Devotion to the saints is a strong part of Catholic spirituality. Jesus did more than save us from sin. He made us members of a New Covenant. That means that we are members of God’s Family. Death does not divide God’s family. God calls us to help each other get to Heaven. That’s why we pray for each other and for the souls in Purgatory. It’s also why we ask the saints to pray for us. But we should do more than ask the saints to pray for us. They’re our older brothers and sisters. God invites us to have a relationship with them. He invites us to form a deep partnership with them. They want to help us get to Heaven. They want to partner with us in our spiritual project of sanctity. Do you want a more meaningful relationship with the saints? Then avoid these three common traps that can sabotage your relationship with them.
Trap #1: Getting Lost in the Cloud of Witnesses
Having a general devotion to the saints is a good start. You might find a prayer to Saint Joseph one day. The next day you might find a prayer to Saint Francis of Assisi. You pray to Saint Anthony when you lose your keys. You appeal to Saint Jude when you face a huge obstacle. Saints are on your radar. That’s good. But the challenge is to have a real relationship with individual saints. You want to get to know them as people. To do that, choose individual saints to form a relationship with. Foster specific devotions to these saints. Take the time to get to know them. And that leads us to Trap #2.
Trap #2: Getting Lost in the Cloud of Ignorance
Do you assume you know a saint because the saint is popular? Everyone knows Saint Francis of Assis, right? He’s the nature lover and the peace lover, isn’t he? How well do you know the real Saint Francis? Too often we embrace the popular myths about a saint rather than the saint himself. Read about your chosen saints. Get to know their struggles. What did they have to overcome (through grace) to fully embrace their call? Get to know their specific virtues. What good moral and spiritual habits opened their lives to grace even more? Don’t rest in the knowledge you think you have. Don’t stop with the popular myths. Read about your chosen saints and gain a deep knowledge of them.
Trap #3: Getting Lost in the Cloud of Vague Intentions
Intimate knowledge of your chosen saints will help you avoid this last trap. Vague relationships lead to vague prayers. “Tony, Tony turn around. Something’s lost that can’t be found.” Intimate knowledge of specific saints leads to specific prayers. “Saint Ignatius, you faced your martyrdom with such passion and courage. I can’t even talk about the faith to my friends without fear. Please pray that I grow in the virtue of fortitude, just like you did!” Do you see the difference? When you are intimate with the saint you are able to connect your life to the saint’s life.
Learn More About Partnering With the Saints
Would you like to learn more about forming a more intimate partnership with the saints? I wrote the eBook Assemble your Spiritual Construction Crew to help you do that. At From the Abbey we use the analogy of “rebuilding your Inner Abbey.” The Inner Abbey represents the depths of your heart where you meet Jesus. The room of your Inner Abbey are the five areas of spirituality. These fives areas make up a “lay rule of life” that help you navigate the demands and distractions of the lay state. That’s why the eBook refers to your “spiritual construction crew.” We get help in our spiritual project form the saints in Heaven and from our friends on Earth.