Sometimes, a saint finds you.
And those are very, very special times, indeed. Two years ago, around this time, St. Anne found me and I will be forever grateful. There is no saint more dear to my heart, nor more frequently invoked by me than the grandmother of our Lord. She walks beside me, whispers in my ear, and makes sure I get my laundry done! My binder of St. Anne prayers is well-worn and nearly memorized.
July 26th, the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim,was a Sunday last year and it found me in a beautiful new church at the baptism of my godson, John (Marisa never did blog the day--I might have to do that for her;-). And every prayer we prayed there went to Louisiana, too, where Bryce Mitchell was being baptized.
July this year finds me taking up my binder of prayers once again, not for a pregnancy this time, just for the comfort of knowing that such a dear mother is listening and praying and interceding. Tradition teaches us what we know about St. Anne and her husband, St. Joachim. I think though, that some saints come to be known even more dearly in our prayers. It is in praying with St. Anne that I have grown to love her.
I've included here for you a copy of my favorite, now very familiar prayers. There are short daily prayers, a chaplet explanation, a litany, and two different novenas. Depending on whether you want to finish on the feast or the day before, you want to start a novena on the 17th or 18th. My St. Anne chaplet broke a few weeks ago, so I do plan to spend these days of preparation for the feast repairing it. Alice Cantrell provides a lovely illustrated tutorial here, should you want to try your hand a crafting this beautiful aid to prayer. I have found that handwork that aids our prayer are the crafts that are most treasured and beneficial in our home. We don't always bead a chaplet, of course, but decorating a vase to fill with flowers next to a saint's icon, or pouring or dipping or decorating a candle to be lit on the feast are also favorite, simple, meaningful family traditions. And sometimes, there is no craft at all.
In our family, we celebrate a name day on St. Anne's feast. There was considerable argument around our dinner table when we discussed what to name our baby girl. It was settled by giving her both names: Sarah and Anne. (To this day, two of her brothers have yet to call her "Sarah." They only call her "Annie.") My mother, Mike's mother, my stepmother, and I all share Sarah's middle name. But only Sarah Anne gets the extra "e":-). And oh, how we love to celebrate Sarah Annie!
Our family looks forward to feast days with quiet, familiar joy. As a child grows, the day takes on its own traditions because the child begins to make it his own. For instance, the Feast of St. Michael around here always smells like incense and a kahlua devil's food cake baking in the oven. That has been Michael's preference for as long as I can remember. For the longest time, we had pizza on the Feast of St. Patrick because Paddy insisted on it.
St. Anne's feast will begin for me as all days do, with the Liturgy of the Hours. I'll pray the Morning Prayer and Office of Readings by myself in the quiet of the dawn. Both prayers bring me into the celebration of the feast with the universal Church. I will light a special candle, put her statue and her icon on our little prayer desk, and make sure that the children notice when they awaken. Then, it's up and out the door. The true "feast" is the Eucharist and we are fortunate to be able to go to daily Mass on feast days, where we celebrate the feast with the community of God. Father delights our children by always, always speaking about "their" saints. Usually, there is a special blessing after Mass for the name day child, as well. And there might be donuts on the way home, too;-).
Sarah Anne is just old enough that she might be able to express her preference for dinner and dessert as is our family custom. Already the lobbying has begun as certain brothers try to persuade her that her favorite dinner resembles their favorite dinner. Almost certainly, there will be chocolate for dessert. Sarah Anne is a big fan of chocolate.
The day will end for my sweet Sarah Annie with more of that heavenly scent, this time it's St. Anne soap and lotion (as much a treat for me as for my baby). Sweet dreams, my darling girl; your heavenly grandmother continues to be so very good to us. Blessed, we are, those of us whose name means "grace."
St. Anne prayers and devotions: