Yes, that is patrons, as in multiple. Because I have three of them, this year. Plus all the others I’m not able to leave behind.
I‘ve been pulling saint patrons (or having friends pull them for me, or using internet generators like this one and this one) for probably a dozen years, and most years I start out getting my saint and wondering, “Whaaaat? Saint Who?”
My nun friends all say “you don’t pick the saint; the saint picks you”, and I’ve tried to keep that in mind. Most years, I eventually figure out why a particular saint “picked” me, but it is not always obvious, and some years December comes and I ask my patron, with whom I’ve lost contact, “so, what was that about, anyway?”
The thing is, if you don’t take it seriously — if you don’t remember to talk to your patron every day — the thing doesn’t jibe. You never figure out why the Holy Spirit, or the saint, thought there was a match, there. When you really seek out your patron, really study his life and remember him (or her) while at prayer, you develop a genuine relationship with them — a true friendship. It’s great that everyone is talking about pulling their saints this week, but if you don’t work the relationship, it ends up meaning very little.
The year I drew Saint Philip Neri — about whom I knew nothing beyond the fact that he was a cheerful fellow — I decided to read about him; I watched this excellent film about him. I placed him on my oratory and kept him in mind. Every day, in my prayers, I would say “Saint Philip Neri, please teach me what you know…”
Well, I am a bad student at the best of times, but I believe the general state of optimism that infuses my faith, which some have derided as “simplistic” and “Pollyannaish” (and which may well be, for all I know, I don’t examine it) can be directly attributed to my friendship with Philip, which has continued far beyond 2010. I hold that Apostle of Rome to be directly responsible for my having visited Rome every year since then, and participating in Mass at his crypt is, with each visit, a great and emotional joy for me.
I do owe him some Euro in the collection basket at Chiesa Nuova, so I hope he’ll bring me back once more!
Quite possibly I need three.
The first, pulled for me by a friend, is Saint Dominic Savio, who died when he was 14 years old.
And yes, when my friend sent me the pull, I was all, “Whaaat? Oh come on! He’s a kid!” Well, I have to read more about him, but even if he died at age fourteen, Savio seems to have been quite an extraordinary kid, and I’m already picking up on how I may need him.
Then, I found myself checking out an internet “Patron Saint Generator” and — purely out of habit, with no fore-thought (or fore-prayer) — clicking the button. Up came Blessed Anne-Catherine Emmerich and I was all like, “well, no, she’s that crazy mystic, and anyway, I didn’t mean to do that, and I hadn’t pushed that button intentionally, so it doesn’t count.”
But how do you throw away a beata? I can’t. I figure I have to learn about her, too.
But then, since I now had two patrons, I figured, may as well go for the trifecta; go big or go home, right? So I said a prayer to the Holy Spirit and then pressed the button again, and up came, Saint Rita of Cascia and I don’t even have to wonder about that. I get it.
If I’m honest, I will admit that on some level I get all of them turning up on me this year. And I feel like it’s going to be a hard year.
Because I have a lot to learn. God help me.
Saints Rita, and Dominic and Philip, Blessed Anne-Catherine, teach me what you know!
But please be gentle.