In two earlier posts (18 May and 11 June), and as the first item in this post, I have made reference to answers to prayers which have come about in conjunction with asking for the intercessions of St. John the Wonderworker.
To summarize: concerned about providing adequately for my family, but not (then) making a very adequate income, I prayed that somehow it would work out that my willingness to work would be matched with opportunities to work honorably and provide for my family’s needs. As it happened, shortly after beginning to pray that prayer, I was able to begin working full time at Northwestern’s library (where I’ve worked for the past three years now) and I was assigned a summer class to teach. We also received a very timely (and swift) tax refund check–the very day I asked St. John’s prayers that we would receive it soon (we had been expecting it, but not quite that fast). And, when we could have been made to pay a very costly ticket related to our car accident, the other party failed to show, and the ticket was nullified.
Just yesterday, another answer to prayer came about. I have really felt that I needed to teach at least two classes this fall to make ends meet. But I only had one class definitely assigned to me. Another class was “in the works” but enrollment was low and there was serious doubt about whether the college would go forward with the class. One deadline for a decision came, and there was enough of an uptick in enrollment that another deadline was set. I learned yesterday that the college decided to go ahead with the class, so I will be teaching two classes.
I could understand if I’d asked St. John’s intercessions for one need, and that prayer was answered, how one who otherwise believed in answers to prayer might be skeptical whether St. John really did intercede for us. But here a good almost half-dozen specific prayers have explicitly sought St. John’s intercessions since late spring/early summer, and each of those have been answered. Clearly God hears the prayers of his people, and clearly the saints who are part of the Church Triumphant pray for us.
I hasten to add that I do not see in this some sort of “magical formula.” With regard to this class I just got assigned: I was prepared to receive a negative answer from God, and prepared to work at finding ways to make our finances work. I knew that St. John would only ask God that which was for our souls’ salvation. Maybe having two classes would not be good for my salvation or that of my family. So I’m well aware that simply because I ask St. John’s intercessions for a particular need is no “guarantee” that I’ll get what I ask for. To reiterate: this ain’t magic.
But this “rate of answered prayer” has me wondering: should I take on St. John as the patron saint of our family? He clearly has demonstrated his love and care for our family and our financial needs. At the risk of asking a really foolish question: How does one decide on a family patron saint? My own personal patrons are St. Benedict of Nursia and Blessed Seraphim Rose. Dare I “make” St. John Maximovitch our family patron?
[Note: I should add that with the exception of the first paragraph, this post is an email I sent to my priest this morning.]