Planning a Vacation While Grieving

For some, the idea of planning a trip may be incredibly overwhelming following the death of a loved one. However, taking a vacation, regardless of how grandiose or modest it may be, can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with grief. Traveling to new places provides a fresh perspective, and seeing the world on a larger scale can help fight feelings of isolation one may feel while grieving. It shows you that there is a world outside of your grief—one that is still full of new opportunities and joys! This is easier said than done, so keep reading to learn more about how you can make your vacations and travels a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable.

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Set realistic expectations

It’s easy to get carried away when planning a vacation. Brochures and commercials are filled with perfect images of smiling people and sunny weather. While vacations are certainly intended to be fun and exciting, after losing a loved one it’s important that you set realistic expectations. Don’t expect too much from yourself. Grief can drain a lot of your energy, so make sure you don’t plan too many energy-dependent activities. In most cases, a more relaxing vacation is most appropriate after a recent loss, such as a spa day, camping trip, or a quiet weekend at a bed and breakfast.

Be flexible

Grieving is a dynamic and unpredictable journey. No matter where you are on your personal journey, your emotions, mood, and energy can all change dramatically without warning. That’s why, when planning a vacation, it’s important to be patient and flexible with yourself. Don’t plan anything that can’t be easily cancelled or rescheduled, and it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. In some cases, it may be good idea to plan a few different vacations, then see which fits best as the date gets closer. Having options takes some of the pressure off vacationing, and provides a more relaxed perspective on the whole process.

Communicate

Communication is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of journeying through grief, regardless of whether or not you choose to travel. However, if you do decide to vacation, communication becomes even more important. For those traveling with family, it’s important to be open and honest with each other. Everyone grieves differently. Certain activities or memories that may not be painful to you may be painful to someone else and vice versa. Therefore, talk about what you have planned for the trip and make sure everyone is comfortable. It may be helpful to plan activities specific to each family member to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. It’s always a good idea to communicate with God as well. Share your feelings, fears, and joys. He will be accompanying you on whatever journey you choose to go on.

The first vacation following the death of a loved will be the most difficult as the absence of the deceased person will be felt at its highest level. This pain will lessen with time, and just knowing this and anticipating the challenge will ease the current pain you feel and hopefully make it more tolerable. The pain is actually the love you feel for the absent person.  The stronger the love, the stronger the pain.  And everywhere love goes, grief goes too. So know that you will feel the absence even in another place, and be prepared to greet it and welcome it as part of the healing process.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Celebrating Saint Joseph this Father’s Day

Fathers play an essential role in the lives of their children. Not only are fathers traditionally known for their protective and providing nature, but they are also responsible (along with mothers!) for instilling a certain set of values within their children and guiding them through the twists and turns of life. For this reason, we understand that the role of “father” goes beyond traditional norms. A father can be anyone willing to support, teach, and love those around them. This world’s best example of a non-traditional father is Saint Joseph. As the adopted father to Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph is proof to us all that fatherhood extends beyond biological boundaries.

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Although we don’t know much about the life of Saint Joseph, we are told a few things about him in the Bible. We know he comes from a long line of faithful servants, with a lineage connecting him with King David. We know that he married the Virgin Mary, and that he supported her through the tremulous Nativity narrative and beyond. Most of all, we know that he was a father figure to Jesus Christ. We know that he loved Jesus as much as any father could love his son. He worried with Mary when Jesus was lost in the temple as a child; he taught Jesus the family trade of carpentry; and he ensured that Jesus was raised in a faith-filled environment. Just as Joseph surely taught Jesus the skills He needed for this world, so too did Joseph teach and exemplify skills Christ would need in the spiritual world. Joseph continuously listened to the voice of God. He made sacrifices for his family, and stopped at nothing to make sure God’s will was followed. Just as Joseph delivered his family out of the hands of King Herod, Jesus would lead the human family away from sin and destruction. This courage and complete faith in God’s will is surely a trait Jesus first saw in his parents. While Joseph was not alive to see Jesus preach and complete his mission here on Earth, today we understand the influence Joseph had on Christ, thereby impacting us Christians to this day.

On this Father’s day, let us honor all of our fathers, traditional or not, and the sacrifices they have made. May we also pray for new or future fathers, that they may find the same strength and courage Joseph possessed to lead their families closer to God. If you find yourself mourning this Father’s Day, under any circumstance, take comfort in knowing Christ felt a similar loss when Joseph died. Above all, say a prayer this Father’s Day and lift your intentions, worries, and hopes up to the Lord.

A Father’s Day Prayer

“Let us praise those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice. Let us praise those fathers who, lacking a good model for a father, have worked to become a good father.

Let us praise those fathers who by their own account were not always there for their children, but who continue to offer those children, now grown, their love and support. Let us pray for those fathers who have been wounded by the neglect and hostility of their children.

Let us praise those fathers who, despite divorce, have remained in their children’s lives. Let us praise those fathers whose children are adopted, and whose love and support has offered healing.

Let us praise those fathers who, as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and earned their step children’s love and respect. Let us praise those fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold the child in their heart.

Let us praise those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.

Let us praise those men who have “fathered” us in their role as mentors and guides.

Let us praise those men who are about to become fathers; may they openly delight in their children.

And let us praise those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us. Amen.” -Kirk Loadman

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Summer and the Grief Journey

The summer months can be difficult for those who are grieving. While the cool air of fall and winter lend themselves to quiet evenings in, spring and summer do just the opposite. The warm weather encourages social outings, outdoor activities, and special vacations. For those who are grieving, this heightened expectation of interaction can be rather intimidating. However, there are ways to cope with the summer months, and even leverage the warm weather (and maybe even a vacation or two!) to help you progress along your grief journey. Keep reading to learn more.

Summer and the Grief Journey

  1. Go outside

It’s amazing what a little vitamin D can do for the body and the soul. It’s been proven that just a few minutes of sunlight a day can drastically impact a person’s energy, outlook, and general health. Vitamin D has also been proven to lower stress levels. So while it may be tempting to stay indoors, try to soak up some sun for at least ten minutes a day, even if that means just sitting on your front stoop or walking around your backyard.

  1. Travel

For some, the idea of planning a trip may be incredibly overwhelming following the death of a loved one. However, taking a vacation, regardless of how grandiose or modest it may be, can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with grief. Traveling to new places provides a fresh perspective, and seeing the world on a larger scale can help fight feelings of isolation one may feel while grieving. It shows you that there is a world outside of your grief—one that is still full of new opportunities and joys!

  1. Enjoy yourself

One of the hardest things many people struggle with while grieving is learning how to be joyful again. Some people may feel guilty for being happy or enjoying themselves following the death of a loved one. While these feelings may be hard to overcome, simply ask yourself “If our positions were reversed, wouldn’t I want my loved one to enjoy life again?” So let the warmer weather naturally uplift your mood and simply allow yourself to enjoy life. Take part in your favorite summer activities. If there are emotional memories attached to those activities, then try to explore and find new things that you can enjoy. Enjoying yourself also means you should take care of yourself. Take time to do the activities you enjoy, and turn away from those you don’t. Grief is an exhausting journey, so learn what your limits are and how much you can handle on a given day.

  1. Honor your loved one

Many people believe that the best way to conquer grief is to push memories and thoughts of their loved one to the wayside, but this simply isn’t true. Healthy grieving involves remembering and honoring your loved one, the life they lived, and the memories you shared together. Whether you’re traveling this summer or staying close to home, try to find a way to honor your loved one. Maybe it’s visiting their favorite vacation spot, or traveling to place they always wanted to visit. It may be as simple as preparing their favorite summer meal, or doing their favorite activity. Another simple way to honor your loved one is to thank God for the memories you shared and spend some time in quiet reflection in His presence. You’ll find that Christ will always bring wisdom and comfort.

If you’re in need of some extra support this summer, please join us for one of our Grief Support groups. Learn more at https://clecem.org/Information/Bereavement.aspx.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

A Statement on Dandelion Control from the Catholic Cemeteries Association

The Catholic Cemeteries Association has received some complaints recently regarding the upkeep of our Catholic cemeteries. The appearance of our cemeteries is something we hold in very high regard, as we strive to honor those who have passed before us by maintaining grave sites and providing families with a proper place for remembrance. It’s important to remember that there are several factors that tie into weed control, some of which we have no control over. We have an expansive weed control program that spans over 1500 acres of turf managed by the Catholic Cemeteries Association.

Our weed control program consists of 2 applications per year.

Crabgrass control

Crabgrass control is applied first and must be completed around April 15th depending on the temperature. The ground must be thawed and without snow. We had a late start on that application this year, as the long winter kept ground temperatures too cold to apply at the normal time (which would have been early March).

Broad leaf control

Normally, when temperatures rise gradually, the dandelion outbreak is not as severe or noticeable. However, this year we experienced below-average temperatures in April that led well into the beginning of May. Then, the temperature warmed significantly in a short period of time. There are also certain limitations to applying broad leaf weed control, as it can only be applied when it is not raining and when winds are below 15mph. These factors altogether hindered our ability to properly protect against dandelions. We are currently starting broad leaf weed control, albeit three weeks behind our typical seasonal schedule.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association works hard to ensure our cemeteries are places of prayerful remembrance, and we apologize if the recent weed situation has hindered that ability. We are not offering excuses for the weeds, but many factors have impeded us from achieving the quick results we all want. Our crews are out spraying and will have made the rounds at all 19 cemeteries soon.  If you have further questions or concerns, we encourage you to send them to email@clecem.org.

Handling Special Occasions: A Simple 3-Step Guide for the Bereaved

Grieving is a difficult process. It’s one of the hardest experiences we endure throughout our lifetime. While losing a loved one may be hard to comprehend even on a typical day, remembering this loss on days of special importance can take an even larger toll. Since events such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions are usually spent with those closest to us, after losing a loved one these days may be hard to bear, as they bring with them memories of our departed loved ones and serve as a reminder of their passing. Much like the seasons, these days will come each year. The key is not to run away or avoid them, but to embrace them for what they are. It may be hard at first, but with time you can come to appreciate these special days and the memories you shared with your loved one. To help handle the tough times, just remember to feel, react, and reconnect. Keep reading to learn more…

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  1. Feel

The most important part of grieving, whether it’s on a notable day or not, is to allow yourself to experience your emotions fully. Often, you may feel pressured to put on a brave face and act like everything is okay—even when it isn’t. This is especially common on holidays, as you may try to maintain some sense of normalcy. Sometimes, you may feel like expressing sadness is a sign of weakness, and prefer that others view you as your “usual self.” This isn’t just limited to feelings of sadness, either. It’s common to experience a plethora of emotions surrounding the death of a loved one. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a few days or a few years—there will be days when you feel confused, hurt, sad, and even angry. Don’t try to cover up these emotions. Instead, allow yourself to fully express how you feel.

  1. React

After expressing your emotions, the next step is to respond accordingly. If you’re too flustered or overwhelmed to have your usual 4th of July BBQ, then suggest that someone else host it this year. If the anniversary of your loved one’s death is coming up and you’re experiencing extreme loneliness or sadness, spend the day remembering them. Maybe make their favorite meal, or watch their favorite movie. Whatever the case may be, being in tune with your emotions can help you prepare for these special occasions, and help you plan ahead. Instead of planning the day according to other’s expectations, do what you feel most comfortable with and what will bring you the most peace. On certain days, it may be a good idea to treat yourself to something special, perhaps a relaxing massage or an extra piece of chocolate cake. An important part of the grieving process is being kind to yourself—something that many of us forget!

  1. Reconnect

Grieving can be a lonely process. Since the emotions you feel are so specific to you and your situation, you may feel like no one on earth can understand what you’re going through. Sometimes, this can cause you to push people away in an effort to handle your grief on your own. It’s true that others may not be able to empathize with your unique grief, but it’s important to stay connected with those closest to you. While holidays and special occasions may be hard to handle, they are still days to celebrate with family and friends. Making an effort to reconnect with those around you can help diminish those feelings of loneliness or sorrow, and remind you that life can still be filled with joy and celebration. Even more important than reconnecting with family and friends, however, is reconnecting with God. He is the only one who will know exactly what you’re feeling, and the only one who will never leave you. During the hardest days of grieving, turn to the Lord for strength and comfort, and never lose sight of the eternal hope He offers each of us.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Fr. Gene Wilson: A Local Leader of Faith

Cleveland is lucky to be home to many influential African American leaders. Spanning across many generations, organizations, and industries, these leaders have helped shaped our region. Reverend Gene Wilson, CPPS. was one of these great leaders. As the first African American to be ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, his story is one of true devotion to Christ. Keep reading to learn more about this remarkable man.

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Wilson was born in Charleston, West Virginia on May 18, 1928. Soon after he was born his parents, Luther Lee and Hilda Wilson, decided to move to Cleveland. While Wilson traveled to several different states throughout his career, Cleveland would always remain to be his home town. At the age of 22, Wilson entered into the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. By the age of 30, Wilson had earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph’s College in Rennsselaer, Indiana and was ordained a priest on May 28th of that same year.

After his ordination, Wilson devoted himself to parish ministry at St. Adalbert Church in Cleveland. Following a few years of service, Wilson decided to further his education and moved to Washington, D.C. where he attended Catholic University and received master’s degrees in Library Science and Spirituality. After a brief time working as a librarian, he returned to parish ministry. This time, he visited parishes around the country—mainly in California. While on the West Coast, Wilson took part in the formation of the Province of the Pacific, and is credited for his work in entering new cultural communities in the area. After several years of this missionary work, Wilson returned to Ohio at the age of 78 and served as a senior associate pastor of St. Mark Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, he was known for presiding at healing masses and bringing the Black Consciousness movement to his parish. In 2009 he began ministry at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio, which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Sadly, Reverend Wilson passed away at the age of 88 on March 30, 2017 in Cleveland, OH. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland (Section 92, Lot 1301C, Grave 2).

Reverend Gene Wilson was known for his cheerful and joyful attitude, and his deep dedication to Christ and the Holy spirit. As the first African American to be ordained a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, he helped pave the way for countless other men pursuing the priesthood. His life proves to us all what a large impact an individual can make on their community.

Information from: http://cpps-preciousblood.org/2017/03/fr-gene-wilson-c-pp-s-1928-2017/

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Memorial Day: Honoring Those Who Lost Their Lives In Service

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day dedicated to remembering the lives lost while serving in the military. First called Decoration Day, this holiday was established after the Civil War to decorate graves with flowers. The Catholic Cemeteries Association takes pride in honoring those who gave their lives in service, and we respect the contributions they made for our country. We are proud to have buried many Medal of Honor recipients here at our cemeteries; two of them even buried right next to each other at Calvary Cemetery. Follow the links to learn more about these respected individuals.

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William Foster

John R. Towle

Celebrate this day by praying for all those who lost their lives in service.

“O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country. Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Prayer gathered from: https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1452 

Post written by Mike Freiberg

 

 

 

Saint Hannah: An Example of Faithful Trust and Prayer

Sometimes God places us in unpredictable and confusing situations. Blessed with the sacrament of marriage at young age, Hannah had no idea that she would experience trouble conceiving. As one of the select handful of saints featured in the Bible, Hannah’s story is one of true faith and devotion to God.

After being married to Elkanah, the couple soon learned that Hannah was unable to bear children. As result, Elkanah took a second wife named Peninnah. Peninnah and Elkanah had several children together. Despite his relations with Peninnah, Elkanah remained devoted to Hannah. One day, Hannah became so upset over her inability to conceive a child that she began to pray and weep openly, begging God to give her a child. She vowed that if God gifted her with a son that she would ensure her son dedicated his life to God’s work.

Sure enough, Hannah soon conceived a son whom she named Samuel, which literally translates to “God Heard.” Samuel would become the high priest who would crown both King Saul and Kind David, who contributed greatly to the narrative of Christianity.

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Saint Hannah with her son, Samuel

Saint Hannah continues to be the patron saint of married couples without children, and couples who struggle with infertility. While miracles like hers are rare, Hannah’s story reminds us yet again of the awesome and all-powerful will of God. His plan is far more than we can ever comprehend, and His timing is always perfect. If you find yourself in a similar situation as Hannah, or in an equally difficult situation, turn to her example of complete openness and dependence on God. Take a look at Hannah’s prayer below. Instead of praying it exactly, insert your own name, your own intentions, and your own desires. God may surprise you with His answer.

“O Lord of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child I will give him to the Lord …” (1 Samuel 1:11)

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Saint Gerard: A Life of Unexpected Lessons

Saints are interesting people to learn about. Not only are their stories quite inspirational in nature, but their patronages have their own interesting origins. A quick Google search will reveal that the patron saint of pregnant women is, in fact, a man. While some people may find this rather curious, a closer look at Saint Gerard’s story reveals much more about this unexpected pairing. Keep reading to learn more!

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Gerard was born on April 6, 1726 in a small Italian town near Naples. He was the youngest of five children, and his father was a tailor. Gerard was only 12 years old when his father died, and this obviously put the family in great financial stress. In an effort to help with the family expenses, Gerard took on an apprenticeship to learn about the tailoring trade. After four years of hard work, he began to work more fully. As he started to earn steady wages, he split his earnings– giving half to his family and half as a church offering for the souls in purgatory.

As Gerard started to mature, he tried to join a local Capuchin order but was denied entry due to his poor health. Instead, he joined the congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and carried on his mission as a lay person. Most of Gerard’s missionary work involved spreading God’s word to the poor. He was very close to those on the outskirts of society and was often seen with those otherwise rejected by the public. He gained a local reputation, as his dedication to God was quite clearly evidenced by his good works.

Despite his good works, Gerard was still subject to persecution. When he was in his mid-twenties, he was subject to an awful rumor. A woman claimed to have romantic relations with him in an effort to tarnish his reputation. Amidst this awful allegation, Gerard did not grow angry but remained silent and turned to God instead. His prayers were answered, as the woman soon rebuked her own accusations thereby restoring Gerard’s reputation. It’s for this reason that Gerard is the patron of those who are falsely accused.

This was not the only time Gerard was known to invoke divine intervention. Several miracles and divine acts are attributed to him including the gift of bilocation, the ability to read souls, walking on water, and even multiplying bread to give to the poor. However, one of his most notable miracles resulted in the patronage he holds for mothers, expecting mothers, and childbirth.

Gerard was said to carry a handkerchief that was of great sentimental value to him. No one knows exactly why Gerard was so attached to the handkerchief, but speculation is that it belonged to his father. Regardless, Gerard took this handkerchief with him everywhere. One night Gerard was visiting a friend who had several daughters. As he went to leave for the evening, he dropped his handkerchief without realizing. One daughter picked it up and went to return it to Gerard. However, instead of taking it, Gerard simply said “Keep it, you may need it one day.” Years later, that daughter was in the middle of giving birth when several complications occurred. She called for the handkerchief to be brought to her, and upon receiving it she was able to complete her delivery of a perfectly healthy child. Gerard is still called on by expectant mothers, and those who wish to become pregnant so that they may have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Gerard spent his life serving others. Sadly, he passed away at the young age of 29 in October of 1755. He was beatified in 1893 and was canonized in 1904. Saint Gerard’s story is one of unexpected lessons. He showed us that sometimes being turned away from certain opportunities can lead to even greater ones; that the truth will always prevail over deception; that small acts of kindness can make a world of difference; and that no dire situation is beyond the divine power of Christ.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

 

Saint Catherine of Siena: A Story of Devotion and Bravery

Saint Catherine of Siena is one of the most well-known Catholic saints. This is largely due to the amount she accomplished during her short time on earth, as well as her contributions to the Catholic faith that are still being recognized to this day. Her story is one of true sacrifice, devotion, and bravery. Keep reading to learn more about Saint Catherine and her powerful faith.

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Catherine was born on March 25, 1347 in Siena, Italy. The Black Death was sweeping through Italy, creating very dangerous conditions for newborn children. Catherine had a twin sister, but sadly the newborn died shortly after being born. Catherine was raised by her mother and father, who earned a living dying cloth. Growing up, Catherine was a happy child. So happy, in fact, that her family nicknamed her Euphrosyne, which is Greek for “joy.” While living a relatively care-free life in her early years, at the age of five Catherine received her first vision from God. Her writings indicate that she saw Christ, Mary and the Apostles gathered around a banquet table. It was at that moment that Catherine decided to devote her life to Christ.

Catherine spent the next few years at home, where she was extremely devoted to serving her family. When asked how she served them so fully, she explained that she considered her father to be Christ, her mother to be Mary, and her siblings to be the apostles. She also practiced asceticism, or the act of denying earthly desire to enter into deeper spiritual enlightenment. Catherine lived like this for years, until her parents tried to arrange her marriage when she was 16 years old. Completely opposed to the marriage, Catherine did everything she could to dissuade her parents. This included entering into a heavy fast and even cutting her hair to make herself less attractive. Eventually her parents gave in and allowed Catherine to join the Third Order of Saint Dominic as a tertiary. Taking simple vows, Catherine stayed at home with her family, where she lived in silence and isolation. In the rare instances when she would visit the public, she was known for giving away her clothing and food, often at the cost of her own well-being.

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When Catherine was 21, she entered into what she described as a “mystical marriage” with Christ. This was a turning point for Catherine, for after her spiritual marriage to Christ, she devoted her life to serving the public and broke her pattern of isolation. Catherine began to gather a following due to her good works and eventually she found herself called to intercede in the rocky political climate in Siena. She was a strong advocate for reform within the clergy and peace within the Church. She worked closely with Pope Gregory XI to make changes that would better the church as a whole. Pope Gregory and Catherine worked closely together for several years. (It was during this time, at the age of 23, that Catherine received her first stigmata.) Pope Gregory even called on her to help negotiate peace between Florence and Rome in 1378. That same year, Pope Gregory died during riots associated with the conflict. Catherine herself was almost killed, but this didn’t stop her from pursuing peace. Eventually peace was established and she was able to return home to Siena.

When Pope Urban VI was elected to the papacy, Catherine served on his court and continued to take an active stance in local politics. However, the remaining years of Catherine’s life were ones of great hardship. While she was known for fasting throughout her life, she began to fast even more extremely, even against the advice of her family and spiritual adviser. It became so severe, that by 1380 she could not swallow food or water. In the same year, she also suffered from a major stroke and was unable to use her legs. On April 29, 1380 at the young age of 33, Catherine passed away. In 1461 Catherine was declared a Saint. In 1970 and 1999 respectively, Catherine was named a Doctor of the Church and a patron Saint of Europe and Italy.

Today Saint Catherine holds several patronages including nursing, illness, fire prevention, still born children, and miscarriages. While Saint Catherine never had the experience of carrying or birthing a child during her short life, she was no stranger to the pain that losing a child can bring. Her own twin died shortly after being born, and she lost another sister due to complications during child birth. Today, many men and women pray to Catherine of Siena for a healthy pregnancy and the avoidance of a miscarriage. Take a look at the prayer below, and say it for you or someone you know that is going through similar struggles.

Humble Virgin and Doctor of the Church, in thirty-three years you achieved great perfection and became the counselor of Popes. You know the temptations of mothers today as well as the dangers that await unborn infants. Intercede for me that I may avoid miscarriage and bring forth a healthy baby who will become a true child of God.   

Amen.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski