Saint Anthony is known for helping us to find or to recover lost things. In fact, his name is synonymous with "the finder of lost articles." Even the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on the saint mentioned: "He is especially invoked for the recovery of things lost."
Undoubtedly, we all have our favorite story regarding the saint's help in recovering our lost things. In our family, we have already lost count of his assistance.
In North America, they pray: "Dear St. Anthony, please come around. Something's been lost and can't be found." Another popular version invokes: “Tony, Tony, look around. Something's lost and can't be found." Both prayers are well rhymed and easy to remember. Although the latter may sound less respectful, nevertheless it reflects the petitioners' casual and friendly affection towards the saint.
But do you know that the saint has been aiding people in many other ways? Specifically, besides lost articles the saint has helped us also with our other needs.
The website of St. Anthony Messenger contained a column titled "readers' stories of St. Anthony's help." There the faithful thanked the saint for restoring the lost health of their loved ones. Under a headline - "St. Anthony Finds a Baby", another reader expressed gratitude for his intercession in bringing a child to her family. My wife and I also belong to this category and we thank him for helping in finding our loving grandchildren.
The generosity of the saint extends even to non-Catholics as a letter from Arizona said, "Now that I am aware of St. Anthony's graciousness, I feel it is time to thank him for his ever generous help. One doesn't need to be Catholic to believe in St. Anthony."
I recall the story of my former colleague, a young lady from Taiwan who was not a Christian. One day when we were discussing about St. Anthony, she surprised us with her account. Enrolled in a part-time business graduate course, she was not prepared for a particular examination. So she prayed to St. Anthony using the prayer card that I gave her. A few days later, the scheduled examination was cancelled due to a typhoon. Needless to say, she was flabbergasted. Non-believers told her that it was just a coincidence while others warned her not to do it again.
I believe in a more positive approach, i.e. to use the phrase "to find" rather than to emphasize the word "lost." How often do we stand before his altar and ask him to find for us peace and contentment? Or to find for us ways to strengthen our Christian marriage? Or to find joy for our family where Christ's love reigns? More than anything else, praying to St. Anthony to find Christ for us.
We often didn't realize that to find what was lost spiritually is far more important than our material losses. We should therefore pray for the saint's help in restoring a lost friend or a lost relative to the Catholic Church. Or in recovering a lost soul who had temporarily strayed into the realm of darkness. Or in asking for the restoration of lost faith for someone and that may include ourselves.
I often wonder why St. Anthony is helping people. In the "Prayers to St. Anthony for the Restoration of Things Lost or Stolen," I have found the answer. The saint would work for our petitions "if it be to the greater glory of God and to the spiritual benefit of my soul." The granted favors, whether big or small, thus direct our attention to God's glory. As for our souls, he seeks God's blessings in restoring our peace of mind and in banishing anxiety - a major obstacle to our spiritual health.
A friend questioned me: "Why would a great saint and a Doctor of the Gospel go into a petty task like seeking for a lost article?" Without a doubt, St. Anthony showed us his humility and enthusiasm in winning souls for God. In helping others and leading them to Christ, we should learn from the saint that nothing is too small or too trivial. We should gladly welcome every opportunity - no matter how little - to show that we are truly God's children.
by Ricardo Liong
March 23, 2006
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