A few weeks ago I was reading this letter from The Catholic Woman, a site you have to subscribe to if you don’t already read them.
I got to this line and stopped. in. my. tracks. and thought “HOW did I not know that she was a laywoman?
Catherine of Siena was a laywoman (everybody forgets this because she went around in a habit!) who counseled, “Build a [monastic] cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee.”Eve Tushnet (letter)
I then proceeded down an internet rabbit hole and haven’t stopped talking about how I had no idea this fact about my patron saint. I know a fair amount about Catherine. I know that when she was praying the office she felt Christ so close to her that she would say “Glory be to the Father, to you (turning to Christ who she saw walking beside her), and the Holy Spirit…” I know she is the 25th of 26 children. I know she told the pope to “get his act together and move back to Rome already.” I know she’s one of the 4 female Doctors of the Church. But I did not know she had a lay vocation to the single life. Her as my patron makes more sense to me now.
When you’re name is Katie, you’ve got a lot of patrons to choose from: Catherine of Alexandria, Katherine Drexel, Catherine of Siena, and even Kateri Tekakwitha. Years ago I had traded Catherine of Siena in for Catherine of Alexandria because I couldn’t relate to such a holy nun as my patron. Last week Catherine of Siena proved me wrong!
What’s my point though? It’s that we don’t know enough about the saints!
Too many people think they aren’t relate-able, they’re irrelevant, and they were for another time. Sure we know about John Paul II and Mother Teresa … but the most common thing people say about Mamma T is “I’m no Mother Teresa.” (If I had a nickle for every time I heard that, I could be living in Hawaii retired at 34.)
So what are we to do? First, find interesting stories about the saints. Let’s not settle for the simple paragraph in Butler’s Lives of the Saints. It’s a good starting point, but let’s dig a little deeper. An online follow of mine, Meg Hunter-Kilmer, tells stores of the saints in the most fascinating way. She has a podcast so you can listen too. The episodes “Saints for Kids” are all about saints …. and they aren’t just for kids! In 2017 she wrote about a different saint each week for her Aleteia column. She has some additional resources in this post as well, some great books I need to add to my ever growing TBR list.
What can you do in your parish?
- Talk about the saints, a lot! Post them in the Bulletin and Online.
- Share about them on Social Media on their feast day! A co-worker writes about one every day in this newsletter. We also share that information on our social media channels on a regular basis: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
- Bishop Barron and Word on Fire recently produced their Pivotal Players Series for group study.
- Choose to celebrate the Optional Memorial for a Saint over a ferial day during the week.
- Ask the intercession of the saints of the week and your parish’s patron after the concluding prayer of the General Intercessions each Sunday.
- Celebrate the Saints on All Saint’s day by encouraging all of the children of the parish to come dressed as a Saint of their choice for Mass. Share this post in the announcement if people are stuck for ideas. My parish has trick or treating with candy after Mass for all the saint kiddos which makes dressing up like saints fun!