January 3, 2009
The responsorial to Saint Anthony of Padua is an invocation for help in finding lost objects that, according to the rules, can only be taught to a true believer by another true believer in the first hour after midnight on Christmas Eve. There was only one true believer in our family who knew the ’sponsoria, but Auntie Mimi refused to teach it. She had seen quite clearly that her nieces and nephews were delinquent in the true believer department, and then when my cousin Stephen chipped the head of the plaster Anthony on Mimi’s dresser, she dug in her heels. “Never you mind,” she’d say whenever any of us asked, though it came out sounding like “never you mine.” Christmas Eves came and went, and though no one ever learned the ’sponsoria, no one ever doubted that when it came to finding a lost object—like the Francis I silver pie cutter my husband and I lost soon after using it to cut our wedding cake—Auntie Mimi was the one to call.