Yesterday was the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, whom devotees—like me–call upon to help recover lost items, trying our best, I suppose, not to do so superstitiously. And I’m wondering how it is that sometimes we find things that we weren’t looking for–things that we didn’t even know were hidden or lost.
Like the day my mother, now deceased, was showing her granddaughter–my daughter– family albums we all had viewed many times previously. And so, not expecting to see anything I hadn’t seen before, I more-or-less mindlessly “eaves-looked” over my daughter’s shoulder, rather than “looked” as if purposefully trying to notice or appreciate something.
“Wait! Back up… What was that?” I asked about a yellowed, somewhat tattered certificate of sorts that when unfolded stretched almost a yard long.
Turns out that my mother and her mother, as the story goes, had attended a parish mission, and the certificate was a Sacred Heart Family Enrollment.
A history teacher by training, I immediately noted the date. Could it be? Yes! The year on the paper was the year I was born. …Closer look. Too bad—wrong month. I wasn’t even born yet. Feeling disappointed that I wasn’t alive when the commitment was made, I felt gipped– “un-covered” by the family consecration… Then I calculated further. Wait! How many months before I was born had my mother attended that mission?…Five. Wow! That means I was alive, albeit in her womb. I was part of the family, and in a mysterious way that I’m realizing as I write this reflection, I could even say that I attended that mission also!
And suddenly, on that winter’s day, sitting on the couch with my mother and my daughter, one piece of my life’s puzzle seemed to fall into place with the revelation of that Sacred Heart Family consecration. What a gift my mother had given me, before I even was born, a gift I had never known about for more than fifty years after my birthday.
And I wondered if, heretofore inexplicably to me, that consecration had been the genesis of my Sacred Heart devotion. A devotion to the Eucharistic Sacred Heart of Jesus that had stood years before, when my children were little, between my staying Catholic and leaving the Faith.
So, on the feast of St. Anthony this year, I think back to the Solemn Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated on the day before, and I thank God for the knowledge He revealed from the words on a yellowed certificate that makes His Word truly come alive for me. For the words that St. Paul spoke about himself seemed to apply to me, also. The Lord really did call me from my mother’s womb to be His own, to be close to His Heart forever.
And I wonder who else, like me before seeing the date on the certificate, does not really fully, personally “know” or believe that freely given Grace-filled truth…yet? God calls each of us from the moment of our conception to be His child forever.
Always a child in God’s eyes, I pray the words I first learned as a child, hopefully with more sincere yearning–and not less–than I had when I first said, in rote with other children my age: Sacred Heart of Jesus, we implore, the Grace to love You more and more. Amen.