Over at A Mother’s Place… she posted the question, “Who are your favorite Saints?” and I have so many, then she asked, “Why are these your favorites?” and I realized this was a good blog topic. So here we go:
St. Teresa of Avila and St. Edith Stein are favorites from my time studying Carmelite writings and being in formation as a Lay Carmelite. It turned out to not be my path, at least not at this time of my life, and I came away with a deeper understanding of some incredible Saints and Doctors of the Church, a reverence for contemplative prayer, and having read and re-read St. Teresa of Avila’s writings so often that they feel like old familiar friends.
I hope someday to be at that same point with the writings of the brilliant and admirable St. Edith Stein who was converted to Catholicism by reading the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and later died in Auschwitz. St. Teresa of Avila is not read anywhere near as much as she ought to be.
St. Benedict and St. Josemaria Escriva are favorites because I started out reading the Rule of St. Benedict, and my favorite crucifix is a Benedictine style which I had blessed and which I was able to touch to a piece of the true cross. Anyway, I wanted to try and make my whole life more holy. I was reading the Rule and praying about how it might be applied to my life.
The problem is it was written for contemplatives who were praying and working and living in a monastery and it simply did not fit with small children, husbands, and the daily work of a wife and mother. I did the only thing I could think of, I prayed a novena to St. Benedict to help me figure out how to apply his guidance to my vocation. Soon, I found the names St. Josemaria Escriva and Opus Dei crossing my path, repeatedly, and in the end it was St. Benedict who sent me to the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva which are now also old friends and always useful for learning to live my vocation.
The writing of St. Josemaria Escriva are possibly as much my old friends now as the writings of St. Teresa of Avila. Their wisdom, love of Jesus, love of scripture, and determination that every person can live a holy life is a constant edification for me.
St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph of Cupertino are favorites because I am a student, a scholar, a lover of the study of theology and science, a writer, and a teacher. I’m a brainy person who loves to read the difficult stuff. St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron of students. His writings are about logic and reason applied to things spiritual. His writings are challenging to many people, but so are the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, St. Edith Stein, Blessed John Paul II, and the many documents and encyclicals of the Church. I love this stuff. I read encyclicals for fun. So, I guess that labels me a brain– and with brains comes a need to be taught humility to go with it.
St. Thomas Aquinas was BRILLIANT and he insisted on staying a bottom level monk his whole life because he believed that to accept promotion would destroy his humility and take him from God.
St. Joseph of Cupertino was very very holy and my admiration for him is very deep. He was also not brilliant, not a scholar, and very humble. He was so humble that at the consecration he would sometimes levitate as he looked upon Christ in the Eucharist. He was so humble and holy that when he would be at prayer he sometimes levitated then too. His example of love, generosity, gentleness, humility and holiness reminds me that my brains are NOTHING if I am not like Jesus.
St. Catherine of Alexandria is a favorite because she was an educated woman in an era where this was not very common, she is patroness of philosophers, libraries and librarians, among others. This is significant to me as I have a lot of books constituting a small private library of my own. It is a blessing to me and I appreciate that there is a patron Saint for me.
St. Raphael is a favorite because he is the patron of finding a godly spouse. As a laywoman with a vocation in her marriage and to the raising of our children, his intercession for my finding my beloved husband is something I appreciate and for which I am devoted to him. I also pray for his intersession for spouses for my children.
Blessed John Paul II is a favorite for many reasons. He is, for me, the example of all that a pope ought to be. He was a brilliant scholar, a brilliant philosopher, a writer of plays, and lover of hiking into the mountains. His family was both Eastern and Western Catholic. He taught us to love our Eastern brothers and recognize them as Church too. He wrote LOTS. I keep reading what he wrote and re-reading what he wrote and every time I read what he wrote I find something new to challenge me to grow in JESUS.
He defined the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death and wrote about how to recognize what movements to with which culture. He wrote the THEOLOGY OF THE BODY and they are essential for restoring our human anthropology and thus our understanding of ourselves and others so we can build the culture of life together. He wrote the Gospel of Life, an encyclical, that re-affirms and takes another look at Humanae Vitae and that whole prophetic statement on birth control and what it would lead our cultures into. He wrote the encyclicals: the Gospel of Truth and Faith and Reason. Brilliant writings that all Catholics ought to read over and over again until it imprints on your mind and illuminates your understanding of Scripture.
Blessed Miguel Pro is a favorite because he was a martyr in Mexico in the early 1900’s. People in the United States and even many people for whom this is their own ethnic history are ignorant of the persecutions of the Church, Catholics, and priests during the early decades of the 20th century IN MEXICO. There are photographs of his execution. He stood before the firing squad with his crucifix in one hand, his rosary in the other, spread his arms out as if on the cross and cried out, “Viva Christo Rei!” just before they shot him. “Long Live Christ the King” were his last words. Previous to this he had used his skills with costumes to go from place to place saying the Mass and providing the Eucharist and other Sacraments to the Faithful even though being caught doing Jesus’ work was a death sentence. OH, and our US government SUPPORTED the government that was doing this persecution and execution of priests caught.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel are three ways people have devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God. She said yes to God when it could have been a death sentence for her. She is Queen of Heaven. She is an amazing example of being a woman of God. Of the many ways she is presented, these are my three favorites.
I remember the first time I saw the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. I was struck first as we walked toward the basilica by the devout people walking there on their knees. They were poor and appeared HAPPY as they crossed the hard pavement toward the church. Inside, I noted the devotion of the people praying their rosaries. The people were joyful and very very serious about their prayers. Then we walked beneath the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She was so beautiful, serene and reminded me of my Great Grandmother Fisher with her dark hair, fair skin and sweet expression.
Later, after I journeyed into the Catholic Church, I came to appreciate the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel during my time learning about Carmel. Finally, my favorite statue of Mary is of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom because of how the Christ child snuggles against her neck and the way her mantle wraps around them, and that Mary is crowned, and the image is beautiful and serene. But the truth is, no matter which image, the main reason I appreciate them is because I have grown to love the example of Mary and consider her a template and example for me in how to live my life and vocation.
So these are my favorite Saints and something of why they are favorites. In the list I ought to include St. Anthony because of how often his intersession has helped me find things that were misplaced. I feel like I ought to write on the Scriptural basis for devotion to our Lady and to Saints, but this is longer than I usually post, so, this list is enough.
Feel free to share your favorite saints and why.