Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Patron Saint

Depending on how you were raised in your Catholic faith, you may or may not have a strong sense of identity with a particular saint. Outside of those with lay celebrations associated with their feast days such as St. Patrick, St. Valentine, or St. Nicholas, a Catholic’s first real consideration of the varied saints recognized by our church might be when they choose a patron saint for a Confirmation name. We choose a saint at this time to be a special protector, to pray with us when we ask for intercessions. We may choose to study and focus on their lives, following their example for how we live our own faith today. Many of us also have a saint’s name in our given name from our Baptism.

Late last week while listening to SQPN podcast Catholic Weekend, I heard them talking about a new Patron Saint generator that would be an easy way for a person to receive a patron saint for the year. I’d nearly forgotten about it when Lisa linked a post by Elizabeth Scalia aka The Anchoress titled “Get Your Patron Saint for 2011” to our Of Sound Mind and Spirit Facebook page. I eagerly clicked the link, briefly noticed that St. Philip Neri appeared at the top of the Anchoress’ blog post as her saint from 2010, and then followed the link to Jennifer Fulwiler’s Patron Saint generator.

With a brief moment’s hesitation and a quick prayer, I clicked the link and anxiously waited to see which Saint I would receive to study and pray with throughout the year.

St. Philip Neri.

Huh? Didn’t I just see him on The Anchoress blog. I had sort of hoped for someone I recognized, but I don’t know anything about St. Philip Neri. I’ve never heard of him. Why would I get him? For a long minute I considered clicking the generator again, but stopped. What would that lead to? Clicking it over and over if I didn’t recognize or “like” the Saint given to me? Instead I scrolled quickly through the catholic.org biographical sketch, without anything really sinking in, wondering “What am I going to learn from this guy?”

Then I reached the end and read:

In his footsteps: We often worry more about what others think that about what God thinks. Our fear of people laughing at us often stops us from trying new things or serving God. Do something today that you are afraid might make you look a little ridiculous. Then reflect on how it makes you feel. Pray about your experience with God.

Prayer: Saint Philip Neri, we take ourselves far too seriously most of the time. Help us to add humor to our perspective -- remembering always that humor is a gift from God. Amen

And I knew.

I’ve always been a very serious person, very conscientious of what other people think about me. To the point that I’ve been hesitant to try new things, worried about how I’ll appear in public. Worried about what I look like. Scared of failure, always seeking approval. On occasion I have tried to “lighten up,” but to be honest, I don’t truly understand a lot of what passes for humor in the world and rarely does anyone laugh at my attempts to tell a joke.

I also had a big birthday this weekend. One of those that ends with -0. The kind of birthday that you shouldn’t take too seriously, even though you suddenly find yourself taking stock of what you’ve contributed to this life. These past two years have marked a change in the direction of my life in many different ways. Maybe studying the life of St. Philip Neri will offer a particular insight that guides my path.

So I’ve printed the page about St. Philip Neri and will continue to seek out other resources about him this year with the faith that he will inspire me to greater devotion to the Lord.

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