I first met St. Anthony about ten years ago. I was hiking Mount Robson with a Catholic friend and just before we turned into our tent for the night, I lost something. I dug through my pack and looked all around the area where we’d cooked supper, but I couldn’t find it. As I got more and more frustrated, my friend suggested that I ask St. Anthony to help me.
At the time, I had a strong Protestant opinion about praying to saints, but I managed to bite my tongue and keep it to myself. She prayed anyways, and a minute later I found what I was looking for.
A few weeks back, my husband called me one evening as I was staring around our living room trying to see where on earth I would have put a blue binder. It had to be in that room somewhere, I knew, and how could something that big just disappear? As I grumbled into the phone, he suggested that I ask St. Anthony to help me. I didn’t answer—now being Catholic myself—and he prayed quickly. That was when I spotted the binder on the shelf, neatly stacked beside some books it was related to.
This weekend, we were visiting friends and had ordered pizza in. When the pizza arrived, they couldn’t find their bank card. Nor could they find the keys to the car to see if the bank card had gotten left there. We searched around the house, trying to remember what we’d done when we got there and where the keys and card might have gotten put. The pizza girl waited patiently. Again, my husband thought of praying to Saint Anthony. And when, two minutes after that, we found the keys and the card sitting together on the stairs, he was quite pleased with this further proof that saints help us.
He told our friends I wouldn’t pray because of superstition, which I denied—I’m not superstitious. It did make me think about why I’m not comfortable with asking a saint for help. Maybe part of it is my independent nature—I’m stubborn about doing things myself and not asking for help. I think, however, it’s more a feeling that such things are minor and I shouldn’t be bothering a saint—or God—over them. I’m the one who lost something because of my forgetfulness or disorganization, so I should solve it on my own. I feel like those in heaven might be busy with bigger problems.
Or maybe it’s still lingering Protestant feelings about praying “to” the saints, though my husband has over and over explained that we don’t pray “to” them. We just ask them to pray for us, as we’d ask another friend (on earth) to pray for us. Still, asking St. Anthony to pray that I find a binder that I know is somewhere in a small living room seems a bit trivial.
And yet doesn’t God tell us that He counts the hairs on our heads and not even a sparrow can fall without Him noticing? So maybe it isn’t so trivial. Maybe there’s a reason He designated one person to be in charge of praying for things lost.
Addendum: I’ve since learned from the Holy Heroes Glory Stories that St. Anthony is the patron saint of things lost because he was passionate about finding and reaching lost souls for Christ. He was a missionary and one of the Church’s greatest teachers. So if you ask St. Anthony to help you find something you’ve lost, also ask him to help reach someone who is lost.