On a crowded train home to Cork recently I was sitting with three teenagers. They were talking about their names and mentioned that they had another name, a confirmation name. One of the girls who was not Irish asked what that was. “It’s a thing you get when you are leaving primary school”, one of the girls replied.
I had just come from the Legion of Mary Young Adults Conference, and the inspiring words of a young man called Donnacha were still burning in my heart, “Evangelise! Yes, you will be afraid, but push pass that! Open your mouth and speak anyway, the words of truth will tumble out.”
So that’s what I did, much to the surprise of the girls. I told the girl who had asked the question that the idea is to think of a saint you want as a model, and who you want to be your special friend for the rest of your life. I told them that I picked St Joseph. And since then St Joseph has been the most amazing friend to me. He has taken care of me in every way, especially in difficulty. One of the girls said shyly “I took Therese, because my mother made me.” I said, that was a wonderful choice, you have great saints with that name like the little Flower and Mother Teresa. You are very lucky to have them for special friends.
And this is what the Church does in November, it brings to mind our special friends. The church starts the month with a holy day, a celebration of all the saints, the well-known ones like St Joseph and St Therese, but also the saints known to just a few like my little niece Cecilia who was born, baptised, confirmed and entered heaven all in a short 26 days.
And then we turn to our other friends, the Holy Souls in Purgatory, reminding us that though they are our helpers they also need our help. And we devote the next nine days and indeed the whole month to helping them with our prayers and sacrifices.
At the end of the month the saints in heaven, the souls in purgatory and us, struggling away on earth, are all reminded in the great feast of Jesus Christ the King that together we are one body, the Mystical Body of Christ.
Written by Kathy Sinnott