Getting to know your saint of the year

For the last few years, our family has chosen a patron saint (or, rather, the patron saint has chosen us) through an online Saint’s Name Generator created by Jennifer Fulwiler. It’s become a New Year’s Eve dinner tradition that we learn which saint will accompany us through the coming year. Among other things, our family and friends know that a request for that saint’s intercession has been permanently added to the way we say grace before a meal.

New Year’s resolutions and annual goals can easily get lost by mid-February, once the calm from the holiday break has given way to the typical busyness of the year. By mindfully incorporating your patron into your or your family’s life on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, you can draw closer to the great cloud of witnesses we have cheering us on from heaven — one year, one saint at a time.

A word on choosing a saint: While most years we have used the online generator, when we do, that click is always prefaced by a prayer (or a few days of prayer) to the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. One year, we opted instead to have each of our then-three kids pick a saint candidate, and the child who got the biggest chocolate chip in dessert made the final call (kind of like New Year’s meets a King Cake).

Want more Radiant? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

You might also choose a saint who keeps presenting him or herself in your life and seems to be looking for a deeper friendship with you. However you choose, the important thing is that the decision is made prayerfully and that you commit to building that relationship all year long.

Here are some ways you might get to know your patron saint in the year to come:

Read a biography

A quick web search can lead you to titles about your saint so that you can get to know the details about his or her life. As you read, look for connections to your own life or, alternatively, inspiration from a life very different from your own. It’s important that we remember the saints were real people with real lives. You might be surprised by some of the connections you find to your own life or a situation you’re currently working through. Even if you can only find a book for young readers on your saint, don’t be afraid to give it a try. You’ll still learn about your saint, and then you might be able to share the book with a godchild of an appropriate age.

Read their work

Another great way to meet your saint is to read his or her writing. This doesn’t exist for every saint, but it’s a wonderful way into their particular path of holiness if it’s available. You might download a digital copy so that you have it in your pocket whenever you find yourself waiting for the next task on your schedule. If your saint has many writings, ask your parish priest or a spiritual director for a good place to start. And shop at your local Catholic bookstore, if you can!

Display art in your home

We keep pictures of our family and friends in our homes either simply because we love them or because we want to remember to pray for them. Keep an image of your saint in your bedroom, on the fridge or near the door so you can remember to ask for his or her intercession regularly. If an image isn’t available, find a quote you can print out. You might find a well-designed piece at a Catholic small business. If not, try using a template on Canva to make an image you can print and frame.

Explore their patronage and how you might serve that community

If you elect to have the Holy Spirit guide you through the online saint’s name generator, you’re likely to end up with someone whose patronage differs from what you think is relevant to your life. But a lot can happen in a year! Keep your mind and your eyes open as you walk through this year with your saint. How might you serve a community or population your saint interacted with? Might this be a way the Lord is asking you to grow in love and faith?

Celebrate his or her feast day

Who doesn’t love another reason to have dessert? Mark your saint’s feast day on your calendar and plan a fun dinner to celebrate. You might serve food from the country he or she lived or served in or a favorite dish you learned about through reading a biography. Invite friends to join your celebration and so introduce your earthly friends to your new heavenly bestie.

Learn his or her favorite prayer

Every saint — and likewise, each one of us — has a personal relationship with the Lord. Prayer looks a little different in each of these relationships, and while we need not make ourselves imitate a kind of prayer we’re not comfortable with, we can learn something about ourselves, our saints and Our Lord by exploring different types of imaginative and mental prayer. If your saint had a particular prayer or devotion, spend some time learning to offer this prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into a deeper relationship with Christ.

As Catholics, we are never alone. We walk through this life with brothers and sisters here on earth, as well as with our heavenly brothers and sisters who have gone before us. Get to know one of the saints this year in a new way. With his or her help, make this year a year you draw closer to the Lord who loves you.

@Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.