This essay is dedicated to Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, in thanksgiving for her intercession on my behalf. I have been experiencing eye irritation on and off since the end of last October, with no real relief. I decided to start a novena to Saint Lucy, whose intercession with Divine Providence is so powerful for the healing of the eyes. She is the patron saint of the eyes and has been venerated in my family and my wife’s family for generations.
What inspired me to begin the novena before the healing was the story of the blind man healed by Jesus. The healing was not immediate; it came incrementally. Jesus healed this man in stages for a reason. I believe it was to gradually expand his experience of God’s mercy and to alert him to the dangers of sin. Jesus opened his bodily eyes and the eyes of his heart at the same time. I believe the healing of my eyes is coming incrementally as well.
Scripture Encourages Intercessors
This celebration of my relationship with a great saint is a good opportunity to clarify what devotion to the saints means for us as Catholics. To the uninitiated or non-Catholics, saints are viewed as a superstitious carry-over from pagan times, kind of like little gods we worship in addition to Jesus.
Let me clear things up for anyone who feels like that. Catholics know that God is responsible for all the healing. All our prayers are directed to and answered by God and we worship nobody but God. Why the need for saints and angels? Because God provided us with these intercessors. Only He really knows why. Their mediation is not instead of Christ’s; He is the mediator for all humanity with the Father. Nonetheless, in His generosity, He allows human beings to take part, in our own small way, in His role of mediation. All creaturely intercession is subordinate to His and draws its power from His; this is why our prayers conclude with “Through Christ our Lord.”
Scripture advises us to invoke intercessors. James 5:14 states, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” For non-Catholic Christians, this presents a conundrum. The sick are calling upon others, specifically the priests of Jesus, to pray for them. James doesn’t say, as many Protestants say, “All you have to do is pray to Jesus.” No, rather, James, who walked with the Lord, who was mentored by Him for three years and was consecrated as a priest by Him at the Last Supper, advises the faithful to call upon intercessors to help us pray to the Lord.
Likewise, we Catholics call upon the angels and saints to pray for us to God. Our God is a God of the living, not the dead, and all who who die in Christ are alive in Christ. We certainly do not worship the saints; rather, we honor them as our models, who have already reached perfect union with God in Heaven; we cherish them as our spiritual older brothers and sisters; and we rely on their prayers for us.
I worked with an older Jewish woman years ago. She was confirmed in her faith and loved God as she knew Him in her Jewish tradition. She asked me to pray for her, and she said that although she loved her faith and would never convert, she admired the Catholics because we have so many saints to pray for us. She, a non-Christian, actually got it. Angels and saints are our friends, our intercessors and our confidants.
The Example of Saint Lucy
I have many saint friends, and I love them all. If I wrote just three lines on each one, this would be a very long essay. We do well to take time to focus on the particular virtues of one or another, so I reflect now on Saint Lucy, who has always been a hero to me.
Living in Sicily in the early fourth century, in an immoral, pagan society not unlike our own, she chose not only purity but permanent virginity for the Lord she loved. If such a choice is misunderstood and maligned in our world, it was all but unheard-of in hers. In the end, her faith and love required the sacrifice of her life; but she was ready, for she had already given him everything. This young girl gave up her entire life, the promise of riches and ease, for the love of Christ. She was immovable to sin and loved Jesus in a way that only martyrs can fully comprehend.
St. Lucy should be a model for us of Christian virtue and heroism, reminding us of the inestimable treasure we have in our faith in Christ. Many thousands of Christians all over the world are dying for that faith today. We may not know all their names, but we know their predecessors in Christian virtue and fortitude, such as the great St. Lucy, whose very name means light. She is, in fact, a beacon of light to all of us. It is said that upon her death, her eyes, which had been gouged out, were miraculously restored. God restores everything that is lost for love of Him. Jesus promised that he who loses his life for His sake will find it and preserve it unto life everlasting.
Meditate On The Lives of Saints
We can benefit from meditating on this young Sicilian girl who vowed her virginity, her purity and her very life to Jesus and received the crown of martyrdom. Let us stir within ourselves a devotion to her and take her as a powerful friend and intercessor with the Lord. Also, if you haven’t yet, find a saint with whom you especially “connect” to be your particular model and friend. We must keep in mind also that sometimes our prayers, no matter whom we ask to pray for us, may not be answered the way we want. As the song says, “We may not always get what we want but we will get what we need.”
Thank you, Saint Lucy. Please pray for us and enlighten the eyes of our hearts to the joys of Christ. Saint Lucy, holy virgin and martyr, hero of Christians, spouse of Jesus, powerful intercessor before the Throne of Divine Majesty, pray for us. Amen.