If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Lisa, I pray you are immensely flattered. About a year ago I read Lisa’s post on how, and why, she created a spiritual board of directors for the new year.

It is brilliant. But it can also really freak people out.

Here’s one important myth that I feel is worth addressing regarding Catholics and saints. We don’t worship them, we don’t think they’re greater than God and we certainly don’t think they are infallible. We do, however, venerate them. And, really. What the heck does that mean?

So, you know how when your best friend Emma was diagnosed with cancer how you asked your friends and family to pray for her? That’s pretty much how it is with the saints. Because they reside in heaven with God, we feel like they have God’s ear. We say a prayer to them, asking them to intercede to God on our behalf for our request. And, yes, we still pray to the big man himself.

Some saints you know well, the apostles, for example: Luke, John and Paul being some of my personal favorites. A few modern-day saints many of you know include Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. Well, technically they’re blessed, but that’s a whole other blog post. At any rate, both are well on their way to becoming bona fide, recognized saints within the church. What I love most about saints is that I can identify with different ones at different times in my life. It was Colleen Carroll Campbell’s book, My Sisters the Saints, that showed me I wasn’t crazy. There were other women who longed to have a saint befriend and guide them.

It is a remarkable gift of the Holy Spirit to realize that some of the people I admire and respect most also happen to be sinners just like me. But, somehow, with God’s grace they rose above the crazy and achieved sainthood. As a wife, soccer mom, best friend, social media addict and graphic designer I have come to rely on their inspiration and reach out when I feel challenged. That, indeed, is a beautiful thing.

Over the course of the next year, I’ll be asking these seven saints to guide me, intercede for me and challenge me. In turn, I’ll be doing a bit more research into their lives and how they found God in the details. Because Lord knows that’s where my life is. In the details.

board of directors

Image of St. Bridget courtesy of Portraits of Saints, via Etsy.

– 1 –

St. Therese of Liseiux. Oh, y’all knew she would be my board chair. Five years ago Scott and I were able to travel to her birthplace in France. I must say, I really didn’t know much about St. Therese until our trip overseas. I chose her to be my board chair for many reasons, but namely because I have seen her hand in my life, in remarkable ways, over the last five years since our pilgrimage to France. She walked with us during the dark days of Luke’s pregnancy and subsequent hospital stays, she guided us back to Texas and she has remained with me throughout this pregnancy. I adore her. I hope her “little way” will remind me to serve my family all the ways I’m called, not just the most obvious ones. Read more about her here.

lisieux_statue, basilica_blog

 – 2 –

St. Catherine of Siena. In 2000 and 2002 we traveled with our high school youth group on pilgrimage to Italy. Admittedly, I just loved her name. Then, when we visited Siena, her birthplace, I fell in love with her leadership. She was a fiesty one. Must be that she was the youngest of 25 kids. Yes, 25. She was brilliant and had the ears of Popes. She was influential and her mark on the Catholic Church, as doctor and leader, is unmistakable. I hope her influence will encourage me to learn more about the theology of the church. Read more about her here.

– 3 –

St. Padre Pio. By far, I believe Padre Pio may be my biggest challenge on the board. He expects a lot out of people. I was first introduced to him in 2002, when we attended his canonization in St. Peter’s Square. I know, what a way to meet him! It was this book about him that totally rocked my world. As a Catholic priest (he died in 1968) he lived an extraordinarily difficult and challenging life. He was such a powerful man of prayer and the Devil sought to punish and torture him relentlessly. If there’s anyone who understands persecution, it’s him. It’s my prayer Padre Pio will allow me to weather my hardest days with grace. That, and get me to confession on a regular basis. Will also happens to love him and that is an added bonus! Read more about him here.

– 4 –

St. Barnabas. I searched the liturgical calendar and discovered that St. Barnabas’ feast day is my birthday, June 11! Barnabas was key in getting people to believe the apostle Paul was the real deal. Not a lot is known about Barnabas, but as one who preached with Paul, I like his choice of friends. Read more about him here.

– 5 –

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. As a mom, I think all of us identify in some way with Mary. Whether you find peace, empathy, strength or courage from her, I’m not sure I could construct a board without her presence. I chose OLMC in tribute to our former parish in Carmel, Indiana. Scott and discovered so much about our marriage, one another and ourselves at OLMC. I’m not sure we would be the people we are today without the influence of Our Lady and her parishioners. Read more about her here.

– 6 –

St. Monica. She was a woman who got things done. Namely, she prayed for the conversion of her son, Augustine, for years. Years. As a convert, I have always loved her and been inspired by her prayerful demeanor. I pray she reminds me of the importance of prayer, even when it seems most fruitless. Read more about her here.

– 7 –

St. Bridget of Sweden. She’s my confirmation saint and while I would love to tell you how I researched and prayed about this saint before my confirmation, I just cannot lie. It went down more like this. The night before my confirmation (I was welcomed into the church an hour before my rehearsal dinner), one of my Catholic bridesmaids nonchalantly asked me who my confirmation saint was. {crickets} We made a 9-1-1 call to her mom, a religious education teacher, and she began reading me short bios over the phone. St. Bridget sounded like a winner and I replied, “I’ll take her!” So yeah, I need to brush up on my confirmation saint. Read more about her here.

For other takes, go visit Jen.

14 Comments

  1. Michelle F. on January 3, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Thanks for the great post. St. Monica is the saint I took as my patron when I was baptised as an adult. Ironically, I wound up having four boys. I’m praying none go as wayward as St. Augustine did in his youth…I’ve known so many Catholics that have taken a patron saint and then later realized an unique connection between that saint’s life and their own. Of course, this is partly because all the saints are so relatable. What I love most about the saints is that there is one for any need or any time in life when you think no one understands or you think you can’t deal with a particular life situation. With the most sincere reverence/no disrespect intended, I see the saints as the celestial version of “There’s an app for that!”

  2. Rita @ Open Window on January 3, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Oh, I love this idea! Thank you for sharing your spiritual board of directors with us,

  3. Deme @ House For Five on January 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I love this idea, Kathryn! As an adult convert, I may have to adopt this – such a great way to really develop an intentional relationship with the saints…..and my confirmation saint choice was made in much the same way. I hastily chose St Martha (as in the one who did not choose what was better) and it turns out she was exactly who I needed….I had no idea she was the patron saint of homemakers, and I often share in her response to Jesus – “…I have come to know you are the Lord”. It was a process for her to learn some of those simple lessons and I take great comfort in that as I struggle with the same. Her feast day is also my mom’s b-day. 🙂

  4. Lisa Schmidt on January 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I am indeed immensely flattered! Thank you for the mention and driving some traffic to my site. I’m not getting much writing done these days, so I appreciate the visitors.

    Your board is well-thought and purposeful; some well-known saints and new ones to explore. I like that you chose Padre Pio in hopes that he challenges yet strengthens you.

    Joel and I have been discussing my saint board for 2014. I just haven’t settled on 7 yet. Thanks for the motivation to keep praying, pondering, and talking to God for some divine inspiration.

    • Kathryn on January 3, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      I suspect I’ll have some downtime later this spring. Yours is well deserved, Lisa. Enjoy the break and thank you for the inspiration. I really, really needed it!

  5. Mary on January 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    What an awesome idea. I just did the Saint name generator on Jen F’s website and got Pope Pius V (who I knew nothing about). It made me realize just how ignorant I am of so many wonderful saints. Also, have you heard about Sigrid Undset’s bio of St. Catherine of Siena? Highly recommend it.

  6. RAnn on January 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Neat idea. I used Jen’s Saint generator; the saints (as opposed to the New Orleans Saints) have never been a major part of my life; I’m going to try to get better acquainted with “my” saint this year–Francis de Sales

  7. Dana on January 4, 2014 at 3:51 am

    This sparked my interest. I found the first few easy…the others took more thought. I’m going to share them here because…well…where else would I share this? 1. St Frances Cabrini (my confirmation saint). 2. St Monica (patron of the school I work at). 3. St Mary of the Cross MacKillop (founder of the Josephites an order that was responsible for establishing most of the schools I have attended and worked at – an all round amazing lady). 4. St Francis of Paola (feast day on my birthday). Here is where it got tricky. 5. St Raphael (for help on the relationship/singles front). 6. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle (patron saint of teachers). 7. St Brigid of Ireland (to remind me of my irish catholic heritage and my visit to Ireland in 2013. I hope you all don’t mind me throwing my list out there…would love to know other peoples lists too.

  8. Amy on January 4, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Small world! I went to OLMC in the first and second grades (’79-’81). LOVED that school and Carmel, IN.
    I am also a “Texan”–born and raised in the Dallas suburbs.

  9. Laura on January 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    This is such a great idea! I recently went on a retreat on St. Therese of Liseiux and read “The Way of Trust and Love” by Fr. Jacques Phillippe. It was very short but very enlightening – you should check it out if you want to learn more about St. Therese’s little way.

    http://www.scepterpublishers.org/product/index.php?FULL=700

  10. 2014 Word of the Year: FOCUS on January 7, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    […] been thinking about having a word to really define my year. It began with establishing my spiritual board of directors. And, after reading Lisa’s post today over at CatholicMom.com I became even more convicted […]

  11. Kim P on January 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I just found your blog via Conversion Diary…and your 7 quick takes post. I was curious about the Spiritual Board of Directors…LOVE it! I will be giving this a try. My hubby and I went to Italy this past fall, and Siena was on our itinerary. I have 2 new books, given to me on Christmas by my mom…one is a bio of St Catherine, the other is her own “The Dialogue.” I may ask her to be the Board Chair!

    I am new to blogging. My site was originally for card making, but I have changed it up. I look forward to discovering more great stories and spiritual tips from fellow Catholics via the blogosphere!

    God bless!

  12. Baptism Week {Feeding the Party} on March 20, 2014 at 12:30 am

    […] of Saints. Have y’all seen their stuff? Stunning. I stumbled upon them while researching my Spiritual Board of Directors and fell in love. Their depiction of saints is so unlike anything I’ve seen before. We make it […]

  13. […] you’re a regular on the blog, then you may remember my post from last year about naming a spiritual board of directors. The original credit goes to the ever-awesome Lisa Schmidt. Hat-tip to you, my sweet Iowa […]

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