Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Si quaeris miracula

Si quaeris miracula...

"If thou seekest miracles
..." So starts the responsary for St. Anthony of Padua, invoked by Catholics for 700 years as the saint who could see that lost things were found. I like the traditional prayer -- composed by a contemporary of the good friar -- far better than the bouncy rhyming versions that seem more popular in this century:
Tony, Tony,
look around.
Something's lost
and must be found!
This morning, when I sat down to work on the book, I went to pull out the current version of the outline for the book, which I've scribbled notes all over and which I did NOT have a copy of. (Yes, I know. There are two kinds of users, those who've lost data, and those who will. Back-up.) No, I didn't re-file it. No, I didn't accidently clip it to any of the research notes I'd been working on on Friday. (Can you hear me getting more frantic?) After I found myself searching the recycling bin, I got a grip and decided that it would either resurface or not, but that I could better spend this time writing rather than rummaging. If it didn't resurface, the jottings were all in my brain, I shouldn't worry. (Right.)

I settled down to write, and did have a productive day. But as I headed out to a doctor's appointment late this afternoon, abandoning the debris of the day on my desk, I thought of my mother, who would have said, "pray to St. Anthony." (She, too, did not favor the rhymes.) Part of me thought it silly to pray to find the outline, by no measure -- even in my own life -- is it a tragedy or rises to the level of necessitating divine intervention. Still, when last I met with Patient Spiritual Director, we had a conversation about praying for one's own needs, as well as the needs of others. Any grace that might come my way as a result, was not depriving anyone else. Perhaps I could practice what was preached. So I briefly turned my thoughts to St. Anthony and asked that he might intercede with the Lord God in retrieving the outline from whatever dimension it might have fallen into, and headed out the door to see my doctor.

An hour later, I'm back in my study, shifting gears from writing to course prep. As I pick up the folder with my notes for the current chapter, what do I find neatly placed underneath it? The outline. I swear I picked that folder up multiple times. All I can think is that it must have been stuck to the bottom of the folder...but I offered a brief thanks to Anthony nonetheless!

And today is Tuesday - which is the traditional day to petition St. Anthony in Padua (not that I knew that before I sat down to write this....).

Why is St. Anthony the patron of lost items? It would seem a disgruntled novice left the monastery, taking with him St. Anthony's psalter. Not only was the book itself valuable, but it contained St. Anthony's handwritten notes for his conferences and sermons (sound familiar). After fervent prayer for the psalter's return, the contrite novice brought it back.

And while I'm at it -- why Tuesday? It's the day they brought his body back to Padua, where he had wanted to be.

Responsary of St. Anthony

If, then, thou seekest miracles,
Death, error, all calamities,
The leprosy and demons flee,
The sick, by him made whole, arise.

Ant: The sea withdraws and fetters break,
And withered limbs he doth restore,
While treasures lost are found again,
When young or old his help implore.

All dangers vanish from our path,
Our direst needs do quickly flee:
Let those who know repeat the theme:
Let Paduans praise St. Anthony. (repeat antiphon)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. (repeat antiphon)

V. Pray for us, O blessed Anthony,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


  1. Praying for a specific need, especially of my one, is rather difficult. It doesn't come tripping out over my tongue like other intercessions do.

    Your lovely article brought to mind that this is MY problem, not God's.

    God has shown me in innumerable ways that He wants to be part of my life, every part of my life, every part of my day. Even the needs (or so that suggests).

    If I block God out of my needs, that is ME turning away from an abundant offering.


    Now, why would I want to do that?? :)

    Thank you for a wonderful meditation topic!


  2. Cindy - I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, or that I'm the only one meditating on it. This is definitely a draft for next week's column, I suspect.

    When I told Patient Spiritual Director that it had dawned on me that I wasn't depriving those who were more in need of grace, by asking for help, he dryly responded, "If you hadn't figured it out, you were about to hear it from me."

    I wonder if the tension is that we fear if we add ourselves to our list of intentions that we will somehow pray less fervently for others; that it will ever so slightly cloud our vision as we look outward?

  3. I'm not sure, Michelle, maybe.

    For me it feels more like the way I have healed so much of my self-esteem issues: God reveals to me in slow, gentle and intimate ways that I would never say to another human being the hateful, derogatory things I say to my reflection in the mirror.

    So, why do that to myself? I may be the last one on my list of care and compassion. Where I look to others for opportunities to help and serve, I look at myself and see "not ___ enough."

    As I meditate on the intercessory process, and adding my own needs to the prayers I send to God, I wonder if I'm doing the same kind of thing... the essence of past self-destruction... by keeping myself from the healing love of God.

    Something I would never do to another human being.

    It's a vicious kind of false humility. Especially when I'm talking about the deep, loving prayer life that is opening up for me.

    Sort of like I took a decent character trait - humility - and turned the volume on it up so loud that it becomes hurtful to me.

    Hmmm... something to think about!

    Thank you.