Thursday, 26 August 2010

Patron Saints...

When I saw the first item in Luke Coppen's Morning Catholic Must-Reads - Pope Benedict has urged the faithful to choose one saint to guide them through life - I was shocked.

How could I possibly do that? I have so many favourite saints, all with particular characteristics which attracted me for some reason. Surely limiting oneself to just the one saint was an impossibility? After all, one would automatically have to plump for Our Lady - God cannot refuse his mother anything she asks! Where would that leave Catholic devotion to the saints?

There is actually a St. Mac (an Irish saint) which cheers me up a lot, as I hate my real first name, and the saint of the loathed name is one of the more obscure ones. I also have St. Ursula (my second name) whom I took for my Confirmation name as well, more because I didn't want another name to remember than because of any devotion to what I considered at the time to be a purely mythical character.

Then there is St. Jude - my first proper devotion to a saint was due to him. St. Joseph helps me find car parking spaces (I figure he's never quite lived down the no-room-at-the-inn reputation, and so would find me something, somewhere!) I love St. Bernadette (because of Lourdes and her acerbic wit), St. Teresa of Avila (another one who liked to say it like it is), St. Philomena (one in the eye for the sceptics and modernists), St. Anthony (I'm always losing stuff), the Curé d'Ars, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. John Fisher... and... and...

Fortunately, I then read the actual article - a report on the Holy Father's General Audience address - which actually explained that the Holy Father was encouraging the devotion to one particular saint as a model to imitate in one's life... and it mentioned that, while the Pope had a devotion to St Joseph and St. Benedict, (I wonder why he chose them? Hmmmmn...) he had also developed an attachment to St. Augustine.

I'm afraid that St. Augustine is not one of my personal favourites... I found his Confessions rather hard going, and warmed even less to him after having had to read several passages of his on the subject of Psalms (in the Office of Readings) - I would desperately look for an optional memorial to commemorate, so that I could substitute another reading!

But, of course, if it's a case of choosing a saint to imitate, without actually having to ditch the others, then my choice has to be St. Anne Line. I just hope that I don't get to imitate the martyrdom bit. Well, not yet!


gemoftheocean said...

Interesting post. I'm with you on the plethora of Saints for various things. Probably my two saints would be St. Thomas More and St. Therese of Lisieux. I've admired each from early childhood. Tom is infinitely easier for me to imitate. Again, I hope not to have to do the martyr thing, but if that happens, so be it.

And do I understand you to say you were allowed to take Ursula as a confirmation name which is the same as you middle name? What were "They" thinking, much less you?! How old were you when you were confirmed? You had a "free" name pick and you botched it by duplicating a name you already had?! Whatever was in your cornflakes? Getting to pick that name was one of the few really good privileges (in the sense of side bennies) the church ever gave me!

margaret said...

In the Orthodox church we are supposed to have a very particular relationship with the saint whose name we have, next to the Theotokos that is the saint who guides us. I’m never sure about mine, she too was a martyr, and it’s a terrifying thought. I find it easy to think about martyrs “way back when” but mine was 1937, she was killed for Christ when my mother was already nine years old.

Our finding things saint is the New Martyr Fanourios whose day it is today. When he finds your lost object for you you have to bake a cake (we have a fasting version so that we can lose things all year round) and take it to church to be blessed and also pray for his mother. Apparently she was a bit of a floozy and the last thing the poor boy thought of as they were coming to martyr him was to ask the bystanders to pray for her soul.

Anonymous said...

I rather ambitiously picked St. Teresa (of Avila) for my confirmation name when I was received into the Church. Of course, I have thought many times after that I was a little too ambitious, and am only really now getting into her writings. Yet, while one may be a little fearful of seeking her intercession as the idea of spiritual progress is sometimes much more pleasant than the reality of sacrifice, I can still stand by my choice. She is definitely one of my favourite saints. Having said that, she might have had a rival for my confirmation name (oh, what an honour!) in St.Sunniva, if I had known a little more about her back then, mainly due to the Irish-Norwegian connection rather than any definite preference for St. Sunniva over St. Teresa.

I think I should probably ask the intercession of both more regularly and intimately than I do, and will try to follow the advice of the Holy Father to that effect.

I think the idea of particular devotions is sensible in that one cannot keep up a steady devotion to all of the saints one feels drawn to. Just like one has to pick some prayers to keep up on a daily basis, even though there are so many great devotions. And, of course, it doesn't exclude the seeking of the aid of other saints for particular intentions and in general, nor an expression of love for them.

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