Saints who inspire us

| October 27, 2011 | 0 Comments


The Catholic Spirit recently asked readers to tell about the saint who has inspired them the most in light of the Solemnity of All Saints Nov. 1. (We also allowed submissions about those not yet canonized as saints but who have been beatified and declared “blessed.”)

Many years ago when I was a freshman at Bethlehem Academy, my little first-grade sister suffered a ruptured appendix with subsequent peritonitis. Her body was severely swollen and distended. The doctor didn’t hold out much hope for her to survive. Our B.A. homeroom teacher, Sister Aimee, taught us an intercessory prayer to St. Philomena. My little sister survived and the doctor felt it was a miracle. To this day, I recite the prayer in thanksgiving to St. Philomena.

Connie Clark
Divine Mercy, Faribault

As a child, I was sexually abused by a teenage neighbor. While preparing for my confirmation, I read about St. Maria Goretti. I felt an instant connection with her and chose her for “my saint.” As I have worked on healing my past, St. Maria has been a source of strength and comfort. I believe the reason St. Maria Goretti became a saint is not because she died for her purity, but for the way she forgave her abuser. Anyone who has been abused or attacked knows how difficult it is to forgive. Maria has taught me that forgiveness is the only way to have true peace. Through her intercession, and by the grace of God, I have been able to forgive my abuser and now pray for God to heal him and use him as an instrument of his peace. While my abuse still affects me, it no longer controls me. I am thankful for the example of St. Maria Goretti and for her friendship. I look forward to meeting her face to face in heaven someday.

Name withheld
Epiphany, Coon Rapids

As a child I wondered why my parents named me Christopher, but I never asked. I first learned from adults that he was the saint of travelers, so when I was young and found a St. Christopher medal, I kept it and have it with me always. He has protected me wherever I have gone — through a car accident, sickness and a few other close calls. But more important is his name, which means “Christ-bearer.” I find that our name does mean something, I am destined to do something special for Christ. I just hope I am prepared for what this is and live up to my God-given name.

Chris Duffy
Guardian Angels, Oakdale

In fourth grade I decided to take my best friend’s favorite saint as my own.  I read what I could about St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower.”  Several images from her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul,” remain vivid and have inspired me.

St. Therese admitted that the constant gum smacking of an older Carmelite nun in prayer drove her crazy. Eventually she was able to offer her annoyances to Jesus and hear the sounds with kindness.  I have thought of this in various situations.

In early 2001, a scene from the saint’s short life flashed through my mind. As a girl she decided to pray for a hardened criminal soon to be executed. She was almost foolishly confident In God’s mercy for the man. Therese was overjoyed when she read the newspaper account of his last few minutes. Although seemingly unrepentant, the murderer seized a crucifix as he mounted the scaffold to the guillotine. He kissed it three times.

Inspired by St. Therese’s boldness, I embarked on a similar prayer mission. I prayed daily for Timothy McVeigh. In his last hours, he suddenly asked to see a priest and received the last rites.

Michaelene Zawistowski
St. Thomas More, St. Paul

A saint that inspires me? How about one who was canonized relatively recently on Oct. 6, 2002. The founder of Opus Dei (“The Work of God”), St. Josemaria Escriva.

Do we all have to become priests, monks and sisters to find holiness? Not by the thinking of St. Josemaria. He sought to show us how to sanctify ordinary work in the midst of the world without changing one’s state in life. His writings remind us that in carrying out with Christian love even the most insignificant daily actions,  those actions can overflow with the transcendence of God. All of our daily activity can thus become a continuous prayer, and a sanctifying thing.

Referred to by many as “the saint of the ordinary,”  St. Josemaria has opened new vistas for everyone who has taken the time to get to know him through his many writings and through contacts with Opus Dei.

Craig Mesch
Mary, Mother of the Church, Burnsville

A saint to me is a role model for life. After losing my biological mother in an accident, at age 10 I was left alone, devastated and lost for the next 15 years. When I married in 1976 and converted to Catholicism, I found my saint for life, my constant friend and mentor, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christ’s mother.

I talk to her as my very best friend and pray her rosary every day, for I know she has been with me to guide and lead me in every decision in my life. There is no doubt that she knows suffering, watching her only son brutally beaten, scorned and hung on a cross before a cold, cruel world. Yet, she also believed he would rise again and become the Savior for this broken world for all mankind, and for all times, and she would be united with him in heaven one day, which is my hope as well.

She has taught me how to embrace life on every level, and will be my first and foremost saint and guide forever.

Joellyn Soler
President, Minneapolis Council of Catholic Women

St. Anthony of Padua has been in my family for three generations: my grandmother, my mother and myself. He is perhaps the most popular Franciscan in history.

I have a special devotion to him with a Housing Blessing displayed in my home. He is the saint of miraculous miracles and I believe miracles happen.

I’ve lost my parents and four brothers. And God has taken them all to heaven. And I believe St. Anthony will take me there, too, someday. He is not only known for lost objects but lost souls, also. What a comfort to know.

I ask him often to reach down from heaven and take hold of my hand and show me a miracle in time of need. I have a special St. Anthony rosary I say often. I carry a medal in my purse. I pray for health and happiness for myself and those I love.

Mary Mortenson
St. Timothy, Blaine

St. Gemma realized that God created us to love him and be available to him. She lived her short life doing just that. She connected to others, interceding for them.

What makes her special to me is that in spite of Satan’s attempted road blocks, she experienced Mary, her guardian angel and, of course, Jesus with his wounds and revelations.

She did not think herself special, even thinking herself weak and unworthy. She inspires me toward a more trusting and deeper connection to God. She also inspires me to a deeper dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Father Germanus Ruoppolo, CP, was her trusted spiritual adviser. He wrote her story.

Richard Scherer
Church of St Paul, Ham Lake

As a young girl I was always busy and, if not with tasks about the house, I was reading. My eldest sister had read the book “A Story of a Soul,” and she gave it to me to read. I took the book and read it quickly. I needed to read it again.

I was intrigued by St. Therese’s simple way. Could this really work? Would people respond as they had in her life, in mine?

I started to try it among family members and neighbors. I was surprised how people would smile and calm down and situations would become easier.

Yet, the biggest change was in me. I began to see that to love people made me a happier person. To give up or go without things was not so difficult but, instead, a gift. I experienced a contentment with what I had, not really needing so much to be satisfied.

Pope John Paul II made this obscure nun a doctor of the church. She wished to spend her heaven doing good on earth. Is she not doing that through each one of us who follow her little way?

Carol Quinlan
St Pius X, White Bear Lake

Brash, headstrong and violent.

Worldly, self-serving, fearful and disloyal.

Words to describe a saint?

Yes, and they belong to that faltering hero, St. Peter.

Thinking of his earnest blundering encourages me when I am weak, wrong or afraid. Remembering his misunderstanding and challenge to our Lord’s need to suffer and die for men, I realize that I make decisions that are comfortable for me, but are not Christlike.

When I think of Peter’s impulsive leap into the sea at the sight of Jesus, and his spontaneous terror at what he had done, I think of my own fading zeal.

There was his braggadocio after Jesus told him that he must wash their feet in order for them to be like him. “Then wash also my hands and my head!”

Sometimes I’m smug, too.

That swashbuckling slice at the soldier’s ear and his vow to lay down his life for his Lord came quickly — then, as quickly came his fear of self-incrimination.

I feel comforted knowing I don’t have to take kindly to suffering in order to bear it, and that I can recover from failings by thinking how my favorite very human saint would have rebounded.

Joan Lindusky
Holy Childhood, St Paul

In my life, I highly respect and revere those saints who were persecuted for their faith, or who dedicated their lives to the poor and the oppressed. But, I am not truly inspired to follow them.

I am personally inspired by those saints who lived their faith through the development and the use of their God-given intellectual capabilities. As such, the saint who inspires my life the greatest is St. Augustine.

St. Augustine was raised as a Pagan and as a learned teacher of rhetoric, until his conversion to Christianity under the influence of his mother and St. Ambrose. It was as a Christian and as the Bishop of Hippo that St. Augustine developed much of the intellectual understanding of Christianity and of Paganism that has prevailed for the past 1500-plus years.

Even more important, he worked well into his old age to share that understanding with the world through his many books and publications, which stand even today as masterpieces of literature, most notably: “Confessions,” “Dialogues” and “City of God.” Further, he dealt in depth with seemingly unfathomable issues, such as the Holy Trinity.

He truly represents the intellectual side of sainthood and truly inspires my life as such.

Jack Hei
Transfiguration, Oakdale

Our family — my mother, sisters Nancy and Gerri, and I — lived in Germany with our father, Joseph, an major in the U.S. Army, who was stationed there in the early 1950s.

While there, I made my confirmation in the cathedral, in Frankfurt, Germany, and took the name St. Therese as my patron saint.

On Jan. 2, 1873, in France, St. Therese was born when her mother, was 41 years old. As an infant, Therese was very frail and sick throughout her adolescence. Later, she contracted tuberculosis, and passed away at 24. She always said she would do her best work in heaven and would shower people with roses that she would send down to earth. Her feast day is Oct.1.

From the time I was 13 years old, I went through a rough time, and I believe St. Therese, watched over me, and guided me through that painful time.

Years later as an adult, while I was kneeling and praying in our chapel, I smelled the beautiful fragrance of roses. Thinking it was my imagination, I looked around and found that I was the only one in the chapel. At the time, I was awestruck. The beautiful fragrance lasted for 10 minutes, but I shall never forget that moment in my life.

Edwina Ann Therese Walior
St Edward, Bloomington

My favorite saint is St. Theresa the Little Flower. I call her my long-distance operator.

In 1962, I was paralyzed and had asked God to take me so I would not be a burden to my parents. I prayed one night and our picture of St. Theresa lit up. Dad could not figure out why. The next night as I was praying for God to take me, I smelled roses, again her picture lit up. I was focusing on her when the crucifix in my bedroom seemed to move, God was blessing me. I fell asleep.

In the morning, I awoke to such terrible pain that all I could do was cry. I was taken to the hospital and the doctor said he could stop the pain but instead I could move my legs. Thank you St. Theresa for interceding for me. She did little things in a big way: “I just do little things.”

She has always been there for me, I feel so blessed to know she is there. Because of her interceding, I was blessed to have a beautiful daughter who is named after St. Theresa.

St. Theresa never complained. I have had pain all my life and try not to complain; I just offer it up for the glory of the name of Jesus. I will always strive to be like her and serve in small ways without complaining.

Ann Marie Johnson
St. Paul

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Category: All Saints