Sunday, January 18, 2015

Patron Saints

For several years I watched the Catholic blogosphere choose their annual patron saint with the assistance of Jen Fulwiler's Saint Name Generator.  (Am I misremembering or couldn't you used to get a Patron Saint badge to stick on your blog?) Anyway, I had seen for years people picking their patron saints and was fascinated by how many times the patron fit the situation. Even though I looked forward to seeing what others would draw, I never used the generator myself until last year. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it.

Now I will not pretend I am holy and pious. The truth is that I was looking for confirmation that my prayers were going to be answered. It wasn't my finest hour. I go through the established procedure and my patron saint for 2014 was Margaret of Hungary. I had never heard of her. I read through her bio and I was sorely distressed. I wanted no part of having a saint known for severe penance following me around all year. I wanted a sign, but not this one! You can see my meltdown in progress in the comments on one of Melanie's posts.

I read a little bit about St. Margaret. I can't say I delved very deeply into it, but it did keep the notion of penance at the forefront of my mind. I added her, when I remembered, to my own personal litany: Mary, Undoer of Knots, St Joseph, St. Margaret. As it turned out, 2014 was not the year. In some ways it was a very hard year, always on the verge of a breakthrough--the high and then the crash over and over again. In other ways, it was a healing year, to know we were doing our best and that there must be a reason for the wait. Whenever I would get discouraged, the concept of penance was never far away. Even if I wasn't happy about the situation, it wasn't completely meaningless either.

Now we have come around to a new year again. I decided to give the Saint Generator another go. This year I am definitely in a better frame of mind, but I confess I still kinda want the big sign though I'm not depending on it. I go through the procedure again and pull Margaret Mary Alacoque. Again I have never heard of her, but my immediate thought is that Margarets must have a thing for me. I feel badly because I don't love the name.

I click through to her bio and the first thing on which my eyes rest is that she is the patron against the death of parents. Death Of Parents?!? Oh wonderful. Immediately the recurring specter that haunts me springs to mind. I fear that one day I will finally be able to put in my notice and then will be killed in a horrible accident while commuting those last few days because the fates demand it. I am not superstitious about it and don't actually believe it, but it does represent the note of despair I carry with me.

After I push those thoughts away, I look more closely to see what else there is to see and find she is the originator of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. That's interesting.

My own favorite devotion is Divine Mercy. Divine Mercy is what pulled me back into the church. In those days while I wandered, for inexplicable reasons I would turn the TV onto EWTN--which I had never heard of before I was married and found by accident channel-surfing one day--and listen to them sing the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3pm. It was so beautiful to me and I would find myself singing along, alone in my apartment. Of course I mangled the words. Then I had to research the words so it wouldn't be so embarrassing to mangle the words. I learned the words and sang along for months and months, but slowly they did their work and the rest, as they say, is history. Mercy is what I needed more than anything else.

My favorite image of Divine Mercy is not the insipid painting you normally see, but the image in an iconized form:

If you look closely you will see that the Sacred Heart is included in the icon. Isn't that something?

So I am taking this as a sign that I should learn more about the Sacred Heart devotion and hoping I can ignore the bits about dying parents and polio for the entire year.


bearing said...

Oh, lovely! Can I direct you to my own meditation about the Sacred Heart?

Melanie Bettinelli said...

That's my favorite Divine Mercy image too.

A couple of years ago I got St Claude de la Colombiere, who was St Margaret Mary Alacoque's confessor and who helped to promote the devotion to the Sacred Heart. So I did some delving into the Sacred Heart devotion myself, it's not one that has ever appealed to me.

I love bearing's post, but here are a few things I have blogged about the Sacred Heart, maybe one of them will be helpful too.

The Sojourner said...

I don't know if you could get a badge for the saint or not; I always just Google Imaged something. I need to update my blog sidebar.

Jenny said...

Thanks for the links! I have never really given much thought to the Sacred Heart devotion. My grandma had a picture in the kitchen. You know, standard. I grew up almost complete devoid of knowledge of the concept of devotions so it still feels alien to me.

bearing, that Ezekiel verse is also one of my favorites. I am very prone to shutting out emotions and coldly, numbly doing what needs done. It is a reminder to me that I should want a heart of flesh and sometimes, that flesh is painful, but pain doesn't necessarily mean bad.

So I am looking forward to learning more this year in my own roundabout way.