Today is the Feast of a Saint I grew up knowing absolutely nothing about. I had no idea there was a saint dedicated to helping us find things that we had lost. Although little is known about this great Saint, which could explain why I never grew up knowing about him, it has become a pious tradition to pray to him to assist us in finding lost objects. In appreciation for finding an item, it is customary to bake a special cake which bears his name. Today is the Feast of Saint Phanourios, the Martyr.
I’m not really sure why I never knew about him growing up. I went to Church every Sunday, served as an Altar Boy, sang in the choir, was GOYA (youth group) President, attended church summer camp. I did just about everything there is to do growing up Greek Orthodox in America, but I never about Saint Phanourios until I was an adult and married. He was very well known to my wife’s family, and thus I became acquainted with him. I’m so happy I did, as I suspect he helped me find a bit of something that was lost in me.
There are many types of things we can lose, well beyond physical possessions. We can lose our faith and way in life. When that happens, we can turn to the Saints, not just Saint Phanourios, to help us regain our spiritual strength and help us get back on track. I think that is what Saint Phanourios helped me find. He helped me find my desire to communicate with the Saints. Growing up, I knew who the Saints were, but I never had a relationship with them. I admit that I didn’t even know much about my Patron, Saint Athanasios, let alone talk to him.
And so, as my faithful wife taught me, and Saint Phanourios helped me, I found that I loved the Saints enough to read about them for inspiration, and to talk to them for assistance. Afterall, the Saints lived in the world just like I do. Why I never thought they could help me is a mystery. It is also one of the reasons I decided to establish Be Transfigured Ministries. In my years of church work (I’m nearing my 30th anniversary of professional church work) I have encountered so many who ‘just go through the motions’ of being Orthodox. They are faithful, but they don’t fully appreciate the joy that is the Orthodox Christian Faith. I had lost it, and Saint Phanourios helped by find it.
Before concluding, I do want to share a true story about Saint Phanourios helping me find something. One day, a priest had misplaced his new sweater and he was looking for it frantically in his office. As I entered his office, he asked me if I had seen it, which I had not, and I began to help him in his search. He said his pager was in the pocket too, which made the search all the more important. This was long before cell phones were an everyday part of business. A priest without a pager was a community without a priest, so I prayed. “Saint Phanourious, please help us find the sweater. It’s not so much the sweater, but the pager is in the pocket. If we don’t find the pager, then people won’t be able to contact Fr XXX when they need him.” We had been looking for over an hour in his office by the time I had said the prayer, when suddenly we turned around and the pager was sitting on his desk. “Thank you, Saint Phanourios!” I called out. The priest never did find his sweater…
Have you lost your way? Have you lost hope? Have you lost the passion for the Church? Pray today to Saint Phanourios, and I’m sure he can help. He helped me.