Sunday, 26 July 2020 08:30

Saints for parents and grandparents

Written by Father Dominic Rankin

 Saints are powerful intercessors for us. For parents and grandparents concerned about their children’s and grandchildren’s future, especially when it comes to them starting and raising a virtuous family and having their children and grandchildren live out our faith enthusiastically and authentically, here are several saints they can turn to. 

St Joachim and St. Anne

The grandparents of our Lord, the parents of Mary, St. Joachim and St. Anne, are great choices as intercessors for grandparents and parents, but perhaps a glance “behind the halo” shows us the devout couple perplexed, but prayerful, in the face of not being able to have children, at first. Redoubling their dedication to God, one day as Anne prayed in the temple and Joachim fasted and prayed in the desert, they both received visions of Gabriel and rushing to each other, realized that the joyous news had been given to both of them at the same time. It was their sacrificial love, forged during those hard years that they would pass so beautifully onto their daughter, Mary. Do we have their kind of trust and prayerfulness when faced by our own share of trials and losses? As the patron saints of grandfathers and grandmothers, Joachim is especially close to all fathers and married couples. Anne is a particular intercessor for unmarried women, housewives, women in labor, as well as those without children. Their feast day is July 26.

St. Macrina the Elder

Sanctity is contagious! St. Macrina the Elder “guarded, formed, and molded” her grandchildren with her deep and lively Christian faith to such an extent that three would later themselves be named saints! Yet hers were not easy times to be Christian. She and her husband were forced to flee their home in the face of the persecutions of Galerius and Diocletian and often faced poverty so severe that they did not have food to eat, and yet their faithfulness and sacrifices would bear fruit in their grandchildren: one became a nun of great wisdom and sanctity, St. Macrina the Younger, and three became bishops, including the saintly theologians, St. Basil the Great, and St. Gregory of Nyssa. As the patron saint of grandparents, widows, and those struggling in poverty, her feast day is Jan. 14.

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More is most famous as the statesman who lost his life to uphold the indissolubility of Henry VIII’s marriage, but we should remember that he did not just lose his own life. He was a married man, with five children and at the time of his death, had four grandchildren. Yet having lost his freedom, wealth, power, and name, the day before his execution, from his cell in the Tower of London, he wrote a final letter to his beloved daughter Meg, with coal using a shard of coal: “Our Lord bless you good daughter and your good husband and your little boy and all yours and all my children and all my godchildren and all our friends ... .” He meant it. He chose God and family over king and certainly received his promised hundred-fold, as well as offering a priceless example of trusting God with everything. He is the patron saint of statesmen, lawyers, large families, adopted children, and difficult marriages. His feast day is June 22.

St. Catherine Laboure 

St. Catherine Laboure is known primarily for receiving visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary that led to the creation of the Miraculous Medal and the immensity of graces received through Our Lady’s intercession as that devotion spread rapidly. What is not as well known is that the vast majority of her life was not marked by visions and miracles, but by daily care for 40 years of the elderly and infirm around Paris. For that reason, she is the patron saint of seniors. Her devotion and compassion remain an example for all of us, and an inspiration to ask for that same grace ourselves. “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Blessed Karl of Austria

As a final exem plar, consider Charles, a devout, intelligent, young man in Austria. He was the nephew of Franz Ferdinand who was assassinated on June 28, 1914 and precipitated the decent of Europe into World War I, and the ascension of Charles to the thrones of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia. Charles sought peace but was deposed and died at 34 from pneumonia caught because of his exile. Why mention him here? Because his devotion to the Eucharist, dedication to seeking God’s will, love for the pope, and entrusting of his kingdom, marriage, and life to God were the true victories of his life. He had seven children at his death, with another child, and dozens of grandchildren, whom he could only intercede for on the other side of eternity, and yet, he offers that same intercession to all of us whose devotion is also tested by trials, and whose love, we believe, is meant to last beyond our own lives. Today, he is known as Blessed Karl of Austria, and his feast day is Oct. 21.

Father Dominic Rankin is associate vocation director for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, priest secretary and master of ceremonies to the diocesan bishop, and has a license in Theology of Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute in Rome.