JP2, Ora pro nobis

It is deeply rooted in Catholic piety to pray to the holy deceased, including those who are not officially canonized (declared a saint) by the Church. I pray to Mother Theresa in times of doubt and difficulty. An older farmer in my home parish in southern Minnesota, whose son was a monk in our monastery who passed away all too early, told me that he prays regularly to his holy son. So I suppose the survey of Polish Catholics isn’t so surprising: 2/3 of them pray to John Paul II and ask his intercession.



  1. Short story: I used to vacation often with Protestant friends and often went to Sunday service with them. (I attended Saturday night Mass and the Sunday service, in case you asked.) Anyway, one Sunday the pastor put a pinboard in the front of the church on All Saints’ Day, even though that day is not part of their tradition. On top was a banner that read “ALL THE SAINTS”. People pinned up deceased relatives, friends, and at least one cat.

    I can’t remember what the pastor said about the display. The display reminded me that those who are not canonized saints do hold significance, even moral significance, for those who mourn their loss. I’ve often though that Catholics have two different types of saints. The saints of litanies and of the Canon, for example, represent familiar markers of history imbedded into liturgy. Many of us, however, hold certain men and women to be saints in our eyes, even without the Vatican stamp of approval. John Paul II did not always rule wisely. Thomas Merton had his weaknesses. So did Dorothy Day — with a bit of holy skepticism as well. While I’m not for the canonization of cats, I think that the pastor was right on by letting people sort out their emotional attachments to those who have been lost. Prayer to JP II and others permits a similar process.

  2. I occasionally visit the graves of Msgr. Martin Hellriegel and Dom Ermin Vitry, OSB and ask them to guide my work in liturgy and music. Once the day after such a visit I witnessed a minor miracle when my entire choir came on time to sectionals after months of lagging attendance. It was a sign.

    I also pray to Fr. Frank Quinn, OP to guide the implementation of the new Roman Missal. He had a few things to say about Liturgiam Authenticam before he died. RIP Frank.

  3. I have a special fondness for Hildegard of Bingen, though she was never formally canonized. Some Benedictines even keep her memorial. The fact that Hildegard is not a ‘saint’ leaves me with problematic questions about the canonization process and the church’s politics in naming saints.

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