Popular Devotions

13 Jun

“St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come around.  Something’s lost that must be found.”

As Catholics, we have a whole list of popular devotions.  They take on a whole host of activity:  prayers, novenas, good works, et cetera.  They also center around certain things.  In today’s case, they center around lost objects.

Today is the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua.  Next to St. Francis, who is remembered most especially with animals, St. Anthony has achieved the reputation as the finder of lost things.  I remember one of my secretaries from a long time ago turning to him any time that she had misplaced something.  She would go around the office mumbling, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come around.  Something’s lost that must be found.”

Sure enough, she would remember where she placed whatever it was for which she was searching and all would be right with the world again.  That is, until the next item got lost.

When I was studying with the Franciscans, we used to have St. Anthony devotions every Tuesday evening.  There is a longer prayer involved in the devotion.  Part of it read:  “The sea obeys and fetters break and lifeless limbs thou dost restore, whilst treasures lost are found again when young and old thine aid implore.”  This prayer, written by St. Bonaventure, brought the faithful closer to their favorite saint as they implored him for help.

I think that many who view Catholics and the Church from outside think that we are a little bit crazy when we do these kinds of devotions.  They call us idol-worshipers.  They say that we are superstitious.  Yet, these devotions are designed to draw us closer to the Communion of the Saints and, therefore, closer to our creator.  God is a God who loves us so completely that He gives us every aid possible to deepen our faith.

If we are comfortable in our relationship with God and can go to Him directly, so much the better for us.  If we “need” to draw near to God by going through one of His saints, well, God’s “big enough” to allow us to do that.  He does not care how we get to Him.  All God cares about is that we do get to Him.

Hold firm in the faith today.  And, if you have to use a favorite saint to do so, go for it.

FAITH ACTION:  Spend some quality time in prayer with the Lord today.  If you have a favorite devotional, don’t be afraid to use it to draw closer to Him.