One tradition that Catholics have in the new year is that they pick a saint to be their patron for the year. Usually, it’s done using Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint Generator. However, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get to know more than one saint. So for today, I’m gonna do a Seven Quick Takes on seven saints that I want to get to know this year.
The Saint Generator gave me Saint Zita. I first read about her in an A-Z book of saints from my local library. Saint Zita is the patron saint of homemakers, housekeepers, servants, domestic workers, etc. Basically, she’s the patron saint for the downstairs half of Downton Abbey. She was born in Lucca, Italy around the time that Saint Francis was beginning his ministry, so it’s no surprise that she dedicated her life to helping the poor, sick, and imprisoned. It’s not certain whether she was married, but she didn’t enter a religious order either, so she’s a great saint for single women who work on the grind. Plus, if you ever have to deal with flack from co-workers, Zita understands that struggle all to well, so ask for the patience that she had with her fellow servants.
Also, she’s one of the incorrupt saints. That’s something I consider majorly cool.
Another saint that I want to get to know this year is Saint Teresa of Avila. She was the Teresa that inspired St. Therese of Lisieux and helped reform the Carmelite Order. I’m reading bits and pieces of her autobiography, The Way of Perfection, and The Interior Castle. I love how she describes the soul as a castle made out of a single diamond with many rooms inside. I feel like that’s how I see my own identity. I also love her prayer of “Let Nothing Disturb You” because it feels more like a meditation or a grounding mantra. Just thinking of it right now makes me feel at ease.
I’ve already written about Mother Teresa, so without repeating myself, I just want to say that out of all the saints I’ve been reading and admiring, Mother Teresa is the one that I want to emulate the most. I want to be able to go out into the world and show God’s compassion to everyone, regardless of whatever faith or social class they’re in. I want to have her compassion for the sick, the poor, the dying, as well as for those who are spiritually bankrupt. I hope I get to watch her canonization in September.
Mary Magdalene continues to be an enigma for me, even with the headcanons that I have for her. But instead of trying to speculate over who she was, I’m gonna start by going with what I do know. She was a Jewish woman. She was a leader amongst the disciples, especially with the female faction. She had seven demons exorcised out of her. She was there for Jesus during his crucifixion, burial, and was the first to see Him in his resurrection.
Many saints looked to her as a model for constant penitence because of her reputation as a fallen woman. She can be seen in a feminist subtext as someone who stood out amongst the norm by being a female leader without any husband with her. But what I admire most about Mary Magdalene is her loyalty. To stay with a friend when everyone else has gone away, to watch them die…It takes a lot of courage and loyalty. It’s that kind of loyalty and faithfulness to Jesus that I want to emulate.
Even though I learned a lot about the life of Saint John Paul II, I’ve only skimmed the surface when it comes to his writings. One book that I want to read this year is Theology of the Body. I found a copy at my local secondhand bookstore (best place to find almost anything really) and I have other books that give commentary on the Theology of the Body. Since it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be going to Poland for World Youth Day (unless I win the lottery), I want to get to know the wisdom of this particular saint.
For the past week or so, I’ve been praying the 30-Day Saint Joseph Holy Cloak Novena. It’s a long one, but I’ve already experienced some great graces from praying this. And given how I credit Saint Joseph for helping me out during my Lenten retreat last year, I have faith that he will help me out with whatever I decide to do this coming spring. He’s also been a big help when it comes to my writing, which I consider to be both my work and my passion.
I think everyone out there has a favorite Marian title. Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been with me ever since I was a kid, when I went to a school that bore her name. The school has closed down, but the church is still there and it hasn’t changed much since I last saw it. But I want to know more of the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help beyond the image I’ve seen throughout my life. I learned that it has Czech origins, but nothing beyond that.
So those are my 7 Saints for 2016. Feel free to comment about which saints or devotions you feel like focusing on this year!