The flashing on my chimney needs fixing. Or it needs to be re-pointed. I don’t know which yet. All I know is that there’s a damp spot the size of me on the wall behind my bed. It appeared seemingly out of nowhere last night. I walked into my room around 10:00, looked up, and there it was, in all it’s “I’m going to wipe out your savings” glory.
I’m trying not to panic. I know this is not end of the world stuff. “Blood is running through the streets of Syria,” I keep telling myself. But blood soaked streets or not, that water spot makes my heart race.
Partly, that’s my fault. Worrying about little things is a time-honored tradition among the females of my clan. When something goes wrong, we fret. My grandmother fretted. My mother frets. My sisters and I fret. It makes us feel like we’re doing something productive.
My grandmother, mother, and sisters, however, were intelligent enough to marry men decidedly not prone to fretting. When they start worrying, their husbands step in and provide a sanity check. Those husbands also do other lovely things, like call stonemasons, mow the lawn, and pick up dry cleaning on the way home from work.
Such are the glories of married life, glories of which my single self can only dream.
“It is not good for man to be alone,” God said in Genesis 2:18. To which I say, “No freaking kidding.”
The older I get, the more convinced I am that it takes at least two people to successfully run a life. Not simply to divide up the errands or the chores or the taking time off work to deal with the chimney repair guy, but, much more fundamentally, to bear each other’s burdens, to ease the other’s worries, to just be with the other in the midst of whatever trouble the day presents.
That really is why small difficulties like leaking chimneys can overwhelm me. It’s my difficulty and mine alone. Friends can help. Friends can give advice. But, at the end of the day, I have to bear the burden by myself. There’s no one else shouldering it with me.
That is, there’s no one else shouldering it with me on earth. In Heaven, it’s a different story. There, legions of angels and saints stand alongside Christ, their assistance mine for the asking.
The asking is the tricky part. Or, more accurately, the remembering to ask.
All too often, in the midst of one my fits of worrying, I forget that while I may not have a wise, calm, sane husband to talk me off a ledge, the Blessed Virgin Mary most certainly does. And she doesn’t mind if I borrow him as often as necessary.
The same goes for countless other saints, who, by the grace of Christ, each have their own intercessory specialty, and who, also by the grace of Christ, are waiting and wanting to give me all the help I need…if only I’d just stop my needless worrying and ask already.
And I am asking. Not always (I forgot to have a chat with St. Joseph last night), but definitely more than I used to. It’s a habit I’m working to cultivate. Not only for the sake of my own sanity, but also on the off chance that I might find some guy brave enough to marry me. I figure we’ll have a much happier life together if he doesn’t bear the sole responsibility for talking me off ledges. Plus, for all I know, St. Joseph will prove far better at the task than he.
So, who in Heaven am I bugging most these days? What am I bugging them about? And if you’re single, whom should you be bugging too?
As is my wont, I have a list.
1. St. Joseph: Husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus, and go-to guy for anything involving hammers, saws, wrenches, screwdrivers, pipes, and those little Ikea-widgets. Plus ledge-talking. It’s his specialty.
2. My Guardian Angel: Yours may come in handy with other daily tasks, but personally, mine is the only reason I make it safely from Point A to Point B when I’m behind the wheel. Let me repeat: The Only Reason.
3. St. Anthony of Padua: Lost keys? Lost checkbook? Lost insurance forms? Who needs a spouse to hunt for those things when you’ve got St. Anthony?
4. St. Gianna: This mother, doctor, and fashionista (She asked for fashion magazines when she was on her deathbed…just so she’d be up-to-date with the latest styles if she recovered.) is a major multi-purpose saint for single, working girls like me. When I’m down about having no children, we chat. When I’m feeling overwhelmed with work, we chat. And when I’m desperately searching for just the right shoes or dress, we really chat.
5. St. Catherine of Sienna: People not being nice to you in the office, on Facebook, or at Thanksgiving dinner because you think with the Church and not the culture? No problem. You may have no spouse to console you, but St. Catherine will. She understands. “Been there, done that,” is what this bold woman, who endured every possible kind of slander and scorn, says to persecution. Contemplate what she endured, and you’ll be feeling better in no time.
6. St. Augustine: Like St. Gianna, this Father and Doctor of the Church is good for all sorts of troubles. For the unmarried, however, this once lusty youth can be a powerful help in the pursuit of chastity. Anyone who could pray, “Oh, Lord, make me chaste, but not yet,” more than understands how tempting sins of the flesh can be. At the same time, anyone who could write, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee,” knows how possible mastering those challenges actually is.
7. St. Monica: Speaking of St. Augustine, whenever you feel like giving up on someone, whenever all your prayers and pleading seem for naught, turn to his mother, who prayed both her son and her abusive husband into the Church. Then pray some more.
8. St. Matthew: Unless you’ve got an MBA, financial planning can be one of the most daunting tasks for those still seeking a spouse. Mostly because we have no idea what we’re planning for? A spouse? A family? A lonely old age in the nursing home? But while we may not know the answers to those questions, God does, and he seems to have granted his disciple Matthew, the once shady tax-collector, special intercessory powers to help us deal with our money questions. The patron saint of accountants, he’s also mighty handy when making decisions about retirement, health care, and budgeting in general.
9. St. Jude: He’s known as the patron saint of hopeless causes. Which means when your heart is full of dating woes, you’ll find fewer more faithful friends than he. Most importantly, because he deals with so many seemingly hopeless causes, he’ll be quick to remind you that you and your vocational prospects don’t fit into that category. There’s always hope.
10.St. Isidore: Computer acting up? Iphone on the fritz? No computer-savvy spouse to call? No worries. There’s always St. Isidore. Don’t ask me why he’s the patron saint of technology, but he is. And trust me, he’s good at his job.*
11. Mother Mary: Jesus’ mom is the perfect recipient for all major prayer requests. If you’re concerned about someone who’s been in a crippling car wreck or received a critical diagnosis from the doctor, talk to her. But don’t forget that she’s also surprisingly helpful when a recipe isn’t coming together like it ought, when sewing machines jam up, and when party prep is getting just a wee bit too stressful. Mary may be Queen of Heaven and Earth, but that doesn’t mean she’s forgotten the challenges of keeping house in the dusty Middle East.
So, there you have it: Eleven saints for the single Catholic. The list isn’t a comprehensive one, so if you’ve got any personal favorites, I’d love the suggestions. And obviously, the list might have some value for married, ordained, and consecrated Catholics too. The saints, after all, are equal opportunity intercessors. Spouse or no, they’ll help you out. All you have to do is ask.
And while you’re asking, if you wouldn’t mind reminding them that I need some help with the water spot on my wall, I would be much obliged.
*Edited. Apparently, I’ve been praying to a fictional saint for my MacBook. Brilliant.