I was twenty three years old when I decided to become a Catholic. Originally I was raised as a Presbyterian. My mother was a Catholic so while I was growing up I was learning both the Protestant beliefs and the Catholic’s beliefs alongside each other. So I knew beforehand that Catholics would chose for themselves a patron saint to watch over them during their life time. They chose the patron saint they wanted for themselves at the time of their confirmation. Catholic children can be confirmed into the church at the age of eight years old. Confirmation is a time when you fully enter the church by your own decision. When you are baptised as a baby your parent’s faith covers you, but as you grow older you have to make your own decision. The advantage of being confirmed later, I put more thought into who I wanted to be my patron saint. It was between Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Francis of Assis. They both had a great influence on me in choosing to become a Catholic.
Why I was attracted to Saint Teresa
Saint Teresa was called to reform the Carmelite order by God. So there are now two Carmelites orders. The one Saint Teresa originally belonged too and the one she started. The one she started there are three orders within the one order, they are all considered equal, but have different roles. In the old days you would say the first, second and the third order. I still prefer to think that way myself. The first order is the enclosed order, which I have always been the most attracted to all my life and I wanted to join it, but it seems it was not meant to be. In the first order you stay in the convent and never leave, you are enclosed for life and concentrate on full time prayer, silence, penance and fasting. The second order the religious, live together but they do secular work, which prayer being the most important and the third order that I was privileged to join at a later date for a short time, is the third order, in this order people live in the world just like the rest of us, they go to work, have a career maybe, marry and raise up a family, but all along they live by the Carmelite rule. Which basically is practising a deep prayer life under the care and guidance of the Carmelites order.
I am a real believer in prayer and I have been attracted to the enclosed order from the age of eight years old, I even picked out a name for myself. I said to myself ‘if ever I joined the Carmelite order, I will choose the name ‘the lamb of God.’ When I did decide to join the third order and it was now the time to choose a name I started to think to myself that name was too high for me, that I wasn’t worthy of it, but I could not find another name that I felt connected with, so I am sure God was saying, ‘I want you have the name you chose for yourself when you was eight years of age.’ When my fellow Carmelites asked me who was my patron saint was? They were always completely taken back, because they naturally expected me to have chosen a Carmelite saint, but instead it was Saint Francis of Assis, who started another order, completely different from Saint Teresa.
Why I chose Saint Francis to be my Patron Saint
If I feel so strongly about prayer and was naturally attracted to the Carmelites, especially the enclosed order, why then did I chose for myself Saint Francis to be my patron saint who is so different? Purely because I knew I lacked self-discipline in the denial section and I thought Saint Francis was very strong in that area. He taught me the importance of carrying my cross. And that if I wanted to go to heaven with all the greats I had to learn to deny myself. Now I can hear all the complaints coming from the Carmelites, which are saying things like ‘what do you think we are doing?’ It is true they practise self-denial too. But it was Saint Francis that convinced me of that. Saint Teresa convinced me of the importance of praying without ceasing.
When a Catholic chooses a patron saint, they take on that person’s name. It is called a confirmation name. So even though I still go by my Christian name, I also have a confirmation name Francis. Protestant’s don’t chose for themselves a patron saint, because they believe that it is a form of worshiping saints. Catholics completely disagree. To worship somebody you have to actually worship them. We do not worship saints, but we definitely honour them. Some more than others. We don’t believe once you are in heaven you have nothing to do, but stand around the Throne worshiping God all the time. There are all sorts of activities going on in Heaven. They are always in the presence of God, doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing, and they also have work to do, just like the angels in heaven do. Believe it all not! they are even more powerful than angels. While we are on earth the angels are more powerful than we are, but once we have proven ourselves worthy by faithfully serving God on earth, and accordingly to the level of how much we had surrendered to God while we were on earth, will determined how high our ranking is in Heaven and the power that goes with that rank. When I mean we have power I am talking about the power of God working through us, it is a gift from God’s. Protestants may ask how can I be confident of this, the answer is simple. Catholics from its very beginning of it creation, (which we Catholics believe that our church started with the disciple Saint Peter,) people have always have had visions from God and God does reveal secrets to the humble even now, especially now! Catholics have not received visions as a majority, because somewhere on the line, people started to believe these things only happen to special people. God will talk to anyone who humbles themselves before Him and believes in Him in all truth.
One of My Favourite Saints is Called Sister Josefa Menendez
I read a book on another saint, though she is not canonised by the church, she is by far superior to many of the saints that are. Her name is Sister Josefa Menendez. Her book called ‘the way of divine love.’ Is now a classic and you can still buy it on the internet. She knew what suffering for the Lord was all about. I admire her complete surrender and courage. I had a friend who was very gifted in God’s spirit and I said to her I wanted to change my patron saint to Sister Josefa, and my friend who was a Protestant herself said that God said that I can’t change my patron saint, that my patron saint is Saint Francis. So I learn something that day, how disloyal and how ungrateful I was to Saint Francis.
The Reason Why Saint Francis Got Upset With Me
Once I was going through a period of being terrified of being alone. And I looked at the part of Saint Francis life, being very involved in helping the lepers, the sick and preaching things like that. I forgot all about the times he was alone in prayer with God. So I was calling on another saint, Saint Anthony, the one who lived in the desert. I thought he knew how to be alone, because he lived a life of a hermit for God. So I started calling on him to help me face solitude and then my patron saint, Saint Francis showed up and he showed me how hurt and offended he was with me for not believing that he didn’t love solitude for God. Saints communicate to people too, just like angles do or God himself for that matter. If you do not believe it, is possible then you have closed a door on them, and only by a special grace will it be open to you. What comes to my mind is Saint Paul, he was at first a non-believer and he was on a journey to find the Christians to hand them over to be killed. Jesus appeared to him, and after that experience he became a Christian himself. I believe it happen only because so many Christians at the time were praying for his conversion. There is no proof of what I have just said, it is just something that I believe in. I remember reading about a guy who lived some centuries back, Jesus appeared to him on the cross five times before he converted to Christianity, I believe somebody must have been praying real hard for him and persistently.
Asking Saints to help us
When Catholics call on the saints to help them, it is not the same thing as calling on God to help us. I think that is where there is so much confusion and why Protestants tend to think we worship saints. When we call on saints we believe God gives them the ability to work on earth as another Christ, they are not Christ, but it is the honour God gives to His Children if they have been faithful to Him on earth. I have actually been told by Jesus one day and then the God the Father the next day to intercede through my earthly father who is now in Heaven. To ask my father for help; help would be given to me as if I asked Jesus Himself. I know there is going to be a lot of protest from the Protestant over what I have just said. And of course I can’t prove to anyone that God did spoke to me. All I can suggest is try it for yourself. God’s ways are not like our ways, because we are mean and miserly with our gifts we think God is the same way. God has given us the authority that Jesus has earned for us on the cross as if it is our authority, which we know it isn’t. Jesus has earned it for us because He is no way like us. He is so generous there are no words on earth to describe how generous our God is towards us. Everything He owns He has given to those who serve Him. If we make it to heaven we will rule with Him. He said so it is in the Bible.