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Patron Saints Series: Prayer and Perseverance

If we pray and persevere in aligning our will with God's, we too may one day be counted among the saints in heaven!

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My brothers, consider it a great joy when trials of many kinds come upon you, for you well know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work so that you will become fully developed, complete, not deficient in any way… Blessed is anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person is of proven worth and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him… Anyone who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and keeps to it - not listening and forgetting, but putting it into practice - will be blessed in every undertaking. (James 1:2-4, 12, 25)

These scripture verses challenge us to persevere in developing the three cardinal virtues (faith, hope and charity) and the four theological virtues (fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance). Canonized saints both provide examples of virtues worthy of imitation and offer intercessory prayers to help us persevere on our journey to sainthood. We are all called to become saints in heaven, even if we aren’t canonized!

The 1983 post-Vatican II process for beatification and canonization of a saint requires a Declaration of Heroic Virtues. A Servant of God means the cause for beatification is accepted, and there is nothing that would block the process. Venerable means the Pope has recognized the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God. Beatification requires a miracle, “evidence of the intercessory power of the Venerable Servant of God and thus of his or her union after death with God.” Martyrdom is a special case; the Pope may document the miracle of grace accompanying true martyrdom with a Decree of Martyrdom. After the Beatification Rite, the person is called Blessed. “Beatification is not considered an infallible papal act, and so it is not yet appropriate that the entire Church give liturgical veneration to the Blessed." However, Catholics can privately venerate them. A second miracle is required for Canonization. “By canonization the Pope does not make the person a saint. Rather, he declares that the person is with God and is an example of following Christ worthy of imitation by the faithful.”  The canonization declaration is protected from error, and acts of veneration (Masses, Divine Office, etc.) may now be offered throughout the Church. (Quotes and notes taken from: EWTN Online Library - Process of Beatification and Canonization)

The good news is that the Catholic Church has recognized thousands of canonized saints over the centuries; the better news is that there are many more saints in heaven in addition to those formally canonized. We need not despair if our virtues are not yet heroic; if we pray and persevere in aligning our will with God's, we too may one day be counted among the saints in heaven! Consider asking the following three, who excelled in perseverance, for intercessory prayers to help you on your journey to sainthood:

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the Patron Saint for Catholic schools, seafarers, widows, and Catholic converts. She converted to Catholicism in 1805 when she was just 31 years old, but already had five children, weathered bankruptcy, survived quarantine after traveling from the United States to Italy and became a widow. She tried to support her family by creating an academy for young ladies in New York City, but many withdrew their daughters as news of her conversion to Catholicism spread. In 1809, Elizabeth moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, to support the emerging Catholic community near the Sulpician Fathers’ new Seminary and University. She established the first Catholic girls’ school in the United States – the beginning of the Parochial School system. She also founded the Sisters of Charity as the first American congregation of religious sisters to establish orphanages, schools and hospitals across the country. Elizabeth was born in 1774 in New York City and died at 46 years old in 1821; she became the first person to be canonized from the territory that would become the United States; her feast day is January 4. The miracle used to support her beatification in 1963 by St. Pope John XXIII was based on the healing of a 4-year-old girl with leukemia. The miracle used to support Elizabeth’s canonization in 1975 by Pope Paul VI was based on a man’s recovery in 1963 from terminal encephalitis in his brain. A quote which highlights how Elizabeth’s faith helped her persevere:

We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives - that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him. 

St. Laura Montoya Upegui is the Patron Saint of orphans and people who suffer racial discrimination. Her father was killed in the Columbian Civil War in 1876 when she was two years old, leaving the family poor and dependent upon relatives; Laura lived for a time in an orphanage her aunt managed. Laura became a teacher and was very successful, strengthening young women in their faith and their studies. Unfortunately, controversy arose at a wealthy girls’ school in Medellin when one of the students appeared to call off a wedding proposal in favor of religious life. Although the school closed because of the controversy mistakenly attributed to her, Laura overcame the stigma and finally opened her own school. Within a couple of years, however, a misinformed Bishop closed it. Eventually, another Bishop opened the window of opportunity to her true calling by accepting Laura’s proposal of a mission to the indigenous Columbians. Just before her 40th birthday, Laura and four other women, including her 72-year-old mother, set out with two guides and ten pack mules to save souls. This was the beginning of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena. Their habit was marked with M for Mary and 'Sitio,' which translates as 'I thirst,' in remembrance of the words Jesus spoke on the cross. The missionaries were not immediately accepted but persevered, and now the order is in multiple countries around the world. Laura died in 1949, at age 75, after spending the last nine years of her life in a wheelchair, still on mission. The miracle supporting her beatification by St. Pope John Paul II in 2004 was the cure of uterine cancer in an 86-year-old woman in 1994. The miracle supporting her canonization by Pope Francis in 2013 was the healing of a doctor suffering from lupus, kidney damage and muscular degeneration. She is the first Columbian recognized as a canonized saint, and her feast day is October 21. Whether we are navigating the corporate jungle, the wilds of politics, or the vastness of scientific exploration, we can ask the saints for intercessory prayers to see and address the needs of “the least of these my brethren” (Mat 25:40) to satisfy the thirst of Christ as St. Laura did; she wrote,

How thirsty I am! My thirst is to satisfy yours, Lord. By communicating with one another [in prayer, Sacraments, service], we have united two longings: you for the glory of your Father and I for your Eucharistic heart!

Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago is the first Puerto Rican and professional layperson beatified in the Western Hemisphere. He was a clerk passionate about the Catholic Mass, particularly the Easter Vigil. His favorite saying, as noted on his tomb, is, "Vivimos para esa noche” (We live for that night). Carlos came from a devout family; his brother and one of his three sisters joined religious orders (the other two sisters married). His health, however, prevented him from becoming a priest. His health also delayed his high school graduation and college studies, yet he published Liturgy and Christian Culture based on articles he translated and taught himself piano and organ. His goal was to promote excellent knowledge of the Catholic faith by promoting a greater understanding of the Catholic liturgy; he worked with bishops, clergy and laypeople to restore traditional liturgical practices while encouraging more active participation of the laity. While studying and working as a clerk, he organized discussion groups, taught catechism, and supported the Knights of Columbus. He died in 1963 when he was 44 years old from rectal cancer. The miracle cited to support his beatification by St. Pope John Paul II in 2001 was the healing of a college friend diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's malignant lymphoma in 1981. Carlos’ feast day is May 4 in Puerto Rico (based on the day of his baptism) and July 13 elsewhere. A second miracle is needed before he can be canonized so if you are in need of one, consider asking Blessed Carlos for intercessory prayers! A well-known quote from Carlos states:

We need Catholics who are alert to the present moment…modern Catholics who know how to nourish themselves in the past but whose eyes are fixed on the future.

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 unable to attend in person, an online, remote personal retreat option is now available!

THL2023 ONLINE Registration

We pray for continued growth in holiness and success in business ventures for all who attend in person and remotely! St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Laura Montoya Upegui and Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago – pray for us!

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

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