Sunday, 11 January 2015
I Ask St. Philomena, by Rick Medina
Rick Medina, I Ask St. Philomena, 2003 OurSundayVistor Publishing, Huntington, IN
This is not a life of St. Philomena, nor is it a guide to the cult of this blessed martyr. This book is instead a guide to patron saints. It explains the value of patron saints and how they can enrich our spiritual life. Along the way, the author talks about his own patron saint, Saint Philomena.
In the introduction, Medina compares the role of patron saints to sponsors in Alcoholics Anonymous or mentors on an MBA program. Having gone before us in the race of faith, they are able to offer us the benefits not only of their example, but their spiritual intercession and support.
Medina offers some very useful advice about the various ways in which one might choose a patron saint. He suggests that a patron saint may have already chosen us, and his own testimony of his discovery of St. Philomena illustrates how this can happen. He points out that we should not simply call out to saints whenever we happen to be in need, but that we should make the effort to cultivate devotion to our patron saint, learning about them and testifying to others of their glory. We should also seek to cultivate those virtues that they exemplify.
I read a review of this book which expressed offence at a story that Medina tells. The author tells us that he had always wanted a Mercedes Benz and he prayed to St. Philomena to get one and she answered him with the opportunity to buy exactly the sort of Mercedes he wanted. The review accused Medina of teaching a Catholic equivalent of the 'name it, claim it' teachings of some Protestant television evangelists. I think the criticism is unfair. I think it is good to pray for material things, as well as spirtual benefits. I pray to God for the things I want and need, so why not pray to the saints for them? It is not a problem, as one does not neglect to pray for spiritual benefits and for the needs of others.
I found this a deeply encouraging book and it strengthened my desire to cultivate a spiritual relationship with the saints.