This is going to be a "choose your own adventure" blog post, a "live dangerously!" blog post, or at the very least, the "fastest written-and-posted ever" blog post.
Why? 3 reasons to start with:
1. I've been trying to write here for at least a week (maybe two) and we've been getting nowhere fast.
2. Tomorrow is St. Anthony's Day, so now we're running out of time.
3. There is nothing more wonderful than friendship with the Saints (okay - friendship with Jesus, but since the Saints are united to Jesus, I'm gonna say: really the same thing!)....and I can't wait another minute to tell you that St. Anthony (and so many others, Marcel included at the top of the list) are waiting to befriend you.
So here are your options:
a. Choose your own adventure . . . and ask St. Anthony to make it happen! Think "make-a-wish foundation" style wish/adventure which, since we're all terminal, is totally appropriate only it's now or never! Ask away! Heaven is listening on the other end of this request line and they have even more funding than the real Make-a-Wish group, so go for it and reach for the stars!
b. Join me in the mini-est mini novena ever! I once made news (my 15 minutes of fame) with a mini-novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It really was lovely, and maybe that's the novena you'll want to say. You can find it HERE (by clicking the here that was there, just before this parenthetical remark began). Maybe that novena will even qualify as the adventure you choose! But this is, after all, Miss Marcel's Musings, and I wasn't nearly as little when I came up with that mini-novena, so (no surprise) now I'm suggesting a mini-er novena . . . Namely one that starts when you read this and ends about a second afterwards. I know, I know. "Novena" - something about 9, right? Well we blondes have more smarts than you'd suspect - I'm thinking the haiku of novenas; or do I mean to help you be a twit and call this the tweet of novenas? Either way, my point is we can save the 9 no sweat. How? 9 Words! Here goes:
St. Anthony, we love you a lot. Help! Please!
Or if you find that doesn't work for you, I've got a variation: less polite, more umph. Try this:
St. Anthony, we love you a lot. Help! Now!!
I put the "we" in both so that you're actually already included and your needs covered when another of us says this novena (and I just did, when I wrote it, and then again proofing it! 2x mini-est novena!), so no more worrying, about anything, ever. (Our one rule here at MMM: you can take it and leave the rest if you must, but really - it's time - no more worrying! About anything! Any more - ever!)
c. (Still listing your options here) I'm pre-dating this June 13th, the day of The Saint (Il Santo in Italian, but see how that capital "I" looks awfully like the small "l" - just a little shorter? so confusing!) . . . as I write, and hopefully post pronto, it will be the Eve of St. Anto's Day - but the point is, even for those who read it later than the 13th, these Saints are up for anything, anytime, especially when it involves helping us get to where they are, happy in heaven forever.
And now I can't keep this to myself any longer. After all these months writing this blog (way too few months, actually, but God willing we'll make up for it in the future), I still haven't shared one of my very favorite passages in Marcel. Do correct me if I'm wrong - just click the Contact Me button to your right, way up at the top, and email to tell me that I did actually share this already - and if I'm wrong, I'll be relieved because I can't tell you how many times it's got me laughing (this favorite passage), and it would be so wrong of me not to have shared such laughter with you! But enough said - if it's been said before, it's worth saying again, so here it is:
Marcel got to pick a new Saint for the new year (a custom for the novices at the Redemptorist house in Hanoi). He'd previously picked St. Therese. You can bet that was rigged! (By her, I'm thinkin'.) So he told Jesus he wanted his sister Therese again.
Wouldn't you know Jesus pulled a fast one? Lo and behold, Marcel chose . . . St. John Eudes.
Yes, exactly! That's just what Marcel said, and you can bet it wasn't said friendly-like!
Funny thing is, just the other day someone told me there is a parish in my general vicinity (Los Angeles archdiocese, I think) that is named for St. John Eudes. Then I was told that it's the only one in the U.S.A. with that designation! So yes, I guess we aren't too far off from Marcel in not knowing about this Saint.
Counter cultural as I am, I happen to know about St. John Eudes, but I can't really take personal credit. It's because Miss Marcel East and her Mr. were married on his feast day in August some years ago. Since I love anniversaries and Saints' Days, he stuck in my mind as someone who'd touched my world. Sure enough, it turns out he (St. JE) is tremendously wonderful. And why should that surprise us? I haven't met a Saint yet who isn't . . .
St. John Eudes is especially cool because he had a huge devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary - so much so that when Pope Leo XIII declared his heroic virtues, he gave John the title, "Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary." Wow! He was also French (like Therese), and he founded an Order to train priests and preach missions (if I got that right from my quick internet research). In other words - he was no slacker, but more importantly, he was really terrific! So that if, for instance, Marcel were to ask Jesus, "Who is this St. John Eudes that You've stuck me with for the next year?", you can bet Jesus had a lot to say in reply.
Except that He didn't - say a lot in reply, that is - and this is what I love so much about Jesus and Marcel. In a word: They are hilarious! There's no way around it.
And for once, this passage is easy for me to find because it is simply 1 January 1946. As I re-read the pages, it turns out Marcel had asked Jesus to give him "Jesus" or "Mary" or "Therese." My goodness (to take our little brother's side for a moment), you'd think that was plenty of options for God! And so Marcel complains to Jesus: "You always tell me that You give me all I ask; and yet, after having begged You so much, You have not given me what I desired. Truly, You do not keep Your word. I am very sad because of it, little Jesus."
Jesus replies (at 228 in Conversations): "Come, come, Marcel, what did I say to you the other day? I told you that I would choose a very strange patron for you. So how can you reproach me for not having kept my word? . . . "
Marcel is not so easily silenced. He persists: "So, Jesus, why have You not given me my father Saint Alphonsus? And who, therefore, is Saint John Eudes, little Jesus? I know absolutely nothing about him; I only heard of him for the first time yesterday."
Ah, and here is the kicker. Jesus speaks His mind as freely as does His little brother Marcel!
Remember how much He could say about this neato torpedo Saint? Instead, our Jesus gives me the line I love and find eminently quotable:
"Saint John Eudes, Marcel, is Saint John Eudes, that's all."
I admit I have a goofy sense of humor, but I'm over here giggling again as I read this for the umpteenth time. Jesus continues with a simplicity matching Marcel's own:
"He is a saint who loved me a lot during his life, after his death he ascended to heaven with me and then the Church canonized him . . . And now, I want to give you him as your patron for the year. Marcel, you are too fussy; even if you know nothing of Saint John Eudes, that's of no consequence and I am not obliging you to know any more about him. The only thing that you must know is that I have chosen him for your patron of the year. And since I have chosen him for you, why would it not be as suitable as another. Do not be sad, Marcel. And even if you were sad, you would not be able to change it since you have already eaten some sweets in his honour . . . "
So there you have it! Tomorrow is St. Anthony's day. All you really need to know is that the Church proposes him to you as a new friend - if not a patron for the year! (And why not a patron for the year? You may have forgotten to choose one on January 1 or on New Years' Eve, especially if you're not in a religious order.) Oh, and you should eat some sweets in his honor (honour if you are in England)!
And just to give you every possible option in celebration of this great feast for this great Saint: let's not forget that all-inclusive and ubiquitous multiple choice answer:
d. All of the above!
But now, although you don't need to know anything more about St. Anthony, I'd like to give you a few frivolous facts for your continued delight (since delight and feasts go together just as much as sweets and feasts), and because St. Anthony really is The Wonder Worker. Since we all need a Wonder Worker now and then (or hourly), these fun facts will help you cozy up to him - as if that adorable little Jesus in his arms wasn't enough to lure you in! We'll call this last bit of today's post:
A Few Fun and Frivolous Facts about the Guy with the Lily and the Book and best of all, Baby Jesus
+++ He is called St. Anthony of Padua the world over . . . except in Portugal, and it's a sore spot there! St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, and so the Portuguese call him "St. Anthony of Lisbon." And if you want to get on their good side, you can do that too. I think St. Anthony is fine with any title, as long as you call on him because . . .
+++He loves to help us find lost things! I know this so well because I have long experience of his intercession in this regard. A favorite prayer to him (much longer than the novena prayer I've given you but almost better because it rhymes) is: Dear St. Anthony, please come around, there's something lost that must be found! . . . Now I'm not going to whitewash the situation - he won't necessarily find the lost item instantly. Our last lost item - my son's glasses - were gone a whole week before he finally told me (St. Anthony, not my son) what he almost always tells me, namely, "Look in the couch." What a card - a real joker! Because the glasses WERE NOT in the couch! They were, in fact, under it. Nonetheless, thank you once again, St. Anthony!
+++Or as the Nigerians would say: ANTO!!!! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PADUA!!! Because they are super duper devoted to St. Anthony and even have a Nigerian St. Anthony Guild in his honor, among whom this is the group greeting, as it were. But what you can do (if you don't live in Nigeria and thus have no opportunity to join his Guild) is when you have lost something, yell (or perhaps whisper, if you've discovered the loss in the quieter hours) "Anto!" - and if you have anyone else with you, let them know that the proper response is "Padua!" This is a great quick prayer of intercession for the finding, and works equally well as a prayer of thanksgiving when the object is restored. A kind of "Marco!" . . . "Polo!" that makes sense and doesn't require a swimming pool.
+++And then, too, when he's restored your lost things, you can give something to St. Anthony by giving something to the poor. This is called "St. Anthony's bread" and means that in thanks for his helping you find your lost stuff, you give alms to the poor he so loved when on earth (and certainly has not forgotten now that he's in heaven).
Here's how this works: You lose your watch. You call on St. Anthony. You don't find the watch. You really need it (or just want it back because it was your dad's, or a gift, or cost a lot, or just helps you know what time it is!), so you say, "Okay, St. Anthony, I'll make you a deal. Find me the watch and I'll put $20 in the poor box at church."
Alternately, you might offer to say a Rosary for his intentions. I'm sure Saints in heaven still have intentions - at least until we're all there together forever. Meanwhile, there remain many more souls to save, console, convert, encourage, etc. And also keep in mind that $20 was just a suggested donation. If you're Bill Gates reading this, 20 million might be more appropriate. If you're the average Joe or Jolene, you might offer anything from 50 cents to 50 dollars, depending on how near or far it is from allowance day or payday.
Can you guess what happens next? You're thinking that next thing, straight off, you find your watch. (It's in the couch, no doubt.) Well, not so fast. In my own experience, what happens next is that I don't find the watch. Then I re-think my offer to St. Anthony and realize I'm being kind of paltry. Can I only give this offering to the poor if he gives me back my watch? It isn't long before I buckle - "Okay, St. Anthony, I'm going to give $20 to the poor even if you don't find my watch, but it would be so nice if you did help me find it please." Wouldn't you know that's usually when I find the watch? But then again, if it doesn't show up for a while (I'm on my 3rd year or so of waiting for a sapphire and cubic zirconia silver ring to reappear, though don't worry, I didn't actually like it very much), I feel like St. Anthony and I are closer friends than before because he did pull me one step closer to Jesus with that $20 spent on the poor . . .
Just to be clear about what I'm not saying, I'll tell you one of my favorite St. Anthony stories. One of my sons (who shall remain nameless though we all have Anthony in our names somewhere), having long known and practiced St. Anthony's Bread, cried out one day in frustration, "Okay, St. Anthony, no more games! I don't have time for this anymore!"
My dear boy had misunderstood when I told him that I thought (never confirmed, just a frequent suspicion) that St. Anthony sometimes puts things where they weren't so that we'll find them. My son's take away was that (contrary to my opinion) St. Anthony was hiding things on him so that he'd be forced to bargain and give to the poor to get his things back!
Heaven will be so interesting, don't you think? All will be made clear - including where that ring is (this is not going to be on the top of my "Tell me, tell me!" list when I get to the Beatific Vision, but still I wonder), and whether The Saint did, in fact, have fun mischievously hiding things as well as putting them where we'd find them once we'd lost them of our own accord. What do you think?
There. Done. A post for St. Anthony.
And a final prayer to seal our novena:
Little Marcel, please kiss little Jesus in St. Anthony's arms, and tell Him that's from us!
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below. To receive new posts, enter your email and click "Subscribe" below.