One of the things I really love about Catholicism, is the communion of saints. In addition to personal prayer, there is something comforting about having people pray for me. What better friends to pray for a person than friends who are already in heaven with Jesus for all eternity? Not everyone in heaven has been canonized as a saint and given a specific feast day, so we have All Saints day set aside to honor all the holy men and women in heaven- those we know and those only God knows. In fact, during the homily today, the priest mentioned that we have thousands of canonised saints, but they are only a fraction of those in heaven. There are so many more unknown saints. This All Saints day, I thought the best way to celebrate would be to honor my patron saints and share how I have experienced their intercession/ friendship in my life. My patron saints are St Joseph, St Josephine, St Lucy, St Clare, St Anthony and St John Paul II.
I was baptized on the 8th of February and named Josephine after St Joseph and my dad. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the saints for the day and discovered one of them was Saint Josephine Bakhita, an amazing and inspiring woman! St Josephine went from being kidnapped into slavery to being a Canossian sister, to becoming a canonized saint. To be honest, when I was younger, I did not want to celebrate St Josephine because I felt embarrassed that my patron saint used to be a slave when we have saints that were more ‘glamorous’. Thankfully, I am older and wiser. I treasure the fact that we have so many diverse saints because it reminds us that we can all be saints regardless of our past or circumstances.
I fell in love with saints as a young girl. In fact, my Book of Saints was one of my most prized possessions. My favorites included St Lucy and St Clare. St Lucy, because she is the patron saint of the blind and my eyesight is abysmal. St Clare, because she is the patron saint of television and before I discovered the internet, I believed that television was the greatest invention known to man.
Later on in 2008, I had a very rough year:I was about to write my junior high final exams and just before my exams, my grandmother passed away. The worst thing for me was that I never really got closure. My grandmother passed away in London and had a memorial service in Lagos, Nigeria. I was in boarding school preparing for my exams so I could not attend the burial or the memorial service. It was also the first time in my life that I had ever experienced real loss so you can imagine how hard that was for my young teenage self. In the midst of all these, life had to go on. So, I did my favorite novenas, tried my best and wrote my exams. On August 11th, St Clare’s feast day, my school principal called my mum and informed her that I had gotten all As which qualified me for a scholarship that covered my tuition and boarding fees for a year. On December 13th, St Lucy’s feast day, I was officially presented with the scholarship cheque. Two years later, I did not think twice before selecting Lucy-Clarette as my confirmation name.
Two other saints I love, but I’m not named after, are St Anthony and St John Paul II. Since I was about 10 years old, I had a special devotion to St Anthony because he was the patron saint of lost things and I felt like a lost soul. About 10 years later, I discovered he was also the patron saint of amputees. This revelation shocked and excited me at the same time because I felt like that was why I had a special connection to him, since my soul was no longer lost, lol 🙂 Side note, I used to have a strong devotion to St Anthony, St Jude and St Rita, because they were the patron saints of lost things/poor people, desperate cases and impossible causes respectively. They were my “miracle friends”. Over the years, it was my devotion to St Anthony that stood the test of time, although St Rita and St Jude still have a special place in my heart. I found this quote about St Anthony very profound:
“Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and sent in a new and unexpected direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one’s life completely over to Christ. God did with Anthony as he pleased – and what he pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects found himself by losing himself totally to the providence of God.” — Leonard Foley, O.F.M.
To the glory of God, I have had the privilege of venerating first class relics of St Anthony and St John Paul II, in this beautiful Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Relics of St Anthony of Padua which visited Vancouver in 2016
First picture: Relics of St John Paul in Vancouver + Jesus in the blessed sacrament (2015)
Followed by a program of events from the veneration of his relics in Lagos Nigeria(I attended that event in 2012 when he was Blessed Pope John Paul II! )
To be honest, sometimes I get intimidated reading about the lives of saints and all the mighty things that God did through them. I get scared that the saints are all amazing. Meanwhile, I am so unworthy and would never be like them. This is in part true, I would never be like them because I am my own unique individual. However, these words from my favorite meditation give me comfort:
Poor child, fear not, blush not at the sight of so many failings;
there are Saints in heaven who had the faults you have;
they came to Me lovingly, they prayed earnestly to Me, and My grace has made them good and holy in My sight.
Danielle Rose sums it up best in her song “The Saint that is just me”
I think is a beautiful song /prayer and I hope you enjoy it.
When you hung upon the cross looking at me,
You didn’t die so I would try to be somebody else.
You died so I could be the saint that is just me.
How about you? Do you have a favorite saint or saints that you just connect with? Let me know 🙂
My prayer for you is that in addition to experiencing a relationship with God, you will also find friendship and companionship in His saints, people like us who have walked the walk and talked the talk concerning our Christian faith. Most importantly, may we one day join our friends to see God face to face in glory. Amen.
All you saints and angels of God,
Pray for us.
Peace, Love and Joy
Thumbnail photo credits:Catholicsay.com
Other pictures belong to Fehintola Okunubi