Saturday, August 15, 2009

Patron Saints

We Catholics often like to ask the saints to pray for us, akin to how we might ask our friends to pray for a particular intention, except that the saints are much closer to God than anyone here on earth.  Many saints are patrons of something; that is, they have a particular connection to that intention (whether it's an occupation, a country, a state in life, etc), and God seems to heed their petitions more closely in those areas.  It's kind of like when I ask my mom to pray for my friends (which I do a lot).  She'll gladly pray for all of them, for whatever their problems may be, but when I asked her to pray for the 24-year old girl whose father just died, I'm sure she prayed much harder, because her own father died at 22.  Praying to the saints goes kind of like that.

So Catholics often wonder who is the patron saint of homosexuality?  Is there a saint to whom they can look for an example as to how to live past this cross?  Someone who can intercede for others who has full knowledge of their situation and how it affects life?

Unfortunately, there is no official patron saint for homosexuality.  A priest once suggested to me St Charles Lwanga, a Ugandan missionary who was martyred (along with many men who converted to Christianity because of his testimony) partly for being Christian in a pagan country, but also because they refused to let the king have his way with them.  While tangentially related to the cross that gays carry, I find his story to be rather lacking in many of the essentials that a patron saint should have, and I do not find him sufficient as a patron for this (though he really is a pretty awesome saint in his own right).

So where else to go?  It's not like there's a registry that suggests that this and such saint may have struggled with same-sex attratction.  Admittedly, the active gay community has claimed a few saints (the historical claims behind which are tenuous at best), but that's still not the same.  We don't have a great option right now...

But I do have someone I pray to.  The Servant of God Terence Cardinal Cooke was Cardinal Archbishop of New York at the time Courage was founded there, and that is enough for me.  While he's not canonized yet, the process has been begun, and that's enough to guarantee to me that he's in heaven praying for me when I ask him to.

Terence Cardinal Cooke, pray for us.
All you saints and angels, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.

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