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Patron Saints Series: Heroically Countercultural

This is a calling to be like the saints, living a credible Christian life with knowledge of Scripture and in union with the Doctrines and Traditions of the Catholic Church.

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Who would have imagined believing and living simple truths and leading a good, wholesome life could be countercultural and heroic? Yet that is where we are, and we need not be afraid. We are not alone, for Jesus and the saints have gone before us and called us to become "no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Eph 2:19) Most importantly, “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

As noted in a quote from St. Josemaría Escrivá, one of the featured saints in this article:

To love and serve God, there is no need to do anything strange or unusual… Sanctity, for the vast majority of people, implies sanctifying their work, sanctifying themselves in it, and sanctifying others through it. Thus, they can encounter God in the course of their daily lives. (What is the attraction of Opus Dei, Conversations)

This is a calling to be like the saints, living a credible Christian life with knowledge of Scripture and in union with the Doctrines and Traditions of the Catholic Church. “In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians.” (CCC 2044) When truth is spoken and genuinely lived with love, we need not fear becoming a “noisy gong or clanging cymbal," which critics may wish us to believe. (1 Cor 13:1)

Cristofer Pereyra and Erin Monnin, in their book, Catholic Leadership for Civil Society, write:

Imagine what the world would be like if we had more influential doctors, engineers, business owners, accountants, politicians, police officers, entertainers, etc. who were also faithful and committed Catholics. What would the world be if these laity, relying on the grace of their Baptisms and Confirmations, intentionally used their talents and meritocratically-earned positions to influence the world for Christ? Imagine how much good the laity would bring to society if we only made it a priority to use our Catholic faith as the compass in our professional work and careers.

The following saints can help show the way to heroic joy in our ordinary everyday lives by aligning our will with God’s to sanctify our work, our families and ourselves, developing a “true filial spirit toward the Church” (CCC 2040). “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Mat 7:20)

St. Homobonus Tucenghi is the Patron Saint of businesspeople, tailors and merchants. He was a married layman who attended daily Mass and used his inheritance and business profits to help others. He was referred to as “father of the poor,” “consoler of the afflicted,” “assiduous in constant prayer,” “man of peace and peacemaker,” and “a man good in name and deed.” One of his toughest challenges appeared to be his wife’s angst that his charity would be detrimental to their own well-being. Through perseverance and kindness, he strengthened his marriage, and his wife eventually joined him in his charitable works. He died in 1197 at a Holy Mass, prostrated in the form of a cross. He was canonized in 1199 by Pope Innocent III, who wrote, "This saint is still like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in our time." His feast day is November 13.

St. Joseph (Guiseppe) Moscati is the Patron Saint of doctors, physicians, scientists (especially biochemists) and single men. He was known for his devout patient care even during volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, cholera breakouts, and war. He also conducted research and is considered a medical pioneer with significant contributions to understanding nephritis (kidney disease) and diabetes; he was the first to introduce insulin therapy in Italy. His faith was foremost, however, taking a vow of chastity, attending daily Mass, and practicing charity, often sending poor patients home with a prescription - and money. He believed in treating the whole person and incorporated faith and the Sacraments as part of their treatment. Moscati was born in 1880 and died in 1927. He was the first modern doctor to be canonized in 1987 by St. Pope John Paul II; his feast day is November 16. Although widely acclaimed, Moscati remained humble throughout his life and kept things in perspective, as shown by this quote:

Charity changed the world, not science… very few men are remembered because of science; but anyone can be an everlasting symbol of life eternal, where death is nothing but a step, a metamorphosis towards a higher place, if they will dedicate themselves to good.

Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi were the first married couple to be beautified together on October 21, 2001, by St. Pope John Paul II on the 20th anniversary of the publication of Familiari Consortia, an Apostolic Exhortation on the fruitfulness of marriage. In his homily for the Beautification Mass, JPII stated,

The blessed couple lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. At the center of their life was daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the Rosary. Their fidelity to the Gospel and their heroic virtues were verified in their life as spouses and parents.

Although their oldest daughter, Stefania, a Benedictine Nun, passed away before the ceremony, both of their sons, Fillipo and Cesare, who became priests, concelebrated the Beautification Mass; their sister, Enrica Beltrame Quattrocchi, declared venerable by Pope Francis on October 30, 2021, was also present. Enrica was the child doctors recommended aborting because of complications during the pregnancy; however, because of the parents’ choice for life, Enrica was born and went on to live a life full of charitable works following the example of her parents. In addition to both parents being members of the Franciscan Third Order, the Quattrocchi couple were instrumental in organizations such as Catholic Action, a large organization of Catholic laity in Italy; ASCI, the Italian Catholic scout association; and UNITALSI, an organization known for coordinating pilgrimages for the sick and disabled. In World War II, the Quattrocchi home sheltered Jewish refugees. Maria was a professor, a children's education and spirituality writer, and a Red Cross volunteer nurse. Luigi had a law degree, served on several banks' boards, and was an honorary deputy attorney general for Italy. Whatever challenges came their way, whether difficult pregnancies or political upheaval, they faced them as a married couple firmly rooted in their Catholic faith. Luigi died at 71 in 1951, and Maria died at 81 in 1965; their Memorial is November 25, their wedding anniversary.

St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer is the founder of Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church composed primarily of laity and some priests dedicated to teaching the universal call to holiness – participation in ‘God’s Work’ as part of everyday life. The fruits of Opus Dei, coming from the works of over 77,000 members of more than 80 nationalities, are many, including the founding of schools, universities, educational outreach, and programs for the poor. As the Catholic Church’s only approved personal prelate, it is not uncommon to read and hear conflicting views on its operations and its founder. Josemaría needed perseverance to succeed in his mission and a couple of miracles along the way: one, when he was young, which led to the building of a Marian shrine at Torreciudad, Aragon, Spain, and the second, was a recovery from a 10-year battle with diabetes after an allergic reaction to a new form of insulin injection. In addition to being the patron saint of ordinary life, he is known as the Patron Saint for diabetic patients. Josemaría was born in 1902 and died in 1975. His canonization was in 2002 by St. Pope John Paul II; his feast day is June 26. He is well known for his writings, homilies, and speeches; many inspiring quotes come from them:

I assure you, my children, that when a Christian carries out with love the most insignificant everyday action, that action overflows with the transcendence of God. That is why I have told you so often, and hammered away at it, that the Christian vocation consists in making heroic verse out of the prose of each day. Heaven and earth seem to merge, my children, on the horizon. But where they really meet is in your hearts, when you sanctify your everyday lives. (Homily, University of Navarra, Spain, October 1967)

Stay tuned for future articles as we explore more Patron Saints, or 'Saints-in-the-making' (in the process of canonization), as candidates for intercessory prayers for lay Catholics. To learn more about how to become heroic in your everyday life and join a community that will walk with you and support you in this endeavor, consider enrolling in the 2024 cohort of the Tepeyac Leadership Initiative.

And join us in prayer for the success of The Hour of the Laity: A Lay Catholic Conference (THL2023), November 2-5, Christ Cathedral, Orange County, CA. THL2023 is a national gathering for all lay Catholics who seek to grow as leaders to influence civil society with positive, healthy values grounded in truth and faith. It provides Catholic leadership formation to strengthen and enable the laity to become ambassadors of Christ in our day-to-day lives and the secular world! All experts, panelists, and keynotes are people who positively impact society and are sound examples of authentic Catholic leadership.

For those not able to attend in person, an online, remote personal retreat option is now available!

Click to register for THL2023 ONLINE!

We pray for continued growth in holiness and success in business ventures for all who attend in person and remotely! St. Homobonus, St. Joseph Moscati, Blesseds Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi, and St. Josemaria Escriva – pray for us!

The Patron Saints Series is sponsored by our friends at Catholic Prayer Cards.

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