Anna:  I can’t believe it, Joe. I looked and looked for my diamond ring and couldn’t find it anywhere. You come in and say a prayer to St. Anthony … and find it right away.

Joe: Growing up, we learned about a patron saint for just about every situation in life.

Anna:  That I can believe! So who is the patron saint to help me put this room back together!

 

The Bridges, a column about the fictional Bridges family, is written by Father John J. Ames, deputy secretary for the Office for Catechetical Formation for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony please come around, something has been lost and cannot be found.” I cannot tell you how many times I, like many of you, have offered this prayer and miraculously found something that was lost. Thank you, thank you, thank you!November is the month during which the Catholic Church remembers, in a special way, the souls of the faithful departed. We pray for those who have died, particularly our relatives and friends. We know through faith that our prayers aid those in purgatory on their journey to heaven.

We also remember those who have died and are already with God in heaven. We call them saints. Some saints are canonized. This means that the Church officially recognizes that they have a place at the heavenly banquet. In addition to canonized saints, there are other saints in heaven who are not officially declared to be saints. We hope that our relatives and friends are included in this group.

Many of the canonized saints are also called patron saints. Many of us are named after a saint. Parishes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and many other locations are also named after a saint. I was named after my dad and took John the Baptist as my patron saint. I live in St. Matthew Parish, and St. Matthew is the patron saint. I believe that John the Baptist prays for me and St. Matthew prays for our parishioners. Each saint provides an example for how to live. That would be the same for any patron saint.

There are also patron saints who are associated with a particular need or state in life. For example, St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate situations. People pray to St. Jude when things seem hopeless. St. Matthew, a tax collector, is the patron saint of accountants. St. Peregrine, a cancer survivor, is the patron saint of cancer patients. People find strength and support when they know of a saint who shares something in common with them.

It is not always clear why a saint becomes a patron of a particular cause. Sometimes they emerge as patrons because of popular devotion or pious tradition. People are attracted to the example of the saint’s life and a following grows.

When we pray to saints, remember that God is the one who ultimately hears and answers all prayers. Saints intercede for us … they pray to God for us. God accomplishes good through the saints similar to the way God works through us when we do good for others.

November is also Black Catholic History Month. This is an opportunity to recognize the great black men and women who are already saints. We also remember those who are in the process of canonization, such as Father Augustine Tolton, Sister Thea Bowman and Mother Mary Lange.

I am happy that Joe Bridges’ prayers to St. Anthony were answered and Anna found her ring. St. Anthony is the patron saint of finding what is lost. Countless people testify to St. Anthony’s power to help in finding keys, money, valuable documents and even lost people.

Anna, I do not know the patron saint for cleaning up messy rooms. I am sure that many parents would like the name of that saint. November is a great opportunity to learn about the saints. Do you know about your patron saint … the saint whose name you share? Do you know about the saint who is the patron of your parish or school? I assure you, their stories will excite and inspire you and your family.