Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua. For many of us (“cradle Catholics” especially) St Anthony is the finder of lost items. When we can’t find our keys, our cell phones or even, and most especially, a treasured possession like a diamond engagement ring, the first piece of advice that is given is often: “Pray to St. Anthony.” There’s even a special prayer at such times. The version I learned was: “Something is lost and cannot be found. Dear St. Anthony, please look around.” Whether it is the prayer or the focus that it affords the searcher, there is usually a good outcome to the process!
In attributing that power to St. Anthony, we sometimes miss the amazingly gifted man that he was. There’s lots to read in his biographies and much to admire – even from a quick internet search. It can seem that much of his life was serendipitous as he responded to calls from others and from events that led him to new paths – e.g. preaching at a service when the scheduled preacher fell ill that convinced all listeners (himself included) that he was an inspired conduit of the word of God. Upon reflection, however, it is clear that Anthony was simply always alert to the will of God and attentive to the voice of God’s Spirit in the events of his life.
The adage, “Nothing happens by chance” comes to mind as a thought for the day and a reminder to be on the lookout for God speaking in any moment – even catching us by surprise!