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Week Four: Patron Saints

“Less is More” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fourth post of a Lenten blog post series called “Bright Maidens.” We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

A few months ago, Jen Fulwiler created and shared a “Saint Generator” that randomly conjured a saint’s name and brief bio for users. She suggested we say a prayer and adopt the resulting saint, giving him or her a little test drive with the impression that we were meant to “get” that saint.

Drum roll, please, I thought. CLICKSt. Thomas More. Hrmpf.

Don’t misunderstand: he’s a fascinating, intelligent, wonderful man we can all look to for sound words of wisdom. But I already knew about him.

I wanted to get a random saint I’d never heard of and converse with them over their bizarre life. “You had how many animals? And with how many swords did they impale you? Cool!”

Most of my English literature classes in college revolved around the Reformation, so I have read Utopia, heard the story of St. Thomas More from the mouths of secular professors, and danced politely in a discourse with my fellow students about the split from the Church.

St. Thomas More was old news. Or so I thought. In preparing for this post, I realized how my chosen patron saint and this randomly selected adopted saint relate to a recent revelation.

Elizabeth Anne Seton

Like so many things about the beginning of my faith life, I sided with convenience and routine during my confirmation preparation. There is something to be said in support of ritual. 

Even prayers we invent as we lay down to speak to Jesus before we sleep have a pattern to them, all Christians can agree to this. Standing in a circle, holding hands with strangers or acquaintances so that we can join in unity with the words of the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer) is a ritual.
Many of you might have chosen your patron saints for spiritual reasons. I picked Elizabeth Ann Seton because we shared two names (cue Anne of Green Gables speech about Anne with an “E”).
Statue of Elizabeth. (I don’t own the rights)

My name, as the Church recognizes it, is Elizabeth Anne Elizabeth Ann Seton Hillgrove. I received books, medals, and pamphlets all about the life of Elizabeth Ann Seton and what did I know about her after two years of study? 
She was the first American-born saint, her husband died of tuberculosis, and she was the patron saint of widows, against the death of children, and against in-law problems. Dang, I picked a morbid one.
It’s possible she will help me with one or more of those (please, with the latter), but the fact that she was a convert from Episcopalian faith begs more of my attention today. This woman faced more tragedy and up-current swimming than many people half as busy as she was.

Her husband died in Italy, where they had traveled to nurse him back to health, and she found herself an Episcopalian widow surrounded by physical reminders of the Catholic Church.

Soon she was inspired, uplifted and felt called to convert, though she would soon be without finances. Her conversion alienated her from the family upon whom she would ordinarily be able to depend.

Liz meets More

Eventually, St. Elizabeth founded the Sisters of Charity and became the first American-born saint at her canonization in 1975. I don’t think I knew she was a convert when I picked her for my confirmation, but I’m glad she was.

My “I have this log in my eye…” post addressed my impatience with Protestants. I have a problem and I need God’s Grace to reverse it. It’s no coincidence that I have faced anti-Catholicism, now I resent it, and both my patron and adopted saint dealt with both sides of the same see-saw.

St. Thomas More (I don’t own the rights)

The intersection of my patron and my adopted saint affords me something to reflect upon. How to stand up for the Church, how to attempt intelligent discourse among people with whom I disagree, how to be willing to offer up my suffering or how give my life in martyrdom.

This seems like a coincidence, and of course I’m focusing on this aspect of their similarities, but recognizing the connection between my saints has opened a can of worms. They weave themselves into my day. I’m still learning what this connection means, but I’m doing so with a simple approach.

I just suggest that you recall your patron saint, say a prayer, and click “Show Me My Saint” on Jen Fulwiler’s Saint Generator. See what kind of connection is waiting to happen in the Communion of Saints.

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