Friday, October 30, 2015

My Summer with the Saints

November 1st marks the Feast of All Saints in the Catholic Church. Each year around this time, I try to choose a saint to learn more about and try to pray with as a guide to holiness through the year. Saints Bernadette, Ignatius of Loyola, John Paul II and Joan of Arc are some of those whose devotion to God I have come to admire through this practice.

After my adventures in Europe this summer, I find myself reflecting and praying with the many beautiful holy men and women whose lives I was fortunate enough to learn about and experience on another level.

So rather than just choosing one saint this year, I'm feeling connected to and comforted by many.

 (above: Basilica of Loyola, below: view of Montserrat on the way to Manresa)

By walking the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola, I felt myself draw nearer to Christ in prayer and reflection along the camino. I wanted to walk those 200 km to learn more about and grow closer to the saint, but instead found myself diving deeper into my relationship with Christ, which is exactly what Iggy would have wanted. He calls all of us to live our lives so that everything is for the greater glory of God. AMDG.

The home of Saint Peter Claver provided refuge for exhausted pilgrims, giving us a place to rest our bodies and prepare for the miles to come. His home was the location where our guide, who had otherwise seemed harsh and even uncaring, demonstrated patience and kindness through his cleaning of our sore and blistered feet. This outpouring of love was, for me, a beautiful reminder of Holy Thursday and example of Christ's care and healing.

(above: Shrine to Our Lady of Aranzazu)

Both Our Lady of Aranzazu and Our Lady of Montserrat reinvigorated a feeling in me of being held in the mantel of Mother Mary. In prayer, I found her encouraging me in my desire to become a campus minister. I cannot explain fully the sense of calm that covered me during my time at Montserrat. So many of my fears and anxieties for the future were eased through prayer on that holy mountain and I cannot express the gratitude it has filled me with.

(Inside St Peter's Basilica)

Rome was obviously filled with countless connections to saints. In St. Peter's Basilica alone you find St. Peter, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. John Paul II, etc. We also visited The Church of the Gesu where there were relics of famous Jesuits such as St. Francis Xavier and also Pedro Arrupe, who technically is not a saint, but I have a lot of confidence that he will some day be canonized. In fact, of all of the graves I encountered on my trip, it was Arrupe's that moved me to tears. His commitment to social justice resonates so deeply within my soul and has been instrumental in my discernment of what I am called to be.


St. Catherine of Siena is my confirmation saint, so obviously I was thrilled to take a day trip to her town while I was living in Italy. She was such a strong, convicted woman whose faith and dedication I hope to emulate. I stumbled upon a mass when visiting the Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico and was filled with a sense of God's presence and love for me as I prepared myself for Eucharist. (I will admit, the severed head was a little freaky.)

I wrote about my visit to Saint John Paul II's home last week (here). I'm still very comforted by the beautiful connection between my learning about my family heritage coming to aline with deeper learning about some of my Catholic heritage. What an example of faithful devotion to his God!

Through my JPII tour I also came to learn more about St. Faustina who began the devotions to the Divine Mercy and had the Divine Mercy image painted based on her visions of Jesus. It was incredible to pray in front of the original image seen on many prayer cards.

 And lastly, on a tour of Auschwitz, we visited the cell in which St. Maximilian Kolbe died after taking the place of another prisoner. What a beautiful example of selfless love.


Each an every one of these saints helped me draw nearer to God this summer and continue to do so in my reflection of my experiences. They were not perfect. They simply set their hearts of Christ and intentionally strived to live out their faith. I pray to live a life in which I do the same.

All you holy men and women, pray for us.

Which saint has been your patron this year?


*** Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood

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