Devotions to the Saints -Fr. Dominic Radecki
At Baptism, each catholic child is given the name of a saint. Since the ceremony of baptism is often called “Christening,” that is “making like to Christ,” it is quite appropriate that a newly baptized catholic should take the name of one of the heroes of the faith; one who was already proven himself like unto Christ. Taking a saint’s name also gives honor to that saint, just as a person is honored by having a child named after him and will follow with interest and affection the life of his namesake, so too, the saint in heaven will, even more so, be interested in and help his namesake who is on earth.
When receiving the sacrament of confirmation, catholics choose the name of yet another saint who is to help them fulfill their new role as a soldier of Christ. It is not only individuals who have patron saints, but groups, organizations and occupations have them as well. Christian devotion has determined that certain professions be placed under the protection of particular saints who had a connection, in some way, with similar states in life. Thus, we have St. Luke being the patron of doctors, St. Joseph of carpenters, St. Andrew of fishermen, St. Christopher of travelers, and so forth. No walk or circumstance of life lacks its patron. Farmers have St. Isidore; wine growers, St. Vincent the martyr. The list goes on and on. There is even a patron saint of comedians, St. Vitus.
Popular tradition, based on the knowledge of the lives of the saints, chose certain saints who could appropriately be called upon for special needs. A prime example is that of St. Blaise. Each year the Church reminds us of the powerful patronage of this bishop and martyr. We are told that while St. Blaise was in prison awaiting martyrdom, a boy who was dying because of strangulation from a fishbone caught in his throat, was brought to him. At the saint’s prayer, the affliction vanished.
Tradition has observed that on February third of each year, a special blessing is given to the faithful in which St. Blaise is asked to protect them against diseases of the throat. Another example of the powerful intercession of a saint is that of St. Anthony of Padua, who is invoked for the particular purpose of seeking assistance in finding something which is lost. This devotion springs from a story which relates that a novice in his monastery once ran away, taking with him a very valuable book. At the prayer of St. Anthony, the boy was overtaken in a violent storm. Frightened, he not only resolved to return the book, but to also amend his life.
God, in His mercy, has allowed us the power to pray to the saints and be heard. How is this possible? In Heaven, all the reasonable desires of the saints are satisfied by the power of God. It is sensible that they desire to know the prayers addressed to them. Since these are spiritual matters, time and distance are of no hinderance. The saints are enabled to understand and hear our most secret prayers and not only reflect the love of God for us, they also stand ready and willing to help us no matter how desperate our plea.
Thus, the saints are friends of God and have served Him in a heroic manner they are most close to Him by their holiness and thus have great influence with God who is so ready to fulfill their desires. The saints are given the power to help us in our every need. The patronage of the saints is a powerful help and a great consolation in our temporal and spiritual needs, for they are our true friends to whom we can turn whenever we desire.
We honor the saints, not only because they are such good allies, but due to their very closeness to God. They are the ones that have succeeded in life’s struggles. Since the saints once lived on earth and had to undergo trails and tribulations similar to ours, we need to reflect upon their lives so that we can find strength and courage from those who underwent similar problems, temptations, and disappointments. No matter what circumstances we find in ourselves in, there are saints who have been there. Every walk of life, every class of people, every social and economic level and degree of virtue has produced its saints. There is no path that has been untrod by some saint at one time or another. As we pray to them, they will unite their prayers with ours so that ours will become more acceptable to God.
In reading the lives of the saints, we will come to a realize that sanctity is a combination of work, prayers, suffering and cooperation with God’s grace. To know the lives of the saints is the beginning of holiness for somewhere in the lives of the saints there lies one which is similar to ours. We should try to imitate them and learn from their wisdom, so that we too can become more Christlike and eventually rejoice with them in Heaven.