Saints for Times of Trouble
Where to Turn During the Pandemic and Amid the Stresses of Life
In the last year, it has sometimes seemed that we're in over our heads. A global pandemic has sickened millions and has claimed more than 400,000 American lives. A challenging political season has ended with an incoming administration determined to advance women's “rights” — including abortion — nationally and on the world stage. We’ve struggled with isolation as the new “normal,” as schools and businesses shuttered, more Americans began to work from home, and more parents found themselves doing their best but feeling unprepared for the challenges of home schooling.
Where’s a person to turn for support? Whether stressed by job loss and economic difficulties, health concerns, or other problems, you’ve got a friend in heaven. Here are some of the holy men and women who sit before the throne of God and who stand ready to help in your time of need.
During his years on earth, it was the humble carpenter Joseph who helped Jesus learn to use tools and to help around the house, and who worked tirelessly to provide a comfortable home for the Christ Child and his mother Mary. We can turn to St. Joseph with confidence, for help in our homes and with our families. Joseph accepted Mary’s unexpected pregnancy and took her for his wife; so he is considered the patron of expectant mothers. He fled with his family to Egypt, so St. Joseph is the patron of immigrants. Since he is thought to have died in the presence of Jesus and Mary, Joseph is also the patron of a happy death. In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph the patron of the universal Church; and in 2020, Pope Francis declared the Year of St. Joseph, which will last through Dec. 8, 2021. St. Teresa of Avila had a great fondness for St. Joseph, and wrote of him in her Autobiography:
“I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of [St. Joseph] which he has failed to grant. … To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succour us in some of our necessities, but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succours us in them all … .”
Especially during this Year of St. Joseph, we can ask his intercession in our time of need, confident that St. Joseph will hear our prayer.
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us, too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Ah, sometimes it seems that we are in a political battle with no end in sight! St. Michael is a protector and leader of the army of God against the forces of evil. In the Book of Revelation, Michael leads the angelic army, defeating Satan's forces during the war in heaven. He is mentioned three times in the Book of Daniel and again in the Epistle of Jude — always as a warrior and defender. In 1886, Pope Leo XIII introduced the Prayer to St. Michael, imploring the archangel to defend us in battle. In 1994, Pope John Paul II again urged Catholics to pray that prayer.
When it seems that the divisions which plague our nation are too great, that Satan will have his way in our government and in our world, St. Michael stands ready to defend us against the forces of evil.
St. Michael the archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
You just can't take it anymore! The stress, born in fear about unemployment, reduced income, putting the next meal on the table! The conflicts even within your own family as political opponents banter about the next presidential term! The risk of falling ill, even gravely ill, with the coronavirus! Whatever the source of your anxiety, St. Dymphna can help.
Dymphna was born in Ireland. Her mother was a devout Christian, but when Dymphna was only 14, her mother passed away, and Dymphna was left in the care of her pagan father, who was mentally unstable. Driven to replace his lost wife, Dymphna’s father demanded that she marry him; but since she had consecrated herself to Christ, and since she did not want to marry her own father, Dymphna fled across the English Channel to the town of Geel, in what is now Belgium. Dymphna’s father, relentless in his pursuit of her, traced her to her new home; but when Dymphna still refused to give herself sexually to her own father, he drew his sword and cut off her head.
Dymphna was only 15 when she died at her father’s hand, but her strong faith and her conviction gave her the strength to fend off his advances. She is the patroness of those with nervous and mental afflictions and patroness of those who have been victims of incest.
Good St. Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) St. Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to them for me and obtain my request. St. Dymphna, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
Do you feel ready to just give up? Is there no way out of the problems in which you find yourself? Pray to St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes.
Jesus called Jude, who was also called Thaddeus, along with his brother James to follow him as one of his Twelve Apostles. For the three years of Jesus' earthly ministry, Jude learned from the Master. After Jesus' death, Jude traveled throughout Galilee, Samaria and Judea, preaching the Good News that the Messiah had come. With Simon, he traveled to Mesopotamia, Libya, Turkey and Persia, preaching and leading many people to Christ. His ministry carried him far beyond the Roman Empire, and he helped to create the Armenian Church.
St. Jude wrote a letter to recent converts in Eastern churches who faced persecution, warning them that some teachers were spreading false ideas about the Christian faith. He encouraged them to keep their faith and to resist the push to forsake God. He was so helpful and supportive of the early believers that he came to be known as the patron of desperate causes. Today, he can be that helpful for you.
Most holy apostle, St. Jude Thaddeus, friend of Jesus, I place myself in your care at this difficult time. Help me know that I need not face my troubles alone. Please join me in my need, asking God to send me: consolation in my sorrow, courage in my fear, and healing in the midst of my suffering. Ask our loving Lord to fill me with the grace to accept whatever may lie ahead for me and my loved ones and to strengthen my faith in God’s healing powers. Thank you, St. Jude Thaddeus, for the promise of hope you hold out to all who believe, and inspire me to give this gift of hope to others as it has been given to me.
Saint Jude, Apostle of Hope, pray for us!
Matthew, you may recall, got his start as a tax collector in Capernaum. When Jesus invited Matthew to follow him as an apostle, Matthew left behind his life of wealth and privilege.
St. Matthew penned one of the four Gospels, reporting what he had seen firsthand as Jesus’ companion. Because of his background as a tax collector and money changer who cooperated with the Romans, Matthew is known today as the patron of tax collectors and accountants. Because he understood economic issues so well, he is also a source of help for people facing financial challenges such as unemployment.
The following traditional prayer to St. Matthew makes no reference to financial pressures; but you are welcome to insert your specific needs.
O Glorious St. Matthew, in your Gospel you portray Jesus as the longed-for Messiah who fulfilled the prophets of the Old Covenant and as the new Lawgiver who founded a Church of the New Covenant. Obtain for us the grace to see Jesus living in his Church and to follow his teachings in our lives on earth so that we may live forever with him in heaven.
A young woman who was not afraid to defend the King would certainly be a diligent prayer warrior. The faithful can find inspiration in St. Joan’s unyielding faith, even in the face of death.
Young Joan was born in 1412 in Domrémy, in the Duchy of Bar in central France, the daughter of devout parents of the French peasant class. Even as a young child, Joan believed that she heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret. When she was 13 years old, the voices told her to drive the English from France and to bring the Dauphin to Reims, where he would be crowned King Charles II. Joan came to know that the three saints were helping her to understand God’s will. Three years later, at 16, Joan began her brief career as adviser and impetus for the military forces. She led the French army in a resounding victory at Orléans, thwarting the English attempt to conquer France. She is said to have explained her determination, saying, “I must be at the King’s side ... there will be no help if not from me. Although I would rather have remained spinning [wool] at my mother’s side ... yet must I go and must I do this thing, for my Lord wills that I do so.”
Joan was successful in her quest to bring the Dauphin to Reims, where he was crowned king. However, she was captured by pro-English forces and put on trial for a variety of charges. She was found guilty of heresy and was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431, at the age of 19. She was declared innocent by the Church in 1456.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans has posted a “Prayer to St. Joan of Arc in Times of Trouble,” attributed to Andrea Oefinger. The prayer begins:
St. Joan of Arc, give me strength:
In this, my time of need, I beg thee to come to my aid.
I humbly ask thee to help me bear my trials with honor,
As I remember you in your earthly agonies.
The prayer continues to request from the warrior-saint courage, fortitude, fearlessness, unwavering faith, and consistency in upholding justice.
In the mid-14th century (from 1346 to 1349), Europe suffered a plague even greater than the coronavirus. In only a few years, more than 50 million people — about 60% of the population of Europe — fell victim to what was called the “Black Death.” In Germany, Catholics of the time began to invoke the prayers and help of 14 saints who, together, were called the “Nothelfer” or “Holy Helpers.” Over the years the plague — hence the devotion to the Holy Helpers — spread throughout Europe.
The Holy Helpers each helped to deflect the problems brought by the plague, making them the perfect saints to intercede in times of global pandemic. St. Blaise, perhaps the best known of the Holy Helpers, was invoked for ills of the throat. St. Christopher was the patron of travelers. Less familiar saints among the Holy Helpers are St. Denis (relief from headache), St. Giles (the plague itself), St. Elmo (for abdominal maladies), St. Barbara (for fever), St. Vitus (epilepsy), St. Pantaleon (patron of physicians) and St. Cyriacus (protection against temptation on the deathbed). St. Giles was invoked for a good confession, and St. Eustace was asked to intercede in cases of family troubles. St. Margaret of Antioch was the patron of safe childbirth. Prayers were offered to Sts. Christopher, Barbara and Catherine that death would not come suddenly, without prayerful preparation. Because domestic animals were not immune to infection from the plague, farmers and pet owners prayed to Sts. George, Elmo, Pantaleon and Vitus for their pets’ protection.
In 1483, Pope Nicholas approved a Mass of the Fourteen Helpers. The Missal of Bamberg includes the following Collect for their feast, celebrated on Aug. 8:
Almighty and merciful God, who didst adorn thy saints George, Blase, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christopher, Denis, Cyriacus, Acacius, Eustace, Giles, Margaret, Barbara and Catherine with special privileges above all others, so that all who in their necessities implore their help, according to the grace of thy promise, may attain the salutary effect of their pleading, grant to us, we beseech thee, forgiveness of our sins, and with their merits interceding, deliver us from all adversities, and kindly hear our prayers.
The website CatholicTruth.net offers the following novena:
Fourteen Holy Helpers, select friends of God, I honor thee as mighty intercessors, and come with filial confidence to thee in my needs, (mention needs) for the relief of which I have undertaken to make this novena.
Help me by thy intercession to placate God’s wrath, which I have provoked by my sins, and aid me in amending my life and doing penance. Obtain for me the grace to serve God with a willing heart, to be resigned to his holy will, to be patient in adversity and to persevere unto the end, so that, having finished my earthly course, I may join thee in heaven, there to praise for ever God, who is wonderful in his saints. Amen.
Information about the saints’ lives has been culled from multiple sources, including those sites linked.