During Advent, I was in a Catholic shop when a small book caught my eye; “Letters to a Wife and Mother”. Without even flicking through it, I bought it, brought it home and started reading…
The book contained the correspondence between a lady (whose name escapes me at the moment), and Fr. Francis. Reading the letters, it felt like St Francis was writing to me;
“Have patience with all things, but first with yourself.” St Francis de Sales, Letters to a Wife and Mother
The letters are as readable today as they were in the late 1500s and early 1600s when he wrote them. St. Francis was know well known for his spiritual direction and wrote over 10,000 letters during his ministry as priest and bishop.
So, when it came to my annual tradition of choosing a patron saint for the year, I felt St. Francis had already adopted me. Since being adopted by St. Francis, I’ve discovered he’s a doctor of the Church and has written many books on the spiritual life. So many, in fact, that he is the patron saint of writers.
I quickly resolved to give up my magazine habit, and instead will spend my magazine budget on books about or by St. Francis (I’m covered for the first four months!). I look forward to a year of exploring Salesian spirituality, with the Salesian saint himself.
While I am no expert, I have discovered some of his sage wisdom during my first few weeks under his wing:
- In some ways, St Francis de Sales’ teachings are a pre-cursor to the Second Vatican Council’s universal call to holiness;
“It is an error… to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman” St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
- We need to recognise the goodness of God’s will, and learn to submit to it (remembering the goodness of it makes it a bit easier, right?!). Contemplate Jesus on the cross and pray “into thy hands I commend my spirit” for total self-renunciation.
“Delight opens up the heart, just as sorrow closes it.” St Francis de Sales, Finding God’s Will for You
Through taking delight in God, we become conformed to Him and our will is transformed to God’s will.
Happy and blessed feast of St. Francis de Sales!
One of the many things I love about the Catholic Church is the Communion of Saints. Sometimes, I see life as a big soccer game, perhaps a World Cup final, with the Saints jumping out of their seats in the stadium, cheering on us mere mortals on the pitch. The saints are our role models, our examples of holiness, our intercessors before God. We ask them to pray for us, as one would ask a friend to pray for them, rather than praying to them (a common misconception).
There are so many amazing canonised saints (and many more uncanonised ones that we don’t know about). I have a few favourites -hi St. Therese, St Bernadette and St Elizabeth of Hungary! Last year, I decided to move out of my comfort zone and get to know a new saint. I had the idea to ‘adopt’ a patron saint for 2015. It is a great way to learn about the saint, and let the saint teach you a thing or two also, through learning about their own life, their spirituality and prayer.
How to Choose your Patron Saint
Pray about it. Listen. Is there a saint calling you? Is there a saint you’ve always been curious about and wanted to know more about? You could choose the patron saint linked to your occupation, location, hobby, or something you are struggling with physically, mentally or spiritually. There is a patron saint for nearly everything!
Alternatively, if you like surprises, check out Jennifer Fulweiler’s Saint Name Generator!
Your Year with your Patron Saint
Here are a few ideas of what
- Pray for your patron saint’s intercession daily. Saint Anthony – pray for us!
- Does your saint have a special prayer? Pray that daily too! Get a prayer card or print one off and put it somewhere you will see it
- Find out when your saint’s feast day is mark it on your calendar- plan to do something special that day, like go to Mass!
- Pray your patron saint’s novena
- Read up on your patron saint
- If possible, make a pilgrimage- it doesn’t have to be a big one! Maybe a local shrine, or even a church
- Put a statue or picture of your patron saint up in your home- you don’t have to go out and buy one, again you could just print one off the internet and put it in a nice frame
Have you ever adopted a patron saint for the year? Who did you, or would you like to adopt? What did you you do during the year? I would love to hear from you!