Not So Very Perfect People…Pray for Us

Dedicated in loving memory to Fr. Robert Manning, S.J.

Whenever I lost something as a child, my mother would ask, “Have you said a prayer?” Usually I responded that I had not, and would follow this admission with a quick, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come around, something is lost and must be found.” Many cradle Catholics can rattle off saintly rhymes such as, “Hail Mary Full of Grace, help me find a parking space.” At the very least, most could name one or two saints you should pray to in order to pass an exam (St. Joseph Cupertino), travel safely (the controversial, yet ever popular St. Christopher), sell your house (bury St. Joseph upside down in your garden), aid with the impossible (St. Jude), and the list continues! Who are these people we pray to?

Most people were taught that we petition the saints as intercessors to pray for us to God, since they experienced the same challenges when they were living that we experience now (although I doubt Mary struggled to find city parking at night like I do in Boston). If I am calling upon a holy woman or man to pray to God for me, I assume that they are not only holy, but that they must be “Very Perfect People” (V.P.P.).

St. Teresa of Avila in the prologue to her spiritual autobiography admits she cannot find any comfort in the saints because unlike them, she has lived a wretched life, resisted God and even turned away from God after trying to dedicate her life to loving God. SAINT Teresa is one of only two women to be given the title, “Doctor of the Church” being recognized for her tremendous contribution and writings on prayer. Teresa of Avila, patron saint of headaches, exemplifies “perfectly” that the sainthood to which all baptized are called involves recognizing how far away from perfection one really is. Recognizing saints as ordinary people who had faith, prayed and lived out of their belief in God is a rich part of our tradition. Yet, in what ways can we begin to make the connection that being called to holiness is not synonymous with aiming to be a V.P.P.?

The approach of All Saints Day begs us to reflect on who the saints have been in our lives that modeled how to be ordinary, but holy people.

Tootsie Torian…pray for us…Joseph Burnett Storey…pray for us…Charley Nelle Rives…pray for us…Bob Manning … pray for us…

M. Nelle Carty is in her final year of working towards the M.Div. at the new Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. She owes a great deal to recently deceased Fr. Bob Manning, S.J., who offered her a great deal of love and support at the onset of her degree.

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