What have I been doing all week? Huddling under the covers. Curling up beside the space heater. Listening to Mass on the radio while driving to work in my toasty warm car.
It’s been cold, and once again I am thankful for church on the radio. This is a nice way to spend time in the car on the way to work, although I will say that listening to Mass while you’re driving does not necessarily make you a more patient driver. At least twice this week I have apologized to God out loud for swearing at a careless motorist. At first, I was worried that that would negate the good I’m doing by listening to Mass, but then I decided that if I prayed for the bad driver immediately after swearing at him, I could actually be doing a good deed.
By the way, St. Frances of Rome is the patron saint of automobile drivers. So if someone cuts you off or slows down in the passing lane, this is a good saint to pray to for their conversion to smart driving. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and drivers so he’s probably a good one to pray to if you’re a passenger in the car of a terrible driver. St. Christopher is also the patron saint of sailors, which means you should be in good shape should you decide to join the navy or maybe even take a cruise.
The idea of patron saints is intriguing and often misunderstood. You’re not really praying to the saint to help you; you’re actually asking the saint to add extra prayers to God for your help. That means that when I’m asking St. Anthony to help me find my glasses for the 45th time in a month, he’s sending up prayers to God that I will find them and finally set them in one particular place.
Patron saints got their start when the first Catholic Churches were being built in the Roman Empire. The edifices were built over the graves of martyrs, with the martyrs acting as intercessors for worshippers. The church would then take the name of the martyr. Eventually, saints that weren’t martyrs were also used as namesakes for churches. And somewhere down the line, saints became not just patrons of churches, but also patrons of professions, illnesses and special causes.
You can find a patron saint for just about anything, as long as it’s something good. St. Apollonia is the patron saint of dentists; if you’ve got an upcoming root canal, you know who to contact. St. Bede looks after historians and English writers; St. Cecilia has musicians covered. If you’re an undertaker, you’ll want to ask St. Dismas for guidance; St. Gregory the Great is there for teachers.
If you’re an ice skater and you’re feeling like you’re all alone on the ice, rest assured that St. Lidwina is gliding beside you. In the kitchen, St. Martha will look after your cooking, but if you’re a pastry chef you’ve got your own personal patron in St. Philip. Many saints multitask, serving as patron saints of more than one thing. For example, St. Ursula is the patron saint of archers, orphans and students. St. Theobald of Provins has his hands full with farmers, winegrowers, shoemakers, beltmakers and charcoal-burners, although the number of charcoal-burners has certainly dwindled through the years.
Here’s one patron saint who could be especially helpful to those of us who just lived through the polar vortex: St. Dimitar, patron saint of winter, cold and snow. I’ll bet he’s getting an earful right about now.