My morning prayer begins with a deck of cards. Not playing cards but prayer cards with pictures of my favorite saints. I have amassed quite a collection—seventeen, to be exact. Each day I begin my walk with God by inviting each saint to walk with me.
It began thirty years ago with St. Anthony of Padua. He was a must-have saint when it came to our baby boy losing his pacifier. Our son preferred the old-fashioned kind, the kind that was hard to replace. St. Anthony became a good friend in short order, always finding that pacifier (whether it was the old one or a new one at the store).
For many years St. Anthony was the only one. I had trouble figuring out how to talk to God and also make room for other heavenly friends in the conversation. It made the room feel crowded.
Then, a few years ago, an improbable event occurred in my life: I was asked to write a book. Having never done anything like that before and having no formal education in writing, I knew I needed help. And that’s when my list of saintly friends began to grow.
Saints Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux were the first to make the list. Both were reluctant writers and both relied heavily on God. I even used some of St. Therese’s own words in River of Grace.
Next I saw “The Song of Bernadette” and became enamored with her. Reading St. Bernadette’s biography, I was intrigued by her ability to be absorbed in thoughts of God even when surrounded by large crowds. I wanted that ability. Now I ask her for it every day.
I clearly remember the time and place where I first encountered St. Paul—it was in the middle of an emergency (stuck in traffic and desperate for a rest room!) St. Paul the marathon runner came to mind and I asked him to run with me and help me endure the pain. He did. Now I always ask him to run with me.
St. Cecilia is restoring my love of music. There was a time not so long ago when I wanted nothing more to do with music, having been a performer for many years. But then, God invited me to join the choir at church and I turned to St. Cecilia. She has been working overtime for me, securing blessings which fill my heart up again with the sounds of music.
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Venerable Bruno Lanteri, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Through author Father Timothy Gallagher, I met the man who would do anything to hear a person’s confession. He sought out the discouraged, helping them to rise and begin again.
St. Nicholas has become one of my favorites. While searching for a patron saint of finances, I was delighted to find that the man who inspired Santa Claus was that saint. His wisdom and generosity could inspire me to seek guidance in the handling of money, and healing for a heart made stingy by past financial troubles.
And finally there is Francis of Assisi. I am a crazy cat lady with many friends who love animals. And each day I ask St. Francis to remember them all.
Each day as I take a few moments to flip through my prayer cards I realize how rich my life is with all my saintly friends, all because I opened my heart and made room for them. Doing that reminds me to the same with my earthly friends, especially those in need.
It will be wonderful traveling through Lent this year with so many helpers.
Who are your saintly helpers?
Copyright 2016 Susan W. Bailey
All photos copyright 2016 Susan W. Bailey