December 2 – Day Eight
By Beblon G. Parks, Member at Large - Social Justice, NECW Board
"Tony, Tony, come around, something's lost and must be found! If I have recited this little verse once, I've recited it a thousand times. It is a childish plea to Saint Anthony, the Patron Saint of Lost Things. I have often called upon this saint because, it seems, I am forever losing things. I have lost everything from my driver's license to the keys that were "just in my hand a minute ago!" I once lost a $10 bill. My best friend got so tired of me lamenting that loss that she placed a $10 bill in a beautiful brass box with a note that read, “I found it! So you can stop looking for it.”
In case you’re not familiar with this saint, here’s some background information on him. Saint Anthony of Padua, who lived from 1195 to 1231, is also known as "Doctor of the Church." As recorded in the book, Saints: Ancient and Modern by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua, he was so revered in his lifetime that "he was canonized within a year of his death, the second quickest canonization in Church history." Saint Anthony is the Patron Saint of Lisbon Portugal, Padua, amputees, barren women, the poor, pregnant women, oppressed people, orphans, prisoners, and sailors. He is invoked for finding a husband and finding lost articles and against debt, shipwreck and starvation. In many parts of the world, Saint Anthony is so revered the people invoke his Spirit in everyday and dire circumstances.
This fall, I spent a few days in upstate New York visiting my older brother. While there, I was able to tour Our Lady of Victory National Shrine & Basilica in Lackawanna. Of the numerous beautiful and breath-taking sculptures in the basilica, one that really caught my eye was that of Saint Anthony holding a child standing on the Gospel. St. Anthony is often depicted with a Christ Child, the Gospel and/or a Lily. I have included a photograph of that sculpture that I took with this article.
When we think of the 2016 Theme for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All,” one may question how calling on St. Anthony and reciting the little prayer fits with the theme. One may also question the merits of even teaching a prayer like this one to children. While doing so may not cause Saint Anthony to miraculously appear and place the lost item in one's hand, doing so does help one reduce the sense of panic that overtakes one when the reality hits that something very important has been “lost”. It also helps one muster the self-control and reduced state of anxiety that is needed to help one focus. It also helps create the confidence one achieves at being able "to do something" in difficult times. And, if nothing else, it is a way of calming oneself after having "worked oneself into a tither.”
Targets and victims of gender-based violence often feel isolated, trapped, alone and helpless. Their dismay and feelings of helplessness are compounded when the perpetrators of and the offenses occur in a school or educational setting. As school systems grapple with the "how, when and where" to provide counseling and services related to gender-based violence and bullying prevention and intervention services, it may be helpful for students to have someone like Saint Anthony to call upon in times of distress. Faith can move mountains and in one account, St Anthony is said to have stopped the rain, raised the dead and reattached severed limbs.
Reciting the little prayer to Saint Anthony and calling on his grace to help at times of distress and isolation may seem like a stretch but ask yourself, What could it hurt to have a plan for calming oneself enough to focus? If reciting this little prayer can help a young lady or young man in times of crisis so that they may think more clearly, I believe it would be very fitting for them to be able to do so.
In closing, I leave you with a formal prayer to Saint Anthony also found in the book, Saints: Ancient and Modern.
Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua
Holy Saint Anthony, gentle and powerful in your help, Your love for God and charity for His creatures, Made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, Which you were always ready to request for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me [request here]. The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of miracles. Gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart is ever full of human sympathy, Take my petition to the Infant Savior for whom you have such a great love, and the gratitude of my heart will be ever yours. Amen.
Reference: Saints: Ancient & Modern by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua, Viking Studio, published by the Penguin Group, 2007, pages 94-99.