A stained glass of Saint Elizabeth at St. Mary's in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley via Flickr [https://flic.kr/p/9eoSoJ]

Celebrating my second birthday with St. Elizabeth

By  Elizabeth Chelmecki, Youth Speak News
  • November 3, 2016

As Nov. 5 approaches, I become increasingly excited. No, it is not my birthday, but my name day, called “imieniny” in Polish.

Traditionally, name days in Poland have been celebrated at a greater extent than birthdays. Now, it is typical for Polish children to celebrate name days and birthdays equally, much like I do in Canada.

Every year when my name day comes around, my family gets together for a mini party with dinner and cake. After, we attend Mass together. Much like a birthday, my name day is when people wish me well for the coming year. Going to Mass with the intention of my name day, especially with my whole family, is very powerful.

The name day stems from the Polish tradition of naming children after saints, especially those with feast days close to the date of birth. While this tradition is becoming increasingly secularized and more of a second birthday, the importance still remains.

My name day is a time when I am reminded of who I am named after, St. Elizabeth from the New Testament.

Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah, remained childless for most of their life. They were both “upright in the sight of God” and carried out all of His commandments, but Elizabeth remained barren as they got older. However, she trusted in God and eventually God gave her a child in her old age.

What really strikes me about Elizabeth’s story is her devotion to her faith and hope in God. After giving birth to John, Elizabeth proclaims: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

Whenever I think of Elizabeth, I think of this perfect and undivided hope and trust in God. This is reassuring especially because I am at a time in my life when I am experiencing many distractions from true faith.

School, work, friends and hectic everyday life push faith to the back of my mind. I am distracted by social media, worried about grades and trying to balance everything. My prayers sometimes seem unanswered and I am tempted to push God away and disconnect myself from my faith.

Reflecting on the life of my patron saint, Elizabeth, my hope and trust in God is reassured. God has a plan for all of us, and although it may seem as if nothing is going right, everything is exactly the way it should be. I have learned that trusting in God with all of your heart and surrendering yourself to His plans is the way to live life.

My name day is a time when I not only celebrate with my family, but reflect on my faith. Looking at the life of St. Elizabeth, my patron saint, I know that God has a plan for me, and that even if things do not go the way I want them to, everything will be okay in the end.

(Chelmecki, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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