Aleteia

Can’t find a listening ear? Confide in the saints

JOAN OF ARC
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You shouldn’t try to face your troubles alone!

Right now as I type, I’m sitting beneath my favorite painting of Joan of Arc. Dressed as a simple peasant girl, she’s depicted by the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage with St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret, the holy souls who helped her lead her country to victory in the 15th century.

Joan was the youngest person ever (male or female) to command an army; she’s captured the fascination of a wide array of admirers, from Hollywood filmmakers to religious leaders to secular feminists, but I like to think of her – quite simply – as my friend.

“Help me out with this one,” I glance up at Joan all the time, asking her to pray for my sister, or the article I’m writing, or my husband’s job. It’s so much quicker than reaching for the phone, even though I still do plenty of that. But speaking of the phone, I’ve been in a season where it’s obvious that my “go-to” confidants (my mom, husband, and best friend) are extremely overwhelmed with heavy burdens of their own. The last thing I want to do is steal precious minutes of their sleep with my dilemmas. But Joan – she’s been there for me, and the knowledge of her intercession has been a powerful, steadfast comfort.

All this being said, confiding in the saints, requesting their prayers, is new to me. As a convert to Catholicism, the idea of asking for a saint’s intercession was odd at first, even a bit sacrilegious. I remember thinking, Why not pray directly to God? But the fact is that we are social creatures designed to need support from one another. And as the years have passed, I’ve come to view asking a saint to pray for me no differently than I view asking my mom or my priest to pray for me. Actually, I’m more inclined to reach out to Joan of Arc or St. Teresa of Avila or St. Joseph, as they’re not weighed down by the cares of this world.

Also, requesting saintly intercession is biblical, as the following passage from Catholic Answers attests:

… (T)he Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. Thus, in Psalm 103 we pray, “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!” (Ps. 103:20–21). … Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, John sees that “the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). Thus the saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth. … Because he is the only God-man and the mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus is the only mediator between man and God (1 Tim. 2:5), but this in no way means we cannot or should not ask our fellow Christians to pray with us and for us (1 Tim. 2:1–4). In particular, we should ask the intercession of those Christians in heaven, who have already had their sanctification completed, because “[t]he prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (Jas. 5:16).

Speaking of “the prayer of a righteous man,” one holy guy that comes to mind is St. Joseph. I give him total credit for the fact that I sold and bought a house on the very same day last year (after only six months on the market in a poor selling season). For centuries, Christians have sought St. Joseph’s intercession for needs specific to housing, so I didn’t hesitate to do the same, viewing Jesus’ foster father as my secret weapon, my “prayer specialist,” to sell my house way out in the boonies.

So whatever your needs may be, whether it be loneliness or marital struggles or needing a new job, be sure to reach out to the saints. Remember them always, but especially if your typical confidants are unable to lend a hand at the moment.

St. Joan of Arc, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Joseph – pray for us!

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