By Anthony English, (written in 2005, but worth enjoying again)
Those of us who have a propensity to absent-mindedness occasionally find it leads to little inconveniences. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit detached from some of the practical details of life (I like to call it the “professor syndrome”) but it does lead to a little bit of forgetfulness and, let’s admit, losing things. Losing things means losing time, and that calls for action.
It’s a funny thing when you lose something. A thorough search of the house is rarely the way you find it, and if you do end up locating it, it’s always in the very last place you look. (Why is it always like that?) Sometimes, though, it just isn’t there. Obviously, supernatural help is usually more likely to lead to success. There are two approaches here: one is the ascetic, the other is more mystical.
The ascetic approach to lost items can be summed up in one word: detachment. Convince yourself that whatever it is you lost is really not that important. Perhaps it can be replaced, but maybe the world will still turn without it. If, on the other hand, the missing object is the sort of thing you wished you’d grabbed as you escaped from your burning house, then a more mystical approach is for you.
When you can’t find something which you really, truly need, you can call on God’s helper. Saint Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of finding lost things. That traces back to a time he lost a treasured hand-written commentary on the psalms. One of the novices had left the monastery, tired of the religious life, and taken the book with him. Saint Anthony prayed fervently for the salvation of the novice thief, who returned repentant, begging for readmission to the order.
Being absent-minded myself and being named after Saint Anthony means I tend to call on him often. The results can be amazing. Over the last couple of days, my son Thomas (not yet three years old) and his Dad have been praying for two things which have gone missing. One was a little toy caravan, the other a security card for work. (In case you were wondering, Thomas was looking for the caravan). We asked Saint Anthony with our favourite prayer:
Great Saint Anthony,
Pillar of grace,
Put the [missing item]
Back in its place.
We started looking, without success, then Mum announced she’d lost a cooking appliance. (This appliance wasn’t something large and obvious, like an oven. Anyway, after recent kitchen renovations things are still popping up, like the toaster.) Once I started looking again, I found first the appliance, then the caravan straight afterwards. As for the security card I felt a kind of supernatural hint “I wonder if it’s near that book.” I hadn’t even thought of looking there before. We found the three items all within five minutes. It was wonderful! Thomas and I went to thank Saint Anthony for his intercession, once we found his statue.
Photo Help by Simon Howden/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net