I have a Methodist mother and Dad was Catholic. I had a single Catholic paternal grandma. The rest of the grandparents were Protestants. Among my extended family, only a handful are Catholic. So I didn't have a very Catholic upbringing. Between growing up in the shadow of Vatican II and the Protestant mother I didn't have much of a background in the saints. I prayed to God and left the rest of that stuff alone. Some of it seemed like pure superstition to me. I just couldn't understand it and wasn't really taught much about saints in Catechism classes in my youth. It wasn't fashionable in Catholic circles in the late 1960s.
I didn't really know much about any of the saints either. One who I did know was St Frances Xavier Cabrini because my birthday is on her saints day. If I had a very Catholic family no doubt I would be named Frances. I am a reader so I had read something of her life, more as a curiousity than anything. I always said she was my patron saint. But I didn't mean much by that. It was just something to say.
Then I went through a terrible time when I lost a baby and God and the church and my huge disappointment were all tied up in it. Like a very naughty toddler, I just didn't know if I wanted to believe in God anymore. I didn't think that God cared for me because so much stuff had gone wrong and had been made worse by all the people who should have offered some solace, some help.
When I was finally well enough to go to church, a new Catholic community had started in my housing area. They were worshipping in the library. That intrigued me (I am Library Anne) and I agreed to go to Mass there with my husband and son. But I told God, if he wanted me to keep going He had better say something to me, speak to my heart in some small way because I was dead inside and I just didn't have much hope left. I'm just being honest about where I was at that time and place. I was teetering on the edge of lost.
When we got there all the seats were taken and I knew I wasn't up to standing up the whole time so we started to leave, but from somewhere somebody found chairs. When Father Smith started the homily those words, that proof, if you will, that God was speaking just to me was given. Father began the homily, "St Frances Xavier Cabrini sent me to you." To me! She was my patron saint and it wasn't anywhere near my birthday. I recognized God's presence at that moment at that Mass.
I won't bore you with the rest, but that was the moment that I became a lot more interested in the saints. If God could use the name of Saint Frances Cabrini to begin my healing, think of the wealth of goodness that the saints could do. And have done. While I may slip in and out of prayer or spend a few minutes or an hour praying, think of the saints who can pray all day and all night.
I don't expect to change the hearts of any Protestants. I don't really need to because prayer is prayer. It is God who is sovereign. But at least once in my life, God used St Frances Xavier Cabrini to get my attention. I pay more attention to those good saints these days.