It's True: St. Anthony Totally Rocks

Arnold Böcklin, “St. Anthony Preaching to the Fishes” (1892)
Arnold Böcklin, “St. Anthony Preaching to the Fishes” (1892) (photo: Public Domain)

I had a conversation with my daughter Laura the other day that made me pause and think. She was expressing concern over misplacing her iPod, which is essential to her because it has the music she needs to teach ballet classes. She called to see if it had fallen out of her purse in my car. She said that she had been saying prayers to St. Anthony all morning. Suddenly, in the middle of the conversation, she remembered placing it in her duffel bag. I could almost see her jump for joy. She shouted, “Oh thank God, I found it! St. Anthony totally rocks, Mom!”

This statement spoke volumes to me. I had a flashback to when I was diagnosed with cancer and she led the cause to say Rosaries for my returned health. I started remembering a few other times when she needed a quick prayer — especially when she was young and did competitive figure skating. Sometimes before a competition she would ask me if we could say a quick “Hail Mary” before going out on the ice. There was the time she was in New York, about to go on stage to dance with a partner, and she was nervous. Instead of telling her to “break a leg” we agreed a quick prayer was needed. Occasionally, she would call me on her way to a test in college and ask if we could share morning prayer together. I remembered when she lost an assignment in her dorm room and she panicked. She, of course, went to St. Anthony again for a quick prayer. In the middle of explaining this incident she sighed with relief and said, “I found it! Yes, St. Anthony is the man!”

When she lost a friend from a car accident in her senior year of high school we prayed together a lot that year. We prayed that she would always hold his friendship dear to her.

Basically, her comment about St. Anthony made me realize that somewhere in her upbringing she learned about the power of prayer. Obviously, she must have picked up somewhere along the way that when you’re in need it’s OK to ask the saints and Mother Mary for their intercession, and for Jesus to guide you.

My oldest daughter, Chrissie, lives in Pennsylvania with her three daughters. She calls often to share her excitement over the girls making their first Communion, or starring in the Christmas pageant at their parish, or letting me know that they are praying for her dad’s recovery from one of his illnesses. We love sharing stories about the girls getting excited after discovering that God is there for them when they need Him.

As parents we worry whether the important lessons will stick. We worry about the mistakes we made — and yes, admit it, we all make mistakes parenting — and we pray that these mistakes aren’t too costly. We wonder if the things we all need in life to help us cope were shared with our children. Obviously, we wish they could be happy and healthy all the time. But if you have lived long enough, you know that being happy and healthy doesn’t always become reality.

Even when you work hard doing all the right things — eating healthy, exercising, swimming, running, walking — things will happen that will bring us to our knees. But bringing us to our knees is what helps us all on our path back to God. Consequently, learning to call on God for help is not just an important lesson in life — it’s the most critical of them all.

So, pardon me if I smile with pride. Laura called again to tell me of her excitement that her little girl learned some prayers at her Catholic preschool and wants to say them all the time. She was so happy when telling me this. I knew exactly how she felt.

So, to all the saints, Mother Mary and Jesus who are always there for us, I can only say to you: You totally rock!