Outside in my garden is a statue of Saint Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment. I also have a few items depicting Saint Fiacre, the patron of gardeners. But if you were to ask me who the real patron saint of my garden is, I would have to say that it’s my Aunt Ellie.
Now mind you, I have no delusions that my Aunt Ellie will ever be canonized a saint. Nor will most of the people I so dearly love. But when I’m looking for inspiration, consolation, answers or support, those are the people to whom I most often turn.
My Aunt Ellie had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen. Before she passed away from cancer, we would spend time both working in the garden and talking about plants. So it only seems logical to me that each spring as I gently place my plants in the ground, I do so with a little prayer to my own personal gardening patron.
Part of a Great Big Family
Tonight, many people will be celebrating Halloween. The word Hallow actually means “holy” and e’en is a shortened form of “the evening before.” So what does that have to do with saints? Well, Halloween is the celebration of “All Hallow’s Eve,” or the evening before All Saints Day. On All Saints Day, we as a Church celebrate and recognize all of our saints—both formally canonized and not canonized.
That’s one of the things I love about being Catholic. I can have some heavy hitters in my corner, such as Saint Francis, but also have my own personal communion of saints. In fact, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The communion of saints is the Church” (#946).
And just as in my everyday life, when I may seek advice from a variety of different people based on the situation I’m facing, the communion of saints also offers me a virtual address book of saints from which to choose.
If you really stop and think about it, you, as part of the Church’s communion of saints, are in many ways a saint yourself. The question is, though, do you act like it? If you were to be canonized tomorrow, of what do you think you would be named the patron saint? Music? Gardening? Animals? Use your answer as a reminder that God calls you to do your best, utilizing that talent to help others and be a reflection of God.
On the flip side, if you discover an area where you would probably not be named patron—such as patience for me—take it as a call to work on that aspect of your life.
Ghouls, Goblins—and Saints?
While for many this month may be a time of ghouls and goblins, for me it is also a reminder that I am surrounded by saintly people—both on earth and those who have passed on. Here are some other things to reflect on or try out this month:
1) Reflect on who is in your communion of saints—both canonized and not—and why you hold them so dear. Think about the ways in which they lead you to a closer relationship with God, which is the ultimate goal of the saints.
2) Try to focus on the religious aspects of Halloween. Emphasize for your kids the connection of the holiday with the communion of saints. And if you don’t feel comfortable with the traditional Halloween custom of walking door-to-door collecting candy, many parishes are now holding special events on Halloween to redirect attention to the holiday’s religious aspects. Check to see if your parish or a neighboring parish is hosting such an event.
3) Pass on the message of the communion of saints. For instance, for a wedding shower gift, include something about Saint Monica, the patron of married women. You could also include some bit of advice from a married woman you hold in great esteem. It could be a prayer card, a medal, a small statue or a simple note. Browse a local religious goods store.