By Kaitlin Klein
Chances are you've seen J.M.J. written at the top of a letter, or on Fulton Sheen's blackboard on his TV show. Growing up, I learned to put these letters underneath the stamp on an envelope when mailing a letter. The abbreviation stands for "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" and dedicates the letter or work to them. Offering "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" as a prayer before beginning to write could allow the content to be worthy of those whose initials are above. Dedicating our communications to the Lord can be nothing but beneficial, and another way to immerse ourselves in the reality of living with Christ.
The meaning behind J.M.J. is perhaps easy to ascertain. But if you've ever seen S.A.G. on a letter, you may wonder (like I did) what it stands for. Traditionally on the front, bottom left corner of the envelope, but also sometimes hidden beneath the stamp or envelope flap, those wishing to mark their correspondence with a sign of faith and to pray for its safe arrival to the recipient may write this abbreviation. S.A.G. stands for St. Anthony guide or St. Anthony guard. St. Anthony of Padua is well known as a wonder-worker and as one who helps find lost things. He also particularly helps those traveling, especially by sea, and safely delivers letters and mailings to their proper destination.
St. Anthony once wished to take a time of rest in a secluded location close to Padua. He received permission to send a letter to his superior to ask about this retreat. When Anthony returned to his desk to retrieve the already-written letter, it was nowhere to be found. Searching all over without success, Anthony was resigned that it was not meant to be, and he let go of all thoughts about it. Shortly after, he went back to his desk, and there was a new letter there – a response to his, granting permission for his desired time away.
Countless people have been aided by St. Anthony. Stories abound of lost items being found, safe deliveries from danger and other miracles. St. Anthony showed the power of his intercession when the wife of Antonio Dante sent letter after letter to her husband from her home country of Spain to Lima, where he was establishing a business. She never received a reply, and she went to a nearby Church of St. Francis in Oviedo, where she placed a letter in the hands of the statue of St. Anthony. She fully trusted that he would deliver her letter safely to her husband. When she returned the next day, a letter remained in the statue's hands. Antonio's wife was upset and asked St. Anthony why he had not followed through on her request. A Brother sacristan came over to see the woman in tears. He noted that he had been unable to remove the letter from St. Anthony's hands, on multiple attempts; but the wife easily was able to take the letter. Three hundred gold coins then fell from the sleeve of the statue, and the letter was a joyful reply from Antonio Dante, grateful that he had finally heard from his wife and promising to send 300 coins. The original letter is preserved at Oviedo.
May we faithfully rely on the help of the angels and saints and not be afraid to confidently add a few letters to our envelopes.