Today is All Saints Day.
Last night the altar was set with photos and mementos of our beloved dead to welcome them home for a brief visit, to let them know we remember them and cherish them and look forward to seeing them again someday. The black candle was burned to absorb the negativity of the last year and a bright orange candle greeted the new year with energy and passion.
Today the altar is cleared and set with two new candles. One dedicated to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. I long hesitated to pray to this particular saint - because I really hate to think anyone or anything is a lost cause. And if they were a lost cause - then what would praying accomplish? But there did come a time this year when I felt that all was lost in a particular situation. I did not know what else to do - and I purchased my first St. Jude candle. Shortly thereafter good news sailed in out of the blue. It was too little, too late, to save what was lost - but it was enough and in time to save the one who lost it and give them hope for the future.
It's as Garth Brooks sings in "Unanswered Prayers" - sometimes we think God isn't answering our prayer, when what is really happening is he is telling us to wait because he has something much better for us.
The other candle is for Saint Martin Caballero (also called Saint Martin of Tours). He has been part of my life now for several years. Originally I brought his candle home because he is always pictured on a horse. I thought for sure a horseman would care and understand about the same things I do. More than once, St. Martin has come to our rescue. The more I learned about him, the more I liked him. He's the kind of man who would slice his cloak in half to share half with a beggar who was naked in the cold. He has the courage to stand up to his superiors and refuse to fight, although he was an officer in the Roman Calvary. It is true, that in his later years, after he was made a bishop he was famed for fighting against the Pagans, leaving burned groves and overturned stones in his wake. I'll grant him that he was a man doing what he believed was right at the time. None of us are expected to know more than we know when we know it. His red candles have never burned any groves or tossed any crystals off the altar in my house. He has, however, come through for me in some tough times.
Part of the prayer to St. Jude I used when doing a Novena to him, promises I will spread his worship. So, today, here is my bit of spreading the word for both the saints who have helped me and people I care deeply about.