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Nov 07, 2023 1407 Denise Jasek
Encounter

You are Not Alone

In times of trouble, have you ever thought ‘if only I had help at hand,’ not fully knowing that you do really have a personal cohort to help you out?

My daughter’s been asking me why I don’t look like the typical Pole if I am 100% Polish. I never had a good answer until this week, when I learned that some of my ancestors are Goral highlanders.

Goral highlanders live in the mountains along the southern border of Poland. They are known for their tenacity, love of freedom, and distinct dress, culture, and music. At this moment, a particular Goral folk song keeps playing over and over in my heart, so much so that I shared with my husband that it is, in fact, calling me back to my home country. Learning that I have Goral ancestry has indeed made my heart soar!

The Search for Roots

I do believe that there is some desire within each of us to get in touch with our roots. That explains the many genealogy sites and DNA-testing businesses that have popped up recently. Why is that?

Perhaps it stems from a need to know that we are part of something greater than ourselves. We long for meaning and connection with those who have gone before us. Discovering our ancestry shows we’re part of a much deeper story.

Not only that, but knowing our ancestral roots gives us a sense of identity and solidarity. We all came from somewhere, we belong somewhere, and we are on a journey together.

Reflecting on this made me realize how important it is to discover our spiritual heritage, not just our physical one. After all, we humans are body and soul, flesh and spirit. We would greatly benefit from getting to know the Saints who’ve gone before us. Not only should we learn their stories, but we should also get acquainted with them.

Finding Connection

I have to admit, I haven’t always been very good at the ask-for-the-intercession-of-a-saint practice. This is certainly a new addition to my prayer routine. What woke me up to this reality was this advice from Saint Philip Neri: “The best medicine against spiritual dryness is to place ourselves like beggars in the presence of God and the Saints. And to go like a beggar from one  to another and to ask for spiritual alms with the same insistence as a poor man on the street would ask for alms.” 

The first step is to get to know who the Saints are. There are plenty of good resources online. Another way is to read the Bible. There are powerful intercessors in both the Old and New Testaments, and you may relate to one more than the other. Plus, there are countless books on the Saints and their writings. Pray for guidance, and God will lead you to your personal cohort of intercessors.

For instance, I have asked Saint David the King for help with my music ministry. Saint Joseph is my go-to when interceding for my husband and for job discernment. I ask for help from Saint John Paul II, Saint Peter, and Saint Pius X when I feel called to pray for the Church. I pray for moms through the intercession of Saint Anne and Saint Monica. When praying for vocations, I sometimes call on Saint Therese and Saint Padre Pio. 

The list goes on. Blessed Carlo Acutis is my go-to for tech problems. Saint Jacinta and Saint Francisco teach me about prayer and how to offer up sacrifices better. Saint John the Evangelist helps me grow in contemplation. And I would be negligent to not mention that I often ask for the intercession of my grandparents. They prayed for me while they were on earth, and I know they are praying for me in eternal life.

But my all-time favorite intercessor has always been our dearly beloved Blessed Mother.

Just a Prayer Away

Who we spend time with matters. It shapes us into who we become. There truly is a “cloud of witnesses” surrounding us that we are connected to in a real way (Hebrews 12:1). Let us strive to get to know them better. We can send up simple, heart-felt prayers like, “Saint ____, I would like to get to know you better. Please help me.”

We are not meant to do-it-alone in this faith journey. We are being saved as a people group, as the Body of Christ. By staying connected to the Saints, we find both a compass that provides direction and concrete help to travel safely to our Heavenly homeland. 

May the Holy Spirit help us get in touch with our spiritual roots so that we can grow into Saints and spend eternity as one glorious family of God!

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Denise Jasek

Denise Jasek has served the Catholic Church for many years. She is currently a music minister, mom of five mostly grown children, and lives in Ohio with her beloved husband.

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