Date: May 18, 2021
By: Tia G.
Have you ever experienced people with a beautiful devotion to a saint? They speak of and tell stories of these spiritual giants being one of their closest friends, as close as even family. And truthfully, that is exactly who they are - our extended family in heaven, watching us, praying for us, and rooting for us. I was discussing this notion with a dear friend, and the desire to have one of these great saints so invested and journeying closely with me began to really pull at my heart. I was asking her how we were to choose from the multitude of our saintly family in heaven, and she lovingly corrected me saying, “no - we don’t choose the saints, the saints choose us.”
We pray and ask...then we observe, looking for even the most subtle evidences of goodness, beauty, and clues in our lives.
A great sense of anticipation and mission came over me to see who and how this would materialize in my life. Would there be a prayer card beamed out of the sky? A relic sent anonymously in the mail? We often forget that the Lord speaks to us in the most subtle and gentle ways, ways that we need to intentionally create quiet space, time and reflection for, to hear His voice. Our past is our compass and provides much evidence for the hand of God over our lives and the many channels of grace He chooses to work through, so I will rewind a bit and give some back story of how one of the saints reached out to me.
About 3 years ago, I had a beautiful experience within my faith journey; likely the pivotal moment that really ignited the exponential growth in my faith life. A dear friend had challenged me to pray the infamous 54 day miracle novena: a specific format and rotation of 6 consecutive novenas for 54 days straight without missing a day, petitioning for an intention that needed miraculous intervention. I found myself wrestling with this; if I was petitioning for a miracle, but it wasn’t in alignment with God’s will, then what was the point? It logically seemed like a waste of time and effort, but something inside of me, (which, of course was the Holy Spirit), gently nudged me to just give it a try. So, in typical bite off more than I can chew fashion, I took on this novena right before a European backpacking holiday with my girlfriends. Those little rosary beads journeyed with me through different time zones, across oceans, and were running through my fingers on planes, boats, and buses across the world. By God’s grace alone was I able to stick with it and keep consistent even during this hectic travel time! My rosary travelled with me throughout Europe, into and out of magnificent cathedrals rich with Catholic history, scaling the mountains of the Medjugorje apparition site in sweltering heat, and leading me through tombs of great saints in Poland, planting seeds that I didn’t recognize at the time, but were to bloom later on in my life. I flew home, returned to work and continued on. I kept ‘subtly’ checking in on my miraculous intention, and though there was no movement I could see, I kept on praying. What started to happen however...is not what I expected or what my intention was for. Over the course of this novena, I started to receive in various forms, roses that were coming into my life. I had heard before of people having profound experiences with the rosary, including even some having an overwhelming fragrance of roses while praying it, or a seemingly coincidental reception of roses. St. Louis de Montfort says that “The word Rosary means “Crown of Roses”; that is to say that every time people say the Rosary devoutly they place a crown of one hundred and fifty-three red roses and sixteen white roses upon the heads of Jesus and Mary. Being heavenly flowers these roses will never fade or lose their exquisite beauty.” Each time one would come, I would have a deep sense of love and care - the best way I can describe it was a “kiss from heaven”. Though the miracle I petitioned for hasn’t happened (yet!), an insatiable hunger, thirst and desire for my Catholic faith was planted within me, sending my faith journey soaring on an upward trajectory of growth and purification.
I was later reflecting on this experience to see which saint was going to choose me and how.. and that same friend pointed out to me that Mary had already chosen me. I guess I got so lost in the reverence and honour our Mother Church has for her, that I had forgotten that she herself is a saint - the greatest saint of all. I felt like the scales fell from my eyes, and felt a multitude of feelings running through me - unworthiness, gratitude, care, and love, to name just a few. Mary, the woman who plays a major role in salvation history that we will never fully comprehend on this side of heaven, was extending an invitation to me. I was floored that Jesus cared enough about me, so seemingly insignificant in the world of billions of people, to reach out to me through the channel of His mother. This is why one of my favourite mysteries of the rosary is the wedding at Cana - where the spiritual fruit is to Jesus through Mary.
They say hindsight is 20/20; I reflected back, and recalled that 10 years ago I was in Mexico City at the greatest Marian apparition site in the world, with a beautiful opportunity in being so close to the Tilma - and had no idea at the time that I was in the presence of greatness. In Europe I hiked to Medjugorje with friends - which is another famous Marian apparition site. I discovered a book buried in my closet called 33 Days to Morning Glory, which is a Marian consecration book I had done in my university days, without even fully understanding what it was. These are just a few examples, but looking back, I can see evidence of the fingerprints of God utilizing one of his many sources of grace and connection to meet me where I was at.
Shortly following that, I felt as though I grew so close to the Blessed Mother, and started to really learn what she had to teach me. Most notably, was the emulation of her posture: that of receptivity, her fiat. It was an invitation to reject the posture of Eve - grasping, holding tightly to my own dreams that I had for myself, and to open my hands to the Lord - to let go of what I was holding onto and receive the dreams God had ready and waiting for me, that would make my own pale so much in comparison. Her beautiful and humble response in the book of Luke is one that we can all strive to mirror: “Let it be done unto me according to your word.”
So how about you - have you prayed for a special connection with a saint? Have you accepted the invitation that Jesus gave to John while on the cross, giving us His Blessed Mother? Are you in a posture of openness to the beautiful plans the Lord has for you, or do you find yourself grasping, holding tightly onto what you think your dreams should be? Dear sisters, I highly encourage you to ask, to search out, and to pray with this. Our extended family in heaven so desires to connect with us, to pray for us, and to journey with us until we can join them in the presence and glory of God with them one day. Ask, and you shall receive. Look for evidence of the subtle and sweet fingerprints of our Father through His many sources of grace over each and every area of your life.