Tuesday, June 28, 2016

UNRAVELING MY FAITH: Patron Saints for $1000 Please

This post is part of a series I wrote over the last 6 months and am just now publishing...

I am quite new, like brand new, to the workings of the Catholic Church. Currently I am going through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) to become familiar with our faith. But being the ever curious and inquisitive soul that I am (and also not wanting to miss out on any important tidbit that might make me look uneducated should it come up in conversation) I do a lot of reading and research on my own. When I came upon the part regarding each catechumen (unbaptized person studying to become Catholic) choosing a patron saint for their conversion, I was very excited!

My own personal saint to pray to!?!?! Yes!

Now of course you can call on any of the saints at any time to intercede for you in prayer. But getting your own special one sounds pretty awesome. So does the fact that we all are assigned our very own guardian angel upon birth (but that is for another post).

Enter me desperately wanting to know who my patron saint should be that way I can introduce myself and get to know them before my Baptism.

"Hello there! I'm Ashley. I am an absolute mess of a human being, but I mean well. I hope I don't irritate you with my constant chatter because you are about to become my new best friend. Do you have voicemail? Might want to go ahead and empty your inbox because I'm going to fill it up."

If you are the type to enjoy taking online quizzes, there are several to help you choose your saint. I'm not that type. Not judging if you are. Just saying, I'm not.

Instead I sat and thought. For quite a while actually, about what I need help with. It came to me early on in brainstorming, but I didn't actually want to listen to it. I ignored my first command for obedience. Then I gave in. Obedience. I have a lot of trouble being obedient. See? I had a problem listening to the fact that the first thing that came to mind was obedience. It's not that I am a rule breaker, I actually am a stickler for the rules. It's just that I don't like to be told what to do by any one person. My parents when I was young. My teachers when I was a bit older. My bosses when I was even older. My husband for the last 12 years. And probably God for my entire life.

According to Google, there is not one specific patron saint of obedience. Great. Just great. So I am supposed to be obedient with no help, huh? First lesson of humility I suppose.

My next thought was patience. Ever the rash person. Instant gratification is my love language. No time for weighing options. Must do everything right now. So back to Google to determine the patron saint of patience.

Say hello to.......

Saint Monica!

"The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.

Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.
When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.

In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.

She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his Confessions." LIFTED FROM WIKIPEDIA 

According to different sources Saint Monica is the patron saint of patience, wives, mothers, victims of abuse, difficult marriages, alcoholism and a few other things that follow along those categories.

Saint Monica is basically my one stop shop for the vast majority of the troubles that have plagued me over the years. 

Knowing with certainty who my patron saint is has already helped me form my prayers a bit. I've always had a difficult time praying. Only giving it a shot when it was something very dire. Something so life or death in my mind that the only place to turn was God. And to tell you the truth, He never let me down. Of course after that one fervent session of "Please God, please help me now. If you do I will XYZ", I would be done with prayer until the next emergency. But lately I am learning to speak to Him on a daily basis. It's still very conversational at this point. I haven't learned to evolve my prayers past my own pitiful self and what I think I need. I would love to learn some specific prayers to add some ritual to my prayer time, but I don't think that God minds me stumbling over my words for the time being. He is probably just glad to hear me trying. And poor Saint Monica, she now has another wayward child to worry over, but I think her patience with her husband and Augustine will wear off on me. 

Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine,
you perseveringly pursued your wayward son 
not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day
so that they may learn to draw their children to God.
Teach them to remain close to their children, even the 
prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray.

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