This weekend – in fact, this whole week – we have the privilege of commemorating, honoring and celebrating our parish patroness, the mother of the Mother of God. We should never forget or underestimate how important the patronage of a saint is. Far from merely providing a title by which one parish is distinguished from another, a parish patron(ess) is a special intercessor before the Throne of God who never ceases to pray for every individual here. What a great gift that is.
All of us are familiar with the role of a grandparent: spoiling the grandchildren, of course! I suggest that this weekend, we might reflect on the fact that, as adopted brothers and sisters of Christ, we are very spoiled by the loving intercession of our spiritual grandmother, St. Ann. While our most powerful saintly intercession comes from the Blessed Mother, surely her mother has an important role in the heavenly household. Just as innocent children often make grand requests of their grandparents, so should we be bold in our requests to St. Ann. Indeed, even the story of St. Ann’s own life, seen in the Protoevangelium of James, continues a long scriptural tradition of seemingly impossible requests being fulfilled. Her barren womb did not deter her from trusting in God’s goodness, and she was not disappointed: she gave birth to the greatest saint in history, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why would we not ask for the “impossible” from God?
How often I hear people lamenting a family member who has fallen away from the Faith, or an especially difficult and complicated work or family situation, or a prolonged, seemingly endless period of physical or emotional suffering. These indeed are not easy situations to bear! However, discouragement and despair in the face of seemingly overwhelming disappointment is precisely what Scripture warns us against, time and time again. It is only when we are faced with such impossible odds that we can truly rely on God alone. Let’s take this wonderful parish celebration as a reminder that we have a patroness who is able to strengthen us by her unwavering confidence in God’s Providence, and even more so by her perpetual intercession for us. Sancta Anna, ora pro nobis!
Ann, blessed above all others, we, too, bring our reverence, for you have given birth to the girl from whom He will come Who is the basis of all our hope. Blessed, indeed, above all others, and blessed in your offspring! The tongues of all believers sing the praises of your child. Every voice is raised in joy at her birth. How worthy Ann is of praise, most worthy, for she received the message of God’s goodness, and brought forth such fruit that from it would come our Lord, Jesus.
— St John of Damascus (8th cent.)