I’ve been consistently losing things since the birth of my first child—I’ve never lost her, but my mother-in-law once did at JCPenny.
Another story for another time.
I lose pretty much everything else. If not permanently, I can and have lost things for several months at a time, including a pair of my son’s shoes. (My husband found them under a jacket six months later. In my office. On my desk).
So, if we humans really do have halos, I can guarantee you that I’m the reason why they aren’t visible.
Because I’d lose it.
Like my car keys.
Every. Single. Day.
Me: “Um. Saint Anthony…”
Saint Anthony: “Really, Christina?”
I learned about Saint Anthony being the patron saint of lost things just two years ago when my daughter first sang me the prayer for it. As a lifelong lukewarm, mostly non-practicing Catholic, the saints were folks I knew of, but I didn’t understand their significance, nor did I care because I was a terrible Catholic.
Her little song went like this:
Dear Saint Anthony look around, something’s lost and can’t be found. Please help me find [insert lost item here].
It was cute, but I didn’t believe it. How can someone who’s not here find something for you?
I chalked it up to a childhood thing like Santa or the Easter Bunny. That is, until a few weeks later when I was late and couldn’t find my car keys. I had no idea where I’d dumped them when I came home because, in the midst of a kitchen remodel, we had no counters. I ran all over the house trying to find them and remembered the prayer. I half-jokingly recited what I remembered of it under my breath.
“Uh. Dear Patron Saint of lost things, I’m so sorry, but I forgot your name, and the proper prayer to ask you to help me find something, but I lost my keys and I’m short on time…aren’t we all in this life?”
I smiled to myself.
I continued to look around and when I walked across the landing to go down the stairs, I saw a glint of metal out of the corner of my eye. I froze.
“No way,” I thought to myself.
But, sure enough, there were my keys on the couch, stuffed between two cushions near a pillow. I had looked on the couch but not in between the cushions.
I stood still for what felt like a very long time.
That was silly; coincidence, that’s all it was.
Still, I whispered a quiet thank you and hurried on my way.
After that day, I ran around my house asking for missing items like the kids from Mary Poppins ran around their bedroom snapping at items to put themselves away.
And I found things.
A few weeks after the car key incident, I misplaced a bottle of lavender oil. I looked all over my bathroom, even going as far as cleaning off the entire counter to find it; I never did. After three days and an understanding that I’d have to buy a new one, I decided to look under the sink one last time. As I crouched down I said the Saint Anthony prayer and started to dig around. It wasn’t in there. As I stood up, I saw the bottle sitting on the sink.
This time, my stomach did a flip.
It hadn’t been there before.
I spent weeks trying to dismiss what happened. But despite knowing the bottle hadn’t been there, I still looked for a logical reason why I hadn’t seen it.
Maybe the bottle of oil was always there, and it didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Maybe I just didn’t have the right perspective to see it and that’s what Saint Anthony helped me with: perspective.
I realized that evening that if Saint Anthony can help me find physical items, why wouldn’t he, or any of the saints for that matter, be able to help me find perspective for my path to salvation? For me, this was suddenly a deeper lesson than finding a bottle of oil. The dots connected my daughter’s simple prayer to an even simpler concept of “ask and ye shall receive.”
Ask for your car keys. Ask for patience. Ask for help overcoming an addiction. Ask for help loving others and overcoming faults. Ask for prayers. We ask family and friends to pray for us all the time. Why not ask the people who devoted their lives to getting to the place we all desire to be? If I could ask Saint Anthony to help me find a lost cat or a misplaced pair of mittens, why wouldn’t I ask Saint Francis to help me find peace? For him to intercede for me so that I can grow in humility to be a better neighbor and a better servant? I know I can’t do it by myself.
After the oil bottle, I decided to take the Saint Anthony prayer a little more seriously. I use it sparingly these days, and only for things that I really need. I think it’s a little nicer way of asking:
“O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request). O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.”
I have since gone on to research saints for other issues I come across. There are so many saints, everything is covered. It’s like heaven is equipped with a one-stop-shop support team for your personal eternal salvation. Each saint has a special intercessory prayer for all of us at various points in our lives. I’ve found a few saints who specialize in things that I struggle with the most, and it’s all thanks to Saint Anthony.
Sure, he saved me some time and money, but he also helped me find something I didn’t even know was lost: the grace of friends in high places who are selfless, and ready to serve for no other reason than to will my good, to love and be loved by me, and most importantly, help me learn to love God. After all, we are in this all together.
Dear Saint Anthony look around, something’s lost and can’t be found. Please help me find my grace, salvation, and path to becoming better in this life so I am worthy of the next.
Originally published January 28, 2019.