I have struggles with faith. I don’t exactly make a secret of it, but I don’t talk about it ad nauseam either. Who wants to hear that? But something worth noting about struggling with faith is how every little bone that gets thrown your way makes a difference. And sometimes, it’s the little things — the little miracles especially — that matter most.
Take, for example, my relationship with St. Anthony. Now, I say “relationship” because that’s really how it works. Everyone who believes in the Communion of Saints has different relationships with different saints just like we do with different people in our lives. I have no idea why. For example, as a dad and in general a guy trying to do the whole purity thing even before that, I’ve long had a devotion to St. Joseph. Still do. And yet, I get the feeling that he just. doesn’t. care. My novenas and prayers to him never seem to get answered. We’ve settled on a sort of detente, but I don’t know what his beef with me is. St. Jude, on the other hand, has been fantastic. When we were SOL and about to run out of food and shelter, he came through in a big way. I named the boy my wife was pregnant with at the time after him as a big “Thank You.”
And then, there’s St. Anthony. The guy is just…amazing. I don’t understand how he works. And I’ve honestly never looked up his origin story (you know, about how he got his super power that allows him to help you find things you’ve lost) and I’m fine with that. I don’t care if there’s some Kryptonian voodoo involved or if one time he found some fish for St. Francis or what have you. It works.
Speaking of that…
I went looking for a picture of St. Anthony that I actually liked (most of them involved him looking fairly girlish, holding a paschal lamb.) Then I found this one ^. So of course, I had to imagine the dialogue in the scene:
St. Anthony: “This guy may have the stigmata, but seriously, he’d lose his head if it wasn’t attached. Or, to use a more poignant example, these fish he got LAST WEEK.”
St. Francis: “Sorry about the smell, guys. And I didn’t lose them. I *misplaced* them. “
St. Anthony: “Whatever. And don’t say thanks to me for finding them or anything. And I have no idea how I’m going to get this stink off my hands. Antibacterial soap won’t be invented for centuries…”
OK, enough with the digression. In any event, St. Anthony is THE. MAN. He pretty much single-handedly sustains my belief that miracles exist.
I remember one time, way back in my freshman year of High School, I lost my science lab book. Now, in New York State at the time, you had to have a certain number of completed lab assignments for any Regents course (I am going from memory here, don’t fact-check me on any of this) and somehow I had lost the damn thing. It was winter time, if I recall correctly, and that means I had a LOT of lab work already in there that was my documentation for the class. I looked and looked for about a week, and finally when I couldn’t find it I put in a call to St. Anthony. The same day, I was literally sitting in my stupid, godawful Earth Science class — the most boring class in the history of ever, BTdubs — and there’s a knock at the door. It’s a school janitor.
Let’s stop right there. When has a school janitor EVER knocked on a classroom door while class was in session and nobody has emitted explosive vomit mid-way through their lesson in Iambic Pentameter? I mean, search your memory. Has this EVER happened in your life?
So anyway, this janitor knocks, and he comes in and says, “Excuse me, but I found this notebook in the hall and I was wondering if it belonged to someone in this class.” I pounced on that thing like it was the golden fleece, feeling the relief of all the work I wasn’t going to have to do-over flooding my brain with endorphins. I will neither confirm nor deny whether I kissed the man full on the mouth. But I had my binder back, and all I could think was, “YOU FOUND IT ON THE FLOOR IN THE HALL AFTER A FREAKING *WEEK*, YOU MACHIAVELLIAN CLEANING MAN?!?! YOU WOULD SWEEP UP HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS IF THEY GOT IN THE PATH OF YOUR MIGHTY DUSTMOP!! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!”
That’s one of the more notable examples. But even just this past week there have been a couple more little ones. And these are the kind that really get me. You may know what I mean.
The times when he literally puts the thought of where to look for something in your freaking head.
No lie. I was looking for the tea strainer the other day so I could rock a cup of Earl Gray, hot. Could. Not. Find. It. Anywhere. Checked the dishwasher, the drawers, the usual nooks and crannies. Zip. Zilch. Nada. So, a quick prayer to San Antoine, and suddenly it’s like the little binging sound that goes off in the airplane cabin when it’s safe to unbuckle and head for the restroom:
BING! CHECK THAT HIDDEN RACK AT THE TOP OF THE DISHWASHER THAT YOU ALWAYS FORGET IS THERE.
And sure enough, there it was.
Another time, I was in the living room looking for the flipping remote control, which is ALWAYS missing. I’m lifting couches like the Tick on vacuuming day, and no joy. So, a quick St. Anthony prayer — nothing fancy, mind you, just my patented 3 Hail Marys and a specific request — and literally, here comes the…
BING! LOOK IN THE KITCHEN.
I walk in there, and lo and behold! Right there on the kitchen island for some unfathomable reason.
Something similar happened again last night. Same remote (I know, I need an RFID tracker on it) and we looked EVERYWHERE. The living room looked like people’s apartments always do in the movies when they come back from the grocery store and the whole place has been ransacked.
Only this time, no bing. Nothing. I had no idea where the thing was. So I finally gave up, with that resigned sense I get when he doesn’t help out that tells me, “Well, this is probably happening for some inane yet eternal reason I will never grasp or begin to fathom. Maybe it’s just so I’ll keep praying these Hail Marys.” And I let it go, with the near certainty that this morning I would find it.
So of course, this morning I walk into the room, look under the same couch I looked under 10-to-the-umpteenth-power times last night, and it’s right there in front where any of us would have seen it.
Like I said. I have no idea how this works.
But it’s very cool. And it’s a reminder to me that miracles do happen, however small.
I know that those of you who are skeptics do not find this to be empirically convincing. And I’m sure it isn’t. But it’s subjectively impressive, and that’s enough for me. You have no idea how many times this happens. And I am an ADD poster child (you probably couldn’t tell by this post, amiright?) so I lose things…all the time.
I was trying to think of some pithy conclusion to this post, but that’s really all I have to say. I’m done now. Just remember, when you lose something, ask St. Anthony. Make sure you pray your 3 Hail Mary’s though. I don’t know if he donates them to the poor souls in Purgatory or what, but I never have as much luck finding things unless I say them. Often, I find them before I even finish the first prayer, but I finish the set out of gratitude. Because, you know, that requires a huge effort on my part. So that’s how I roll.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.