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Tony, Tony, Please Come Down

There is a joke that I came across a while ago that made me giggle and then think deep. (I know, y’all! This deep thinking NEVER stops. Blessing and curse, right?!) Anyway, the joke basically ends with St. Anthony asking God what he did while he was here on earth to deserve spending eternity finding people’s keys. Ha! And I get frustrated when I have to help my kids find their socks every morning!


The deep thinking began when I wondered why I only lean on this great saint when I can’t find my stuff. He is a doctor of the church after all. I had to make friends with this guy! I tucked this thought away, but not too far into the back closet of my memory. I wanted to work on this friendship when things settled down a bit.


Not long after this I traveled with my family to Venice, Italy. I knew a few things about it before going – it’s on the water, it’s crowded, it’s old…I mean really old, and it’s stunningly beautiful. What I didn’t realize is that this city wasn’t designed on a grid like most cities are. There are no straight streets. In fact, there are no streets at all. There are short little walkways that turn and crisscross, and they all end up in front of a church, a square, and a fountain after you cross a bridge or two. The locals and guides literally tell you to get lost in the city. It’s part of the fun!

While getting lost, I noticed that there were these vignettes with statues or pictures of St. Anthony all over the city. It makes sense that he is so renowned there since Padua is only about 28 miles from Venice. Today, it only takes 30 or so minutes to get from one to the other.


Some of the vignettes were shadow boxes, some simply images on a shelf. All of them were scattered with flowers and handwritten petitions for his intercession. Every time we came across one, I felt a little less lost. I knew St. Anthony was there to guide me. Realizing that made me much less nervous exploring the island in the Venetian way. How can I be lost if I’m with St. Anthony? He is the finder of all things, right?


Later on in our exploring, we entered a church that had a side altar of my newest friend. There were candles there to light for prayer offerings. As I knelt there visiting with him and wondering what help I wanted to ask of him, I began to cry. Large tears began to fall slowly down my cheeks. I had this sudden “knowing” (I have no other word for this.) I knew without a doubt what I needed St. Anthony’s help with. I lit my candle, whispered my prayer, and wiped the flood of tears from my face. I’m so glad my family puts up with me! I spent the next few days wandering the city and each time I came across another vignette of him, I’d whisper the same petition as I did in church.


“St. Anthony, I’m lost. Can you help me find me? Help me find my path that the Lord has for me and remember who He says I am.”

My eyes still water when I ask for St. Anthony’s intercession. He is helping me lean into our Lord and Savior in way that I’ve not done in the past. I’ve heard that his teachings about Christ were so simple and direct. There’s a story about a time when he was preaching to a group who would not listen to him. Instead of being discouraged or getting angry, he went out and began teaching the Gospel to fish. He knew his purpose was to spread the Gospel to anyone who would listen. The people thought he was crazy, of course, but when the fish started to gather near him, they knew they, too, needed to pay attention.


After hearing that story, I knew I needed to pay more attention to the Gospels. In fact, the next verse that I came to notice was John 1:1. This verse kept popping up in random places sort of like those St. Anthony vingettes.


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

When I realized that this scripture was continuing to show up because there was a message in it for me, I stopped to think about it. And BAM! Just like every time I actually stop to pay attention. I was hit with a message that I've been missing because I'm too preoccupied to notice. This was how St. Anthony was helping me to find me. Thank you, Tony!


I needed to return to the basics. I needed to return to scripture! It is our main source of God’s word and Jesus’s teachings. There is a message in it for each of us, if we choose to take the time to spend with God. In that vein of learning, I’ve decided to dig even deeper into scripture this Advent. I will spend time each day reading God’s word. I would like for you to join in with me, and because I would like to do this together, I will be sharing a devotional entry from The Light Project’s newest devotional each week for the next four weeks before Advent. I will continue The Pursuing Peace: Through the Love Letters of St. Paul Part Two throughout Advent, but I will not be sharing them here. We can all lean into St. Anthony’s teachings and learn a little more about ourselves through the Gospels, and I hope you will come on the journey of discovery with me.


If you’d like to join along, please go the “Devotional Content” section of the blog page. You’ll find the sample weeks there. They will publish every Sunday evening at 6:00. The Pursuing Peace: Through the Love Letters of St. Paul Part Two is available for sale now on the website.


Wishing you Love and Light!

Leah


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