Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Saints Meme

According to my pals at Google without whom I would be lost, the Catholic Church acknowledges over 10,000 official saints, about 9,300 of whom are in Terry Nelson's Rolodex. I never knew a guy who knew so many saints. Now he's tagged me with the Saint Meme where I have to let you know who my favorites are.

Those tagged for this meme will list their four favorite saints, their one favorite blessed, and one person they think should have been a saint.

I was born and bred Catholic and put in my 12 years in the Catholic schools system, taught by good Benedictine nuns and a few priests. Not very many laypeople in those days.

And considering that over those twelve years, putting in over 2,000 hours of class time with Catechism and Religion teachers, I don't recall that we spent a lot of time on the saints. Probably 1,950 hours on the Catechism and other "rules."

Now I was a member of Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Duluth but I don't recall that we ever had any particular devotions to this Portuguese Saint named after an Italian town and nicknamed "Hammer of the Heretics." If I had known his nickname, I'm sure I'd have been quite a bit more interested in having him intercede for me.

We didn't have a lot of statues in our working class, mixed ethnic parish. Your basic Blessed Mother, St Joseph, the Sacred Heart and St Anthony up front, and smaller ones of the Little Flower and somebody else in the rear of the church. St Don Bosco??? But no Feast Days were celebrated except for the ten or twenty for the Blessed Mother in the old calendar. With Nuns in charge, we were always celebrating something or another relating to the Blessed Mother.

My birthnames, of course, would have been a good source for a good patron saint. With Raymond, I had two choices. Raymond of Penafort and Raymond of Nonnatus, both Spaniards. One of them had the gift of "bi-location" which I've often thought would be neat. And the other sailed across some unruly sea on his cloak to perform some healing or other miracle. That would be fun to do on Lake Superior. There were some other "Raymonds", but I didn't have easy access to the Catholic Encyclopedia in those days. My middle name is Edward and St Edward the Confessor, a King of England, while a good and holy choice, he wasn't known for fighting battles and winning wars. Not very appealing.

I did choose Peter for my Confirmation name. I'm not quite sure why. In college I was accused of having a "power complex" and I think that is still true. But I don't believe until quite recently I have ever even asked St Peter for help.

Another source of possible "fave" Saints that I might chosen would have been the Saints upon whose feast days the various members of my family held their birthday celebrations. I got stuck with St Bede the Venerable who with a name like that didn't appeal much to a young lad. I did wonder at the time if in the process of becoming a Saint, he was initially called Venerable Bede the Venerable. What do you suppose he did to make that "Venerable" appellation stick to him.

One brother had the "Conversion of St Paul", but he'd be kinda busy I think; a sister St Polycarp (he may have been great, a pal of St John the Evangelist to be sure, but what a name! Ugh!); another brother had St Romuald (double ugh); and the other sister had her birthday on May 30 which didn't have a saint in the old missal, but being that it was a national holiday, Memorial Day, she was pleased, until they took that away from her. Now she has to work on her birthdays).

Mom had St John the Baptist who might have been pretty cool, but again just with all the churches named for him, I'd think he'd be very busy. But my one "saintly" connection probably was Dad who was born on the feast of St Stephen, the first martyr, who was stoned to death. That was all I knew about him, surprising my teachers that I even knew that, but knowing that was enough to win for me a citywide Catechism contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the prize being a trip to Grand Rapids, MN, for the diocesan finals where I got whompped (by some future bishop, no doubt). But I never expressed any gratitude to St Stephen for helping me win that contest. Thanks, Steve-erino!

You want to talk about your "dry" periods? Mine was from 1960 to 1981. And to tell the truth, it's not particularly damp right now. I'm still working on it. I wasn't disenchanted with the Church. I was disenchanted with getting up for Mass on Sundays.

So I missed out on all the excitement of Vatican II that might have gotten me interested in the Saints as they threw them off the official calendar. I remember two in particular going, St Christopher, of course, whose medal I wore during Basic Training in the Army so I wouldn't get shot by some idiot who would later become an Army cook; and St Philomene (my 9th grade Civics teacher must have been devastated). I still have my St Christopher Medal, but I don't wear it any more.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Terry wants me to do the Saints Meme. List four saints, a blessed, and someone who should have been a saint.

1. Saint Anne de Beaupre, the Blessed Virgin Mary's Mom. I posted on this one once before, but briefly, there have been a couple of miracles in my family due to her and I have no doubt but that my Mom's prayers to her are responsible for me being back in the Church. I pray to her to intercede for other members of my family.

2. and 3. After I began my reversion, as I mentioned, still a "work in progress", I decided that I should get a couple of Saints to intercede for me. I had lots of things to "fix" and I really needed help. But I figured guys like St Francis of Assisi, St Benedict and St Michael the Archangel would be too "busy" for some basket case like me. So, not being current with what was happening in the Church, I chose a couple of Polish "Blesseds" who I figured few would know about about and they would be sitting in heaven, just waiting for people to ask them for intercession. Blessed Faustina Kowalska, the Apostle of Divine Mercy and Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, Auschwitz martyr and founder of the Militia Immaculata (the Army of Mary). By the way, Max's birth name is Raymond! I think they are a lot more busy now than they were fifteen years or more ago as Maximilian was canonized in 1982 and Faustina was canonized as the first Saint of the Third Millenium in 2000. Well, at least I got in line early!

4. and 5. My Confessor, Father J., has been implying that I'm not humble enough. Hmmmmm. Maybe I should get a new Confessor? No, he's right. I have worked my way through St Therese of Lisieux's "Story of a Soul" three times and I'm beginning to see what she's talking about, but I cannot even begin to conceive that I could be even remotely like that. St Faustina in her diary that I read excerpts of daily, also speaks of humility. Father J recently has been suggesting that I call on my Guardian Angel for help with my "humility gap." Do you still remember that old prayer?

"Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love does keep me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide."

It helps!

My favorite "Venerable" is Solanus Casey, Capuchin priest, born near Prescott, WI across the river from Hastings, MN, employed in Stillwater, MN (where I worked for a time) and Superior, WI (across from Duluth where I was born).

It's good to have local connections. I'm sure that had I been born in Italy or Spain, where everyone probably has a choice of a half dozen Saints just from their neighborhood alone, it would have been easier to select a favorite Saint. I suspect kids' gangs gathered around saints and their traditions. In Pamplona where they have the annual "Running of the Bulls", in Duluth they would have held the annual "Running of the Smelt" with processions, not Lester River fish fries and beer busts.

Who do I think should be a saint? Time Magazine, for their 2006 Person of the Year Award, printed a mirror on the front page of their magazine. You, dear ones, should be a Saint. Get working on it. You pray for me and I will pray for you.

I think that Georgette of India (she sounds like a Saint already), Jayne from "So Many Devotions", Sanctus Belle of Our Lady's Tears, the Ironic Catholic and Mitchell, Grand Sachem of the Hadleybloggers at Our Word should let us know who their fave Saints are.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: Great back story! Still damp? Ha-ha-ha!

Terry Nelson said...

This post is above and beyond the call of duty for memes. This is a great post - I actually think you are very humble...and maybe you're really all wet - but it just feels dry.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Fun. I'll do the meme later this week!

Anonymous said...

did wonder at the time if in the process of becoming a Saint, he was initially called Venerable Bede the Venerable. What do you suppose he did to make that "Venerable" appelation stick to him.

That is a great observation! I don't know, what the heck COULD have make "Venerable" stick unto his very Sainthood!??

This is a great post, Ray. I love all those Saints, too. YOu need to tell us the stories of St Anne's intercession--your own reversion/conversion story and the others--one day.

And, thank you kindly, but believe me, I am faaaaarrrr from being a Saint! Oh man, just ask my hubby! :0\

Anonymous said...

And I second Terry's assessment of you, Ray-- your current "dry period" seems to be VERY productive and holy! Come to think of it, that kind of perseverence in the faith and in doing all those works of mercy, even through a feeling of "dryness"--that's probably the very definition of saintliness. I think you've got that pretty down pat!

Sanctus Belle said...

Hello Ray! I've posted on this and thanks for including me! I feel more and more like one of the Minnesota Catholic Blogging family! God Bless you!