Leaning into the Saints as a Catholic Convert

I love learning about the Catholic Church. We’ll be celebrating my 5-year confirmation anniversary in the spring, and the more I’ve lived the faith and studied it, the more I fall in love. It might sound silly, but many times it feels like I’m stepping into the warmest hug in the safest arms when I go to Mass, or study theology, or even see the effects of my faith slowly but surely overcoming my own tendencies towards selfishness and sin. The depth, the beauty, the history, the Truth–it’s all there and it often leaves me in awe.

There were a couple of areas of faith that were a bit more difficult for me as I made my transition. Understanding Mary’s role in the church took a bit more time. And so did my appreciation of the Saints. I used to tell JP that the Saints intimidated me, half as a joke and half as a serious comment.

For some reason, the Saints seemed so out of reach. It was tough to think that people existed who walked this earth let God fill them so much that there wasn’t room for anything else. Meanwhile, I felt so far from that. I lose my patience so easily, and tend to seek my own comfort, and am prone to anxiety and worry about things I can’t control. I feared that I’d read something by a Saint and be frightened off…of what, I don’t exactly know. But I didn’t trust that it would be helpful, at least not for a while.

My Walk with Saint Teresa of Calcutta

In the end, I want to grow in holiness no matter how uncomfortable it feels, so I decided it was time to read my first official work by a Saint. Since Mother Teresa of Calcutta (now Saint Teresa) was my confirmation Saint, it made sense for me to start there. I received a couple of books for my confirmation, and they’d been staring at me from my bookshelf for far too long. I read Where there is love, there is God over the course of about two weeks. It’s more a collection of things Saint Teresa wrote and said than a book she wrote from start to finish, but I got such an intimate glimpse into the person she was through it. I could see her simple, yet poignant theology in the stories she repeated, in the phrasings she came back to time and time again.

A few points that have particularly woven their way into my heart:

Humility is to accept humiliations. Wiping my baby’s diaper. Letting someone say something short to me without saying anything back. I had never really thought of humility like that before, and it was refreshing and rang so true.

Love starts in the family. This was especially meaningful to me. I struggled for many years if staying home to raise my kids was ‘meaningful enough’ work according to some mysterious earthly standard. We have a framed piece of art in our living room with a quote from Mother Teresa, and we look at it every single day.

Seeing her broader perspective on this sort-of Theology of the Domestic Church, encouraged me in the truth I’ve been coming to accept more and more as time goes on: that my work here is vitally, beautifully important. Jesus says that when you feed the hungry and clothe the naked, that you’re doing it to Him. Saint Teresa helped me grow to understand that the little children living under my roof are the hungry one and the naked one too, and that by loving them, I’m also loving Jesus.

I also see my own sin the most at home in my family life, because I show it the easiest here. They’re the ones I lose patience with, or snap at if I’m stressed out. Because my interactions with them are such a clear mirror to my heart, they’re also the ones who give me the best chance to become a Saint. They’re the ones who I can learn to love well and patiently and fully, no matter what. They’re the ones I can most often offer dignity to in the big things and small, because they’re the ones I’m most often with.

Jesus thirsts. On the cross, Jesus said “I thirst.” While I’ve learned there have been different approaches to understanding His words, Mother Teresa’s is my favorite. Those words are displayed in each chapel of the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa’s saw Jesus’s “I thirst” as a deep expression of how much he desires each and every one of our love, our souls, our all. And, therefore, she concluded, every act of love that we do is, in some mystical way, quenching the thirst of Jesus on the cross. It begs the question: have I quenched Jesus’s thirst today?

For love to be real, it has to hurt. This isn’t about staying in an unhealthy or unsafe situation, but it is about self-sacrifice and what it means and what it takes. We have the ultimate example of Jesus on the cross, because that was His love, full and true, given for us. And it hurt. My opportunities to love until it hurts are frequent but so much smaller than that- getting up when I’m exhausted to comfort a crying child, admitting that I was wrong and apologizing for it. The world has it so backwards when it comes to love- the world tells us that love should make us feel good, that it should serve us well. But it’s really the other way around. Realizing that to truly love means that I hurt because selfishness and sin is being put to death in me, well, it changes everything. I’ve been familiar with this way of looking at love for a while, but Saint Teresa put it so beautifully, and it made such an impression on my heart.

Do small things with great love. I think many of us have heard this quote from Saint Teresa a time or two. My three year old asked God to help her become a Saint yesterday, and a few minutes later I asked her to pick up a blanket from the floor and put it on the couch. She wasn’t sure she wanted to help, but I had the thought that she could probably understand what the idea of “small things with big love” meant. So I told her that one way to become a Saint was to start doing small things with really big love. Like even picking up that blanket for her mother. If she does that little thing with big love, then she’s letting God’s love into her heart more and more. Mother Teresa’s life was marked by some really big moments, but it was filled with many more small moments where she fed a hungry person, or washed a dirty person, or smiled at someone who needed to be seen. Even washing a dish or sweeping the floor can be done with love. That was a challenge to me, in a good way. It’s something small but significant that I can do in the dozens upon dozens of small, seemingly insignificant tasks set before me through the day.

Simple, Yet Profound

The funny thing is, Saint Teresa didn’t even feel close to God for most of her life. She felt his absense from her, but loved him with all of herself regardless of that. She used that sense of absence to unite herself with the lonely and abandoned in the world and to fuel her love.

And her theology was fairly simple compared to some. JP is reading the Summa Theologica right now, and it’s quite a bit heaftier both in weight and in wording than what I just read. But I think that’s one of the really amazing things about the Saints. Saints have been made from all kinds of people, all over the world, with such a diverse array of experiences. The Saints didn’t all start out holy, but they proved that it can be done. Here, now, while we live on earth. If they could do it, then maybe there’s hope that we can, too.

Turned out, reading Saint stuff wasn’t that scary at all. In fact, it was lovely, and challenging and inspiring. I haven’t fully decided who I’ll read next, but I’ve got my eye on Saint Zelie. We named our youngest after her, and I know I’m inspired by her life as a worker, mother, and wife. I think we have a lot in common, I’d love to gain some deeper insights into the person she was.


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Son Rise Morning Show Interview!

This Catholic Family had the privilege to participate in an interview with the Son Rise Morning Show about our recent article on Why I Pray To Saints.

It was a pleasure to be interviewed for the show, and here’s a link to the podcast. This Catholic Family’s interview takes place at 78:30.

Son Rise Morning Show Podcast


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Why I Pray To Saints

Praying to Saints is one of those big dividing lines between the Catholic and Protestant worlds. I was very against it as a Protestant. But what I found as I first began to explore the Catholic faith, is a lot of the confusion stems from different definitions of the same word, and an answer that can be found in Scripture about whether or not those in heaven can hear us at all.

The Meaning of The Word

‘Prayer’ is the word a Protestant uses when they talk to God. There is a connotation of worship when a Protestant uses the word ‘prayer’. This is why, as a Protestant myself, I firmly believed prayer was something reserved for our communication to God alone. I certainly didn’t want to worship anyone other than God, and therefore I wouldn’t be found praying to Saints or to anyone else in heaven.

When a Catholic uses the word ‘prayer,’ and are talking about prayer to God, then yes, we mean the same exact thing.

But I think the misunderstanding stems from a second use of that very same word. Because when a Catholic is “Praying to a Saint,” he or she is asking for someone in heaven to pray for us, just as we would ask a friend at church to pray for us. We are not worshipping Saints, or attributing anything divine to them. But, since they are already in heaven and are without the distractions of this life, Saints are actually great people to intercede on our behalf. Yes, we should and do pray directly to God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. We begin and end all our prayers addressing the Trinity. But, just as we ask our friends on earth to pray for us, so, too, do we ask our friends in heaven.

Can They Hear Us?

This was another big one for me. Okay, sure, if we define Praying to Saints as simply asking for their prayer on our behalf, it isn’t such an odd practice. But, all that is a moot point if those in heaven can’t hear us.

A big scripture for me that addressed this issue was Revelation 5:8.

“Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.”

This verse makes it at least clear that those in heaven are aware of our requests to God, as they are holding up the bowls. Whether or not we ask the Saints specifically, I found it inarguable that they know our prayer requests, and also play an active role in presenting them to God. By offering the bowls up, they are in fact interceding for people on earth.

This is not to mention that those throughout all of Early Church history found it acceptable, and good, even, to ask for the intercession of the Saints in heaven. I found myself time and time again on my own personal journey, assenting the Early Church knew what it was doing.

Because of My Weakness

Another reason I pray to Saints is because of my own weakness.

I have three little kids running around at home. I’m often busy, and sometimes overwhelmed. It is really difficult for my brain to simmer down.

But I know the Saints are there. They don’t have those burdens. They can fervently intercede for me while I’m changing the baby, or while I’m at the grocery store, or tending to a scraped knee. I can pray then, too. But I fully admit I am weak in the area of praying without ceasing. All to often, I’m consumed by the task at hand and I simply don’t remember. It is a discipline I know I need to improve. The Saints, I hope, intercede for me on that issue as well. But, in the meantime, I know they are there, and the prayers of the faithful are powerful prayers indeed. I know I am in good hands.


There are many Catholic things I never thought I’d do. I’ll share more on that another time. Praying to the Saints is definitely one of them. But I am so thankful now for the souls in heaven that can intercede for me in my weakness.

I talk to St. Anthony when something is lost. I talk to St. Teresa of Calcutta about social justice issues. I talk to Mary, our Lord’s Mother, about being a mom, and raising kids. And I talk to Jesus about all that stuff too. Because by being Catholic, it isn’t always either or. This is another example of the very awesome Catholic “Both And.”

Just another of the many things I am thankful for as a convert to The Church.


Praying to Saints

Intercession of the Saints

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Finding Our Calcutta

Today marks my one year anniversary in the Catholic Church. I reflect more on my first year as a Catholic in my first Catholic Stand article, coming out before Easter. But today I want to spend some time reflecting on a specific person that has been an inspiration to me on my faith journey.

What’s In A Name?

When a person is Confirmed into the Catholic Church, he or she is asked to choose the name of a Saint to take on as they are confirmed. This Saint will be someone that this person admires, and desires to model his or her life after. A Saint that you feel connected to. Name changing at specific pivotal live moments happens several times in Scripture… we have Abram becoming Abraham, Simon becoming Peter, etc. It’s a beautiful tradition, and while you all still know me as “Lorelei,” last year on this day I also took on the name “Teresa.”

As in Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Known as Mother Teresa during her time here on earth.

Saint Teresa was someone I knew about during my formative years, but only vaguely. And then, more recently, when I became more aware of the social justice issues of our times, I felt more connected to her, and the heart that she had for the poor and underserved. Before I even entertained the idea of becoming Catholic, I had purchased a piece of art for our home that contained a quote from Mother Teresa.

There are a lot of things about Saint Teresa’s life that I can look up to, and strive to model. I can only hope to grow to a point that I can live as selflessly as she. Today I want to specifically write about one of my favorite quotes of hers. She said this in response to a nun wanting to follow in her footsteps and move to Calcutta. Saint Teresa gave her unexpected advice:

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.” 

-Saint Teresa of Calcutta

It is difficult to always know how we are serving God in our day to day lives. But this is such a beautiful reminder that Calcutta is everywhere.

When I am teaching students, some of whom desperately need routine and structure, and all of whom need love, I am in Calcutta.

When I respond to my baby’s cries for me, I am in Calcutta.

When something I have written has been an encouragement to another soul, I, without even knowing it, am in Calcutta.

What else? Who are the people in our neighborhoods who are sad or lonely? Who are the people in the pews around us at church who need friends? The orphans and widows in our own communities… People at the grocery store, in traffic… the homeless person on the street corner. And also at home, our children, and our spouses.

Even just thinking about this I am realizing that there are a lot of opportunities to serve my Calcutta that I am missing. I am far too often engaged in my own head and thinking about my own things, that I miss many opportunities to make eye contact, to see and possibly fill a need, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those I encounter, if even briefly.

And this serves as a good reminder, on my anniversary, to continue to work to consider the needs of others before myself. With the hope that every single soul I encounter continues on knowing they were treated with dignity.

Saint Teresa did that beautifully. And it is something I am convicted to improve in, and glad to strive towards. Confirmation has given me many graces, but connecting me spiritually with a Saint has been one of the most beautiful gifts.

So, while my official name continues to be Lorelei, I ask, on this day of my Confirmation Anniversary, that you pray for me and for us all to grow more like my Confirmation Saint, Saint Teresa of Calcutta. And also, that we all pray to remember to find the Calcutta that is all around us.

– Lorelei

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Empty Me… Fill Me

There’s a Christian song I really like called “Lead Me To The Cross.” In one line the singer asks God to “Rid me of myself.” The song and that lyric in particular have always resonated with me.

As I think about the lives of the Saints- those people who followed God to the extreme, it was always the same. Their lives became not about what they wanted for themselves, but about accepting what God had for them. About God giving them everything they want, because they want everything He gives (St. Therese of Lisieux).

Let it be known that I have quite the distance to travel to reach Sainthood. Still, I find more and more, that lately, my prayer has been that I would be emptied of all the things that are me-focused… and that God would grow in me the Grace to be other-focused, and Him-focused.

I am praying to be emptied of myself.

To be emptied of pride. Pride that is so sure my own way is the best. That I can do things better than others.

To be emptied of distractedness. The need to escape the present.

To be emptied of bitterness. The idea that holding onto the pain others have caused me is somehow my right.

To be emptied of impatience. A hurriedness that forgets to slow down and see the beauty of the world that is around me.

To be be emptied of selfishness. That desires my own pleasure above that which is good for those I love.

This…. and so much more. I desire to be emptied. But, not only emptied. For if I were emptied of these things and not filled with something else I would only be a useless vessel, void of substance. I want to be emptied, yes. But not only emptied. I also want to be filled.

Both Jesus and Mary are described in the Bible as “Full of Grace,” and only a few others that use similar terminology to describe them in essence, as “Full of the Holy Spirit.” I want to be emptied. But I want to be filled with the Grace that allows me to live my life more in union with my Savior. This is not something I can accomplish of my own doing. This is something that God can do inside of me, should I turn toward Him and allow Him to work in me.

I am praying to be filled with Grace.

Fill me with the Grace to be humble. The ability to acknowledge others above myself. And to defer my own preference to the benefit of those I encounter.

Fill me with the Grace to be present. To be truly, and fully, where I am. Right then. And right there. Mind, body and soul.

Fill me with the Grace to forgive. To extend the Grace you have given me to those who have wronged me. And to fill me with the Grace that will help me to be uneasily offended by others.

Fill me with the Grace to be patient. Patience when my children move slower than I would. Patience when my husband sees and does things differently than I would. Patience to realize that there is value in these things. That my way is not always the best.

Fill me with the Grace to be selfless. That I would not fight so much for my own rights, as to defend the rights of others. That I would be content to be the least, and rejoice with others as they are more than I. To be content and seeking out only that which God has called me to do.

Fill me with the Grace to to develop all of these things. That my life might more resemble that of your Son, Jesus. And your mother, Mary. And all the other Saints on earth and in heaven who have emptied themselves, and allowed You to fill them with the traits that help their lives look radically, and totally like Jesus, in each and every way.


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