Today has always been special to me. Because Catholic tradition required that baptismal names be those of saints, and because it was much later that I read Paul’s letters to Timothy to find that Timothy’s grandmother was named Lois, I was gifted at the beginning with St. Ann(e) as my patron. I was always happy about that growing up because my image of a grandmother came from my maternal side in the form of my grandmother, Bridget Cavanaugh, whose soft lap and welcoming arms live in my memory still. It is interesting that my grandmother Cavanaugh only lived into my sixth year so I am relatively sure the many of my “memories” of her come from my mother’s love of her mother and from photos and stories.
I recognize today that this is the way I think of my patron St. Anne (and the somewhat recently added husband, Joachim), parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here is what was written today on the “Saint of the Day” page of the US Bishops website.
“…we know nothing factual about them (Joachim and Anne) except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died. The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.
‘”Joachim and Anne – whether these are their real names or not – represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.”
I would wish to have had my grandmother in my life for a much longer time rather than relying on stories about her, but the central element of those stories is, I believe, much like those of the family in Nazareth whose faith was formed as was mine: in a strong belief and loving relationships.