Thank Heaven for Saints



St. Anthony is our favorite Saint. He is the patron saint of lost things, and in our home, his help in finding lost things is pretty much a full time job.

With three boys in the household, and two muddle-addled parents trying to remember what it was like when we grew up; there are countless opportunities to invoke St. Anthony to provide an assist to our family in day-to-day activities.

In our household, there are certain things that go AWOL on a routine basis:

Library cards: There’s nothing like taking your child to the library to withdraw a book required for an important school project and, lo and behold, your child has lost his library card. So, you withdraw the books using your own card and admonish him to ask St. Anthony to find his own card.

Library books on loan: After St. Anthony has helped the child in question find his library card, said child will find that his library books on loan — the ones on loan on my library card — are lost. So, we pray to St. Anthony that we will find the books before the library’s prayers to St. Recoup — the patron saint of collection agencies — are answered and I find myself in the library’s bad books.

Bank books: When we find the lost library books and return them to the library, the child in question always seems to be strapped for cash to pony up the late book fees. I pay the late fees and we walk on over to the bank right next to the library so the child in question can repay me the late fees. This is when the child confesses that he has lost his bankbook and cannot remember his account number. So on the way home we pray through gritted teeth to St. Anthony to help us find the lost bankbook. St. Anthony always comes through (Saints are like that) with the lost bankbook, but for some reason, doesn’t seem to work as effectively on the lost memory of the child when I remind him that he owes me the late fees.

School books: If I had a nickel for every time one of my children called home after they have arrived at school to ask me to look for a school book they forgot at home, I would have a great many nickels. “Where is the book?” I ask. “Um, I don’t know. I think it might be in my room…or in the den…or in the family room…or in the bathroom,” they always reply. My reply is always, “So you lost it. Say a prayer to St. Anthony while I go look for it, and say a prayer to St. Endurance, the patron saint of patience while you’re at it.”

Important papers from school: These are the papers that need to be signed by a parent to give our permission for a child to go on a field trip that he absolutely must positively (if-I-don’t-go-I’ll-be-a-pariah-in-my-class) have filled out right now. Of course, the child only remembers this three seconds before the school bus picks him up, and the Important Papers are in his room…or in the den…or etc.

Random stuff: Fill in the blank with the correct answer:

Mom/Dad, I can’t find my ______

a) Bicycle helmet

b) Skate boarding helmet

c) Bicycle

d) Skate board

e) House keys

f) Wallet

g) Soccer uniform

h) Nintendo game boy/game cartridge/controller/memory card/cheats

i) All of the above

If you answered anything other than “All of the above,” then to be brutally honest, you are living in a parallel universe where children do not lose things.

But praying to the Saints always works. Just like it did when my youngest son’s new hamster went missing. The hamster was his birthday present from my sister Marjorie who has temporarily sacrificed her status as preferred sister.

A few weeks after the hamster arrived, she got out of her cage somehow and was lost. The same day she went missing, Max the wonder dog spent a great deal of time making that awful coughing sound that seems to originate in the tip of a dogs tail, and makes its way from there until it emerges from their mouth sounding something like “hwark.”

We feared the worst. We prepared our son by intoning that Max the wonder dog might have thought his hamster was a chew toy. My wife and I prepared for the dreaded “stool inspection.” We all prayed that St. Anthony would help us find the hamster one way or another.

In the meantime, my wife and I would spend our time glowering at the dog and he would respond by slinking guiltily off to a corner in complete confusion.

But after a couple of days, no “sign” of the hamster turned up. I happened to be going upstairs when I caught Max the “blunder” dog creeping out of my son’s room with what appeared to be a Beanie Baby in his mouth. When he saw me, he dropped what was in his mouth and it scampered back into my son’s bedroom.

“The hamster. It’s alive! Quick, come help me catch it,” I yelled downstairs to my wife. After a few minutes of panicked hamster catching, we had the hamster safely back in its cage.

You never know what to expect when you pray to a saint. St. Anthony used our falsely accused dog to ferret out the hamster. So we thanked him and praised Max about what a gooood doggie he was for finding the hamster.

Saints be praised!

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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