November starts with the feast of All Saints Day, which in the Church calendar is a great time to reflect on the lives of the saints. We are counting down on the liturgical year, since a new year starts on the first Sunday in Advent. During this year end, we pause to contemplate the lives of those who have gone before us.
One year when I was a student in a Catholic grade school, we were asked to dress up as our patron saint for Halloween to commemorate an ancient custom of “All Hallow’s Eve” as it was originally called. This was a great exercise for kids, since we had to learn more of about the saint for whom we are named. My name, Karen, is actually a derivative of the name Catherine. In the little book of saints that I had as a child, there was one listing for that name: Catherine of Alexandria. I remember being aghast reading that she had been scheduled for torture by a spiked wheel, only it fell apart instead of hurting her, so she was beheaded instead. As a youngster, that sounded terrible to me, especially since I had to dress up like her.
Now I realize there are many saints named Catherine, and it’s up to me to find the one that I can truly call my patron, someone that I can look up to and learn from. As a subscriber to Magnificat, a monthly devotional that includes snippets of writings from various saints and holy people, I have come to admire St. Catherine of Siena and consider her my patron. Her letters helped to bring the papacy back to Rome from France. She was an incredible writer and leader and was named a doctor of the Church.
There are so many amazing saints, and even if we don’t share their name, we can still consider them our patrons and ask them to intercede for us. Learning about men and women who faced hardship and worldly problems yet succeeded in living holy lives helps us to connect with them. We can learn from them how to trust in God and how we can let God lead us to heaven. We are all on the journey during this life to the next. Will we be the saints of tomorrow?