Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Infant Jesus, Lost and Found

Today, I was scrounging for a lost file.  I could have sworn I had that file at one point; but now I couldn't find it, and I'm going to need it for court tomorrow.  I looked everywhere for it.  I went through my filing cabinet several times; no dice.  I looked in the stacks where we keep inactive files with outstanding bench warrants; no dice.  I sent out an email appeal to all the attorneys in my division; I got one response from one person to tell me he didn't have the file.  I sent the support staff on an all-out file-hunt.  They scoured the closed files, bench warrants, and even other lawyers' offices; but the elusive file was simply not to be found.  It had just disappeared off the face of the earth.

When I was in law school, an Ursuline sister taught me a prayer that she swore by.  Whenever she had lost something, she prayed it; and she declared that she had never been disappointed:

Infant Jesus, lost and found,
Please bring my lost _____ 'round.

Some time later, when I was a young rookie lawyer, I was getting out of court late one afternoon and was anxious to get home and relax.  I went back to the office and got ready to leave -- and couldn't find my keys.  I searched everywhere.  I ran back to the courthouse and, at five minutes to five, started all the bailiffs on a huge manhunt for my keys.  Nobody turned up my keys.  Near despair, I headed back to the office.  I remembered the little prayer.  

Infant Jesus, lost and found,
Please bring my lost keys 'round.

I got back into my office and heaved a sigh of resignation.  I took one more look in my briefcase, which I had already turned inside out several times...and there were the keys.  It was a long time before the bailiffs let me hear the end of that one.

Nor was this the last time this little prayer would save my bacon.  Over the years, I have had many occasions to offer it, and nearly always with positive (and often prompt) results.  Very often, as with the lost keys incident, the article will turn up in plain view in a place where I had already looked half a dozen times.  Admittedly, this may be due at least in part to my lousy powers of observation (for example, it took me five months to notice a sliding door on one end of my kitchen); but I doubt it.

Why does this prayer work so well?  It is certainly not magic: prayer is not a means of manipulating either God or nature.  And prayer is not a vending machine where you put in a dollar and automatically get what you want.  A very few times I have not found the lost article; and then I have to chalk the whole incident up to God's will, and figure that I must be better off with out the object; or else now it will go to someone else who needs it more than I do.  

I suspect this prayer is efficacious because (a) Jesus likes to be honored in His Infancy; (b) Jesus in turn honors the faith from which the prayer springs; and (c) Jesus has a sense of humor.  I think He also uses it as a way to kindle devotion.  Some years ago, one of my coworkers, a Seventh-Day Adventist, was searching frantically for a document.  I told her about the Infant Jesus prayer.  She looked at me like I was nuts, so I said the prayer aloud:

Infant Jesus, lost and found,
Please bring that lost document 'round.

"There," I said, "now you'll find it."  My co-worker started to laugh.  But the laughter died in her throat: there was the lost document, right in front of her.

After all these experiences with the Infant Jesus prayer, you can be sure I did not fail to deploy it this morning when I couldn't find that file.  As a matter of fact, I said it several times throughout the day.  As the day wore on, and the prospects looked bleaker and bleaker, I resigned myself to the idea of having to go to court without that file.

Just at that moment, one of the secretaries charged into my office, bearing the lost file in triumph.  It had been misfiled somewhere, and was discovered quite by chance.  Once again, the Infant Jesus has saved my bacon, and I do not have to look like an idiot in court tomorrow -- at least not on that account.

Infant Jesus, You are little, and so You do not disdain to help us with our little problems.  Thank you for turning up that file for me today.

(And thank You, too, for turning up my cell phone, which I also mislaid today...I can't think how it got where I found it.)

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your passing on that darling little prayer.

    My youngest child loves the Child Jesus, and I'm going to teach her this tonight.

    I'm always bothering St. Anthony, "Dear St. Anthony Please come down, somethings lost and must me found. Dear St. Anthony please help me(My mother, my husband) find........" I taught this to so many "non-catholics" in just that sort of situation. And sweet ole 'Tony always came through. I suspect the Infant Jesus is more palatable to my future Non-catholic friends. Once again thank you and thank you to that wonderful Ursuline Sister!

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  2. We pray to ST. Anthony- One our Father, Three Hail Mary's and a Glory Be. Works just like the prayer the Ursulines taught you!

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