Do you have a “go-to” saint?
This question arose recently when my wife came home from a visit with a friend and mentioned that they had discussed their “go-to” saints. As a convert to Catholicism married to a knowledgeable Cradle Catholic, this was but another example of me having to ask my wise wife a question about the faith: what is a go-to saint?
My wife of oh these many years explained that a go-to saint is a saint you frequently ask for help or consult with or maybe consider how they would handle something. It could be a saint for whom you have a special fondness, respect, or devotion. It could be a favorite saint or perhaps a saint connected with your station in life. For example, moms might have a special affection for Mary; dads may hold Joseph in high regard.
Before going further on this question, it might be helpful to think about what defines a saint. Many people have the idea that a saint is a perfect, sinless, person who never made mistakes and is an example of all that is good and noble.
Not exactly. In light of the fact that the Catholic Church recognizes more than 10,000 saints and only four people who ever walked the earth were born without sin (Adam, Eve, Mary, Jesus) the standard for sainthood must be lower than absolute perfection. With a bar as high as perfection, none of us would have a chance of getting to heaven. And without God’s grace, nobody has a chance.
Bottom line: Saints are ordinary people who find the faith and determination to follow God’s will. Some become “good” people after spending much of their lives as “bad” people: Paul, Augustine, Ignatius, for example.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has this to say about the devotion to saints:
Many popular devotional practices involve the veneration of the saints. The saints have a special place in the Body of Christ, which includes both the living and the dead. Through Christ, we on earth remain in communion both with the saints in heaven and with the dead who are still in Purgatory. We can pray for those in Purgatory and ask the saints to pray for us. Through their prayers of intercession, the saints in heaven play an integral role in the life of the Church on earth. “For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord, through Him and with Him and in Him they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, showing forth the merits which they won on earth through the one Mediator between God and man.” The saints, the members of the Church who have arrived at perfect union with Christ, join their wills to the will of God in praying for those in the Church who are still on their pilgrimage of faith.
In light of all this, I admit that St. Anthony is without a doubt, my go-to saint. He deals with lost causes (and I’ve had to deal with a few of those on a work level) and lost items. At least a couple of times a week I seem to forget where I put something, so I ask St. Anthony where it is and more times than not, he comes through.
I also have a favorite saint: Joseph. As a dad and grandad, I need his example of selfless service and forgetting about needing credit for doing my dadly job.
I asked a few of my Exaudi colleagues about their go-to saints and got interesting answers.
Deborah Castellano Lubov is Editorial Director & Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent:
My go-to saint has been a combination of St. Jude and St. Rita. I guess I have considered them particularly heroic for a number of seemingly “impossible cases” and lost causes. They have come through for me at what seemed some of the most hopeless moments. Plus, my mom’s name is Judy and her elementary Catholic school was St. Rita’s. St. Joseph also holds a special place in my and our hearts, and held a special place, especially in my grandfather Nicholas’ heart. He was humble, gentle, behind the scenes, but yet so powerful, strong, and effective; he warmed our hearts. Also, when it came to family, our home, work, and so on, he shows us how truly powerful and loyal a patron he has been and is.
Virginia Forrester is a multilingual translator
My favourite Saints are the mystics, “the heroes of mankind,” to quote Evelyn Underhill. They are the human beings who understood the ultimate meaning of life, living the First Commandment to the utmost. It is virtually impossible to choose a favourite among the mystics. Each and every one is an acute challenge to us all. If I must choose one, however, among the men it is Saint Paul for his intellect and his profound identification with Christ. Among the women, it is Saint Catherine of Siena, for her mind, her commitment to Christ, her understanding of her dialogues with God the Father. Both these Saints were serious, relentless,s and perseverant, qualities that the First Commandment exacts.
Larissa I. López is coordinator of the Spanish edition
When I was a child, I didn’t know much about the intercession of the saints. The first one I prayed to was St. Josemaría Escrivá, when he was still Blessed, I prayed to him for my grandmother’s health, and I remember that on more than one occasion he was a great help. When I lived in Rome, I used to ask St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII at St. Peter’s Basilica for spiritual miracles for people I loved, and they also had excellent results. Right now, I am praying to sister Belen de la Cruz, a Spanish Carmelite whom I met and whose process is not yet open. In this year of St. Joseph, I am also praying the prayer of Pope Francis to this saint, and I have been praying to John Paul II for the pandemic and its effects. When you ask God for things through the saints or directly to God there is always one thing to remember. God is the one who knows best what each one needs, sometimes he does not give us the grace we ask for, but he gives us another one that suits us better or prepares us to receive the one we desire. If what we ask for does not happen, we must keep trusting that God knows best.
Gabriel Sales writes for the Spanish edition
I have no special devotion to any saint. This might sound strange to some people, but I pray directly to God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin.
Andrea Acali writes for the Italian edition
My favorite saint is St. Josemaria Escrivà, the founder of Opus Dei; I turn to him for every need, from spiritual to material. But I also have a particular devotion to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, his successor, whom I met personally and who is celebrated on my birthday, May 12. Obviously, apart from Our Lady and Saint Joseph, that my mother taught me to invoke since childhood. two other saints who are very close to me are the apostles Andrew, whose name I bear, and his friend John, the name we gave my first son.
Clearly, we’ve touched on only a tiny sample of the saints, so please share your go-to saint in the comments section on social media. I’m praying for enough responses to warrant a follow-up story.