Litany of the Saints

Today, I'll shift from tech to share a spiritual moment. Amidst my son Daniel's injury, I felt a real intervention from the Saints. As they offered support, it brought comfort in our time of need, guiding us through his successful surgery.

Litany of the Saints
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe / Unsplash
Okay, yes this is typically a tech blog. And sometimes I ask forgiveness to stray into the political or Swiftie related. Today, I hope you'll indulge me and let me stray into the spiritual.

If I'm being honest, this is a part of my life I don't share with my other chronically online folks because I'm a little scared of what everyone will think...but here goes nothing.

I had the most unreal, clear, undeniable intervention from the Saints and the Holy Spirit that I’ve ever experienced in my life last night. Here is the story:

My 8-year-old son, Daniel, broke his arm around 1 pm at school on the playground. It was bad enough that, worried about circulation, we decided to take an ambulance to Anne Arundel Medical Center via ambulance.

A Marylander aside here: I think it’s actually Luminis something or other now. But like a native Chicagoan who refuses to call that one building anything other than "Sears Tower", I will be calling it AAMC in this story. 

Anyway, my wife rides with him to AAMC and I meet them there. We’re seen relatively quickly and get X-rays ordered. As a paramedic friend would say of those images: “F***ing Ray Charles could’ve seen that break on the xray”. And given the extent of the break, I knew before the doctors even looked at it that we were looking at surgery. 

Good News / Bad News

Good news / bad news: One of the top 10 pediatric orthopedic hospitals in the country is in Baltimore - Johns Hopkins, making it the best choice for surgery due to its proximity to AAMC. With concerns about circulation during transport, Hopkins is going to pick him up, so we're waiting on their call. They arrived just as I was grabbing a quick bite in the café (at 6:50, and it closed at 7 - ask me later how I knew that already). I rushed back to meet them, hopping into their ambulance with Daniel while my wife headed home to the other kids.

Despite the idea that splurging on the most expensive Uber around would mean bypassing the ER wait, there weren't any available beds when we arrived, so after a brief check-up, triage, and vitals, we ended the waiting room.

'Happy' are All Who Wait or My Soul Waits

By now, it's about 8:30 pm - which is 30 minutes past bedtime...which could be considered the second religion to Catholicism in our house. And D is feeling it: he's tired, and the last time he had any pain meds was three and a half hours ago. And instead of being in a hospital bed like he has been most of the day, he's in a wheelchair made for someone much much much larger than him sitting in a waiting room. He's really starting to lose it, honestly for the first time all day.

And for me - I'm now alone with him, in a big-city hospital late at night. And as he's in more and more pain, I texted my wife:

"I just feel like we went from the front of the line to the back of the line"

It was the worst I had felt the whole day, including when I was waiting for my wife and him to arrive at AAMC when it all started happening. I was anxious and frustrated and scared and unsure of what to do.

Meanwhile: In Other News

Most of the day - but interestingly not really at this point - I had been praying. Praying for Daniel, for the doctors taking care of him, and for healing.

In addition, since it happened at his Catholic school, where all 4 kids go and my wife has taught for 20 years, word spread fast, and a whole school community was praying for him.

Oh, and my wife and I have been working with a local Catholic high school that our kids don't even attend, but one of our best friends directs the theater program. Tonight we intended to be there for the 4th performance of Beauty & the Beast, but without us there. And with us not there, we got this text from the director:

"We love you guys so much...we added St. Daniel, St. Joseph and St. our intentions tonight"

Add to that group: D's Godparents in Colorado and Virginia, his family here in the Maryland/DC area and in Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois all praying for him and sending their thoughts and prayers. Add it all up and, quite literally, hundreds of people are praying for him...many of whom are Catholic and asking directly for the intervention of the saints.

Litany of the Saints

And that leads us to the next part: Divine intervention at the peak of my worry and frustration about the day.

Catholics have a lot of saints - a designation we believe belongs to all souls in heaven, but one that we 'acknowledge' in certain historic figures. And there's a prayer called the "litany of the saints". It is a prayer that invokes the intercession of various saints, emphasizing their role as models of faith and examples of holiness for believers.

And for Catholic families (some of which can also have a lot of members), many times kids are named after saints. And as with many parents who struggle to get their names right occasionally and run through them all, my mother's (one of 5) parents have always called that stumbling through names, somewhat jokingly, "the litany of saints." For our family then that would be something like "Patrick, I mean Molly, I mean Daniel, I mean Caitlin!"

And so I finally got up the courage (there was actually a sign that said to do this...good job, Hopkins) to ask about getting Daniel some more pain meds. And that was when the direction came - Enter our real-life litany of the saints:

  • The triage nurse sent us at that point to a room with a medical assistant.
    Name: Patrick
  • Within minutes of being in the room, a patient advocate entered to see what, if anything, we needed.
    Name: Molly
  • After asking about pain meds, Molly goes to the nurse to come in pretty soon after that.
    Name: Patrica

And so, amidst the chaos of hospitals and waiting rooms, a profound sense of saintly intervention permeated the night. As Daniel endured pain and discomfort, a real-life litany of saints appeared—Patrick, Molly, Patricia—each offering their support and care, and representing his older siblings who wanted so badly to help him today.

While some might dismiss it as mere coincidence, at that moment, I couldn't help but feel the comforting presence of Sts. Mary and Patrick, watching over Daniel just as his older siblings wished they could.

That comfort sustained me for the rest of the night, through his successful surgery. And I couldn't help but try and write it down to remember this feeling - especially for the next time I need this kind of saintly help.

Update 2024-05-01 (the feast of St. Joseph the worker): The radiology technologist at Daniel’s follow up appointment was named Caitlin