The new school year is quickly approaching, and for some, it has already begun. With every new academic year, there is always great anticipation. Students are eager to see old friends and share their memories of summer, and teachers are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to teach again.
But with all of this excitement, the challenges that come with school loom ahead. Homework, grading, and busy schedules are all imminently close.
Luckily for us, God provides us with heavenly friends to help us through these academic challenges: the saints!
The saints are one of God’s great gifts to humanity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the saints "contemplate God, praise him, and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were 'put in charge of many things.' Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”
We should constantly ask the saints for guidance and prayers because their prayers are perfect. As members of God’s Heavenly Kingdom, the saints are united to God and His will. Because of this, we should rely on their intercession in every aspect of our lives, including school. The witness of the saints can help us to deal with the struggles we face in academics, and their prayers can strengthen and encourage us during the difficult times of the year.
As the new academic year begins, I invite you to reflect on a few saints that can help enhance your educational experience and save you a lot of stress.
1) Saint Thomas Aquinas
Anyone associated with education, whether student or faculty, should know Saint Thomas Aquinas. He is arguably the most brilliant mind ever produced by the Church. Over the course of his life, Aquinas composed numerous works, most notably his Summa Theologica. Throughout all of his work, Aquinas demonstrates his desire to know the truth in all things.
The pursuit of truth is the ultimate goal of education. Learning the truth about the world and our human nature can help lead us to the One who is Truth itself, Jesus Christ. Aquinas helps us to center our study on the Truth, Who is Jesus, in every field of academics. Whether you are teaching a new lesson or studying a new subject, it is always wise to seek Saint Thomas’ intercession.
For additional information on the Angelic Doctor check out G.K. Chesterton’s book Saint Thomas Aquinas.
2) Saint John Berchmans
One of the great evils that pervades schools is gossip.
This is not something unique, but it is a challenge facing both students and faculty alike. Saint John Berchmans serves as an anti-gossip saint. Berchmans was a great student, but his most notable quality was his ability to say something nice about everyone. If Berchmans ever witnessed a fellow student getting reprimanded for an indiscretion, he promptly said something positive about him. This charitable practice served as a means of quelling any negative talk about his fellow students.
Gossip is harmful because it defaces the character of an individual. Every type of gossip starts with some kind of negative statement. Berchmans provides us with an antidote to this dreadful vice. He reminds us to have kind words for everyone, especially those who are troublemakers or more difficult to love.
3) Saint Joseph of Cupertino
Tests are one of the unfortunate realities of school. However, test-taking might be slightly less stressful if you get to know Saint Joseph of Cupertino. Joseph was poorly educated as a youth and he continued to struggle academically as he pursued a religious vocation with the Franciscans. Although he was not a scholar, Joseph tirelessly applied himself to his studies.
Yet his tremendous effort still bore little fruit. He continued to struggle academically, but he knew that God would provide if He wanted him to be a priest. When faced with his final examination that would determine if he was fit for priesthood, he asked the Lord to let him only be asked the questions for which he knew the answers. At this point, Joseph had only memorized one passage from the Gospel of Luke. The following day he was examined. He was only asked one question, and it was about the passage he had memorized from the Gospel of Luke. Joseph passed his exam and was ordained a priest.
It is no surprise that Saint Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint of test takers. He’s a great saint to call upon throughout your academic career, especially when take tests in school. The next time you face an exam, try praying one of these prayers:
O Great Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who while on earth did obtain from God the grace to be asked at your examination only the questions you knew, obtain for me a like favor in the examinations for which I am now preparing. In return, I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.
Through Christ our Lord.
Saint Joseph of Cupertino, Pray for us.
O Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who by your prayer obtained from God to be asked at your examination, the only preposition you knew. Grant that I may like you succeed in the (here mention the name of Examination) examination.
In return, I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.
O Saint Joseph of Cupertino, pray for me
O Holy Ghost, enlighten me.
Our Lady of Good Studies, pray for me.
Sacred Head of Jesus, Seat of divine wisdom, enlighten me.
4-10) The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order
I first ran across these seven saints when I was preparing for a road trip with some college friends to the Midwest. One night when we discussed our travel plans, I spotted a book on the saints resting on a nearby table. I picked up the book and randomly opened to the page about the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order. What caught my eye was that they were deemed the patron saints of “planning fun things with friends.” They naturally became our patrons for our road trip.
The Servite Order was founded by these seven holy men after they received a vision of Mary, the Mother of God on the feast of the Assumption. In order to discern the meaning of this vision, the seven men dedicated themselves to prayer. During their time of prayer, they received another vision of Mary in which she revealed her desire for them to found the Order of Servites. The men joyfully followed the promptings of Mary and established the Servite Order.
Planning is an essential element that pervades every school year. Teachers and students spend generous amounts of time planning events, projects, and other activities. All of these can be moments of grace and sanctification if we are open to the will of God. Through their holy witness, the Seven Holy Founders show us that we can sanctify all of our daily activities, even those that require us to participate in groups.
As the new school year begins, I hope you will ask these saints for their intercession. Whether you need assistance with academics, a friend, or a classmate, these saints can help you in your time of need. Do not be afraid to call upon them frequently as you begin this new school year.