So far, the Saints seem to have had a hand in my conversion to Catholicism. From the beginning it was Joan of Arc's story that promoted me to think about it. Her visions of Saints always troubled me. Though I didn't really take notice of Joan until one day when I decided to find out about the heroine that I've never really thought about. I looked on the net then got a DVD for about £2 and watched. Made me think.... Her visions of Saints seemed mad, so I wanted to see if she was, or if she seemed like a woman of God. I concluded that she must have been a woman of God and that would mean that the communion of Saints would have to be real. God also revealed some other things to me through her story at that time, so I started looking into Catholicism and considering it.
From there I read about the arguments for the Saints (amongst other topics) and prayed some Hail Mary's, just to see what happened. It helped me a lot. But all the time there was a struggle: a belief, a block in my mind against 'praying to' Saints. On the one hand I could see more and more that the Catholic church seemed right and I even had experiences from the intercession of Saints by that point. But on the other, I had trouble accepting it.
Another Saint with an influence on me at the beginning and to this point is St. Therese of Lisieux. I saw her statue at the first Mass that I went to. By that time I had heard about her and seen a couple of photos on the net. However, it was then and in a new place, a new environment, I felt that I knew someone!!!! I thought 'I know her!' Lol. From there I asked her for help, asked her to be my friend, and then at one point I asked her to be my Patron Saint. By the time I asked, I had read her autobiography (Story of a Soul) and learned a lot from her. I still read about her now. I have had a couple of experiences that showed me that she could hear me and interceded for me. The first, I didn't ask for or expect and for the second, I asked God in my mind for a sign, so that I knew it wasn't satan's work. I got one.
Still though, all the way, I've had those times when I've found it hard to believe that Saints could hear, that they could pray for us and that it was not satan just wanting us to believe it. Even though I've read more about it, believed the reasons for it and had my own experiences, there has been a block. Perhaps it wasn't from me but satan, could have been a struggle with him. Everything pointed to the Saints as helpers and intercessors.
To give another example, after Mass one day I asked St. Therese for help because I felt I couldn't go up to Jesus (through guilt over something silly). After the chat I felt much better, she pointed me to Jesus, the Blessed Sacrament. When I spent time with him I had a great time, Holy Spirit filled, and I saw a picture during that time of Therese kneeling beside me to my left, praying with me and to the right, angels. It was good but when returning home, I found it hard to believe that it was not satan's work. I doubted even though everything pointed to the opposite. At the end of praying about the struggle, I usually felt fine. However the struggle returned perhaps the next day, in a few days or perhaps in a week or two.
I wonder how this story will end. Just before writing this, I turned to Therese for help and prayer and struggled in my mind. Even though I began to feel peace and felt much calmer. Beforehand I was stressed. Perhaps this struggle is a product of my upbringing: always thinking and believing in a lonelier life, disconnected from members of our family in heaven.
I pray for the block to be removed. After that time of talking with Therese and God, I felt that I should write it down. Maybe it will be helpful for others. Maybe that's the point of my struggle and maybe God's allowing this block to be here for this purpose.
I also found it hard to ask for a Patron Saint. But then it seems that a Patron Saint is someone you admire, someone that you may have learned a lot from, and someone you believe that has a purpose in your life. I believe that God provided her as a friend to me early on.
I think that each individual will find their Patron Saint in various ways and for various reasons. Perhaps you will search for one that is a patron for something explicitly included in their life. Perhaps it's the only Saint you know at the time or like in my case, a friendly face near the start, a person you can relate to. Perhaps you won't pick them, but somehow, you will be introduced and that will make the difference.
God has a plan for everything.
by Alanna Cheshire
August 25, 2006