Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Retirement Issues - Patron Saint of Retirees

Retirees have to face a lot of challenges. It seems only fair that we should have a patron saint to guide us and to look out for our interests. I did some research to see if there might already be a patron saint of retirees, but apparently not. This is surprising, considering that there are saints for everything from button makers (Louis IX) to hemorrhoids (Fiacre) to the Internet (Isidore of Seville.)

Oh sure, there are patrons for many of the ailments from which retirees often suffer. You’ve got Ulric for vertigo, and Vitus for oversleeping (not to be confused with Casanova, for sleeping over.) There’s even Werenfridus for stiff joints; (try saying his name three times fast without spraying spittle onto your companion.) Speaking of stiffs, there’s Stephen the Martyr, patron saint of casket makers, probably a good one for a retiree to stash in a prayer Rolodex. You might also want to have Saint Christopher on speed dial to assure safe driving into your dotage.

Some ailments have more than one saint you can pray to for relief; there’s five of them to listen to the pleas of the hearing impaired, for example, and a wealth of choices (eighteen in all) to receive prayers against impoverishment. But look for just one to handle the concerns of retirees and your search comes up empty. Is this really so much to ask?

There are some saints that respond to prayers for an impressive assortment of seemingly unrelated causes. Take John of God, whose patronage extends from heart ailments to alcoholism, but also covers booksellers, firefighters, and hospital workers. Bonaventure is that rarity among patron saints, a specialist; you’ll want to call on him to untangle bowel disorders.

The closest saint I could come up with for retirees was Anthony of Padua, patron of the elderly. He’s actually best known for locating lost items, a skill that undoubtedly will come in handy as we move into our golden years. But Anthony already has a list of other causes that would be a handful for even the most experienced saint. Shipwrecks, starvation, sterility, animals, sailors, harvests, paupers, and the oppressed, to name just the more noteworthy ones. No, Anthony must be one busy dude already. He’s not likely to have the share of mind available to process the prayers of all the retirees that the baby boom would drop on him.

My husband suggested that FDR would make a great patron saint, because he started Social Security, or alternatively LBJ, because of Medicare—both critical programs in the lives of retirees. I explained to him that in order to be declared a saint, the deceased must be able to take credit for some miracles. While creating Social Security and Medicare may have been miracles in their own right, it doesn’t seem likely that people would be comfortable praying to FDR or LBJ to perform miracles in the afterlife. Instead of a halo, their saintly images would no doubt include a ring of cigar smoke over their head. Not to mention, can we be sure they’re really up there in heaven and not in… well, you know.

I think a good candidate would be Ethyl Percy Andrus, the founder of AARP. Talk about having the interests of retirees front and center. Fittingly, she died in 1967, the year that the current batch of about-to-be-retirees graduated from college. Since holy folks sometimes take new names in their sainthood, I propose we dub her Saint Aarpitus, to commemorate the organization she started. We still have to deal with that pesky question of post-death miracles. If any of you have something related to retirement that you feel like praying about, by all means, direct your pleas to Ethyl. If things turn out well for you, let me know, but be sure to have notarized witness statements available for review.

I hate to sound pessimistic—it’s not my normal nature, but I think we should have a back up plan on this. So, until Aarpitus is canonized, I’m going to direct my retirement-related prayers to Saint Jude. I had a bulk rate plan with him during my college years; he’s the patron saint of lost causes. When it comes to most things related to retirement, you can’t get more appropriate than that.

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