A dream fulfilled. A prayer answered. A journey coming to an end and a new journey beginning. A place to belong.
Those are some of the thoughts and feelings I experienced On Christ the King Day in 2020 when I was finally received into the church after longing to for over thirty years. The whole story is one for another post, but part of it does relate to this one, “Finding and Walking with Your Saint in 2022”.
In the early part of my journey, one of things I had to gain an understanding of is the concept of praying to the saints and Mother Mary for their intercessions. I must admit, that for me this was not a stumbling block as it appears to be for many non-Catholics. This concept when shared with others has brought me many less than polite comments and messages from those who do not understand.
While the word pray can be used to define worship, it also has other definitions. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word pray also means to entreat, implore, request, plea. To make a request in a humble manner.
In short, we’re not worshipping Mary and the saints, but asking them to pray for us.
In regards to the saints and whether or not they can hear us or intercede for us, two things immediately come to mind. First from the Book of Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, (NABRE)
And, in the Apostolic Creed, we profess belief in the “communion of saints”.
Throughout my journey and especially towards the end leading to my confirmation, learning about the saints, their examples and asking for their intercession became a regular part of my life. I found that in doing so, especially when I was asked to choose my confirmations saint, that their writings, prayers and examples not only gave me comfort and greater focus, but helped me draw even closer to Our Lord Jesus. Padre Pio (my confirmation saint), St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Josemaria Escriva and St. John Paul II were ones I regular asked for intercession from and whose words and examples were of great benefit to me.
So, when at the start of Advent and the Liturgical New Year right after my confirmation when the lady at our parish who is the Director of Evangelization and Catechesis encouraged others to choose a Saint and word for the coming year, I was fascinated. After some time in prayer and thoughtful consideration, I chose St. John Paul II as my Saint and for my word I chose “Courage” based upon his “Be Not Afraid” speech for 2021.
Like I did my with my confirmations Saint and Saint for 2021, I chose my Saint and word for 2022 after time in prayer in reflection. In reality, it felt more as if they chose me and drew me to them rather than the other way around.
My Saint and word I chose at the beginning of Advent for 2022 (which I’ll address a bit more) is St. Maximillian Kolbe and the word was “Sacrifice”.
As we approached 2022 and for the first several days of the New Year, I had received emails and saw numerous posts on social media in regards to selecting a word and saint for the year. Many were sharing random generators and others encouraged writing out your goals for 2022 and go from there.
One business owner whom I follow and have interacted with shared some great ideas is Andrea for “Sparkle with Grace “(@sparkelwithgraceon Instagram). Andrea specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses streamline organization and goal setting, especially the busy moms juggling home life, children and running a business.
Andrea gave the following tips on finding a word for the year:
• Ask yourself what you need in your life right now
• Think about the traits or qualities that are important to you
• Make a list of words that resonate with you
• Pay attention to words or themes appearing in your life
• See if your goals for the year share a common theme
• Don’t overthink it , let the word come to you
As I mentioned, I chose mine after prayer and consideration in preparing for Advent. To some extent, I used the method shared by Andrea. I spent time considering and praying on where I was, what I experienced and learned in 2021,where I was headed and where I was hoping to go. Where I wanted Easter Pup Creations to go and more importantly where I wanted to be as man.
St. Maximillian Kolbe kept coming to me, his words kept touching me and it seemed that everywhere I looked I either saw something of St. Kolbe or something that reminded me of him. Choosing him seemed natural and meant to be. AS if he chose me (the same feelings I had when I chose St. Padre Pio as my confirmation saint).
I must admit, that when the word “sacrifice” kept coming to me, I was a bit befuddled. I associated the word sacrifice with great acts such as those of St. Maximillian when he offered himself in Auschwitz to spare another, the acts of those I served with in the military – especially those who gave their lives to save another and most of all I think of Jesus sacrificing himself to a criminal’s execution on the cross to redeem us from sin.
But when pondering the words of some others, such as St. Therese of Lisieux, I realized that there is so much more to sacrifice and so much more I needed to do. Many things within myself I needed to sacrifice.
“Prayer and sacrifice can touch souls better than words” and “Love proves itself by deeds, so how can I show my love? The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love” are two quotes from St. Therese that touched me.
And when thinking of Easter Pup Creations and my goals, sacrifice didn’t seem to connect with my rational (in reality irrational) mind. But with prayerful consideration, I was brought back to the original mission of Easter Pup Creations. Yes, to be a successful business for my family and me, but to also be a ministry and source of encouragement to others.
To do so, I would have to make changes. I would have to make sacrifices.
Along with the easily recognized changes that would be required, such as sacrificing time and energy to work on my business, learn more and to serve others and forgo “me time”, I would have to do more.
I would need to sacrifice comfort at times, especially when I didn’t feel like praying, reaching out to others or when called to speak up and share the love of Christ.
I would need to sacrifice my pride, ego, my fear, my sense of self and my own understanding.
I would need to sacrifice my self-created self-defenses, tear down the walls and be more open to others and to the prompting of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
None of these will happen overnight and many will require me to daily revisit and examine myself. I can only do these things by learning from the saint, asking for theirs and Our Mother Mary’s intercession and most importantly running to the foot of the cross and embracing Our Lord, Jesus.
As Jesus said in the Book of Luke, “Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” ~ Luke 9:23-24 (NABRE)
The exercise of choosing a Saint and word for the year provided not only the opportunity to set some goals, learn more about a saint and their devotion to Christ, but an opportunity to examine myself, my motives, my heart and my relationship with Jesus. In deciding to find and walk with a saint in 2022, you will have a prayer warrior interceding for you and as you learn more about them, you hopefully will find yourself delving deeper into the scriptures and drawing closer and closer to Jesus. And drawing nearer and dearer to Jesus is really what it is all about.
Take some time and pray. Write out your thoughts and goals. Allow Our Lord to show you your heart. In doing so, I believe that your walk in 2022 will be one of greater focus and, hopefully, one that draws you closer to Jesus.
But, what do I know … I’m just a simple rosary maker.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (NABRE)