when saints choose you

So many Catholics say that your patron saint chooses you, you don’t choose them.

When I hear overarching statements like this, it gives me pause.

What is the difference, really, between having somebody choose you and you choosing that somebody. How relationships begin is just a tiny piece of the story, it is the work both people put in day-to-day that provides beauty and longevity.

But then I remember how my confirmation saint came to be.

About to be confirmed in the Catholic Church at the age of 17, I had the option of choosing a saint’s name. Traditionally, the saint you choose will stand with you, providing inspiration and guidance as you journey forth in the faith. After a little research, I couldn’t find any saint whose story inspired me, so I approached the Bishop, saintless, on my confirmation day. He asked me to declare my chosen confirmation name. I responded with my baptismal name, an allowable option since we are all saints in the making. He quizzically looked at me, and asked again. Observing his age and thinking he simply hadn’t heard me, I responded quite loudly with my own name. Without hesitation, he confirmed me under the name of Mary, Mother of God.

Stunned, I walked back to my seat. Why Mary? I barely knew anything about the woman, which, I suppose, is precisely why she reached out at that moment for me. We could say it was simply the saint the Bishop preferred, which may be true, but I had other friends that day who managed to keep their own names, so, at least for that day, Mary chose me. She left it up to me to choose her back.

Relationships with God and the saints take extra effort. They rarely pop into our lives unannounced, or rather, they do, but we don’t always notice their efforts. That day Mary reached out in an extraordinarily overt way, paving the way for our future conversations, and I am so grateful. Having the mother of God in your circle of friends feels pretty good.

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