Happy New Year! It has been quite a while since I have written anything. I could blame it on the “holiday rush,” but that would be disingenuous. I was just too scattered in my various projects…everything from making birthday and Christmas cards to writing new talks for some 2016 events to trying to stay healthy! Here’s to a fruitful and focused …and Holy new year!
Two years ago in January I came across an interesting post about establishing a “Spiritual Board of Directors.” (Sorry that I cannot remember the original source.) I intended to do this myself, but didn’t know where to start. Here it is, the end of the first week of 2016. I think I better get started now!
While many earthly Boards of Directors have many members, I am keeping mine at six. The idea of this spiritual board is to learn more about them and to ask for their intercession throughout the year. Some of them are longtime favorites. I had heard of the others, but knew less about them. But as members of my family in faith, I trust they will all be a blessing!
Our Lady of Guadalupe: There are many images of Mary the Mother of Jesus from many cultures and historical periods. Rich and beautiful meaning accompany some of the most famous images, including this one. Most significantly for me, this icon of Mary connects to the prolife work to which I have been called. I could try to explain the symbolism, but others have already done so. Here is a wonderful explanation at Priests for Life.
St. Catherine of Siena: I had heard of this great Saint, but knew very little about her until I began my studies as a Lay Dominican. My mom gave me a biography of St. Catherine that moved me so much. I admit, it intimidated me a bit, too. You don’t get named a Doctor of the Church for nothing! This woman did so much to serve the physically and spiritually needy of her community. Her prayer life was deep beyond my comprehension. She even convinced the Pope to return to Rome after years in France! All of this, and yet her biographies and letters demonstrate a remarkable gift of humility.
St. Thomas Aquinas: Another great Dominican Saint! Truthfully, I knew even less about this Saint than Catherine, other than he was incredibly smart and wrote the “Summa Theologica.” My brain can barely grasp a few sentences of this man’s writings. So why is he on this list? It is because I crave understanding and the ability to reason with others as he did. We now live in a time when culture shuts down intelligent dialogue. Disagreement is labeled as “hatred” or some type of phobia. The ability to express my beliefs and why I hold them is very important to me, but it is also important to “speak the truth in love.” (1 Peter 3:15) I also love the great Eucharistic hymns attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas. “Adoro Te Devote” is my new favorite!
St. Cecilia: I chose St. Cecilia as my Confirmation Saint (years ago!) because she is known as one of the Patron Saints of Music. I have always loved to sing, especially in Church. While paintings often show her with instruments (some invented centuries after her death), various histories state she often sang to God “in her heart.” I decided to learn more about her when Bruce and I went to Italy. On our first full day in Rome, we visited a Church said to have been built over the home here she lived in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries. St. Cecilia was martyred for her faith, but not before leading hundreds, including her husband, to Christ first. Oh, to have such faith in the midst of persecution!
St. Joseph: While not much is known about this Saint, he is very special. After all, he was chosen to be the foster father of our Savior Jesus. He would have raised Jesus to learn the trade of carpentry, and to work hard. My father’s middle name is Joseph, and we often called him Papa Joe. He died in 2005. I remember watching him create beautiful things in his workshop. He spent years as a salesman, but also volunteered in the church choir, with the Cub Scouts, and later as Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus. Dad had his flaws, but he was fun and creative…and at times a bit crude. I loved singing with him in church and at family gatherings. I miss him dearly. My loving husband is also a hard worker. He puts in many long hours as a maintenance technician at the local Quaker plant. In picking St. Joseph, I am really asking him to intercede on behalf of my husband…and for the men I know who are working hard to raise their families. By praying for my husband, I will also be blessed!
St. Raphael the Archangel: Finally, I have added an archangel to the list. Of course, I think often of Gabriel (named my son after him) and St. Michael is very popular when it comes to spiritual battle. But Raphael is less well known. As I was preparing this post, I was reminded of the Old Testament reading we had at our wedding, from the Book of Tobit. In it, Raphael appears as a man but later reveals he is one of God’s angels. With Raphael’s intercession, God healed Tobit of blindness, protected his son Tobias from death on his wedding night, and healed his new daughter-in-law of her despair. The name Raphael means “God’s Healing.” Since I am praying for improved health this year…less arthritic pain, more mobility, etc… I truly thought St. Raphael would be a great addition to my board!
Here is a prayer that I will be saying a lot this year; a Prayer for Healing. I invite you to do the same, for yourself or someone you know.
Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.
I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
I believe I will draw closer to the Lord this year. That ultimately is my goal. I’m just doing it “with a little help from my friends.”