Fr. David Munoz, OMI, Director of Mazenodian Family Planning and Activities
In the sacrament of Baptism, Christians are anointed with chrism oil to participate in the three-fold mission of Christ who is priest, prophet, and king. In effect, each member of the Body of Christ is called to sanctify, teach the Word of God, and be stewards of creation. It is, therefore, no surprise that during the rite of Baptism the Church invokes the saints. The entire body of the baptized become intercessors for the elect who now begin their journey of faith. The saints in heaven teach Christians about the journey of holiness and how to persevere in the face of the many challenges. Pope John Paul II tells us: “The real history of humanity is comprised of the story of sanctity: the saints and blessed all appear as ‘witnesses’, that is as persons who, confessing Christ, his person and his doctrine, have given concrete consistency and credible expression to one of the essential elements of the Church, namely sanctity.”
The tradition of choosing patron saints extends from this understanding of the saints as intercessors and models of faith. Normally a patron saint is chosen because of a personal connection: a trade, illness suffered, or the care shown to others, etc. The saints demonstrate for all the baptized that they are not alone on the journey of faith. Those who experienced hardship and joy in the faith are models of perseverance. They show us that their fervent prayers encourage us in hope towards our own call to holiness.
The choice of Blessed Paul Thuj Xyooj as a patron saint for Oblate associates in the U.S. recognizes his devotion to the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod. He accompanied the Missionary Oblates who arrived in Laos in their evangelization efforts. However, more importantly, through his willingness to give his life for the faith together with Fr. Mario Borzaga, OMI, Blessed Paul is a model of oblation for all associates. He reminds us how the charism of St. Eugene is lived by those who feel called to dedicate their lives in oblation in their own state of life.