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In 300 years, if you were to be named the patron saint of X, what would you like X to be? Places, activities, objects — all are fair game.

Boy, I’ve read about a lot of saints, and some are truly extraordinary people lit by a fire from within that defies human understanding.

How can one understand willingness to die, as many have, for their faith and trust in God, like Polish  Maximilian Kolbe, founder of the Immaculata Movement. Imprisoned by the Nazis, then let go, he was arrested again and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. In 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner’s escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. He was the last to die, and two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. He the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement. John Paul II declared him “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”. Who can emulate that?

CR20pg18_1I think too of the Blessed Mother Teresa, Albanian by birth, Indian by choice. She ministered to the poorest of the poor, sickest of the sick, and the lowliest of the downtrodden, selflessly. She founded the religious community Missionaries of Charity, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. Her words do not chastise or berate those who ostracize those in her care, but offer hope and compassion, and a true saintliness (which she may or may not achieve).

MotherTeresaThese people have a depth of love and charity which I could never hope to achieve. Yes on a lighter note one of our favorite saint around the house over the years has been Saint Anthony. In case you don’t know him, he is a 12th century Portuguese priest who live most of his life in Italy. He was a follower of contemporary St. Francis of Assisi and lived with his order for a time where he was responsible for the education of incoming member of the order. He was also known for his preaching, and his homilies were published at the urging of Pope Gregory IX. This sainted man died at the age of 35 in 1231 from an untreatable disease. An endearing legend surrounds his death: One is that  children cried in the streets when he died, and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord. In places all over the world, St. Anthony is venerated as the Patron Saint for lost articles, and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods.

This legend as the finder of lost things grew because of an incident in Bologna. According to the story, Anthony had a book of psalms that was important to him as it contained the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching his students. A novice who had decided to leave the order took the psalter with him. Prior to the invention of the printing press, any book was an item of value. When Anthony noticed the book was missing, he prayed it would be found or returned. The thief was moved to return the book to Anthony and return to the Order. The book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

Only after my rather extraordinary efforts at finding things, or guiding others in the house to find what they lost or misplaced, are the powers of St. Anthony invoked, and truly, he rarely fails, even if his powers aren’t immediate. My daughter has called upon St. Anthony so many times that she promised to name one of her children after him — she hasn’t so far but I think she’s playing with fire! I do seem to have some talents in that area, but certainly not up to the Saint’s level. I’m also pretty patient and not judgmental. I have an open mind, but one that’s formed by Christian values and teachings.

I’m just not sure I have any traits that would qualify me for sainthood, but, tongue in cheek, I do have a special way with middle school children and have developed some relationships with them that extend to this day, years after I worked with them. Sometimes it’s a mystery to me that they still remember me fondly. Perhaps I could be a saint of misunderstood middle-schoolers, especially boys.