Friday, December 31, 2010

Companion Saints for 2011

On New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, many Catholics, myself included, randomly choose a “Companion Saint” for the coming year, or, as we say, the saint actually chooses us. Throughout the year, we study and try to imitate the lives of our saints, read and meditate on their writings, pray specially for their intercession and guidance, and even take on unique prayer missions dear to their hearts. The saints, in turn, pray specially for us and help us even in the smallest areas of our lives.

No one knows exactly where this practice of choosing a Companion Saint began, but St. Faustina and her sisters in the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy followed the custom faithfully each year. St. Faustina explains:

“There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year's Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning, during meditation, there arose within me a secret desire that the Eucharistic Jesus be my special Patron for this year also, as in the past. But, hiding this desire from my Beloved, I spoke to Him about everything else but that. When we came to refectory for breakfast, we blessed ourselves and began drawing our patrons. When I approached the holy cards on which the names of the patrons were written, without hesitation I took one, but I didn't read the name immediately as I wanted to mortify myself for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul: ‘I am your patron. Read.’ I looked at once at the inscription and read, ‘Patron for the Year 1935 - the Most Blessed Eucharist.’ My heart leapt with joy, and I slipped quietly away from the sisters and went for a short visit before the Blessed Sacrament, where I poured out my heart. But Jesus sweetly admonished me that I should be at that moment together with the sisters. I went immediately in obedience to the rule.”

St. Faustina and her sisters chose their annual patrons by drawing saints' names out of a basket, and many Catholics today still follow that method. The Children of Medjugorje website offers a list of saints' names to download, print out, cut apart, fold, and draw. This works well for Catholics who share the custom with family, friends, and fellow parishioners. I tend to let my saint choose me electronically, so to speak. I download the list, say a little prayer, close my eyes, scroll around a bit with my mouse, and point. The saint my mouse lands on is my Companion Saint for the year. It's not scientific, but it works! My saint for 2011, much to my surprise and delight, is Our Lady of Fatima.

The Companion Saint custom is an excellent way to personally experience the doctrine of the communion of saints and to grow closer to our elder brothers and sisters in the faith, those who are already in Heaven but still intent upon helping us get there, too.

Remember to choose a Companion Saint tonight or tomorrow!

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