St. Anthony, please look around; something is lost and must be found.

Prayer for St. Anthony

What could be more crippling, more terrifying and more debilitating than losing one’s confidence? Imagine having trusted someone with something that was very important to you; and that person let you down. And they didn’t do it once. They did it over and over again.

Later on, you discover that they were keeping secrets from you. Deep, dark and terrible secrets. I once met a lady who told me that she left the church because although she’d been pious her whole life, she had been badly hurt by the doctrine. She ended up questioning the entire ethos of her faith.

At times I have even wondered, if religion is the biggest obstacle to finding God, the Light, the Universal Love and all that is good about life.

Often times, we pray and we ask for something. We receive signs and symbols that point us in the direction we need to go. Today, when I shut my eyes and prayed, I saw the statue of St. Anthony looking down at me. I wondered why it was him I saw. I did what I normally do in those circumstances, I looked it up and wondered–what is he the Patron Saint for?

The Catholic Church believes in what they call ‘the intercession of the Saints’. It is a form of ancestral veneration that is common to all cultures that I know of. Depending on the ancestor that appears to you, there’s a very specific message they want to give you; and it’s usually tied to something that they are known for.

Sometimes we pray and we don’t even know what answer it is that we’re seeking. Or we’re expecting a particular answer and we get another response. We always always get an answer, but it isn’t usually the one that we’re seeking.

St. Anthony of Padua was born into a wealthy family, like many other saints were; including St. Francis Xavier. And yet, they both gave it all up to join the Church. Sometimes we need to do just that. Lose something to gain something far more valuable. We never know where our life’s journey is going to take us.

St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost and stolen articles. His intercession is believed to return something or even someone that is lost and stolen to you. During his life, St. Anthony was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher. He’s usually portrayed holding the baby Jesus, a lily or a book in his arms. The story goes that once a novice monk stole his psalter. St. Anthony prayed that it would be returned to him; and it did.

Baby Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua (1656) by Elisabetta Sirani

Sometimes the items that we’ve lost–it’s not about how much it cost or its face value, but what it meant to us. We can replace the item, yes–but we can’t replace the meaningful place that item or person had in our heart. If you’ve ever been let down by a friend or anyone close you’ve trusted; the real loss is the loss of confidence that we must grapple with.

Even if you do forgive that person, will you trust that person ever again? Or will you be forced to live with a broken heart if you choose to stay? That is the real decision, perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, the decision is to gain back your confidence so that you can trust again and love again.

Over and over, I see couples, friendships, cousins–any relationship, you name it–people get caught up in punishing each other. I’ve always thought that you were better off making a clean break and giving life, love and all those golden opportunities another chance.

But then I realised that the space that that person once held in your heart is completely empty. And sometimes the hurt is so bad that you don’t even know if anyone else will ever be able to fill it. Suddenly, the whole, “There are many golden opportunities in life,” mantra turns into, “It’s all over and I can’t be bothered anymore. I don’t want to try anymore.”

The real loss, then, is not only losing our faith and our confidence in someone we once loved. It is also in all the future losses that we have never even had the chance to have.

Sure, once bitten, twice shy and so on… But if your ability to move on has been debilitated, then it really is over. You may even punish the next person who comes into your life.

So in addition to lost items, perhaps, the prayer may just be to restore our confidence so that we love again, live again and breathe again.

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