The Saints and How They Help Us
by Sheila M. Coyle
Sheila M. Coyle was a Suite101.com Contributing Editor/Writer for Catholic Religion/Saints. She is the mother of three grown sons, one teenage daughter. She taught fourth and fifth grade at a Catholic School for one year, and was a substitute teacher in public schools. Sheila is also the author of a recently published book: Katie Marie and St. Therese's Website .
In my early years from first to fourth grade I attended the Academy of The Sacred Heart in Providence, Rhode Island. I was taught by the Mothers of the Sacred Heart. Their goodness and dedication left deep impressions in my mind and memory. It was in those rooms smelling of freshly waxed floors, board chalk and erasers that I learned tender devotion, mostly by example, to the Saints.
In fact, I spent a good part of those years bowing to statues in the classrooms, in the black and white-checked hallway and chapel. I firmly believed that one day they would speak to me. I could be coming around a corner clutching books, hurrying, but I would screech to a halt and stand there, staring up at them. Open-mouthed, I may add. I cannot tell you what I was thinking except they seemed to speak, bending down towards me like they did, smiling. One day a nun said, "You can't stand there forever. Do you think they're going to say something to you?" she asked, a smile tugging the corner of her lips. Of course at that time in my life I said whatever was on the tip of my tongue, as children do. I turned my head flipping my red-ribboned braids and said to this nun, "I'm gonna see her someday, I am!" I ran down the stairs glancing back at Mother's wry smile.
I was fascinated by the Blessed Mother dressed in the softest blue and cream white gown, a crown of stars circling her head and her sweet smile. When looking at St. Joseph carrying the Infant Jesus, I thought there was more to that story as well.
I made my First Holy communion in the school chapel, the door closed to the Saints standing in the hallway and parents peeking through the keyhole at a private ceremony reserved for seven little girls, the officiating priest and one nun. And who was the first person to smile when I emerged from those closed doors? The Blessed Mother, of course!
The point is that first impressions last. And these are the impressions I brought into my writing later on in life, in particular, in my book Katie Marie and St. Therese's Website. Katie's experience is similar to mine, with the good nuns teaching her, and the spiritual atmosphere of her everyday existence coloring the happenings in her life. And this is what fiction is, based on fact, yet mostly made up. Katie, a student at St. Mary's listens to the Saints whispering their secrets into her heart.
Katie Marie is the only child in St. Mary's Star of The Sea Over The Hill church choir. She writes her prayer petitions in a computer notebook called "St. Therese's Website," similar to a prayer site on her fourth grade classroom computer. Katie writes about her aging Aunt Aggie, Sister Frenchetta fiesty choir director, and kindly Sister Margarita, Jimmy Marcone Katie's tormentor, and friends Heather and Judy whose parents won't let them play with Katie anymore. Her prayers are answered in an EXTRA ordinary way when Padre Parone, Patron Saint of the world sits next to her in choir changing her life forevermore.
Katie struggles, raised by an aging aunt, and forced to attend daily choir because her family cannot afford daycare. It seems to me that there are more children today struggling with one thing or another, regardless of their economic situation. But Katie's faith brings her the help she needs in the form of spiritual assistance, one of God's Saints, no less, helping her to live with and solve her difficulties.
And I believe this is how the Saints help us. Not by glorified versions of their life and miracles, but by their daily overcoming of obstacles in their pathway to God. How did they learn to deal with troubling situations or people? They learned and then they taught, the lessons of love.
You may want to read Katie's version of her story to younger children, leaving the narration for older children further along in spiritual development, or those who can understand how prayers of intercession to the Saints work. The book can also teach lessons about kindness, struggling with forgiveness, and God's mysterious ways. Children can relate to the goodness of the Saints. Your children will see that the Saints work in quiet ways, and through example. Children like to practice following that example in their own lives.
All books really, are interpreted according to an individual's perspective and experience. Do your children like Katie and the other characters and situations in the story? Online reviews at Amazon.com are truly appreciated by Katie, and of course the author. And best of all if you read her book, Katie Marie and Padre Parone, Patron Saint of the world, will pray for you, honest!
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts about the Saints with you!
Katie Marie and St. Therese's Website is available at: Amazon.com