I have to be honest with you. I didn’t understand the point of patron saints for a long time. Then once I did, there was not a single saint I felt I really related to. When people would ask who my patron saint was I would respond with Mother Mary because my name is Mary. Pretty profound if I do say so myself. Really though, is there a patron saint of hot mess expresses that like Harry Potter and coffee a little too much - because they would be my first draft pick on patron saints. There is always St. Drogo who is the patron saint of coffee house owners (close enough to coffee lovers) but he was a hermit for 40 years. I get lonely when I don’t see people after 3 hours. St. Drogo might be the round 7 draft pick.
Luckily though I found my first round pick when I experienced the awesome impact of a saint’s intercession through St. Pope John Paul II (lovingly always called JPII in my mind). A few years ago I was seriously struggling with forgiveness and was advised to pray for the people, I affectionately called jackwagons, that I thought were so hard to forgive. I found myself going to a chapel to try to follow that advice and discovered that chapel also housed relics of JPII - pretty darn cool patron saintless or not. While sitting there, doing everything I could to prolong praying for people I didn’t too much care for, I remembered that St. Pope John Paul II had an attempt on his life in the 80s and almost immediately forgave, and even befriended, his unsuccessful assassin. Figured that if JPII could do that, I could at least pray for my jackwagons.
I asked for JPII’s intercession in helping me to pray and as time went on and I began to pray for those people I felt all hate, anger, and resistance to forgive leave my heart. These feelings were something I had held onto for years, and they had just left me in minutes. Now it may sound silly, but I have no doubt in my mind that JPII had my back in talking to Jesus about letting those negative emotions go.
Ever since then, I’ve been pretty hooked on my boy St. Pope John Paul II. I have more books about him or by him than I do of Harry Potter. I fangirl over him the way 13-year-olds fangirled over Justin Bieber in 2010. He was someone who helped me in my faith at a time I really needed it and even though he wasn’t quite someone I related to - he was someone I aspired to be more like. He had an extreme love for the Lord and worked to always pursue Christ.
Let me tell you that man had plenty of opportunities to throw his hands up in frustration and walk away from his faith. He experienced the effects of Nazi invasion and lost all of his family members before 21. He had a deep love for nature and youth. He spoke up and fought for what he believed in and he loved deeply. JPII did amazing things that affected the entire world, but he started first as a boy who lived with a pure and humble heart. By being truly present with those that he encountered. By demonstrating to others the love Christ has for us while being completely passionate about it. He allowed Christ to be his powerhouse. Even this coffee loving, Harry Potter nerd, hot mess express can do that - most days, and pray that on the off days JPII will help pull me through. So I leave you with this message St. Pope John Paul II left the world at the opening of his Pontificate, “Do not be afraid!”
Do not be afraid to spread Christ’s message to others. Do not be afraid to accept the life Christ has called you to. Do not be afraid to be Christ to all you encounter. “Do not be afraid to be saints!”
See you on the other side of sainthood!
About the Author
Mary is a middle school math and special education teacher, which means her sense of humor revolves around fart jokes. But really, they're funny! She has ran two half-marathons and is training for more. She loves all things Harry Potter and is always down for a cup of coffee and a long talk about God, the Mass, or her homeboy JPII.
When LeAnn first asked me to write my piece on purity my thoughts immediately went to the metal band on my finger. A band so familiar that when I take it off my hand feels bare. A band so familiar that it has become the way for me to know my lefts from my rights (something I still struggle with it). A band so familiar that I often forget it is even there, but I never forget what it symbolizes.
Six years ago, when I was 13, I asked my mom if I could get a purity ring. I was gifted with one that summer and it has not left my finger ever since. On my ring are two words, purity and Psalm 51:10. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” are the words that are illuminated with this piece of jewelry. This verse speaks to me in many ways and much deeper than the usual thoughts of purity rings. Back then my reason for wanting a purity was not uncommon. I wanted something to wear that symbolized the promise I made to myself, but after years of wearing it has become something completely different and even more special.
I do not wear a purity ring for the “holier than thou” feeling. And I do not wear it to avoid certain conversations with men. I wear it for me. I wear my purity ring because I wish to live my life purely for the Lord. Whenever I am in a tough situation, it is the thing I often look to. It doesn’t force me into a wallow of guilt, but instead brings the thought of the Holy Resurrection back to my mind. And after I have these thoughts circling, the decisions I was considering often seem easy. The word pure is defined as “free of any contamination.” And that is precisely what I yearn for my soul to be. My ring does not only represent abstinence or morality, like many people believe, instead it represents the Gospel. This metal band, that has become so second nature to me, is a constant reminder of the life I want to live. A life that is flawless, natural, true, and pure in the eyes of our Savior.
This Advent season we are all preparing our hearts and souls for the birth of Christ. And if there is one thing that Jesus embodies at his birth, it is purity. Jesus came down to Earth for the purest of all reasons, to save us. His intentions were never selfish or close-minded. He never ignored his morals or obligations. And in the end he purely surrendered himself to save us. This attribute is something we must all long for, especially with Christmas happening in less than 5 days. It is so easy for us all to forget the true reason for this holiday and give in to meaningless holiday norms. I am not saying we shouldn’t put up a tree or partake in a gift exchange, I am simply stating that this season we should be looking beyond the superficial reasons and into the purest reason of all, the birth of Jesus.
I believe that purity is one of the most important virtues we can have; pure thoughts, actions, and intentions are absolutely necessary to have a life walking in the light of Christ. Jesus came down to earth in the purest fashion and continued it throughout his whole life. I challenge all of you this busy, ornament-filled season to revert back to the pure and true reason for it. Go to mass on Christmas, say a prayer for Mary on Christmas Eve, and sing happy birthday to Jesus Christmas morning, because if there is anything our Lord wants for Christmas it’s for us all to have a pure heart in him.