Monday, January 28, 2008
Saint Peter and Paulllll and Alllllll the Saints
The title of today's post is something my mother used to scream when someone scared her or if she had some sudden jolt. There was always an "Oh!" in front of it.
Not so long ago a reader asked about picking a Confirmation name. She wanted to know how one goes about picking a good one, if there are rules involved, can you name yourself after your Aunt Flo, that sort of thing. I thought we could take a look at picking a name and how most people approach the choice.
Confirmation names 101.
First and foremost, you must realize that your Confirmation name is the name you'll be called in heaven, so you don't want to saddle yourself with some silly name as though you are a Hollywood star naming her baby. You can't just call yourself "chocolate" or "dupa". Leave your Polish grandmother to call you Dupa. (And don't let anyone but her get away with it.)
We encourage you to pick the name of a saint, that way you'll have the added patronage of that saint. It's as though you're adding a heavenly Godparent.
We don't want you to name yourself after your Aunt Flo, because we don't know if your Aunt Flo is in heaven or not, unless she's been canonized. That's not to say you still couldn't pick "Florence", but keep in mind you'll be called "Florence" in heaven. Is that what you want? Anyhow I can't find anyone named St. Florence.
That leaves us with picking a good saint's name. Where to begin? There are several strategies:
1. Go with the big names. You can't go wrong with one of the Fathers of the Church, like St. Peter or St. Paul, one of the twelve apostles, any Mary name or Martha. I always recommend Martha. I'll come back to that later.
You could also go with one of the Doctor's of the Church. That narrows the list to forty some odd saints and only three women;St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Theresa the Little Flower, and St. Teresa Avila. Of the women, you only have two names from which to choose because there are two Theresas. You would just have to settle on a spelling. You could also spell it "Therese".
2. Use the name of a saint that also is the name of someone you admire, like your Aunt Flo.
3. Pick a name you like and see if there is a saint named that. Nine times out of ten, there is.
4. Think about your aspirations and find the patron saint of that. For example, if you want to raise bloodhounds, you could pick St. Hubert, the inventor of the bloodhound.
5. Assess your personality and find a saint that is something like you. Perfectionist? St. Teresa of Avila. Annoyed by the annoying habits of others? St. Theresa the Little Flower, who kept a list of all the people and things that vexed her so she could offer them up for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. She had wanted to be a missionary, but being too sickly, made suffering fools and their foolishness her mission.
6. Have a problem that burdens you? A cross to bear, a dilemma you struggle against? Find a saint with the same problem you have. St. Charles Borromeo, for example, is the patron saint for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I'm not sure why. He was not well liked by the people around him in the order for which he served and imposed new strict rules on them. Perhaps it gave everyone a stomach ache.
We can't just go slapping a Confirmation name on you. You're going to have to do a little research. It's daunting, I know, because there are thousands of saints.
I vote for St. Martha. I'm fond of her because she is an 'everyman'. She used to have Jesus and His friends over for dinner all the time and was aggravated because her sister, who should have been helping in the kitchen, was lolling around listening to Jesus as though she were one of the guests. Martha had a very common reaction to being left with all the work, although Jesus set her straight on that.
But then, later, when their brother, Lazarus, died, it was Martha who had the wherewithall to realize that her friend, Jesus, was the One Person who could actually bring Lazarus back from the dead, which turned out to be Jesus' greatest miracle until He rose from the dead Himself. Martha was the first person to say, "I think You can pull this off, because I believe You are the the Messiah." Pretty important stuff from the cook. I think we can all identify with her.
Which is what you are looking for in a Confirmation name.