I remember always loving All Saints’ Day as a child. My knowledge of the feast must have begun around the age of six when my family returned to the Catholic faith and I was baptized. I didn’t know much about any particular saint, but I had an affinity for this beautiful feast.
As the years have gone on, my love for the feast has remained while my appreciation of it has deepened, as has my knowledge of certain Saints. Over time it became more and more apparent that my childhood love was less a result of myself seeking out these Saints, and more that certain Saints were actually seeking me out.
In my late teen and early adult years I seemed to have an unexplained draw to St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. Of course, St. Francis is among the well-known Saints and appeals to many, but I just felt a kindred spirit to the Assisi duo. In my sophomore year, I chose St. Clare as my confirmation saint. The parish where I’d be confirmed, Santa Clara de Asis, was under her patronage and I thought it would be interesting to write my required saint report on her. In my young adult years, Francis and Clare continued making their guidance in my life known to me, sometimes less subtly than others. I read more about Clare, found beauty and comfort in their images and statues at a church of St. Francis when I first moved away from home, and eventually grew to find a kindred spirit in the community of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal in NYC. It wasn’t until a few years into my deepening relationship with Francis and Clare that I finally learned that I was born on the day of St. Francis’ death, his Transitus, or transition into Heaven. The moment I realized this was a profound one. I had a sense that this draw I had felt for years toward these two Saints of Assisi was a connection orchestrated by God Himself placed in me when He formed me in the womb.
In more recent years, I have experienced the strong and loving guidance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Growing up in Southern California I saw images of her often, especially with the strong devotion of many California families with a Mexican Catholic heritage. I didn’t feel a specific connection to her though until she made her maternal presence very clear to me in my time of discerning my vocation and marriage to my husband. In her strong motherly way, she was making her love for me known. It was then, as I looked back, that I realized she had been there all along. (A friend once told me he had a similar experience with Our Lady of Guadalupe in his discernment of religious life. So it seems she is a wonderful mother to call on during vocational discernment!)
As I have reflected and prayed on these relationships in my own life, I am once again awed by our God who knows each of us so well. Not only are all of the Saints, the great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), praying for us all, but I believe He has gifted each of us with specific Heavenly friends unique to each of our earthly journeys. I have already seen specific Saints seem to seek out my children while they are still in my womb. St. Therese often came to mine and my husband’s mind as we prayed for our firstborn in the womb, and this Saint was called upon by friends who prayed over her in the womb on separate occasions. Her middle name, Rose, is meant to reflect this and I hope and pray she continues to develop a lifelong friendship with St. Therese. Our second child is currently in my womb and my husband has already felt a connection to Padre Pio for this baby. The uniqueness of God’s love for each of us from conception is so evident to me!
Some of us may have a longstanding deep sense of these particular Saints in our own lives, and some of us may not feel like we know any of the Saints. I encourage you to open your heart and senses to the subtle and gentle ways a certain Saint may be seeking you out and revealing his or her love, prayers, and desired relationship with you! Praise God for how He has gifted us with these mentors, these beautiful witnesses of the faith, for our own journeys. As Paul says in today’s first reading, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). What a beautiful promise of the Lord!
As we approach the Feast of All Saints, let us open our hearts to the specific men and women God has connected each of us with, so that through their saintly prayers and guidance, He may continue to complete the good work He has begun in us. This is indeed something to celebrate! May God bless and keep you – Happy All Saints’ Day!! All you Holy men and women, pray for us!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”Hebrews 12:1-2