Sunday, March 18, 2012

NO QUESTION! Saints and Angels Come To Us To Help, Often Mysteriously!

The great untold stories are how frequently saints and angels intervene for us and how little our society acknowledges it. Disbelief (or lukewarm belief) is the tyranny of our time.

Yet intervene they do: We will only know the frequency when we are on the "other side." Occasionally, we get glimpses, and we can't report enough of them.

There are folks who have been saved from suicide by the saints, including the recently named St. Josemarie Escriva. Until recently, few knew of
St. Philomena -- but her intervention, it seems, is unusually strong. Angels?

"The time was shortly after the big Northridge Earthquake in January 1994," writes Linda Bergman in Chatsworth, California. "I could regale you with the many miracles that had occurred -- the quake was so violent, it's unbelievable that so many were not killed -- but what happened to me was after the earthquake.

"I was driving to work, going East on the Ronald Reagan Freeway. I was a 33-year-old woman, a registered nurse, on my way to Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, coming from my battered home in Chatsworth -- speeding, as usual, with my head full of thoughts related to the severe damage of my home, and reliving the nightmare of the earthquake.

"This was the first time I had been back on the freeway since the earthquake, as it had just recently been reopened to traffic. Around the exit to Balboa Boulevard there had been extensive damage to the freeway. An entire section had collapsed, and the freeway was undergoing some massive repairs. I wasn't paying attention, and suddenly I heard a woman's voice say, 'Linda, look up,' and as I did, I was driving directly into a concrete wall that had been erected in the fast lane of the freeway diverting traffic from the construction site!

"If it weren't for that voice, I would have plowed directly into that wall. The wall was hastily constructed to get people back on the road and it immediately rose and blocked the two left lanes and basically gave you no time. I definitely believe that Someone special was looking after me!"
There are voices. There are mysterious strangers. There is that subtle nudge.
"In the 1980s I was in Shreveport, Louisiana, driving on a side street, approaching a red light," wrote another viewer, Darlene Smart of Huntsville Alabama. "I stopped the car, waiting for the green light, when all of a sudden whatever station the radio was on began to get on my nerves, really bad! The light turned green, and I started to go but just had to change the radio station. In a period of seconds, I put my finger on the button to change, but several times in a row my finger just slid off the button, and after the third try, a car going so fast I could hardly see the color, ran the red light. Had I moved when the light turned green, I would have been in the middle of the road driving a 1982 Datsun, with a big car hitting the driver's side."

Was that an angel? A saint? If so, if a saint, let us know that among them, few are as underestimated as Joseph.

"Probably about ten years ago, my uncle was driving along the Ohio turnpike when he suddenly had to pull over because of a flat tire," recounts Edward Hood of Virginia. "He was not in the best of health -- he had suffered a severe heart attack several years before -- and so he was worried about having to change the tire himself. He prayed to St. Joseph for help.

"Very soon after that, a huge white 'semi' truck pulled over in front of his car. My uncle described the entire truck, cab and trailer as being entirely white with no writing or advertising of any kind. The driver came over to my uncle and asked him if he needed help, and my uncle said that he needed help changing his tire.

"At that point, the man went to work on the tire. My uncle described the man as being somewhat short in stature, maybe 5'5" -- with brown hair and a beard, with very kind eyes, looking somewhat strangely familiar to him. In what my uncle described as 'lightning quick,' the man was already done changing his tire and my uncle was so grateful that he offered to buy the man a cup of coffee, to which the man replied, 'No, thank you. All I ask is that if you see someone who needs your help, that you stop and do the same.'

"At this point, the man got into his truck and took off.

"My uncle started driving again and thought to himself that at the very least he should get the license plate of this gentleman so he could write a thank-you letter to the trucking company letting them know how great this person was. He started to speed up, trying to catch the truck, faster and faster. At one point he looked down at the speedometer to note he was driving 90 miles per hour. But no sign of the truck anywhere. He drove for about twenty miles and the truck had literally disappeared! There were no exits on that stretch of road, and no rest stops, so where could the truck have gone?"

It was then, wrote Edward, that it dawned on his uncle that the man looked so "strangely familiar" because he bore a striking resemblance to images of St. Joseph.

Was this an angel sent by Joseph, or the saint himself?

They come as mysterious strangers! They especially come when we are in "communion" through the sacraments. The more we tune in, the more we see.

When Peter G. Aparcicio and his wife of Victoria, Texas, were expecting a second child, a big problem was discovered.

"During a routine sonogram, the doctor noticed what he thought were cysts on the baby's lungs," he tells us. "Later, as the baby developed, the diagnosis was changed. The baby had a diaphragmatic hernia. His stomach and intestines were entering his chest cavity through the hole in his diaphragm, endangering his heart and restricting development of his left lung.
"My prayers for St. Joseph's intercession increased greatly. The big day was coming. Our son was due March 18 (the day before St. Joseph's feast day) and we had to deliver in Houston, so the baby could be hospitalized at Texas Children's Hospital.

"The doctors warned us that he might be in the hospital up to six months, and even then we might have to take him home with an oxygen tank.

"We were told he might be blue when born due to poor oxygen circulation and they would have to rush him away to stabilize him.

"We arranged for the priest at the hospital to be there when our son was born to immediately baptize him. On March 21, our son was born. Immediately after the baptism was complete, he let out a short cry (not bad for someone who would supposedly have poor oxygen circulation!) and was whisked away to be stabilized. I briefly stayed with my wife and then went to see our son. I was scared. Would he be blue? Would he be in distress?

"As I turned the corner and saw him, tears filled my eyes. Laying there was the pinkest little baby I'd ever seen! I went over and talked to him and gave him a kiss before the sedative took effect (he had to stay calm). He was placed in intensive care, and five days later had an operation to close the hole in his diaphragm. He handled it like a champ. A couple of weeks later, we received a call at the Ronald McDonald House from the nurse on duty at the hospital, informing us that our son had removed his ventilator tube by himself! He never used the ventilator again.
"Four weeks to the day after he was born, our son was released to go home -- no oxygen, no problems! St. Joseph's intercession was more than we could have imagined. Today our second son is almost five and has no problems. Of course, to honor this magnificent saint, we named our son Joseph.

"I wish Catholic leaders would preach more about the greatness of this Saint, and how effective his intercession is," Peter concludes. "We tell everyone we know about St. Joseph and donated a statue of him with the Child Jesus to our church as our way of thanking him and spreading devotion to him. Try St. Joseph. You won't be disappointed."

"My mother Mary had a great devotion to St. Joseph and prayed to him daily for a happy and speedy death," wrote another. "She was 94 and in good health, still living independently in her little apartment near her family. On March 19 2002 at one a.m. she suffered a massive heart attack. She made it to the hospital and received the Last Rites and with all of her children and most of her grandchildren around her died peacefully at three p.m. that same day. The feast of St Joseph. Her prayers were answered!!"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Praying to the Saints, God's Most Gracious Advocates

Some people ask “why say prayers to saints? Shouldn’t all our prayers be to God?” Praying to the saints is praying to God, in a fundamental way. We're praying to those who can ask God to help us in our various needs in accordance with His will.

When you ask someone to pray for you are you worshiping that person? Of course not! It’s the same when we ask the saints to pray for us! In our prayers to saints we ask them to “put in a good word” for us with God in Heaven. They are not the focus of our worship, God is.

In this regard, it is worth noting that many compilations of prayers to saints also include prayers by them as well, to our Lord. The important thing to remember is that all these prayers have the same Divine destination, for our salvation.

The authors of the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (“light of the nations”) noted that it was important that we “suppliantly invoke" the saints and "have recourse to their prayers, their power and help in obtaining benefits from God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer and Saviour."

For example, in one well known prayer to St. Joseph we ask him to “assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord."


In the saints we have as advocates members of what is called the Church triumphant (those already in heaven.) We on earth are part of the Church militant.

In addition, with the Church suffering (those in purgatory) we all make up what is known as the Communion of Saints, part of one glorious mystical body of Christ in His Church. We are truly all in this together!

Note that the saints had their weaknesses and struggles just as we do and they were also sinners. But they had tremendous devotion to God. They became canonized (that is to say, officially recognized) as Catholic Saints after their deaths. This was usually done after a lengthy review of both the holiness of their lives and miracles associated with them.

What is comforting is that with the saints we have so many members of our Church in heaven to look out for us! Do you ever feel some days like you need all the help you can get? You can ask one of many patron saints for their assistance. Some have been “put in charge” of various causes, occupations, (and even countries!), through popular traditions or by the Church. These saints are considered our protectors as well as our intercessors.

St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland, for example, and people get their throats blessed on the feast day of St. Blase. (Just as a reminder, a feast day in the Catholic Church is a day to give special honor, that is to say recognition, to God, saints, doctrines, or sacred events.)

Many saints are patrons of more than one occupation or cause, such as St. Joseph, who, besides being a Universal Patron of the Church is also considered a patron saint of fathers, carpenters, and social justice. St. Therese of Lisieux, the "Little Flower," is patron saint not only of florists but also of missions as well. The Blessed Virgin Mary is also considered a patron saint and has been given quite a few names as one, including many for places she has appeared (as in Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of Guadalupe).

Many prayers to saints take these “patrons” into account. For example, people pray to St. Anthony for lost items; to St. Jude (or perhaps St. Rita) for lost causes; to St. Gerard for motherhood; and to St. Peregine for Cancer victims. For many years the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was included at the end of Mass for his help in defeating Satan. (and it should be again!)

Keep in mind that God also calls on us to be saints. If this seems like too tall an order, remember that, with God’s help we can live our lives reflecting His love and goodness, letting Him work through us, just like the saints! Emulating your saint will certainly help you reach this goal!

As we read in the wonderful prayer of St. Francis “Lord make me an instrument of your peace…grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love.” Just ask for God's help in prayer. Remember, He’s an important part of your prayers to saints as well.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Pray to the Saints and to the Angels?

First of all, we don't pray to saints but through them. Catholics can and do pray directly to God; the prayers of the Mass are directed to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Prayer to God is the most important thing we can do, but there is nothing wrong with asking the angels and saints to intercede with God in our behalf. After all, the angels witnessed the fall of one of their own (Satan) while they remained obedient to God and the saints faced the same problems and temptations that confront us, and overcame them with lives of holiness. No Christian hesitates to ask their friends and neighbors to pray for their intentions and needs. The greatest friends we have are those who are in heaven cheering us on as we struggle to overcome our sinful nature and live the Christian life.

All through the Old Testament there are examples of people (Abraham, Moses, the prophets) praying for the benefit of others; and of honor given to angels (Joshua 5:14; Daniel 8:17). In the New Testament we read "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16, NIV). Who is more righteous than one who has achieved their place in heaven? Just because someone has ceased his or her earthly life doesn't mean that they are beyond our reach, or that they have ceased caring for us. The saints are alive in heaven as 1 Corinthians 15:22 tells us and Revelation 5:8 tells us that the prayers of the saints are offered to God. The saints are God's masterpieces and what artist would say "Don't look at my works, pay attention only to me?" We give honor to God by praising His accomplishments.

When Jesus established his Church, He didn't establish one Church on earth and another unrelated Church in heaven. This is why, when we recite the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed (the Profession of Faith in Mass), we say that "we believe in the communion of saints"; we are all part of one spiritual community, God's family. As family, we care about what happens to one another. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He replied that the first was to love God, and the second was to love our neighbor. The saints in heaven keep this second commandment by interceding for us and helping us to love God. We are all alive in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22) and since we affirm the resurrection of the dead, asking the saints for assistance should pose no problem.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only pathway linking heaven and earth. The saints are ones who have lived the Christian life and received their eternal reward; they have walked in Jesus' footsteps. We ask that by their example and assistance, that we may walk in those footsteps as well. We do not pray to the saints to avoid Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life, but we do ask for additional assistance in directing our needs through Jesus to God the Father.

Patron Saints

The word "saint" comes from the Latin word sanctus, which translates to "consecrated" or "holy."

Saints are men and women who have lived their lives (and very often gave them up freely) in such a way as to be rewarded with the Kingdom of God. The road to being officially recognized by the Church as a saint in a long one. In the earliest stage, the saint-in-the-making is identified as a "Servant of God." That stage is followed by a recognition of being "Venerable" and then "Blessed" before being recognized by the Church as a saint or "Friend of God." This official recognition by the Church as a saint comes at the conclusion of the process and ceremony called "canonization."

These saints, living exemplary lives, provide for us examples to follow so that we may, in turn, follow them to Heaven.

"Feast Days" are recognized for each saint. These feast days are very often the day of the year in which they died, especially if they gave up their lives for their faith. These special saints that gave up their lives for their faith are called "martyrs."

Based on the course of their lives and the circumstances surrounding them, some of the saints serve as "patrons" of certain peoples, places, things, and occupations, as they intercede for us before God.