(best when pronounced with an Irish accent)

 

(borrowed from somewhere on the net)

 

These are saints all attributed with a special patronage for:

 seafarers, sailors, mariners, boatmen, watermen, safe sailing, safe seafaring, safe waters

 

Saint Anthony of Padua           Saint Barbara

Saint Brendan the Navigator           Saint Brigid of Ireland

Saint Christopher           Saint Clement I

Saint Cuthbert           Saint Erasmus / Elmo

Saint Eulalia           Saint Francis of Paola

Saint Jodocus           Saint John Roche

Saint Julian the Hospitaller           Saint Michael the Archangel

Saint Nicholas of Myra           Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

Our Lady, Star of the Sea           Saint Peter Gonzales

Saint Phocas the Gardener           Saint Walburga

source:    Catholic Forum

 

A Few Thoughts on the Role of the Saints

by Jeff Elsbecker

   

Though a practicing Catholic, devotion to the Saints is not a significant part of my spiritual life.  I don’t state this as any kind of manifesto, only as a matter of fact, perhaps even as a confession of personal shortcoming.  For many years I misunderstood the role of Saints in Catholic spirituality.  Though I was raised Catholic, much of my spiritual formation occurred when I attended Protestant churches throughout my twenties.  I’ve returned to the Catholic Church these last twenty years and more and am a better Catholic for my association with our Protestant brethren.  My growth in understanding is an ongoing journey.  While I had a few friends proofread this, to the extent that my thoughts may vary from Catholic teaching, I defer to greater lights than mine.  A devotion to the Saints is a significant part of the Catholic heritage, so I remain open to what is to be learned.

 

I have made precious little access to this rich heritage, but I offer these thoughts as a travelogue of my journey thus far and, as if it were necessary, a defense of the role of these men and women of God in our lives today.  Most of my friends will find it humorous that I give myself this particular charge.  My goal is to point others onward, in a direction that I have yet to follow sufficiently.  As I’ve encountered more Catholic teaching I find how much room each of us has for growth and indeed, correction.  Perhaps with your prayers I will be drawn further yet into Glory.

 

 

 

There are two facets to the role of the Saints that I consider here.  The first is that of an active relationship with them.  The second is their position as examples of faith and virtue.

  

 

For the longest time I thought one was expected to pray to a Saint and the saint would grant some desire or effect some wonder in one’s life.  This understanding was in part because many Catholics mispractice the Church’s teachings and in part because many Protestants misinterpret those teachings.  To my eyes, for some Catholics, the custom does take on the form of almost pagan magical rites.  Taken to it’s extreme we see practices such as Santeria.

 

The two Western branches of the Christian faith (my only familiarity) hold in common the importance of our need for mutual support for and from our family in Christ.  This is in the form of daily encouragement, common worship, material help and communal and individual prayer.  In the Catholic faith this notion of the Communion of Saints extends to those who have passed on into the next world.  Thus, just as I would ask a special friend to pray for me, I have access to ask a particular pilgrim who has crossed to Heaven to intercede on my behalf to the Lord.  This assumes that some level of communication is possible, if only in one direction, which I accept.  How many people have said of a departed loved one, “They are watching me from heaven.”?

 

 In my years in Protestant faith communities I met people who felt called to a life of prayer of intercession, often referred to as ‘prayer warriors’.  They don’t always wait to be asked, but offer prayerful appeals where they sense a need.  Among many questions that arise here are:  Why does God want/need us to ask before he acts?  Does our supplication alter his action?  And more.  (At this point I wade into the deep waters of the nature and efficacy of prayer, waters I am not mature enough to navigate.  For a helpful discussion of the subject I highly recommend Letters to Malcolm by C. S. Lewis.)  Those questions aside, I accept that prayer is an integral part of my Christian life to whatever degree I understand it.  Jjust as I would ask a close living friend to pray for me I can ask a Saint to pray for me, even to keep a prayerful eye out for me.

  

 

In a time when Christian leaders from many denominations are found to be living lives of deep hypocrisy I find it important to remind myself of all the wonderful people of faith who have remained true to their calling, within the bounds of the human frailties we all share.  To my mind they represent the far greater majority.  There are heroes we can look up to, not because they are perfect, but because they remain faithful through their imperfection and move toward a life of great holiness.  In addition to those living, there are people who have left this world whose lives can provide a model of fidelity to encourage us, for us to emulate.  To study their lives and writings can be a source of strength for me. 

 

Much of my theological understanding seems to develop in an intuitive, organic, experiential process, usually unbidden and unexpected.  I recall my first encounter of this sort regarding the saints when I was about 35 and visiting a chapel at a Catholic university.  There was a statue of St. Joseph, holding woodworking tools.  Among other things, I am a sculptor and a father.  The authenticity with which the tools were represented struck me.  I felt a warm sense of closeness with this man of two thousand years ago.  It is easy for me to picture him at work in his shop, his hands plying his tools, testing the fit of the pieces, to imagine much of his daily life.  He, also, was called to be a father.  He accepted many challenges that rocked him from his anticipated life course, from his religious background, from his cultural expectations.  Throughout, though troubled, he always came back to obedience to his calling, to his Lord.  

  

There are a bewildering number of ‘official’ Saints and which particular Saint I may choose to recruit is left wonderfully up to me.  A patron is suggested at Baptism, each parish has a patron and with any number of life’s vocations and situations a patron is associated.  I have offered the opportunity to those in the Thunder community to contribute some thoughts on a Saint who might make a special connection with them.  This is an ongoing project with more links to follow below.

 

 

 

Many Blessings

 

 

Jeff

 

 

Under Construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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