Five years ago, I heard about a couple of other women praying to St. Anne for her intercession that they would, “find a man, as fast as we can!” One woman in particular, I had heard, had met her then-fiance (now husband) after praying the St. Anne Novena. It didn’t take me too long to decide I wanted to pray it, too, and that maybe I would also find a good Catholic man to date.
I was very committed to the novena, and each morning, I would take the novena prayers with me to the chapel and I would sit up in the very front and pray to meet my future spouse. It was the very first novena I had ever prayed. I had never really even heard about novenas before then.
I wasn’t very patient, but I was diligent (still am!)… and looking back, it definitely paid off.
On my way out of the chapel sometime during the novena, I remember beginning to notice that there was a man sitting in one of the pews in the very back of the church, praying. I also remember thinking to myself that I had hoped to meet someone like him someday — someone who was up early, praying, before work. Someone who, like me, was starting their day with prayer. That was a good sign of a good man!
As God would have it (and St. Anne, too!), I met my husband John-Paul just a couple of weeks after I finished the novena, and it turned out that he was the guy I kept seeing sitting in the back of the chapel praying. I was a radio reporter covering a 40 Days for Life campaign, and I ended up interviewing him for my story.
One year after that, we prayed the St. Anne Novena together as we celebrated being together for one year, and just a little more than a year after that, we prayed the Nativity of Mary Novena leading up to September 8, 2012, our wedding day.
So as you can imagine, I have a bit of a devotion to St. Anne, and her daughter, our Blessed Mother Mary (my name is Ann Marie!). They are truly the kind of mother-daughter duo we all should try to emulate! And their prayers? So very powerful, as they love us so very much!
And since I prayed my very first novena through St. Anne’s intercession, my life has been transformed and my heart has continually been renewed.
Through all of my prayers, I have grown in patience — the patience that Saint Anne exemplified throughout her life while she waited for the Lord to answer her very own prayers to have a child.
And I have learned to trust more in God’s timing and in His will for my life, and His will for my heart, as I’m sure St. Anne also had to do. No wonder Mary knew how to trust so well; she learned it from her mama!
Ultimately, learning these things opened my heart and my mind to pray for something more than what I wanted… but to pray for what God wanted; for His will in my life. And as Saint Anne’s prayers were answered through patience, diligence and trust, some of mine have also been answered throughout the years — like when I met John-Paul.
I do continue to have prayers that have been seemingly unanswered, but I have begun to understand better that His answers and His timing are perfect. So I wait. I wait with hope in my heart, because I would rather live out His answers to my prayers than try to take control myself.
There have certainly been times I have felt let down, times when I’ve been disappointed, and times when I didn’t understand. I know St. Anne can relate!
Throughout all of that, I’ve continued to ultimately trust that it will be okay… and it has. After all, can you imagine how many times St. Anne felt disappointed to find she was not pregnant? God’s answer to her prayer for years was, “Not yet,” but all the while, she probably thought he was saying, “No.”
Waiting for His answers and His timing is difficult, but I see His will for my life being revealed to me little by little, and I cling to those pieces of truth as He gives them to me. And when I think I’m hearing God say, “No,” or, “Not yet,” I am consoled that, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29).
These are the things I’ve learned from our dear grandmother, St. Anne.
I’ve learned to continue to go to prayer with all my heart — on good days and bad, and to continue to wait, to continue to have hope, and most of all — to continue to love, and all the more fully. Because God is good.