The power of Mother Teresa’s Flying Novena and praying to St. Anthony
Do you know that feeling when you are sure that God has answered your prayers?
I have felt heaven’s touch in my life mostly through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and St. Anthony. Of course, I know that I can pray directly to God, but although I think about God daily, I mostly ask his Blessed Mother and St. Anthony to approach him for me. I ask Mary because Christ worked his first miracle for her at the Wedding at Cana even though he didn’t want to. “‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come'” (John 2:4).
I reason that Jesus will help me if his Mother asks, even if I don’t deserve it.
I turn to St. Anthony of Padua — the patron saint of lost items — because God must have a special place in his heart for this saint. Our Lord appeared to St. Anthony as baby Jesus and let St. Anthony cradle him in his arms.
When things are dire, I turn to the Blessed Virgin, asking her intercession by saying the Flying Novena — reciting the Memorare prayer 10 times consecutively. This practice originated with St. Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa), who moved mountains with this quick efficacious novena — like the time her biographer, Msgr. Leo Maasburg, got entrance to see the pope without an invitation.
Mother Teresa’s Flying Novena
When Mother Teresa had an emergency, she and her sisters would pray the Memorare nine times for what was required, adding a 10th prayer as a thank you for the Blessed Virgin’s intercession.
Msgr. Maasburg in his book, Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait (Ignatius Press, 2015), said this about the saint’s practice: “She took the collaboration of Heaven so much for granted that she always added a tenth Memorare immediately, in thanksgiving for the favor received.”
The saint didn’t dub the devotion the “Flying Novena.” That title came later when people realized that this prayer works fast when said with confidence and faith.
A toothache and a photographer’s nightmare
Two of the most memorable answers to this novena happened when I prayed for my eldest daughter, Ella. She was suffering terribly from a toothache. Feeling helpless about what I could do for her, I said the Flying Novena. After I finished the prayer, I called her, and she told me that the pain, mercifully, had eased up noticeably.
The second time was when Ella was photographing a wedding. I got a frantic message from her, saying that the lens cleaner had seeped inside her portrait lens and the liquid had completely fogged the lens making it unusable. I told her that the lens would clear when the cleaner evaporated. She said she didn’t have time to wait — a quick search had told her that it could take days to clear — and asked that I pray.
As soon as I finished the 10 prayers, the lens was back to normal.
Ella told me, “Mom, it happened too fast to be a coincidence.”
St. Anthony finds
My go-to saint when I am struggling to find something is St. Anthony. I am not saying that the saint sits in heaven waiting to retrieve something for me, but after asking for his intercession on so many occasions and having received answers, I know that he’s looking out for me. To show him how much I appreciate his heavenly help, I named one of my sons after him — Trystan Anthony.
If it can be found, I am confident that St. Anthony will help me. Sometimes it happens quickly as the time last summer when my daughter, Ella, was searching for an apartment or house to rent, and she was looking for roommates. We were overwhelmed with trying to find her a place to live.
One morning, I was asking St. Anthony for some help because Ella was getting discouraged about finding a place and because three of Ella’s potential roommates had backed out. A few hours later, we went to a birthday party, and I was telling a friend about our apartment-hunting struggles.
She said to me, “I think our property manager has a place that is coming available soon.”
Her husband called the property manager immediately and set up a time for us to see the rental. It was a beautiful potentially four-bedroom home in a sought-after neighborhood. The kicker was that the rental price was a couple of hundred dollars below the average rental costs. A few days later, Ella not only secured the property, but she also found three women who were looking for a place to rent.
It took a year
Other times, it takes St. Anthony a lot longer like in 1984 when my class ring with a sapphire-colored stone went missing for a year. We looked everywhere but to no avail. Then exactly one year later, my little brother, Tom, crawled under the back deck to pet our dog Old Pup. While under the deck, he spied a glint of blue amidst the rock.
He yelled at me, “Lori, I found your class ring!”
I couldn’t believe it. The ring had been a size too big, and it must have fallen off while I was walking on the deck. After having recovered a ring that might never have been found, I always feel sure that if a lost item hasn’t been destroyed, then I will find it.
Looking for a husband?
St. Anthony also finds husbands. When Ella and her roommates moved into their house, they had it blessed, and they dedicated it to the saint. The girls also said a novena to St. Anthony to find husbands, and shortly after one of the roommates met a young man. She’s now engaged.
Some may argue that the resolving of problems and finding of lost things are coincidences or natural occurrences, and some may be, but I have received help too many times from Our Lady and St. Anthony to explain it away. Heaven helps when you ask and if it’s for the good of your soul.