The month of August is one of my personal favorites– when you look at this month, the calendar is peppered with feast days of brilliant saints:
- St. John Vianney, (Aug. 4) who is the patron of priests and it was said that the Devil himself once said that if there were 3 more priests like St. John Vianney, his kingdom would be defeated.
- St. Lawrence, (Aug. 10) a martyr for the faith, did not flinch even under excruciating torture and was said to have exclaimed cheekily, “It is well done. Turn me over!” as he was burned alive on a spit.
- St. Clare of Assisi, (Aug. 11) who was so captivated by the total, radical dependence shown by St. Francis that she snuck away in the middle of the night to join herself to his mission and then started her order called the Poor Clares. She was known for her radical love of Jesus and her fierce prayer life. A true saint of our times, as she is one of the first who enjoyed “televised” Mass before they were even on televisions!
- St. Maximilian Kolbe, (Aug. 14) who’s intense love of Mary our Mother led him to beautiful revelations about our Blessed Mother and her relationship with the Holy Spirit and to us. He was captured and sent to Auschwitz in 1941 and willingly laid down his own life so another prisoner would be spared. His virtue, courage, and valor inspired the other men that were sent with him to the starvation bunker so much that it was said that they could be heard praying and singing hymns all day long.
- St. Rose of Lima (Aug. 23) is one I hold very dear to my heart, as I credit her prayers to my conversion! St. Rose of Lima knew she wanted to dedicate herself to the Lord at a very young age, and despite all the social expectations imposed on her, followed the Lord’s call and became a Third Order Dominican. She lived a life as a hermit, praying and fasting for the Church.
- St. Monica & Augustine (Aug. 27 & 28) have feast days back to back and both their stories can give hope to families everywhere. Monica was a mother who prayed for the conversion of her very pagan son, Augustine. Thanks to her powerful intercession, the Lord captivated Augstine’s life in such a way that he changed from someone consumed by vice and greed to someone completely surrendered to the Lord. His writings today are still highly sought after for their wisdom and profundity.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends. What a beautiful, messy, glorious family we belong too! And the wonderful thing is that these friends are just as alive as you and me, sitting before the throne of God, in the cloud of witnesses. (Hebrews 12:1) So often I think we can fall into the trap thinking that somehow the saints are “leveled up” and unreachable. Yet, if you were to look into their stories, you will find dysfunctional, ordinary people who decided to devote themselves to an extraordinary God.
Learning how to become “friends” with the saints is a great delight of our Catholic faith. They are our cheering squad and our team that has our back. Their wisdom and prayers can have a great effect on our lives if we ask them. Not because they have any sort of power on their own, but because we have a Father so gracious that he wants all his children to know each other and get along! Being “friends” with the saints might feel like the adult version of having “imaginary friends” like some of us had when we were kids. But I can assure you, it is so much more rich (and much more real) than that.
Think about a saint or two that might have some significance in your life or you feel you can relate to, whether with their personality type, what they were passionate about, or even just the name you share with them. Being friends with the saints is asking for their intercession when encountering a distraction or problem during your day. Praying for their help in having patience when you’re frustrated. Looking at their lives and asking, “What advice can this saint give to me in my current state of life?” Take a minute each day to ask them to pray for you or pray for the work you are doing, whether at home with your family or out in the workforce. Ask them to help you in your walk with Christ.
There are so many stories of saints who were inspired in their own journeys because of OTHER saints that they were introduced to. This beautiful legacy is a treasure for us and can provide community for us, especially if you find yourself feeling alone or lost in your walk with Jesus. In a world where we often encounter opposition, competition, and negativity, it’s all the more important to reach out to our heavenly friends that encourage, uplift, and are generous in their wisdom and prayers.
To cheering each other on,
Coordinator of Youth Faith Formation