St. Anthony of Padua, Come Around — Something’s Lost and Can’t Be Found
If my little boy knows St. Anthony can help him find his lost dog, then I hope he’ll know St. Anthony can help him if he ever loses his way in the faith
One of my more whimsical pastimes is imagining the scene when my time on earth is done and I’m (God willing) meeting the angels and saints in heaven. I know of course that one mustn’t presume such a reunion, but it is a glorious thought to entertain, and let us remember that sainthood is always the goal — so for now I will indulge this particular daydream and imagine finally meeting the holy men and women who have been praying for me and cheering me on throughout my life.
I imagine fangirling over St. John Paul II and St. Edith Stein and weeping in gratitude for St. Margaret of Scotland’s great example and influence. But the saint I always see most clearly in my mind is St. Anthony of Padua, and I never picture a joyous reunion. I picture the 13th-century friar and Doctor of the Church ducking his head to stay out of sight and saying, “Oh, no — not her again.”
You see, of all my friends in heaven who I have come to know and love, St. Anthony is by far the one whom I pester the most. The patron of finding lost things, he is often called upon in my home. Keys, jobs, houses, pets — again and again, we ask for his help, and without fail he shows up for us.
Far more important than the various important misplaced papers or lost earring that he has helped me find, St. Anthony has already become a friend to my little children. My husband and I are always striving to make our Catholic faith come alive in our family. We love our liturgical traditions and every evening we invoke our family’s saints in our own little litany during bedtime prayers. We teach our children that the saints are not just holy men and women who lived long ago, but they are friends now in heaven who are always listening when we ask them for help, and who are praying for us to make it to heaven too.
In this venture, St. Anthony is such a gift. He was a young man when he chose to give up a life of wealth to become a servant of God. Prevented by illness from pursuing missionary work, St. Anthony adopted a quiet life in a small hermitage where he eventually became known and respected for his humility, piety and scholarship. He was a man who knew to constantly put aside his own dreams for his life and to ask the Holy Spirit to use him as he willed. St. Anthony became a respected teacher and theologian among the friars, often called upon to correct those who had fallen away from the Church and her teachings and sacraments.
My sons do not yet know much about this great saint’s life, but they know that he is the friend in heaven they can reach out to when they have lost something they love. When our dog runs off (again) my 4-year-old cries out, “St. Anthony can you bring Belle back?” And when the canine in question comes loping back after her jaunt about the neighborhood, my son throws his head back, shouting, “Thank you, St. Anthony!”
During one eventful shopping trip, I left my keys in the store. While retracing my steps, children in tow, I asked them to “ask St. Anthony to help Mommy find her keys,” and they dutifully (and loudly) complied, to the bemusement of our fellow shoppers. When one of our loved ones is on the hunt for a job we pray as a family, asking St. Anthony’s intercession. (I know, it’s not technically a “lost” thing, but the good saint has proven himself not to discriminate on what things he will help find, including employment.) For my children, St. Anthony is not a great Doctor of the Church, though we will explain that in time, but he is their friend who helps them when they need him.
The Communion of Saints is one of the great gifts of our Catholic faith. We have a bevy of holy cheerleaders who have finished the race and now stand to encourage their teammates in the Church Militant. I want my children to know and love these holy men and women. I want them to know of their struggles and to be inspired by their lives. I want them to know they can call on them for help with the little things, like lost keys, and the big things, like growing in virtue in a world that so often values vice. If my little boy knows he can ask St. Anthony when he has lost his dog, then I hope he will also know that he can ask St. Anthony to help him if he ever loses his way in the faith. And God willing, I will someday be able to thank St. Anthony in person for the big and the little things that he has helped our family find.
St. Anthony, pray for us!
- st. anthony of padua