GOOD SAINT ANNE’S SWAY
When the power of God comes down, it’s a force that changes you. The Holy Spirit is a fire, a river, a mighty rushing wind.
As Catholics we pray, ”Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.” The saints are one with Christ and operate on our behalf. God is so generous, he enables us to collaborate with Him and share in the work of Salvation. The saints give glory to God as they work to lead us on the path to holiness. We don’t worship the saints; rather we ask them for their intercession and to recommend our needs to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus.
My grandmother had a devotion to St. Anne and said that after she prayed “St. Anne, St. Anne, send me a man if you can” that she met my grandfather. As a result, many of the women in my family have a variation of the saint’s name. I was given St. Anne as my patron at Baptism and have always prayed to her.
My mother and I share this and when I was just out of college, we both were formally consecrated under her patronage at St. Anne’s Shrine in Fall River, MA. It was a very serious and solemn consecration under her relics and with special prayers. I remember the borderline stern priest asking me the promises for consecration and the seriousness of the act are imbued in my soul. “Do you promise to raise your children in the Catholic faith?” asked the priest. “Yes.”
Again and with more urgency, “Do you PROMISE?”
I can’t say that I pray to Anne daily but she’s there. When I found out I would be traveling to Quebec for Mary’s Touch Radio Show to accept our Gabriel Award, I remembered that the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré was a place I needed to visit. As the days of the trip grew closer, I felt only something I can describe as a magnetic force within drawing me to make this mini pilgrimage for what’s coming next in my life.
I was Ubering all around Quebec for business at hand and someone told me you could Uber to St. Anne but not out. I wasn’t in the mood to be stranded in a foreign country on a Friday, so I found a short little bus tour that was going to stop at a quaint island and a stunningly beautiful waterfall – the Montmorency Falls. I thought – Island? YES! Waterfall? YES! I really only cared about St. Anne, but when in Quebec….Of course my little “day off” was a disappointingly overcast day complete with an unrelenting rain mist that left me, little Miss California, soaked through a fashionable non weather proof look and gave a slip in my step with my heely open toe shoes left to traverse a wet suspension bridge over the falls, because, when at a waterfall, you cross over it of course!
Despite the conditions and my non-tour bus persona, I entered in heartily to this experience. I felt like the people on the bus in Under the Tuscan Sun. First the island – checkered with colorful and quaint French homes, which made me wonder exactly who lived there, how did they get there and what did they do? The remoteness and beauty of this territory was a very romantic escape and a snapshot into the “New France” in a throwback sort of way. We stopped at a chocolatier and had a few sweet things in the breakfast hour. Sweetened up for the rest of the ride.
Then the Falls. I’ve never been to Niagara and they told me this was higher. It was a precursor to what would happen at the Basilica. The rushing water, its pounding unstoppable force and the clear direction of the falls and the water spray was rather mystical and exciting. The visual seemed like a metaphor for the way God moves with power. I walked over it, under it and could feel my heart pounding as the water moved in force. The beauty was exquisite how the water crashed up in artistic formation upon hitting the St. Lawrence River. God was showing off in His creation.
Our charming French guide wanted to make a few extra stops and I was suddenly getting frustrated that these diversions would cut into our (my) time at the Basilica. A couple from LA started to panic that they might miss their ship and an aunt and niece from Michigan refused to get off the bus for the stop at the Copper Museum. So did I. I didn’t need a ton of time at the Basilica, I just wanted to get inside – to be near her, to give her my heart, to remind her of my consecration and have her push things over the edge for me the same way the pounding waters crashed loudly over the falls into the St. Lawrence.
But when our French guide said we were going to Mary’s Bread, because the bread is so good and delicious and because Mary…. I started a little interior freak out. “If he’s only going to give us 20 minutes, that’s not enough. Lord, move this along. I believe in Mary and her ancient bread making business and I could eat about 50 croissants right now, but please get us there.”
I was contemplating Ubering and evacuating the bus. But I kept my cool. Finally, after our eclectic tour group ordered up bread enough to last the end of the world in the Quebec countryside, we made our way to the Basilica Shrine of St. Anne.
As we made our approach the driver announced, “YOU HAVE THIRTY MINUTES.”
That’s it? I knew I should have rented a car. The bus stopped and I leaped over people and down the aisle to the door to position my exit.
“Open the door.” I started running up the hill and to the main entrance and my entire body began to shake and a power washed over me that words cannot describe. I was crying but not sad. I was trembling and nothing was wrong. It was like the power of God was rushing through me. I hurried through the main doors and a woman at the entrance announced “No photos until the conclusion of Mass.” I thought “GOOD, I may make Mass!” I ran down the main aisle and it was the absolute end of the end of Mass but at that very moment within the 3’oclock hour on the feast of the Sacred Heart, the priest announced that he was bringing out the first class relic of St. Anne to be venerated. The same pounding force was moving through me and the Holy Spirit was doing something dramatic.
Had we not stopped for the copper museum, and the bread, I would have been too early for the encounter with my saint. God knew the exact timing and He knows what He is going to do doesn’t take long.
The power of God was more manifest for me here than almost any other place on the earth I’ve visited. I was face to face with my Baptismal saint. I venerated her relic and again gave her my heart, my soul, my offering, my petitions. I took many others with me including my family most especially. And I took all the “Annes” in my life, and those who asked for specific prayers.
My prayers were simple and direct and after kneeling in this grand miraculous basilica where miracles have been happening since the first bricks were laid, and which prompted countless sick to leave behind their crutches, canes, and walkers, I know that. St. Anne has given my prayers to the Father, through the Son and with her daughter Mary, the Mother of God. And for that, you don’t need thirty minutes, because there is no time in Eternity. I know that Good Saint Anne took my everything my interior and my drenched pilgrim exterior and offered everything perfectly to Him.
When God is about to exact your victorious breakthrough, sometimes you have to pilgrim across a continent to know who is working on your behalf – God was showing me that the prayers of my youth were coming to the fore now and to fruition for the glory of God. Lest I ever forget St. Anne’s powerful and miraculous intercession for me, God sent me to Quebec.
Good St. Anne, pray for us!
Praying for you!