Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saints Preserve Us, I've Been Tagged

The Ironic Catholic did the honors.

"Those tagged for this meme will list their four favorite saints, their one
favorite blessed, and one person they think should have been a saint." OK--here
we go!

NOTA: Asking me to choose only four favorite saints is a form of torture. I have found the saints to be my friends since early childhood. My spiritual director told me once that my reluctance to join the Secular Franciscans was that in choosing Francis I was in essence turning my back on all my other "friends of the bosom" in the communion of saints. He was probably pretty close to the truth; I never did join. I will do my best to choose four saints that have meant the most to me in a lifetime of loving all of the saints. Perhaps they are the saints that mean the most to me at this time, or linger around me when I am the most in need.

1) Margaret Mary Alacoque - She was a 17th Century nun who had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and through visions from Christ was instrumental in spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart. Her writings are amazingly personal and convicting.

I have written before about the fact that I thought the church had named a saint after me until I read about St Margaret Mary when I was 10 and my Godparents got me "Lives of the Saints for Young Readers" for my birthday. I was only sad until I finished reading about her because she was such a strong and awesome woman.

2) Philomena -- probably a virgin and martyr as nothing is known about her life. The only person to be elevated to sainthood based solely upon miraculous cures and intercessions that occurred centuries after her death. The modern Church has tried to expunge her from the Calendar due to lack of evidence of her life, but cannot expunge the hagiography and devotion that has grown up around her because of her powerful intercessory aide.

I only know that I was having a panic attack in a Cathedral very far from home when I was very much alone in a very large crowd of women, and I opened a book and inside I found a St. Philomena Holy Card. From the moment that I held that holy card I began to calm down. I was infused with a sense that I was meant to be where I was no matter how uncomfortable I felt. (I later heard in the homily at that same mass a message I needed to hear which I would have missed had I run screaming from the church, which was my first inclination.)

3) St. Ignatius of Loyola - Once a soldier, whose career was cut short by a devastating leg injury. While recuperating, with nothing but time and two books (the bible and lives of the saints) to while away the hours he had a conversion of heart and decided to dedicate his life to becoming a soldier for the Church. He had a strong commitment to education, and to discerning God's will for himself and then to helping others discern God's will for themselves.

His Spiritual Exercises are used today by vowed, religious and lay men and women alike.

When I was in my deepest despair in my spiritual life as an adult Catholic, and my prayer felt like straw falling on deaf ears I was introduced to Ignatius and his wonderful spiritual exercises. Through them I realized that if I could not see God it was I who had turned my face from Him, and He was faithfully seeking the deepest part of me if I only would open my heart to Him. Of all my companions on the journey, I think Ignatius and his Jesuit friends have come the closest to speaking to my deepest needs. which is why I use the Examen as my evening prayer, and take an Ignatian retreat every year.

4. St Maximilian Kolbe - Polish priest who had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. He used the mass media to reach many in an evangelization effort that was far reaching. He was a tireless missionary in Japan and India and worked for peace in an era of war and strife. He was frail because of tuberculosis, but that never stopped him from doing God's work. He was imprisoned in Auschwitz near the end of World War II . He continued to minister in his role as priest even in the camp. He offered his life for that of a Jewish man who was scheduled to die in retribution for an escape attempt. The camp guards tried to starve him to death but when after 14 days he was still alive, they injected him with poison.

The very first time mrangelmeg and I went anywhere together alone it was to Mass at a Franciscan parish on the day that St Max was canonized. Needless to say, this being one of their boys they had a ginormous party, which we attended since we were poor college kids who never passed up a chance to get a free meal. It also gave us the opportunity to spend most of that day together. Not a bad way to start a relationship in retrospect. We have always counted St. Max as the patron of our relationship. He is a very special friend to both of us and has showered us with intercessions and blessings over the years.

One Blessed:

Blessed Junipero Serra - a Franciscan who left the teaching of Philosophy to do missionary work among the settlers and natives in Mexico and California in the late 1700's. He was a tireless worker and did much good.

Okay, I admit it, I am choosing him because he left his post of Philosophy Teacher to do real work. No bias there.

One person who should be a saint:

Thomas a' Kempis - I mean really, this man single-handedly wrote what is arguably the most well read book on spirituality in the entire Catholic world and has never been out of print since its first printing. It is probably printed in every known language (I wouldn't doubt that someone is working on the Klingon version as I write this) and he isn't a saint!

The official Church story is that when they exhumed his body for his cause for sainthood they found scratch marks on the inside of the lid of his coffin, which meant that he had been, uhm prematurely interred. The church could not declare him a saint because she could not be sure that at the last moment of his "actual" death he didn't despair.

I think given the way he lived his prior life, God would give him a pass for whatever thoughts came into his head or words came out of his mouth in those final moments. If he didn't get one I don't have a chance.

This was lots of fun. I want to tag, Suzanne and Meg, and The Kitchen Madonna (between Aprons).



The Ironic Catholic said...

Sorry to torture you, but this was great!

Suzanne said...

I'll have to have a little time to do this one...we'll see and hopefully it won't be too long, but like you...I love so many of them. I didn't know that about Kempis! Oh, dear!