Many converts to Catholicism like me may have had a bit of unease about the Feast of All Saints we will celebrate soon. It wasn’t really part of my Protestant faith education, though certainly I knew the about the Communion of Saints. We just seemed more concerned with what was happening in the world in real time. And that is good, certainly, but tended to pass by the Saints in study. As I moved through RCIA in 2015, Father Slowiak asked that I consider choosing a Saint to “companion with”. And this changed my perspective completely. I hope someday to tell you about the Saint I’m companioning with.
Perhaps in this time of Pandemic and Unrest, it would be wise to look to that great Franciscan Saint, Anthony of Padua, namesake of our Center. He likely knew St. Francis of Assisi! So great are the miracles of St. Anthony-look up the miracle of the hungry mule, or how he preached to the fish at the seashore when the residents of one Italian town did not want to hear him about their erring belief…and the fish surfaced to listen, the people stunned and penitent. So many healings, mysteries, and stories surround Anthony-but most important is to remember is that Anthony seemed to find lost people and redirect them to God.
He is famously the finder of lost things of course, but he himself was lost. Blown off course in a storm, his passage on a voyage left him stranded in Sicily. God had plans for him there, for a time. I think this can speak to us right now. All of us likely feel blown off course. The Saints lived in times of epidemic, war, famine, heresy, persecution, tuberculosis, and their own internal dialogue of insecurity and doubt, even depression. Sound familiar? How did they do it? Perhaps first we need to meditate on where we are. Exactly where are we, spiritually? Are we off course in one or more dimensions of our lives?
As a volunteer at St. Anthony’s, I often think of how many have walked through these arched doors, feeling a little lost, especially myself. I try to work here in the spirit that whatever task I might be on, that it might help someone be found again. But once a year, I try to retreat here privately, and not work. All the Saints took time away, as Jesus did. I suggest that you call and arrange to do so yourself here. Rest. Walk. Meditate. It is safe here in a pandemic with just a few precautions. The Staff are happy to help. It is no small coincidence that this Center’s mission is to help people find their way. If we ourselves are the lost things, St. Anthony can help us to find our way back to greater faith.
St. Anthony of Padua, and All of the Saints, pray for us. We companion with you.
– Bruce LaCrosse