My husband has a complicated last name. When you look at the spelling, you would think it is fairly obviously pronounced just as you would sound it out. Whenever someone does this, I usually smile and say “Sure, that’s how it goes.” It’s much easier to move on than to stop our conversation and say “Well actually, it’s pronounced absolutely nothing like it is spelled, sorry for messing up every English lesson you had growing up for a moment.” Because of this, we made the decision early on that we would give our children first names that were classic and simple to pronounce. They are going to always struggle with the last name, at least their first people will be able to get on the first try. We also have intentionally named them after saints so that no matter what, they would have a solid role model attached to them in their name.
John (age 4) is becoming more aware of the saints as holy men and women who are now in heaven with God. Not only are they with God, they can help us by praying for us and reminding us to have good behavior and morals. We have already encouraged our children to pray to their name-saint, asking for help in whatever area of the day they struggled with .
When Ben left for his last deployment, John was pretty upset Ben’s last night home. We decided while praying together that we should choose a family saint – a saint that could watch over our family while Daddy was gone and we all could pray to during our nightly prayers, no matter where in the world we are. John liked that and of course, asked if our family saint could be St. John. The next day, he figured we should add St. Rose and St. Clare too for Rosie and Clare.
This evening at dinner, Rosie (age 3) was trying to figure out the whole saint thing since we’ve been talking about it so much. “Mommy, St. John helps John make good choices and helps take care of him right?” “Yes Rosie, St. John can do that.”
“And St. Rose can help me?”
“And St. Clare can help Clare? Well, Clare is a baby, but St. Clare can help her someday?”
“Yes Rosie, St. Clare can help Clare.”
“And Mommy, St. Mommy will help you too! And St. Daddy will help him too! And St. Uncle Steve will help Uncle Steve!”
Oh my sweet Rosie. What a beautiful thing she came up with. While we might be a little confused about the whole name = saint thing, she is laying a beautiful foundation of understanding for the communion of saints.
Even if your given name isn’t a canonized saint, you can still adopt one (or many) as your own patrons. Patron saints are saints that you feel close to, that inspire you or challenge you. Though my name is Kathryn and there are a number of St. Catherine saints, presently I feel closest to St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Frances of Rome, and a Carmelite monk from the 1600s, Br. Lawrence.
When you ask a friend to pray for you, the saints operate in the same manner. They are dear friends who happen to be situated that much closer to God – we believe they are in heaven after all.