Genealogy has been on my mind a lot the past few months. Isn’t it fascinating that so many people had to be involved for each of us to exist?
I mean, with exponential growth, you only have to go back seven generations to have 128 people. Each of those individuals had to make the decisions that they made in order to lead to you!
Every one of the thousands of ancestors before you has played an important role in your life whether you see it or not.
It’s like the long lists of Jesus’ genealogy at the beginning of the Gospels. At first read, it seems like an irrelevant detail, yet it is full of meaning and significance. The fact that Jesus is from the family he is from means something.
Genealogy tells a story. God has a plan for everyone in the human family, and that this family is not always perfect.
The Family of Saints
We are all interconnected and related to one another some how – the human family.
Many of us are also baptized into God’s family – the Church.
Related by Blood
While researching my family tree, I started to realize just how many people there are and how connected we are.
With 100% French Canadian descent, it wasn’t surprising that much of the family tree points to France. I’ve learned that several of my 8th or 9th great grandparents were Filles du Roi, young women recruited by King Louis XIV to go to New France and marry. Two thirds of French Canadians now have these women to thank!
I wondered if any of them could be directly related to my family, and learned that it is extremely likely that I, you, and anyone else is in fact related to many of the Saints of old!
Your Family and Mine
You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, and so-on. By the time you reach enough generations to reach the middle ages, you likely have more direct ancestors than there were people alive in Europe!
Knowing this, I felt more connected to these Saints than before.
Picturing myself as a relative of the Saints makes the reality of Heaven feel closer. It makes asking the Saints to pray for me less intimidating.
After all, that is why we have the Saints. They have gone before us to be with Jesus, but they also intercede for us and inspire us. Saints show us that Heaven is attainable by us humans who have real human lives.
Related by Choice
Although I can’t trace the exact connections to all of the Saints, I do feel a connection to them when I learn more about their lives.
Once I learn their story, they become another person that feel like I know in Heaven – another member of the Church and Human family.
There are certain Saints that I regularly ask to pray for me and my family, and it is like I have chosen them to look after us, and be part of the family praying for us.
Finding Your Family of Saints
As far as finding Saints to get to know, here are some ways I have chosen Saints to learn about and get to know.
1. Name Saints
There is a tradition in Catholicism and Orthodoxy of celebrating your “name day”, or the feast of the saint you are named after. For me, November 30th is the feast of St. Andrew.
This is always a good place to start because there is likely some reason your parents chose your name. It means something, and even if you weren’t named after a Saint in particular, you can bet that a Saint with a similar name would be happy to pray for you.
Saints all have patronage of various places, professions, or subjects. These are their specialty subjects that they pray for, assigned either through their story, where they were from, or often times the way they died.
It becomes easy to find who to pray to if you are in a situation needing prayers. You can quickly find the subject matter expert by finding the patron saint.
If I relate to their story or patronage, I feel like they are part of our family because I have asked them for prayers so often – i.e. St. Anthony for miracles and lost objects.
3. Feast Days, Calendar
Every day of the year, there are multiple Saints whose feast day we celebrate. Recognizing these days the way we recognize the birthdays in our family is a great way to get to know our family members.
Many parishes hand out calendars every year with many of the major saints noted. This is a great way to look ahead!
Another option is to get a Lives of the Saints book. Butler’s Lives of the Saints (pictured at the top of the article) has detailed write ups for Saints every day. They also have nice illustrated editions or kids books that are great!
All You Holy Men and Women, Pray for Us
Last week was the feast of one of those French Saints to whom I may have a family tie to, St. King Louis IX. If you feel like learning more about him and his Kingdom, you can listen here.
We also celebrated a royal feast for our Mother with the Queenship of Mary this month too!
Does your family tree have any Saints?
All you holy men and women, pray for us.