Yesterday I lost something very dear to me. Normally, I am not that passionate about material possessions. I try to stay detached so that I don’t get fixed on the “stuff” of life. But there are a few things that mean a great deal to me, and this was one of them. There was a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth yesterday (literally!), and ultimately, I remembered one of my favorite saints – St. Anthony.
I know a lot of you are not familiar with or even in favor of praying with saints. It was a practice I discovered in college. Not having grown up in a tradition that prays with saints, it seemed mildly like praying to idols. But once someone explained to me that the saints are more like companions in our prayer life – much like a dear friend who you ask to pray for you – I was able to ease my way into praying with saints. I still think there is a bit of superstition to some of the saints. St. Anthony is a classic example – he’s the patron saint of lost things. I mean, it seems a little fishy to expect a saint to magically make your stuff appear. But when you are desperate, you will try anything. Hence, the prayers to St. Anthony last night and this morning.
The truth is, I am not sure praying with St. Anthony really helps you find things. What I do know is that St. Anthony reminds you to pray – which is always a good thing. If nothing else, when we slow down enough to pray, we find a sense of peace, and are reminded that God is with us, even when we are devastated and may never find the lost things that belong to us. That prayer time also brings perspective about what is important in life, makes us question why we had not tended to prayer life in so long, and reconnects us with a real sense of gratitude – even in the midst of loss. And my prayer time with St. Anthony also reminded me of how he might be helpful the next time I lose more important things – “things of the spirit,” as you will see in the prayer below.
The good news is that the item reappeared today and all the angst I felt is gone. Now, I don’t know if St. Anthony helped. All I know is that my gratitude is deeper and more humble today, and that I am grateful for a God who sits with me in the ashes. Whether you pray with saints, with friends, or you just pray the old fashioned way, know that God longs to be in conversation with you. Slow down, pull up a chair, and draw nearer to your God.
O blessed St. Anthony, the grace of God has made you a powerful advocate in all our needs and the patron for the restoring of things lost or stolen. I turn to you today with childlike love and deep confidence. You have helped countless children of God to find the things they have lost, material things, and, more importantly, the things of the spirit: faith, hope, and love. I come to you with confidence; help me in my present need. I recommend what I have lost to your care, in the hope that God will restore it to me, if it is His holy Will. Amen.[i]