Bad cough? Vision problems? Headache? There’s a saint for that.
Working in the medical, arts, or education field? There’s a saint for that too.
Saints are souls who lived exemplary lives while on this earth. They were real people with real problems who, after their death, were recognized by the Church to offer us role models. We call on them to guide us along a righteous path as we travel through this life to the next.
Praying to saints—which actually is praying with them—is like asking a friend to pray our prayers. Scripture tells us that the prayers of the faithful are powerful. Saint Paul ended his letter to the Thessalonians with a request for prayers (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
Although the practice of asking deceased people to pray with us is ancient, the papal approval of one’s worthiness of sainthood, which is known as canonization, didn’t officially begin until the end of the first millennium. The process requires an in-depth and lengthy procedure with specific requirements. The object is to insure us these souls truly are with God.
The first person canonized was Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg. Pope John XV declared him a saint in the year 933. The number of saints canonized since then is undetermined but they consist of a diverse group. They all had their challenges and failings, because like us, they were human.
Many of the saints are patrons of causes. Whatever our need, there is a saint we can identify with to call on and pray along with us. St. Theodora’s first miracles included a man with vision problems and a woman with cancer. Both were immediately cured after prayers to St. Theodora (also known as St. Mother Theodore Guerin), so she is a good saint to call on for these illnesses.
The prayer on the back of one of her holy card reads:
Jesus, only source of truth and life, who taught the world the way of salvation, grant us the grace which we humbly ask through your faithful servant, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, who spent all her life to make you known and loved. May this grace be consolation for soul and body, and may it unite us ever more to you and to one another in life and in eternity. Amen.
We also can privately honor anyone who passed away who we feel lived a holy life. After all, as I wrote in Seven Principles of Sainthood,
“By baptism, all Christians are called to be saints. We are all to live our life in such a way that gives glory to God. Saints are people who are in heaven after living a life of charity and goodness. The Church recognizes some saints as such, but everyone’s life goal should be to strive for holiness.”
(Read more about sainthood, saints, and their causes in my books Seven Principles of Sainthood and Young in the Spirit.)
(Photo: Carving of St Theodora and three bones from her hand)
©2014, Mary K. Doyle