Sunday, February 27, 2011

St. Anthony's Gifts

I attended a community pasta dinner last night and had occasion to sit with a local 90+ year old "celebrity" known for his boundless energy and unselfish service to our country, our community and our schools. Our conversation ran the gamut from Pearl Harbor, where he was stationed during the infamous attack, to the city's Memorial Day celebration and our respective trips to Italy.

When I mentioned that during my second trip I stayed in Padua instead of Venice, his eyes lit up as I spoke of making multiple visits to St. Anthony's wonderful basilica and spending time in the gift shop and in the presence of his relics. What is it about this gentle Franciscan saint that touches so many people, myself included?

I have handled countless medals of St. Anthony embracing and being embraced by the Christ Child, and every one of them exudes love, devotion and surrender. Most depict Jesus sitting on St. Anthony's arm, but I especially love the scarce, older renderings with little Jesus standing on St. Anthony's lap. Some are a bit crude, but they still convey the deep, intimate connection between them... something we all strive for through our prayers and deeds.

St. Anthony's unique and miraculous power to inspire through oration seems diminished by his more familiar association with finding lost objects. However it is with his help, sitting in his church with fellow pilgrims, that I reconnected with the truth of my spirituality and "found myself" during a troubled time in my life.

What has St. Anthony helped you find today?

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