This article was written by Cheryl Hadley, Secular Carmelite
Cultivating a deeper relationship with your patron saint(s) is one way to grow in your faith and in communion with the Church of the past and the present. These intimate friendships help connect us to heaven, even as we struggle down here below. It is a great consolation to know that we have the heavenly court urging us on and interceding for us before the throne of God.
Listed below are six ways to deepen your relationship with your special patron saints:
HOW TO GROW CLOSER TO YOUR PATRON SAINT
1. Pray daily asking the intercession of your saint(s).
Find special prayers to them, or written by them, and pray these daily. If this is not available, compose your own special prayer. Keep prayer cards, statues, framed prints, or other devotional items featuring their image in your home. These serve as a reminder of their virtues, holiness, and special gifts. If possible, wear their saint medal and have it blessed by a priest.
Your patron saint desires to pray you into heaven. As you proceed through your day, ask for their intercession that you will imitate the qualities you admire in them, that you will desire to possess the virtues they exemplify, and that you will endure the details and trials of your life with love and patience as they did.
Just as we ask our friends in the world for their prayers, in the same way we ask our brothers and sisters in eternity. Because they are before the throne of God, their prayers are even more powerful. Talk to them as you would a friend sitting right beside you. They are truly present if we call to them.
2. Read about your special saints.
Read good books written about or by your favorite saints. We grow in our relationship with someone when we spend time together; this is true for your relationship with your special saints too. Ask your saint to help you learn about their life through these written accounts.
As you learn more about your saints, you will grow in your appreciation for their virtues, struggles and character. You will enter into a more intimate relationship with them as you see how they grew in holiness. Then you will feel more inspired to pray, asking for their intercession through the day-to-day events of your own life.
3. Celebrate the feast days of your patron saints.
Nine days prior to their feasts, begin a novena to your favorite saint(s). Most of these prayers can be found online. If not, you can compose your own and include elements you’ve read about their life.
Fasting precedes feasting. It is a traditional practice to fast on the day prior to a saint day, and to feast on the day of. So on the day before your saint’s feast day, consider fasting (from food or from other things) to keep a holy vigil in anticipation of the day. Even making small gestures of sacrifice to help keep the day holy will bring graces and deepen your relationship and communion with your saint. Offer these up in thanksgiving for the graces the saint has helped obtain for you – past, present and future.
Consider going to Mass on your saint’s feast day as well and offer your Mass in thanksgiving for their intercession. Celebrate that evening with your family by serving a special meal or dessert and telling the story of the saint you are celebrating. Honor them and give thanks for the consolations they provide you.
4. Visit the shrines of your favorite patron saints.
There are many in the USA that most people do not even know exist. You can often venerate the relics of your saints at their shrines. Do a little research and find what special saint of yours may have a shrine near enough to visit. You can even make this a yearly pilgrimage.
By visiting their shrines you bring your intentions to your saints in an even more intimate way. Ask others if you can take their special prayer intentions with you on your pilgrimage and present them to your patron saint asking for intercession.
5. Schedule a retreat during the feast day of your patron saint.
The intercession of the saints is especially powerful on the date that the Church celebrates their liturigcal feast. Ask that saint to help you grow spiritually and receive the graces God wants to give you. You may ask off of work or plan a vacation around a special holiday, so why not do so around the feast day of your favorite heavenly intercessor?
Ask your patron saint to intercede for you and help you make a good retreat. Bring books or materials written by or about your saint if that is possible. A silent retreat where you spend time with God alone, and also with your patron saint, can be a rich and fruitful experience.
6. Make your saints known and cause them to be invoked.
Tell others your stories of intercession and ask to hear theirs. Share special prayers and novenas to your saints. Suggest your saints to others in their times of need, especially if your saint is the patron of their specific cause, and keep on hand holy cards or prayers that you can give away when the Holy Spirit creates that opening.
By following these suggestions you can allow the Holy Spirit to work to promote the power of your saints before the throne of God. The Communion of Saints binds together the blessed of Heaven, the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and the Faithful on earth.
We share in the graces won by the saints, and they share in the Lord’s desire for us to reach Heaven. They are one of the greatest treasures of our Church, and they are our inheritance.
The saints are a beacon in a darkening world, lighting the way for us all. Enrich your faith by deepening your friendship with your patron saints. They have so much to teach us.
How do you go about choosing a patron saint? Continue reading our advice on How to Choose a Patron Saint.
This article has been updated and was originally published in August 2014. © The Catholic Company