Student Spotlight: All Saints’ Day
As Catholics, we celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1st! It is a beautiful time to reflect on the lives of the saints and on the many ways they gave their lives, through service, prayer, or martyrdom, to love God and to love others. We hope you are encouraged by reading how Brooke and Nathan have been impacted by the stories and intercession of the saints!
“Does anyone in here ACTUALLY pray to the saints?”
This question was posed by one of my religion teachers in high school, which contained mostly Protestant students and faculty. I remained quiet in my corner of the classroom, not knowing if he asked out of genuine curiosity or to tease whoever answered. Needing some assistance from heavenly friends, a saint I discovered soon after who could help me in moments like these was St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony was a Portuguese priest and a friar in the Franciscan Order in the late 12th to mid-13th centuries. He was also one of the most quickly canonized saints in Catholic history and a Doctor of the Church, which means that he contributed to Church doctrines through his writing and research. Although he is known to many as the patron saint of lost things, I look to him as the restorer of speech to the mute. This is one of his many titles because of the confidence he had when preaching and the concern he had for the needs of others. I am indeed blessed with the ability to speak, but he inspires me in a more metaphorical way of coming out of my shy shell and standing up for myself instead of staying silent at times. With St. Anthony’s intercession, the Holy Spirit can grant me the strength I need to say what I want to or need to with confidence. I have a prayer to St. Anthony saved on my phone that I can recite before bed or before a time when I need to use my voice effectively, like in a class presentation or a confrontation with a friend.
Another saint I admire is St. Veronica, my confirmation saint whom I chose as a high school freshman. Most of us know her story: she was the one in the sixth station of the cross who kindly wiped Jesus’ face on His painful trek up to Calvary. I greatly admired her bold action to help Jesus no matter what the other onlookers thought of her. Being able to stand up for your faith without hesitation is an amazing and desirable feat. She is also the patron saint of photography, the modern method of capturing moments, as Jesus’ face was imprinted on her veil two thousand years ago. Studying journalism at UF, I acknowledge that photography is an important part of telling stories of all kinds and can truly be “worth a thousand words,” so it’s awesome to know that there is a saint that can intercede on my behalf in that field.
I highly encourage you to find a saint or two to connect with. I can honestly tell you that this is not the “idol worship” some people unfortunately make it out to be. Saints do not replace God; we admire and venerate saints because of the great things God accomplished THROUGH them. There are endless patron saints that understand what you are going through and can be your heavenly shoulder to lean on when you need an extra prayer or a friend. It is a great way to deepen your faith along with someone who has “been there, done that.” As All Saints’ Day approaches, I thank the Lord for giving us so many examples of how to live in His Word and how to rely on Him through struggles with our human nature.
As a sophomore in high school, I had gone all the way through religious ed and made it to one of the most important times for me as a Catholic — confirmation. It was time for me to decide on a confirmation saint. I did not know too much about the saints, except for a select few. Typically guys tend to pick someone like St. Michael, St. Jude, or even St. Joseph. My 16 year old self, and even myself now, always wanted to be unique, to stand out, and to set myself apart from the rest. It wasn’t about picking a saint that no one knew about. I wanted to pick a saint that was unique to ME, a saint who reflected the values that define me as a Catholic and as a person.
Upon careful consideration, research, and much self reflection, I decided that it was within my best interests to pick St. John the Apostle as my confirmation saint. The typical response was always, “who’s that?” because the first person to usually come to mind is St. John the Baptist, not St. John the Apostle. St. John the Apostle was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and one of his closest followers. Having learned that St. John the Apostle had such a close relationship with Jesus and was relevant in such a vital time period in the Bible, I felt that I should look deeper into his life. Looking more into him as a saint and the values which he represented was what made me decide that he was the right one for me.
St. John the Apostle is said to be the patron saint of love, loyalty, and friendships. All of those values are something which I had heavily practiced in my life. I felt like I was an extrovert, a people person, and I always wanted the best for the people around me. I thought that showing respect, building great camaraderie, and being there for the people I met was the strongest trait I possessed. I continue to see these examples of love, loyalty, and friendships in my life today. For example, every week I attend Mass and Meal and I sit with a group of people whom I’ve never met before. By doing this, I’ve met several new people, including a girl who, strangely enough, happened to be in my kindergarten class and was confirmed at the same parish as I was. I’ve met several guys with whom I play pickup sports, go to the gym, and just talk whenever I need them. I’ve been blessed to be in a Bible study through these connections I’ve made. I could share so many more stories of people I’ve met, but I’m sure I’ve made a decent point with what I have so far. The way I value strong friendships has helped me deepen my faith in more ways than I would have ever imagined, and it has much influence on the Catholic I am to this day. I recognize that St. John the Apostle as my confirmation saint continues to define me as a person and to lead me further down the path of my faith journey.