Choose a saint for your team

By Elise Tremblay | Special To The Compass | November 20, 2019

Fall sports season is an especially busy time of year in our household. It really begins with summer and ends with the last of the games and tournaments in November. As I reflect back on another very hectic and fun season of cheering on my favorite teams, I think of the many people who have helped our family in the course of these past several months. The parents we arranged carpools with, the friends we sat with on the bleachers and, of course, the coaches, team managers and everyone involved with coordinating the events to get us through each season. I tried to make it clear to our children that a team isn’t just the players, but it is also the many people pulling together to make it a success. While celebrating All Saints’ Day at the beginning of this month, it occurred to me that, like our team experience, we can rely on the communion of saints to help us with our marriage and family.

Back in 1951, Archbishop Fulton Sheen published a popular book at the time titled, “Three to Get Married,” which describes the love and marriage God calls each of us to. This book speaks beautifully about the sacrificial love of one spouse for the other which is fueled ultimately by the source of love, which is God himself. The sacrament of matrimony contains all the graces a couple needs and can draw upon. However, it is still a continual work in progress. Many married couples find themselves at times needing extra help and encouragement to get through a moment and this is where the beautiful example of the saints can come in.

There are numerous saints a married couple can draw upon and learn from for their marriage and family. For instance, a saint I was deeply inspired by early on in my marriage was St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who had a beautiful story of raising a family with a “lively and cheerful temperament” in spite of numerous adversities she faced in her home and family. By reading her biography, I was inspired personally by her example, which helped me to persevere within my own world.

Then I read the biography of St. Teresa of Calcutta, known for her generosity and charity and ability to recognize Jesus in everyone she met. However, what impacted our life and marriage was St. Teresa’s ability to recognize God’s will within her circumstances and totally surrender herself to God. Within marriage, when we followed her example and started striving to put God first and tried to align our plans with God’s will, we were impacted in a deeply profound way.

Within marriage, we have also learned to turn to the saints in various types of circumstances. As Catholics, we know our brothers and sisters in heaven, the communion of saints, continually intercede to the Father for us and can aid us here on earth. St. Therese of Lisieux stated: “I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.” Therefore the saints in heaven can help glorify God even within your own home. For instance, many are aware of the well-known tradition of asking for the intercession of St. Anthony to find a lost object, and then praising God when it is found.

There is also the tradition of offering novenas to the saints to ask for their intercession for loved ones or difficult circumstances. Consider praying a novena together as husband and wife and maintaining a prayer journal to recognize any answers to prayer that may come. Consider calling upon patron saints such as St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, before taking a trip; or St. Joseph, patron saint of workers, before starting your workday.

By learning to call upon the saints throughout your marriage and family life, you will find yourself developing a spiritual support network that can provide hope and inspiration. Proverbs 13:20 states: “Walk with the wise and you become wise, but the companion of fools fares badly.” We are so blessed in our Catholic faith to have so many great friends in heaven, the saints, who can help us with our marriage and families.

While Archbishop Sheen said that it takes three to get married, I would add that it also takes the communion of saints to maintain a marriage. Choose a saint, read a biography and learn from his or her life. Chances are they have crossed similar issues and problems in their lives that both you and your spouse can learn from. Who knows, as you incorporate the good examples of the saints into your own marriage, perhaps you and your spouse will find yourself in a position to help someone else in need. You, your spouse, Jesus and the saints definitely make a great team!

Tremblay is Marriage and Life Ministries director for the Diocese of Green Bay.

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