My friend thought I was crazy. She said "I'll just pray to God."
I said, "Haven't you done that already?" to which she replied, "You're serious, aren't you?"
I am serious. Primitive, superstitious and polytheistic as it may sound, praying to the saints makes sense to those that have a strong faith. We call them saints; the indigenous people of America called them ancestors. The principle is the same. We ask the spiritual assistance of friends who have gone on to the eternal world, and that assistance is prayer.
Sin separates us living creatures from God. We have a natural distance between us and God that is created by our imperfections. The Communion of Saints - that is, those who are already in the divine presence of God, have no separation. Their prayers are strong and charged with that near divinity. When they join in prayer with us, they make our prayer ever-so strong.
The misconception is that we ask the saint to perform some kind of magic or use supernatural power that is apart from God. Nothing could be further from the truth.The saints enjoy the presence of the Almighty with no barrier of sin or imperfection or trappings of the physical world.
Being able to ask St. Joseph to lead us to a good mate, petitioning St. Anthony to help us find something we've lost, calling on the prayers of St. Monica to help an alcoholic child, is simply asking a spirit - who once walked a path familiar to ours - to support us in prayer.
In my personal life, I've had many prayers answered that were aided by the intercession of saints. St. Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us that it is the intercession we request - evident in his prayer to the Virgin Mary known as The Memorare which begins:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
and sought thy intercession,
was left unaided
Saints can become close spiritual friends and guide us to grace, strength, and deeper faith. My three favorites - those I reach out to in times of need - are Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Anthony, and St. Therese of the Little Flower all known as saints of miracles.
Some other well known patron saints are ...
St. Michael the Archangel - patron of police officers - protection from evil / danger
St. Christopher patron of travelers
Brigid of Ireland - patron of poets
St. Florian - protector of firefighters
St. Monica - patron of mothers with problem children (she was the mother of St. Augustine)
St. Patrick - patron of Ireland, of clergy, of missionaries
St. Matthew the Apostle - patron of accountants
St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower) - patron of florists, orphans
St. Francis de Sales - patron of writers
St. Rita - patron of difficult marriages
Developing a spiritual relationship with particular saints - who become spiritual friends - is a worthy purpose. It is no slight to God to ask for assistance from the Communion of Saints, those spirits God has drawn into the eternal world.