I met with the young people at their first session to give them a little spiritual-fatherly advice as they begin their journey. Near the end of my remarks I spoke to them a little about the communion of saints.
I have been reflecting on that mystery a lot lately. I recently read an article which suggested that, yes, it is the case in our faith that we can choose or call upon a particular saint to pray for us, but the article also pointed out that it is also often the case that a particular saint will choose us.
The author of the article wrote of a time when she was overcome by worry for one of her children who had gotten himself into trouble. A friend of hers suggested that she pray through the intercessions of St. Monica for help. Her friend told her that St. Monica is a good patron saint for worried mothers. St. Monica wept many tears and prayed persistently for 17 years for the conversion of her wayward son. Eventually her prayers were answered. Her son turned from his rebellious ways, converted to Christianity, and became one of the greatest bishops and saints in our tradition – St. Augustine of Hippo.
The author went on to write that, at the time of her friend's suggestion, she had never heard of St. Monica. But then, throughout the next few weeks, Monica kept "popping up" in her life. She found a prayer card of St. Monica. She met a woman named Monica. She heard of a news story from Santa Monica, California. The woman said, "It was as if St. Monica was spiritually stalking me!" What a consolation it was, she wrote, to receive this sign from heaven. God had sent her a new helper and friend.
I too have had similar experiences where a particular saint seemed to have chosen me. In a moment of need there have been times when one of the saints has come to my mind or in a more mysterious way drawn near to me to be an instrument of divine help. That’s how God’s family works. That’s the joy and the help that comes through the communion of saints. As long as we remain in a state of grace, God's grace will find us one way or another.
That too is my hope and prayer for our Confirmation students – that as they come to this moment of commitment in their spiritual journey God will give them helpers along the way. I hope they pay attention. There might be one of God’s saints who is choosing them at this point in their lives to share with them more of God’s blessings.
Thanks be to God for the saints. They help us to know how truly embraced we are by a heavenly host of help and love.