy, and constant fidelity an important part of his holiness. The path to holiness can lie in the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

I think that is why he has chosen me as his beneficiary: I need to get back to the basics of holiness–and also back to my blog which I began largely to share the message that the path holiness can lie in the ordinary!

I look forward to my year with this young Saint!  I think this is the first time my Patron will be younger than me (by mortal reckoning).  I’m hoping I may find myself rejuvenated a bit.  I could use it!

 

Angela of Where Angels Blog is drawing Patron Saints for anybody who requests one!

Just go here by 30 Nov. and leave a comment, then check back to the blog and see who your special Patron Saint will be for the new year!

HT: Faith Flaherty of The One True Faith.

It always delights me when Pope Benedict talks about Dominicans.  This week, he spoke of St. Albert the Great, the Doctor Universalis.  Among other things, he was the professor of St. Thomas Aquinas, and is the Patron Saint of the natural sciences and of scientists… as well as of philosophers and theology students.

This article summarizes the speech: “Albert the Great: No Contrast Between Faith and Science”.  Here is an excerpt:

“Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. … He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity”, said the Holy Father.

“St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle’s philosophy”, especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear “entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not?

“Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture”, the Pope added.

I wonder how many people realize that we have a Patron Saint of natural sciences and scientists?  Remember this the next time you hear or read somebody claim that the Church is ignorant of and/or hostile toward science.

Just a few days after gaining him as my special Patron Saint for 2010, I already get to celebrate St. John Neumann’s feast day!  So… happy feast day, dear Father Neumann!

(photo from National Shrine of St. John Neumann)

From today’s liturgy:

Father,
you called blessed John Neumann to labor for the gospel
among the people of the new world.
His ministry strengthened many others in the Christian faith:
through his prayers may faith grow strong in this land.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From the National Shrine, here is a prayer for St. John Neumann’s intercession:

O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

May death still find us on the sure road to our Father’s House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.

One article I read had this quotation from the Saint:

My mother used to chide me, and call me book mad, a bibliomaniac.

Ah, I think we’ll get along just fine!  :)

O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life.  Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

May death still find us on the sure road to our Father’s House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.

I hope everybody is having a wonderful Christmastide, and wish you a very happy and blessed new year!

I had a lovely visit with my beloved family in Jacksonville, Florida.  I attended Christmas Day Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Jacksonville.  It’s an old church, and probably the most beautiful church in which I have attended Mass–the stained glass windows were stunning, and they had large, very beautiful Stations of the Cross.  Here is a photo that shows some of the windows around the altar:

(photo by Flickr user stephg67)

After Mass, I helped my mom and sister prepare our Christmas dinner, we exchanged gifts, and then ate.  It was a beautiful day, perfectly befitting the birthday of our Savior.

Now the new year has begun, beginning with the beautiful Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!  It is comforting to begin the year knowing that we are secure in the love of God and Mary, and that they will see us through, come what may.

Here at home, I’ve been busy doing my new year’s cleaning and de-cluttering.  I’m always amazed by how many things I have around that are just taking up space and gathering dust.  It’s always liberating to get rid of stuff, keeping only things that are meaningful, important, and/or useful… to clean things and make them bright… to do some re-arranging of spaces.  It gives me a feeling of peace and pride in my home, simple (almost spartan) though it is.  I hope I can buy some more furniture this year!  I did just make my last car payment (YAY!!!) so maybe I can put some of that money aside for furniture.

I received my Patron Saint for 2010 from The Pious Sodality of Church Ladies.  This year’s Patron Saint is:

St John Neumann

Pray for the Church in America

And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. [Gal 6, 9]

I think this is a perfect Patron Saint for me–and for the Church in this country!  He did so much to nurture, grow, and lead the Church in the U.S., and was the first American man to be canonized.  A Catholic immigrant himself (having been born and grown up in Bohemia), he was ordained in this country, and lived and worked here for the rest of his life, building churches and schools for his fellow Catholic immigrants.  I think I shall try to visit his national shrine in Philadelphia this year!

I have not forgotten my previous Patron Saints of the Year, St. Martha and St. Jason.  They are still a positive influence on my life… especially my home life and relationships with family and friends.  I’m sure that will always be true, and thank God for it!  And now, this year, I will perhaps gain a better outlook on my larger home, America.

I look forward to seeing what this new year has in store.  I hope it contains lots of happiness, blessings, and growth for you and for me!

For now, I must get back to my cleaning!

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(Image from a painting at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie, Louisiana)

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