A Note From Fr. Timothy
What is your Saint’s Name Day?
Every year on January 26th the Church celebrates the Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus – bishops and disciples of St. Paul. Since I share a name with St. Timothy, and he is a great patron to me, it is a day I personally celebrate as well. In fact, I probably celebrate my saint’s name day more than I do my own birthday. I observe it as a feast day, usually with a special meal and a little wine [since St. Timothy is famously instructed by St. Paul to drink a little wine to help with the illness of his stomach (cf. 1 Timothy 5:23)]. It is a special day of prayer, throughout which I ask his help and intercession in the coming year.
I have talked to a lot of people over the years who have expressed surprise that I do not really celebrate my birthday. There is nothing wrong with celebrating birthdays and the gift of life. For me, however, I feel that while it is good to celebrate our physical life, how much more then should we celebrate the beginnings of our spiritual life? In the grand scheme of things, is not the day of our baptism and rebirth into the life of the Spirit the more important date? And if, when we die and, by the grace of God, should we be called into eternal life in heaven, would that not be still more wonderful?
Since none of us know the day nor the hour when we will be called from this life, nor if or when exactly we might enter through the pearly gates of heaven, we cannot really celebrate that date during our lifetimes. So I choose to observe the next best thing – the memorial day of my name saint, St. Timothy, who has been definitively declared by the Church to be in heaven. It is a time to remember that my earthly days will come to an end, and that beyond anything else I should seek the Kingdom of Heaven which will have no end. It is a good time to go to confession and entrust myself again to the mercy and protection of our loving Savior, and humbly ask the intercession of St. Timothy to help me arrive at that destination.
I strongly encourage everyone to faithfully observe their saint’s name day each year. Use it as an opportunity to grow in your desire for heaven and draw closer to God through the sacraments. It is a great day to attend Mass and go to confession if you are able. Even if your saint’s name day is not celebrated on the universal calendar of the Church, a simple internet search should yield speedy results for the day you can celebrate. And if your first name is not a saint’s name, use your middle name, a confirmation name, or another saint who is celebrated on your birthday.
For example, Fr. LeRoy (whose name means “the King”) might celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, but since that date is different
each year he might choose to go with another name. Fr. Oswaldo might observe the memorial of St. Oswald on February 28, even though it is not on the Mass calendar, or another name that would be observed each year. There are something like 16 different saints with the name Timothy in the history of the Church, each with their own feast day. I suppose I could have chosen the 5th of September or May 21st (or maybe all of them) to celebrate, but January 26th makes sense since I was named after St. Timothy the disciple of St. Paul and he is already included in the calendar of saints each year. The important thing is, that no matter who your patron saint(s) is, to observe those name days in pious practice by seeking their intercession and rejoicing in the grace of God.
Sts. Timothy and Titus, pray for us.