This is a “choose your own adventure” St. Anthony article, a “live dangerously!” article, or at the very least, the first ever Catholic Exchange multiple choice article.
Because there’s nothing more wonderful than friendship with the Saints (okay — friendship with Jesus, but since the Saints are united to Jesus, I’m gonna say: really the same thing)….and I can’t wait another minute to tell you that St. Anthony is waiting to befriend you.
So here are your choices:
a. Choose your own adventure . . . and ask St. Anthony to make it happen! Think “make-a-wish foundation” style wish/adventure which, since we’re all terminal, is totally appropriate, only it’s now or never so ask away! Heaven is listening on the other end of this request line, and they have even more funding than the real Make-a-Wish group, so go for it: the sky’s not even the limit!
b. Join me in the mini-est mini novena ever! I once made news here (my 15 minutes of fame) with a mini-novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It really was lovely, and maybe that’s the novena you’ll want to say. You can find it HERE. Maybe that novena will even qualify as the adventure you choose! But I promised some dangerous living here, so now I’m suggesting a mini-er novena . . . Namely one that starts when you read this and ends about a second afterward. I know, I know. “Novena” – something about 9, right? Don’t worry, I’ll give you 9. I’m thinking the haiku of novenas; or maybe I can better express my meaning by saying I’ll help you be a twit and call this the tweet of novenas? Either way, my point is that we can save the 9, no problem. How? 9 Words! Here goes:
St. Anthony, we love you a lot. Help! Please!
Or if that doesn’t work for you, I’ve got a variation with less manners, more umph. Try this:
St. Anthony, we love you a lot. Help! Now!!
I put the “we” in both so that you’re actually already included and your needs covered when another reader says this novena, so no more worrying, about anything, ever.
Whether you read this on June 13th, the day of The Saint (Il Santo in Italian, but see how that capital “I” looks awfully like the small “l”? Quite confusing!) or later, these Saints are up for anything, anytime, especially when it involves helping us get to where they are, happy in heaven forever. So don’t just ask favors for yourself – mention all those intentions that have been commended to you, those for which you have promised to pray, and the ones that you never seem to remember, but they’re always with you (an end to abortion, Heaven for the souls in purgatory, you get the idea).
And just to give you every possible option in celebration of this great feast for this great Saint: let’s not forget that all-inclusive and ubiquitous multiple choice answer:
d. All of the above!
Then, having chosen (or even if you’re still deliberating), you may want to know just a bit more about St. Anthony. In his honor, then, I’d like to give you a few frivolous facts: first, for your continued delight (since delight and Holy Days go together just as much as sweets and feasts), but also because St. Anthony really is The Wonder Worker. Since we all need a Wonder Worker now and then (or hourly), these fun facts will help you cozy up to him – as if that adorable little Jesus in his arms wasn’t enough to lure you in! Without further ado, then:
A Few Fun and Frivolous Facts about the Saint with the Lily and the Book and, best of all, Baby Jesus
1. He is called St. Anthony of Padua the world over . . . except in Portugal, and it’s a sore spot there! St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, and so the Portuguese call him “St. Anthony of Lisbon.” And if you want to get on their good side, you can do that too. I think St. Anthony is fine with any title, as long as you call on him because . . .
2. He loves to help us find lost things! I know this so well because I have long experience of his intercession in this regard. A favorite prayer to him (much longer than the novena prayer I’ve given you but almost better because it rhymes) is: Dear St. Anthony, please come around, there’s something lost that must be found! . . . Now I’m not going to whitewash the situation – he won’t necessarily find the lost item instantly. Our last lost item – my son’s glasses – were gone a whole week before he finally told me (St. Anthony, not my son) what he almost always tells me, namely, “Look in the couch.” What a card – a real joker! Because the glasses WERE NOT in the couch! They were, in fact, under it. Nonetheless, thank you once again, St. Anthony!
3. Or as the Nigerians would say: ANTO! PADUA! Because they are super-duper devoted to St. Anthony and even have a Nigerian St. Anthony Guild in his honor, among whom this is the group greeting, as it were. But what you can do (if you don’t live in Nigeria and thus have no opportunity to join his Guild) is when you have lost something, yell (or perhaps whisper, if you’ve discovered the loss in the quieter hours) “Anto!” – and if you have anyone else with you, let them know that the proper response is “Padua!” This is a great quick prayer of intercession for the finding, and works equally well as a prayer of thanksgiving when the object is restored. A kind of “Marco!” . . . “Polo!” that makes sense and doesn’t require a swimming pool.
4. And then, too, when he’s restored your lost things, you can give something to St. Anthony by giving something to the poor. This is called “St. Anthony’s bread” and means that in thanks for his helping you find your lost stuff, you give alms to the poor he so loved when on earth (and certainly has not forgotten now that he’s in heaven).
Here’s how this works: You lose your watch. You call on St. Anthony. You don’t find the watch. You really need it (or just want it back because it was your dad’s, or a gift, or cost a lot, or just helps you know what time it is!), so you say, “Okay, St. Anthony, I’ll make you a deal. Find me the watch and I’ll put $20 in the poor box at church.”
Alternately, you might offer to say a Rosary for his intentions. I’m sure Saints in heaven still have intentions – at least until we’re all there together forever. Meanwhile, there remain many more souls to save, console, convert, encourage, etc. And also keep in mind that $20 was just a suggested donation. If you’re Bill Gates reading this, 20 million might be more appropriate. If you’re the average Joe or Jolene, you might offer anything from 50 cents to 50 dollars, depending on how near or far it is from allowance day or payday.
Can you guess what happens next? You’re thinking that next thing, straight off, you find your watch. (It’s in the couch, no doubt.) Well, not so fast. In my own experience, what happens next is that I don’t find the watch. Then I re-think my offer to St. Anthony and realize I’m being kind of paltry. Can I only give this offering to the poor if he gives me back my watch? It isn’t long before I buckle – “Okay, St. Anthony, I’m going to give $20 to the poor even if you don’t find my watch, but it would be so nice if you did help me find it please.” Wouldn’t you know that’s usually when I find the watch? But then again, if it doesn’t show up for a while (I’m on my 3rd year or so of waiting for a sapphire and cubic zirconia silver ring to reappear, though don’t worry, I didn’t actually like it very much), I feel like St. Anthony and I are closer friends than before because he did pull me one step closer to Jesus with that $20 spent on the poor . . .
Just to be clear about what I’m not saying, I’ll tell you one of my favorite St. Anthony stories. One of my sons (who shall remain nameless though we all have Anthony in our names somewhere), having long known and practiced St. Anthony’s Bread, cried out one day in frustration, “Okay, St. Anthony, no more games! I don’t have time for this anymore!”
My dear boy had misunderstood when I told him that I thought (never confirmed, just a frequent suspicion) that St. Anthony sometimes puts things where they weren’t so that we’ll find them. My son’s take away was that (contrary to my opinion) St. Anthony was hiding things on him so that he’d be forced to bargain and give to the poor to get his things back!
Heaven will be so interesting, don’t you think? All will be made clear – including where that ring is (this is not going to be on the top of my “Tell me, tell me!” list when I get to the Beatific Vision, but still I wonder), and whether The Saint did, in fact, have fun mischievously hiding things as well as putting them where we’d find them once we’d lost them of our own accord. What do you think?