Every year, I look forward to the month of January as a time to reflect on my past year and consider where God is calling me towards growth, discovery and change in the twelve months ahead.
While I feel energized and oriented by setting New Year's Resolutions (which I talked about in my last post), I also know that this practice isn’t for everyone. Indeed, I have several family members and friends who are actively annoyed by the thought of starting new behaviors or endeavors on the arbitrary date of January 1. I hear that!
If resolutions aren’t your thing, perhaps you still might enjoy marking the new year with some sort of tradition or orienting practice. For instance, it’s popular to choose a word for the year, a mantra for the year, or even a color for the year.
As a Catholic, I like the idea of choosing a Patron Saint for the year. Your saint can be someone whose guidance, inspiration or intercession you are especially seeking this year because of the saint’s area of patronage and the issues you are currently facing in your life, or your patron can just be a saint whom you desire to learn more about and from in the months ahead.
Here are a few ideas of Catholic Patron Saints for 2024.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Saint Thérèse is sometimes called the Saint of the Little Ways because she extolled the virtue of doing the little things in life with attention, intention, and great love. Perhaps you are in a phase of life that doesn’t include major changes, transitions, events and outward accomplishments. Perhaps most of your days are routine, and maybe even mundane, at home and at work. If this sounds relatable to you, St. Thérèse would be a great Patron Saint for your year.
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
St. Joseph, the earthly, “foster” father of Jesus and the husband of Mother Mary, is the patron saint of families. With his unwavering faith, gentle spirit, and trust in God, St. Joseph faced the challenges that life presented to his family, keeping them safe and protected throughout it all. If you are feeling called to strengthen your vocation as a parent or to deepen the holiness of your family, you might consider turning to St. Joseph in 2024.
St. Philip Neri or St. Gemma Galgani
St. Philip Neri and St. Gemma Galgani share more than the fact that they are both known by their first and second names (unlike so many other saints). They are both the patron saint of joy and laughter. Perhaps you are noticing that you could use some more humor and levity in your life. Make St. Philip or St. Gemma your patron this year, and maybe they’ll help.
St. Joan of Arc
Is there something in the year ahead that scares you? Maybe you are starting a new job. Maybe you are going up for a promotion. Maybe you are becoming a parent, or facing a significant family milestone (sending that 5 year-old off to kindergarten… or that 18 year-old off to college?!). Maybe you are undergoing treatment for an illness. Turn to St. Joan of Arc for courage and strength, and make her words your mantra:
“I am not afraid. I was born to do this."
St. Christopher is known for protecting and guiding travelers, and could be a good patron for you if you are seeking more adventure in 2024 – whether such adventures are planned or yet to be planned!
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas is the Patron Saint of students and learning. He’s a great patron saint to choose if your year includes further education of any sort, whether that be going back to school, seeking to learn more about a topic or theme in your free time, or taking an online or in-person class to gain a new skill.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is known by many different titles (such as “Mother of Mercy,” “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” “Star of the Sea,” and “Our Lady of Sorrows.”) Though all of the names refer to the same woman, they each call to mind different and specific attributes of Mother Mary. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, for instance, is known for miracles and answers to prayers. If you are finding yourself in an especially challenging season due to family troubles, phase of life, issues at work, or any number of other problems, call on Our Lady of Perpetual Help to, well, perpetually help you in the year ahead.
St. John the Evangelist
St. John the Evangelist is the patron saint of friendship. Whether you are seeking to develop more friendships, deepen your current friendships, or be a better friend, St. John’s intercession could help.
Whatever your hopes, plans and intentions for the year ahead may be, the Communion of Saints is there to accompany you!