Yaya meets St. Anthony

stanthony2 Yaya meets St. AnthonyMy mother-in-law, Yaya, is Baptist. Well, currently she attends Joel Osteen’s church, but the official denomination that she would claim to be a part of (and in which she raised my husband) is the Southern Baptist church.

Friends sometimes ask if there’s been any tension between us and Yaya since my husband and I converted to Catholicism in 2007, but there really hasn’t been. Occasionally my husband will try to start a good-natured debate with her about doctrinal differences, but she’s never interested: “I love Jesus and y’all love Jesus and Jesus loves us and that’s all I really need to know,” she once said.

Like in every other area of life, the details of Christian doctrine are of little importance to her — in fact, I’m not sure if she notices them at all. She is so intensely focused on the big picture that she doesn’t have time to mess around with the small things. (For example, when she unloads the dishwasher when she’s visiting our house, she takes the silverware basket and just dumps the whole thing into the drawer. “I’m not gonna sit there and sort knives and forks when I’ve got grandchildren I could be hugging and kissing!” she says.)

Nevertheless, as a gesture of respect, I rarely bring up the areas of Christian doctrine where Baptists and Catholics differ. In general, I figure there’s no need to wade into controversial territory and risk causing tension between us.

But then Yaya lost some important paperwork. And I decided to tell her about St. Anthony.

My phone rang one afternoon, and as soon as I said “hello?” I heard Yaya’s voice shouting, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO DO I’VE LOOKED EVERYWHERE FOR THIS STUPID THING AND IT’S JUST LOST AND IT’S DRIVING ME CRAZY!” She eventually calmed down enough to explain that she’d been helping an elderly friend who’d been caught up in a scam, and she’d borrowed some critical documents to contact state officials on his behalf. Now they were lost, and her friend desperately needed them.

I wasn’t sure how she’d react to this, but I decided to risk it: “Have you ever heard of the St. Anthony prayer?” I asked.

She said she hadn’t. I proceeded to tell her about the Catholic tradition (with a lower-case “t”) that Anthony of Padua prays for people who have lost items. I recounted some c-r-a-z-y moments I’ve had after saying the St. Anthony prayer, including the time my husband’s cell phone had been lost for a week. We’d turned the house upside down and had finally given up, though a new phone wasn’t in the budget. I was thinking about it in RCIA class one night, and asked St. Anthony to pray that it turned up. Not five minutes later my phone rang. I didn’t answer it since I was in class, but later I heard the voicemail from my mom telling me that the kids just found the cell phone. I have countless St. Anthony stories like that.

“That’s what I need! How do I do that prayer?” Yaya asked.

Surprised at what an easy sell it was, I told her the words to the simple prayer:

St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around,
something is lost and can’t be found!

I started to include some caveats about how we’re just asking another human to pray for us, that it’s not a magic spell or anything like that, but she cut me off and said she had to go say that prayer. She called back that night, ecstatic: she’d found the papers. Yaya was officially sold on the St. Anthony prayer.

stanthony Yaya meets St. AnthonySince this was obviously going to become a key devotion for her, I thought I’d take the opportunity for a little catechesis on the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. “Now, Yaya, I want to clarify that Catholics do not believe that saints have any power of their own,” I began. “We believe that they’re just regular people who are ‘alive in Christ’ in heaven and can pray to the Lord for us.”

“I am so excited that St. Anthony found that paperwork for me!” she shouted, and I heard the shuffling of papers in the background. I wasn’t sure if she heard what I’d said.

“You know, in the second century a bunch of prominent Christian writers talked about this belief. Origen of Alexandria wrote about how saints who have ‘fallen asleep in Christ’ pray for those of us still on earth…”

“I was so angry I was fixin’ to slap someone if I didn’t find those papers! But that St. Anthony sure did come through. I’m going to pray to him more often!”

“Ah, yes, well, I hope you understand that when we talk about ‘praying to’ saints, we’re using the word ‘pray’ there as shorthand for ‘communicating,’ different than when we pray to Jesus, which is an act of worship. We only ask the saints for their prayers, no different than when you asked your friend Ethel to pray that you found the documents.”

The response was more ebullient commentary over the sounds of scattering papers, so I said I’d just email her some additional info about this doctrine.

I figured she must have read what I sent her, or perhaps absorbed my erudite theological explanations, because we heard a lot about St. Anthony in the ensuing months. When she lost her safe deposit box key, she called my husband in a panic.

“I need you to pray to St. Anthony! I can’t find this thing anywhere!” she said.

“Sure, I’ll ask him to pray for us,” he said, thinking that that would be the end of it.

She paused, waiting for him to start. “Do it now,” she said.

“Oh, umm. Okay.” He cleared his throat and said, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and can’t be found.

She paused again. “Tell him it’s a safe deposit box key.”

And my husband repeated the prayer, this time replacing “something” with “a safe deposit box key.” Yaya found the key the next day, once again giving thanks to her buddy St. Anthony.

I was delighted with this opportunity for interdenominational dialogue, perhaps feeling a bit satisfied with myself that I’d offered such a rock-solid defense of the Communion of Saints that even my Baptist mother-in-law was convinced.

Then, the other day, I got another frantic call. This time she was so frustrated she could hardly speak because she’d lost her driver’s license and needed it to register for something. It’d been gone for a few days. She couldn’t find it anywhere. “Did you say a prayer to St. Anthony?” I asked. I’d obviously explained this teaching so well that I could relax my terminology, so I’d begun using the shorthand phrasing of “praying to” saints rather than the full articulation that we are simply asking the saints for their prayers.

“Jennifer, I’ve tried everything!” she said over the sound of slamming drawers and crashing boxes. “I prayed to Jesus, I prayed to St. Anthony — hell, I asked Jesus to say a prayer to St. Anthony!”

Looks like we may have a ways to go on this one.

Image from this t-shirt at Cafepress.

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Enter the Conversation...

86 Responses to “Yaya meets St. Anthony”
  1. Claire says:

    We adore St. Anthony in this house. Many years ago I went through a time when I appeared that St.Anthony kept ignoring me. I was heartbroken and mentioned this to a wonderful, older, and very devout lady. Her answer, "Have you fed St. Anthony's poor?' Ummm, "no", said I.

    She then explained that every so often we need to make donation to the poor (CRS, St. Vincent Society, etc) and state this for St. Anthony's poor.

    That very day, when she went to daily Mass, she put money in the St. Vincent receptacle. St. Anthony answered my prayer and "told" me where the item was almost right away.

    If Yaya, or anyone, is experiencing silence from St. Anthony, go make a donation in his name. It does not have to be big, but needs to be sincere.

    I love that Yaya found St. Anthony. He seems to "get to" everyone, even if they have few beliefs in anything God-like or Catholic. I guess that's why he is a Saint. Love him!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hope I find the right words. Love your YaYa story. On a more serious note, this particular post has been so good for me because I thought I was the only one who might have a difficult time communicating with someone from a different Christian denomination. For me this all ties in with, "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?" and "Do you know Jesus personally?" language which can make me feel as a Catholic to doubt my sincerity as a real Christian because I come from a Church that has so much history. I mean, fundamentalists make it sound so simple and here we Catholics have our liturgy and ritual, saints, encyclicals, popes back to St. Peter, etc. Peg

  3. Ouiz says:

    Oh my gosh.. this is hysterical! Thank you for posting this!!!

    I like Yaya more and more with each story you share — she's an amazing lady. I'd freak over the silverware, but her heart is in the right place.

    I've had to do some "extra catechesis" with my kids as well. They pray to St. Anthony when they lose stuff, and when they find it (of course) they shout, "Look! St. Anthony answered my prayer!" I have to remind them that St. Anthony PRAYED for them, and that they should be thanking Jesus for answering and St. Anthony for praying.

    It's hard not to get excited when you get such instantaneous answers to prayer, though.

    As an aside, Thomas was looking through a saint book just yesterday and when he came across the picture of St. Anthony he told me that "this is an easy one. EVERYONE knows St. Anthony, Mommy!"

    And I LOVE that shirt. I'd wear it in a heartbeat!

  4. Duffy says:

    I'm with Ouiz, I love the shirt and am actually thinking of making one.

    I snarfed my tea when I saw it. Who's the patron Saint of cleaning up messes on keyboards and paperwork at the office?

    When I was little my grandmother taught me the prayer was: "Tony, Tony, look around and find the thing that can't be found". For the longest time I thought that was the actual prayer until our Priest told me otherwise. He had a good laugh about it.

  5. Darren says:

    This post made me laugh very hard. Thanks for starting off our day with fun :)

  6. Robin says:

    Let's see, how can I say this . . .

    When I first stumbled upon your blog, I went back to see what your experiences with the Protestant church were and discovered that they consisted, apparently, of a visit to Joel Osteen's church (if one could call it that). Oh dear, I thought, I hope that isn't her sole referent for Protestantism. And I hoped that that wasn't someday going to appear in your book as sort of "the definition" or an idea of "the Protestant church."

    At least now I understand how you ended up there. (I understand that thousands of other people are there, too. I just can't fathom why. Not that he and his wife aren't nice people.)

    Anyway, just as prayers to St. Anthony do not represent the whole Catholic tradition, so Joel Osteen does not in any way, shape or form represent the riches and beauty of the Protestant tradition. And neither does the simplicity of various fundamentalist approaches. No offense to those who encounter God in those ways. But we, too, have a complex and elegant and God-given history and tradition of theology, music, prayer, and life in God.

    I have no doubt that God has called you to the Catholic Church, and that your book will be a joy and an inspiration to many.

    But I did need to get that off my chest.

  7. Megan says:

    Thank you for this post! It brightened my day and made me laugh. Yaya seems like a character. :) I do love the devotion to St. Anthony, and in the few instances when I can't find something, I assume that the person that did find it really needed it more than I did.
    I started following your blog recently, and I promise I will introduce myself in your new readers area asap. :)

  8. Janet in Toronto says:

    This is hilarious! Thanks for a great start to my day.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh Jen, you are so blessed that your Southern Baptist mother-in-law has this attitude! I too have Baptist in-laws, and although they know I was raised Catholic, they make such comments as "If you're going to call Catholics Christians, you may as well call Buddhists Christians." That was the worst comment but there have been many others. Another friend, not a Baptist but from an Evangelical Free Church, has said the Catholic Church is a cult.

    On another note, I've been in both the Catholic and Protestant worlds, and I have to agree with the poster above who said Joel Osteen and his church is not representative of most Protestant worship experiences. I'll just leave it at that… ;)

  10. autumnesf says:

    As a Baptist I was always taught that you thought your Saints were above man and you prayed to them. Thanks for the mini lesson on how that is incorrect.

  11. Karen says:

    I had one incredibly dramatic pray-to-St-Anthony experience..and it was prompted by a coworker who was noticing my near-panic attack trying to find this incredibly important receipt. I didn't know the rhyme itself, but I did say a proper ad-lib prayer…only to put my hand directly on what I needed. It was so staggering, I walked around a little terrified that people up there were apparently paying that much attention to me.

    This memory is attached in my mind to another one, where one of my coworkers, under a ton of stress (as we all were) was heatedly venting and complaining at the lunch table. Another coworker sat down, listened for about 20 seconds, and declared "Dude, you need the Serenity Prayer!" We laughed…but that's the exact line I say to myself (and others) now when the heat is on: Dude, you need the Serenity Prayer!

  12. Tami says:

    I find it interesting that when St. Anthony is involved in finding lost things, he also recovers lost souls (I'm using this term loosely, here, for those not close to the Church). Yaya may be finding the path to Catholicism, even though she's not looking for it.

    Love your blog, btw!

  13. Melissa says:

    So funny! Thanks Jen, it totally brightened up my day. St. Anthony has bailed me out SO many times!

  14. Dorian Speed says:

    I think this may be the best story in the history of the Internet. Is it too late to shoehorn it into your book?

    • Wsquared says:

      Agreed. It’s not only amusing in a good way, but it’s also very instructive about who saints are to Catholics.

  15. Studio JRU says:

    Oh I love it! Great story!! That St. Anthony prayer gets worked overtime around here! :)

    ~Jennifer

  16. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary says:

    That last part just cracked me up! So close…yet so far.

  17. Serena says:

    Oh my goodness, that gave me such a good laugh!

  18. Jess says:

    Thanks for the much needed laugh!

  19. lovebeingcatholic says:

    I love this post. What a riot!

  20. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Robin -

    When I first stumbled upon your blog, I went back to see what your experiences with the Protestant church were and discovered that they consisted, apparently, of a visit to Joel Osteen's church (if one could call it that). Oh dear, I thought, I hope that isn't her sole referent for Protestantism.

    That is so funny — I can see how that'd be a horrifying thought if I'd sat there in Lakewood (where, interestingly, there was not a single cross that I could see) and thought, "So this is what Protestantism is like!"

    Luckily I've had other (more positive) experiences than that. Growing up Dallas and rural central Texas, most of my friends were Baptist or Methodist, and occasionally I'd tag along to church with them after sleepovers. I also went to Texas A&M for the first two years of college, which is widely considered to be the most religious public university in the country, and it's mostly Protestant. My roommate for those two years was a devout Baptist who held Bible studies in our room and talked to me a lot about her faith (we're still good friends today).

    Thanks for your comment!

  21. Mrs Danielle Brown says:

    I very much enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing your stories. The way you use a personal story to express Catholic tradition in a real-life way is wonderful. Thank you again!

  22. Sister Lynn says:

    Oh this one made me laugh OUT LOUD!
    I think I would love Yaya!

  23. Anonymous says:

    When I was in RCIA, one of the speakers told us about a powerful response that he had after saying the St. Anthony prayer. He had lost his wallet at school. The next day on his way into the building, he was going to go to the office to see if it had been turned in, and he literally kicked his wallet as he walked down the hall. It had been sitting in the middle of the hall and noone had touched it.

    I've never had that dramatic of an experience, but I do call out to St. Anthony for his prayers whenever I've misplaced something.

    Jen G

  24. Ute says:

    What a great story! So funny! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Monique in TX says:

    Oh, Jennifer. Surely since y'all are from Texas, you can relax and be a mite more familiar with St. Anthony and say:

    Tony, Tony, lissen, lissen!
    Hurry, Hurry! Somethin's missin'!

    In the past two days he's helped me find the key for the safe where our passports are kept, my cell phone, and a bunch of other stuff. I expect I may have wore him plumb out, so y'all don't be surprised if'n he's a tad slow to answer requests for a while.

  26. Leah says:

    Wonderful story, Jen.

    I also must say that, as an atheist, I'd never heard much of an explanation for Catholic prayers to saints besides 'idol-worship.' This was very well expressed and easy to follow.

    –Leah @ Unequally Yoked

  27. That Married Couple says:

    Hilarious!

  28. Michelle Potter says:

    I love your MIL's attitude about the differences in your beliefs. I'm a big fan of the motto, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." Fortunately, though I'm not sure whether they even know the phrase, so are my Catholic and Presbyterian family and my husband's Evangelical family. (I don't even know what you'd call my husband and me — Orthodox-leaning low-church Protestants? Sorta kinda?)

    Personally, I have never prayed to Saint Anthony (that is, asked him to pray for me), and I'd bet you a dollar my husband doesn't know who he is. But reading this makes me realize one benefit of studying the saints, knowing their patronages and prayers (which I haven't done much). I *know* that God knows everything that happens in my life, and that He cares about helping me with my problems, and that He's waiting for me to just reach out to him, but in the moment I don't think of it. If it's on my mind that there is a specific prayer to say when I've lost something, and a particular hero of the faith who'd be glad to pray with me, how much more likely would I be to remember to actually pray and not just storm around in frustration?

  29. marie says:

    You are cracking me up!

  30. codabelle says:

    3 quick things:

    1) Yaya's a hoot.

    2) I'm not Catholic but I'm Italian, so most of my relatives are Catholic. My grandma used to say the St. Anthony prayer. I appreciated the explanation of what it means to "pray" to the Saints!

    3) Before I became a born again Christian, I used the St. Anthony prayer to find a pair of lost glasses. We (me and 2 helpers) had looked all over my backyard for them without luck and it was getting dark. I decided to say the St. Anthony prayer in honor of my grandma. Would you know it? We found the glasses about 10 seconds later when I felt compelled to walk over to this one part of the yard (that I'd already looked at) and noticed them in the grass near the roots of a tree. It really does work….

  31. Sr Anne says:

    I wrote about my own experience of "coming around" to St Anthony–same situation: Very Important Papers. But my mom is still on hold with him, and she lost a Whole Lot of Money. Of which she promised 10% for St. Anthony's bread when found. It's been two years now!
    What's he waiting for? (20% maybe?)
    http://romans8v29.blogspot.com/2010/04/coming-around.html

  32. Sr Anne says:

    I recently read (and bookmarked) this observation by Adrienne von Speyr (if you haven't discovered her yet, just you wait!): "God has given the saints tasks and commissions; he has shaped their spiritual countenances, and even in heaven there are areas and matters which are properly theirs…" (from "The World of Prayer").

  33. Ellen says:

    For whatever reason, this post triggered a question I've been having. I'm an evangelical Protestant, and its always been my understanding that the Catholic church doesn't believe that you can get to heaven without partaking in certain sacraments. Is this true? Do Catholics believe that Protestants will be in heaven if they haven't followed these steps?

    I've always thought that Catholics will be in heaven with me if they sincerely believe in Christ's sacrifice as their only salvation for their sins. I haven't been so sure that the Catholic church is willing to extend the same belief to me…. =) Don't know if you can clear this up or not, but I thought I'd take a crack at asking.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Ellen, did you ever get an answer to this? If not, I think it need a proper follow-up – do you want to leave your email and I’ll send you a note doing my best to explain?

      Elizabeth

  34. truthfinder says:

    Oh, my! Having begun my Christian walk as a Baptist, I found this to be the funniest, best post I have read anywhere! My first St. Anthony experience was while I was still an Episcopalian, before my entry into the Catholic Church. I worked in a florist shop, and one of my coworkers was Catholic. I knew about the prayer, but had never tried it. We had a bride coming in to see her flowers before the wedding. Since we had been unable to obtain a fresh gardenia for the bride's mother's corsage, we had set aside a silk one. It was the ONLY one we had, and we couldn't find it ANYWHERE. The clock was ticking — only enough time left to assemble the corsage. My co-worker and I went into the storage closet to look one more time. To my right was a small semicircular shelf, with only a Mickey Mouse clock on it; nothing else! I said, "Maybe we need to ask St. Anthony!" So we did. I turned to exit the closet, and there on the little shelf IN FRONT OF THE CLOCK, was the gardenia! Thank you for your prayers, St. Anthony.– Rosemary

  35. Shannon says:

    I just laughed out loud at "Tell him it's a safe deposit box key." ;)

  36. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin says:

    @Ellen:
    Yup. You have to be baptized. Read this page to see how that works with Christ's desire that every one be saved, when events conspire to prevent one from actually receiving the Sacrament.

  37. Liesl says:

    I was just saying the "prayer" to St. Anthony today! I seem to have misplaced a 100 dollar bill… and my uncle lost his keys! But it does work… hope it will keep working because I still have found that $100!

    Good luck with the future saint lessons!

  38. LP says:

    It was mentioned, in the homily, at my own wedding, that this marriage would mean that perhaps a certain spouse might have to love with patience his certain other spouse, even and especially when that certain other spouse "…lost the keys again!" That is how famous I am for losing things! And all I have to say is, THANK YOU SAINT ANTHONY!!! He has found EVERYTHING for me! (Also parking spaces, jobs, my sanity!) What I have discovered after befriending many a Franciscan, though, in recent years, is also what an amazing preacher he was – another bonus for all the Protestants out there (Catholics too) who love a good sermon! Worth reading about. Thanks for the laughs, Jen!

  39. Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website says:

    Gee how I wish I could know your YaYa in person!
    Thanks for sharing her with us!
    You've been given an award on benmakesten today:
    http://benmakesten.blogspot.com/2010/07/versatile-blogger-award.html

  40. Tina says:

    That's hillarious.

  41. Christine says:

    I started my first 20 some years as a practicing Catholic and the next 20 some as a born again Texas Baptist. I don't feel that I rejected Catholicism, but rather found a way to worship that fits who I am better. I thank God for the great varieties of Christian paths to salvation. I wish Christians would not be so quick to dismiss denominations that they don't agree with or do not fully understand. I do not understand all of the intricacies of theology among Church of Christ or Pentecostals, etc, but I do believe that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only key.

    The mix of Catholic & Baptist inside me may confuse/disturb others, but I am closer to Christ for this melding. Our lives are sacred and unique. Shouldn't my walk with Christ be as well?

    Btw, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank St. Anthony for his help over the years – and call on St. Joe to please help me sell my house – even though I really don't want to bury his statuette in my yard…

  42. Maryann says:

    To Ellen…the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" can answer your questions of how the Catholic Church views their Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ.

    (from paragraph 818) "All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."

    (from 819)
    "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

    I have a hard copy, but there's also an online version of the catechism in the link below.Paragraph numbers are in the left column.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc2.htm

  43. Linda says:

    I love St. Anthony, and I've heard some fabulous stories from people who've asked for his prayers, including one whose grandmother found her diamond engagement ring AT THE BEACH the day after she lost it there. As for me, I find stuff I've lost all the time when I say that prayer or simply call out to him (literally out loud). I recently turned my job search over to him. Subsequently, I had a job shadow yesterday and have an interview tomorrow morning. Interesting to me is the comment about feeding St. Anthony's poor. The SVdP Society donation boxes were recently re-installed at my church (after several break-ins), so I think it's time for me to drop in a couple of bucks in honor of St. Anthony's poor. Thanks for such a great post. Yaya rocks!

  44. Colleen says:

    Your Yaya makes me think of a t-shirt I saw that says "I love Jesus…but I drink a little" :) She probably doesn't touch the stuff, but it came to mind :)

  45. Anonymous says:

    That story is hilarious, and I can relate. Before I was Catholic, I worked at a mostly Catholic nursing home as a nurse aide. One of the residents had lost his hearing aid for a few days, and while I was in the room he prayed that prayer to St. Anthony. It was the first time I had ever heard of St. Anthony or the prayer and I thought it was the silliest thing ever. What do you know, but three minutes later I found his hearing aide buried in his recliner. Hard to chalk up this many stories to mere coincidence!

  46. Milehimama says:

    That T-Shirt is AWESOME.

  47. Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge says:

    "I love Jesus and y'all love Jesus and Jesus loves us and that's all I really need to know," she once said.
    That is all I needed to hear! I am a huge devotee to St Anthony, St Jude and St Joseph (I named my first son after St Joseph, and he is helping my husband find a job right now). I remember a very devout Baptist woman growing up who said the St Anthony prayer and told my grandmother that she loved St Joseph because she was a foster parent and said she had such admiration for what he had done.

    It is so wonderful to hear that Yaya embraces what we have in common, not what divides us.

  48. Mary says:

    Jennifer and Monique,
    I was raised a Catholic in Texas and graduated from Texas A&M. I have never heard the "Tony, Tony, lissen, lissen…" prayer. I like it. We learned "Tony, Tony, turn around, something's lost and must be found." prayer.
    I could tell you some very amazing stories of St. Anthony's help. I might just have to write about it this week.
    That was a great story. Thanks!

  49. Steve and Theresa says:

    We always said "Tony Tony Look around, "name it" is lost and must be found."

    Things are always found in unusual places. My sister used ot come up to Mom's house and say "St. Anthony always knows when I have an extra dollar in my pocket!" as she would stuff it in the bank Mom had which was shaped like a loaf of bread. Once a month, Mom would empty it count it and send a check to the Franciscans.

    Dad lost his hearing aid in a 40 acre hay field which he'd just traveled all afternoon turning the hay, and we all joined hands , said the prayer and began walking. Within moments, Katie said "Here it is!" Dad said "But I wasn't in that part of the field!

    My sister was shovelling snow at the end of the driveway one winter, came in the house and realized her diamond wedding ring must have come off one of the times she'd taken her glovesoff. Richard got his metal detector and hunted for hours. Nothing. Margaret stuffed the bread bank. Nothing. 6 months passed, no ring.

    In early June we did the first hay cutting and after it dried, Richard went ot fire up the old farm truck to bring in the first load. He came running back to the house holding his arm out in front of him, babbling like a drunken fool. Margaret thought he'd hurt himself and ran to him, and soon they were dancing all over the yard. That old truck had not been driven since before the snow fell and had sat there locked for 8 months! There is ten acres of land between the front driveway and that old truck's resting place!

    My Mom was a lay Franciscan.

    We have so very many more Lost and Found stories.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Loved this, but I have to share my St. Anthony story, too.

    During a weekend convention, I was asked to hang on to a check for a friend who was, temporarily, purse-less. I put her check into my luggage and came home, intending to bring it with me the upcoming Sunday and give it to her at Mass. When Sunday came, I could not find the check, nor could I remember where I'd set it down when I'd emptied my suitcase. After looking for weeks, I finally begged St. Anthony's help. The next day, another friend returned a book she'd borrowed last fall. When I went to the bookshelf to replace the book, THERE was Angela's check!

    The added detail – my book-borrowing friend has such a devotion to St. Anthony that her second son is named for him.

    Linda

  51. Lloyd says:

    I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out. God's blessings too you. Lloyd

  52. Francie says:

    Guess what?? I read this post today and this evening, my son left his baseball cap at the ball park! Regionals start tomorrow and every child on the team has to be dressed identically. As hubby drives back to the park to search for this hat in the dark, I ask for St. Anthony's help. The hat was found! Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't think it was a coincidence that I read this particular post today.

    Thanks, Jen, and thank you, St. Anthony.

  53. Alex says:

    dear saint anthony be with me today help me seek and find what's gone astray, when darkness enters show me the light to bring the lost into God's sight. with the infant child embrace my soul, bless all my ways and make me whole.

  54. Margo says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I just came across your blog and loved your most recent post!! St. Anthony is my family's favorite. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the near future. Thanks!!

  55. Tina Fisher says:

    The ending was pretty funny!

    I do wish that us Catholics would stop saying "praying to". I think it is terminology that doesn't serve us well and makes us misunderstood.

    Why not just say "pray for" instead of "pray to"? Easy and makes sense.

    I mean all the best. :)

  56. Anonymous says:

    "I asked Jesus to say a prayer to St. Anthony"

    This is so hopeless it sounds like an introduction to St. Jude is in order.

    -bob

  57. Gina says:

    I love it!!

  58. Paula says:

    This is possibly the funniest post you have ever written. And that YaYa sounds like a keeper.

  59. Redtabby says:

    This is a prize-winner, Jen. And your MIL sounds like a great lady. God bless her.

  60. fieryhalo says:

    Although it's something that's taught in our churches, I've come to disagree with the concept of "praying to" the saints. Reading the Bible has made me think more about this because it talks so much about God being the only one "deserving glory and honor." I now often worry that so many of us get caught up in praying to and worshiping the saints over God, that it becomes too much like polytheism. If God cares and is all-knowing, wouldn't he be the one to ask about a lost article? It's not as if he doesn't want to be bothered with the little things in our lives. Why not go straight to the source?

    • Roz says:

      I understand what you’re saying fieryhalo, but I think there’s a basic misunderstanding of how the word “pray” is being used.

      In the usage of praying to saints, “pray” is not a synonym for “worship”. It’s a synonym for “talk to”. It would be nice if there were another word for “talk things over with a fellow Christian who has gone before us into the presence of God”, but there isn’t.

      I agree that the confusion about definition probably causes a fair amount of the misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants on this issue. I just remind myself of the old English usage of “I pray thee” or “Prithee” to mean request or beseech. Is that at all helpful?

  61. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Fieryhalo –

    I happen to have a free second, and I thought I'd offer my perspective on your comment:

    Reading the Bible has made me think more about this because it talks so much about God being the only one "deserving glory and honor."

    I see where you're coming from, although it's also inspiring to consider how God is always trying to bring us closer to one another: it always blows me away when I consider that ALL of revelation history was done through humans.

    When I was first coming to believe in God I often wondered why he didn't just contact each of us individually and tell us everything we need to know; seems like a more efficient way to do it. Then, after reading the Bible and thinking about it, I realized: he wants to bring us together. To make us need one another, to make us come together as a family. And I think that this is why asking others to pray for us — including the saints in heaven — is such a beautiful thing.

    God bless! And thank you to everyone else for the comments!

  62. Jena & Zac says:

    Thanks for clarifying to the masses that when we "pray to the saints" all we are really doing is asking a friend, who happens to be living in heaven with God, to pray for us. This helps so much when talking to non-Catholic friends. Of course the next question is "How do we know they hear us?" Communion with saints…a whole other story, and a little more difficult to explain!

    St. Anthony pulled through for us just this morning. My husband is about to deploy to Afghanistan and was missing a packet of papers that he had just last night. Not only did he need these papers as he had put a lot of effort into compiling the information, it had a lot of personal and sensitive info on it. After an hour of prayer from me, him, and St. Anthony, the packet was found at the store (it included a packing list we were shopping with) with a copy of our receipt and a note to the next shift who to give it to. Praise the Lord this is one less thing we have to worry about before he leaves!

  63. Anonymous says:

    i love stories about Yaya

  64. Roz says:

    I’m soooo late to this party, but I’m delighted that I found it. What a great story, and the comments are priceless as well.

    I spent about 15 years in an Evangelical Presbyterian church, and was influenced by the “just go right to the source” way of thinking. That’s a fine way of thinking, of course, unless God wants to broaden our horizons in some way.

    One day, I had showered and couldn’t find my glasses afterward; without them, I’m virtually blind. I had to — had to — drive to an appointment very soon, and I was getting desperate. I prayed, searched, used a flashlight, prayed again, called a friend and asked her to pray, searched some more, etc. Finally I closed my eyes and asked St. Anthony for help.

    When I was done, I opened my eyes. The first thing my gaze fell on was my glasses, partly hidden under a fold in the bedspread. I just sat there and laughted. “All right, Lord,” I said under my breath. “If that’s the way you’d prefer to do business, it’s all right with me. Thanks, everyone, for the help.”

    Of course I speak directly to Jesus and God the Father a lot — my union with God is the whole point — but it seems he likes to permit us to intercede efficaciously for one another. Do I completely understand it? No. But do I do my best to take his hints unless he steers me in another direction? Yes. Always.

  65. Janet Fielder, OTQ says:

    Fieryhalo and Roz-
    I believe that “pray” is still used in legal documents today to mean “request.” The last part of a Complaint (i.e the document that initiates a lawsuit when you file it with a court) is the Prayer – i.e. what you are asking the Court to do. And in Wills and Trusts there is sometimes “precatory” or “praying” language that is just a request to the Executor or Trustee to do this or that, but is not binding on him.

  66. Kathy says:

    I loved this story. I was raised a practicing Catholic (I’m not practicing now for a rather long list of reasons, but my problems with the Roman Catholic church haven’t hurt my faith in God, which is stronger than ever) but I was taught the St. Anthony prayer by my paternal grandmother, who I believe was Episcopalian (she never spoke about religion, never went to any services, but her family was originally from Northern Ireland, so I’m giving it my best guess). I’ve prayed so often to St. Anthony that I start off asking for his help by saying “Hello, St. Anthony. It’s me again.” He has so rarely failed me. My standard thank you is to say “Thank you, Jesus,” then say a Hail Mary.

  67. Amanda says:

    I’m still laughing about the silverware! This is great!

  68. Crucifix says:

    This story is funny yet it shows how faith can surprise us sometimes. Another way of spreading Catholic views in a subtle way. =)

  69. JD says:

    This is funny and great at the same time. All those lost items, lol.. Catholic faith is really surprising.

  70. Anne McD says:

    So many St. Anthony stories, so little time. My mother has told me, however, that she has put St. Anthony on retainer, and drops something in the poor box every time she goes into church, in case she calls on him. :)

  71. Sheryl says:

    Jen, I’m so thankful for your blog. Every sticking point I run into, like praying to the saints, you reconcile so beautifully. Recently my daughter and I have been attending mass (we are Christians, but not Catholic– yet anyway) and love the liturgy. (I’m very familiar with it because I used to teach in Catholic school). Anyway, every time I have a question about the Catholic faith I run to your blog. Most of the time I end up tearing up because I admire your faith and wisdom so much

  72. KIMBERLY says:

    I HAVE LOST THE LOVE OF MY LIFE BECAUSE I GAVE IN TO TEMPTATION. I ASK YOU WHOMEVER IS READING THIS ALONG WITH SAINT ANTHONY TO PRAY FOR ME AND EDDIE AND WE BE REUNITED AND BACK IN LOVE WITH EACHOTHER. I LOVE HIM SO. HE IS LOST RIGHT NOW. LOST FROM ME AND LOST IN HIS OWN HEAD PLEASE PRAY FOR US. THAT GOD HEALS US AND BRINGS US BACK TOGETHER. PLEASE

  73. Wow, I really need to check the dates here. Blogging is boggling. Disregard prev. posts. re: “Desert Fathers” and “Love the Psalms.”

  74. mary says:

    Your Yaya sounds adorable. I love her!! I dump silverware in the drawer too!! LOL

  75. Bonnie says:

    Jen, what cracked me up the most is your careful explanation of the theology behind this being summarily brushed away to get down to brass tacks! That Yaya is a woman of great faith! Bless her heart!
    Can you bear just one more fabulous St. Anthony story (I have really so many…) Once I was in a business meeting when I noticed one of my co-worker’s diamond was missing from her engagement ring. After the meeting ended but before anyone moved, I pointed it out to her, and we all quickly began looking on the floor and all around for her diamond. We didn’t find it. A few of us helped her look in her office and in the hallways in case it was there. After our searches proved fruitless, I mentioned to her about praying to St. Anthony, and told her I would too. She was too kind to roll her eyes, but she was not a believer, and I could tell she thought I was flaky. So I prayed to St. Anthony myself (the version taught to me by our 2nd grade nun, “Dear St. Anthony, please look around. Something has been lost and must be found.”) A few days later my office phone rang, and when I answered it the voice of my co-worker said, “You are not going to believe this! I found my diamond today in my underwear drawer while I was putting away some laundry.” And all I said was, “Thank you, St. Anthony!” He comes though, every time, and evangelizes to boot! I hope it was a step toward God for my co-worker. Praise God in all His works!

  76. Lauren says:

    Great Post Jennifer. I’ve had many lost items returned via the intercession of Saint Anthony. Even a necklace that I dropped elsewhere returned to the place I usually kept it on my dresser.

    I love the following prayer, which asks that we never lose our greatest treasure, faith in God.

    “Saint Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (mention your petition) which has been lost. As least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss.

    To this favor I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God. Amen.”

  77. EMD says:

    Thank you for sharing your honesty of faith -St. Anthony is an amazing worker of miracles. I know this as I recently began a devotion to him concerning my ex wife & family. (we are still divorced so no miracle on that front). However, as I was reading this post, I thought about what I had been praying and long story short: my ex dropped off my oldest daughter so we could spend this Sunday together including going to church. I love when my daughters are here and I try to thank God in that every day!!!

    I believe St. Anthony intercede on our behalf in more than lost a key and will, with due time & patience, all be given that we earnestly for and we only accept that truth of His will, not ours. It’s hard to Trust Jesus, however, St. Anthony shows us we should and we can.

    BTW: would like to share the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Chaplet of Seven Sorrows with all how read this. Again thank you.

  78. Mary says:

    Yaya is right! We all love Jesus and Jesus loves us (and I’m as Orthodox a Catholic as you are!); and why waste time doing anything else when there are babies to love on!? (God knows I have my share of regrets that involve wasted moments, now that my babies are all teenagers and not at all interested in crawling into my lap for a spontaneous hug). Words of wisdom often come in the smallest fragments – accept them when they come. Gotta love her – you are lucky to have her!

  79. i am thrilled about the story. i have taken to dedicating Tuesdays to praying WITH St. Antony.

    What’s best lesson –need to remember the St. Antony’s poor

    Secondly, you may want to know how i got here — i came to your website because i watched you on EWTN all the way from Kenya. i was curious.
    Keep up with the sharing! Its spiritually uplifting. i have also loved teh story about ‘do you want more childrem?’

    God bless!

  80. Oh, neat! That’s so cool that the show aired in Kenya! Thanks for letting me know.

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  1. [...] St Anthony, for me, is a practical saint, a “go-to” saint. He’s never left me hanging. And he’s provided some humorous anecdotes like this one Jen at Conversion Diary shared so candidly about her mother-in-law Yaya.  [...]

  2. [...] Looks like we may have a ways to go on this one. via conversiondiary.com [...]