Thursday, May 31, 2007
Following up on prior posts about praying to saints, Fr. James Martin, S.J., writes in the May 28 edition of America that there are, in fact, petitionary prayers to Mother Cabrini and St. Therese of Lisieux "to find a parking space", and a common prayer for single women to Mary's mother: "Saint Anne, Saint Anne, find me a man."
He traces the Catholic tradition of praying to saints back to "second-century graffiti on the walls near the martyrs' graves in Roman cemeteries."
For me, it is both natural and sensible to call on the saints for help from time to time. Since we often ask for prayers from friends on earth, why would we not turn to our friends in heaven?
When it comes to serious matters, like a life-threatening illness, the intercession of the saints is easy to explain. Why wouldn’t someone as generous as, say, Thérèse of Lisieux want to help us during difficult times, just as she prayed for her sisters, for missionaries in Vietnam, and for a notorious murderer, during her life? The doctor of the church specifically hoped for this role in the afterlife. “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses,” she wrote. “I will spend my time in heaven doing good on earth.”
Even with less significant matters, like the lost set of keys, the saints may be happy to help us, much as a big brother or sister will bend down to help a younger sibling tie a stray shoelace or zip up a winter coat.