As I was praying about my patron saints recently, the following image came to my mind, about the order of our prayer and the help that God has given us to reach Him: all the saints are centered on God and they seek to pull us into that center through their prayers and support.
The heart of our prayer centers on God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the source and goal of all things. He has adopted us as His own sons and calls us to enter into the rest of His bosom. The Son is the Word who makes the Father known, who has become man to bring about our adoption as sons, so that we can share in His own sonship. He is the bridge that brings us to the Father. The Holy Spirit is the breath that speaks the Son into our hearts and the life of God that draws us out of the death of our sins and into the new life of grace. He propels us through the bridge of the Son and makes us one with God.
God the Holy Trinity draws all things to Himself. He is the life and unity of all things and uses our relationship with others to bring us into relationship with Him. Our faith is not private or isolated, but unites us with the Body of Christ, which is one across the Communion of Saints on earth, in purgatory, and in Heaven. God leads us into His life through the mediation of others, who share their faith us, teach us, and guide us to Heaven as mediators of God’s truth and grace. This includes the hierarchy of the Church, our family and friends, and our fellow members of the Church in Heaven.
Continuing my picture of the saints in prayer, from the center in God, the source and goal of our prayer, I saw Our Lady and St. Joseph, the human and heavenly mother and father given to the Church as her patrons. Mary is the mother of all Christians as she is the Mother of God Incarnate. All who share in the sonship of Christ through adoption., becoming members of His Body, are given Mary as their own mother as well. The child Jesus was entrusted to St. Joseph, who guided and protected Him with his quiet virtue and justice. He has been placed over the household of God in the Holy Family and over the household of the Church.
In addition to these universal patrons, we should have our own particular patrons. A patron in the classical world was a wealthy benefactor who protected and supported their client and worked for his advancement. Likewise, we are adopted by heavenly patrons who represent us in Heaven, interceding for us and obtaining graces for us, as we strive to join them in Heaven. We choose a patron for Confirmation (and our parents choose one for us in our baptismal name), but may be led to additional patrons through our work or by being inspired by the writings and example of a particular saint. These main patrons stand centrally before the Holy Trinity, flanking Mary and Joseph, and drawing us into the life of God. We should turn to their help on a daily basis and continue to learn more about them and to imitate their virtues.
Finally, there is a broad circle of prayer surrounding us through any additional patrons and the help of our departed family members. These additional patrons can include the saints whose feasts fall on important days of life—birthday, anniversaries of baptism and marriage—patrons of our profession and parish, saints related to our state in life, and other saints who have impacted us. We may not pray to these saints are regularly as our main patrons, but they circle us with their prayers. Along with our guardian angels, we count on their assistance and they become part of the support we need to reach Heaven.
Everything should focus on God: all help and support flows out from His life, which we share through grace. He chooses, however, to share His blessings with us through the help of others. This is true of the help of others on earth and it’s also true of our heavenly patrons. They surround us with their love and help and we should be ever mindful and grateful of their presence, turning to them frequently.