Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Best Saint

There’s a lot of frivolity about TBOE, for a lot of reasons.

Life is very serious, and we should have some fun when we can. But there’s a time to sit back and reflect, too, and this is one of those entries. So I will be serious and straightforward here and I will risk alienating some of you readers who want only lists of ranch pop ingredients and nothing more thoughtful than Snoopy’s travails in World War I.

I will also risk putting off those people who do not care to think about religion, and that’s because of the debt I owe which prompted this entry.

Do not be afraid to be a lone voice crying in the wilderness,” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once said to me when I happened to meet him after writing a letter asking if I could. And I’m not, especially when it comes to matters like this.

When I was young, I thought everyone must be a Catholic. It surprised me the first time I learned that there were other religions and that in fact my next-door neighbor was one of those other religions (which should not have surprised me since he did not go to our church.) And I still act mostly as though everyone understands my religion, but I don’t think that you have to understand Catholicism to understand this post. You do have to understand saints, I guess, so maybe I should explain a little.

In the Catholic Church, and maybe others, saints have causes, or reasons. They are patron saints of things. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, is the patron saint of scholars. St. Jude is the patron saint of the impossible. And each saint has many causes.

So when Catholics make a request of God, they invoke the saints. This was claimed, by the mother of that next-door neighbor long ago, to be idolatry, praying to a saint rather than God. It’s not, though, when properly understood. The supplicants are asking the saint to intercede for them – to get God to listen to them. Like a heavenly attorney helping you with your petition.

When Sweetie and I were trying to have a baby, and it looked like we were not going to be able to have one, I became more prayerful than usual. I do pray, all the time, but not always in an organized way. But I was getting desperate. And I remembered something my mom told me, a long time ago. When she was giving birth to my brother, she’s thought she and he were going to die. She’d said a prayer to Saint Jude and promised that if they both lived, she would name the baby after Saint Jude, and so my brother’s middle name is Jude.

So I looked up patron saints, which you can do here , and came to Saint Anthony of Padua.

Saint Anthony is primarily known as the patron saint of lost articles—people pray to find glasses, rings, and the like. But like other saints, he has other causes, too, and one of them is that he is the patron saint of expectant mothers.

So I went to one of the websites devoted to Saint Anthony, and learned some prayers, and everyday during Sweetie’s pregnancy with A & B, I would say this prayer:

Prayer to the “Wonder Worker”
After you died, St. Anthony, God chose to make your holiness known to the world and to draw people by working miracles in answer to prayers made in your name. Since then, people have asked God to continue to honor you by working wonders through your intercession. Those who have experienced the power of prayers offered in your name have told how God has answered them. God has healed the sick, restored peace of mind, relieved poverty and granted favors of all kinds.
Now in this time of need, I ask you, St. Anthony, to pray with me for the things I desire. I pray that God may again give me a sign of loving care and providence, and that through you, God may draw us all to the fullness of life and love in eternity. Amen.

And I promised, like my mom had, that our baby would have his name if born.

And it worked, worked better than I could have imagined, since we had not one but two, and as a result, the older of the two (Twin A) has Anthony as a middle name.

And I’ve continued every day going to that site and now saying this prayer,

Prayer of Thanksgiving
St. Anthony, God has helped me abundantly through your prayer and has strengthened me in my need. I thank God and I thank you. Accept this prayer and my serious resolve which I now renew, to live always in the love of Jesus and of my neighbor. Continue to shield me by your protection and pray to God for the final grace of one day entering the kingdom of heaven to sing with you the everlasting mercies of God. Amen.

And I also check into the prayer requests that others post, and add my prayers to theirs, too.

All of the saints are, of course, great men and women. They would not be saints otherwise. And we have other saint names for the rest of the kids. I’m not trying to denigrate any of them.

This is also not the first time I’ve had prayers answered, either. But it was among the most important of prayers I’ve ever made, and Saint Anthony came through for me, getting God to help me and Sweetie out.

So I decided that I’d post this as part of thanking Saint Anthony, and to let others out there know that prayer works. While I hope it doesn’t offend anyone or turn anyone off of this site, it was important to me that my babies be born, and it’s important to me that God and Saint Anthony know that I recognize that they were instrumental in helping me and Sweetie achieve that desire. It’s important to me, too, that I not worry about what others will think of my beliefs.

Saint Anthony of Padua, thank you for being The Best Saint.

For more about Saint Anthony of Padua, read about him here.

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