13 June 2011

'I'd be lost without St Anthony'

This post is by way of making amends to St Anthony of Padua. I must confess that he impinges on my life only when I can't find something. He has never failed me. I do thank him when I find the lost object - and then forget him till the next time.

On one occasion when I was doing a mission appeal in the west of Ireland I was chatting with the sacristan. We got around to St Anthony and how he had helped both us of. She then mentioned something that for the life of her she couldn't find. We both prayed to this saint from Lisbon, Portugal, but associated with Padua, Italy. Then we found the lost object - right in front of us in the sacristy!

The hymn above was written by a Filipino Franciscan friar, Fr Mariano Montero OFM, and sung at the shrine of St Anthony in Sampaloc, Manila.

This great saint is a doctor of the Church and was known as 'The Hammer of Heretics'. Here is an extract from his writings, part of the reading for the saint's feast day in the Office of Readings. It is most appropriate for the day after Pentecost, whcih used to be known as Whit Monday and was celebrated liturgically as an extension of this great feast. It still is by those who use the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I remember it was one of the days when my late father would drag me to High Mass in one of the churches run by the Franciscans, Capuchins or Dominicans in Dublin. Whit Monday used be a holiday in the Republic of Ireland. In 1973 the holiday was transferred to the first Monday in June by our wise legislators in Dublin, the link with Pentecost broken.

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: “A law is laid upon the preacher to practise what he preaches.” It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.

But the apostles spoke as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech. Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself! For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim the credit for them. The Lord refers to such men and others like them in Jeremiah: So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets that steal my words from each other. I have a quarrel with the prophets, says the Lord, who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, who recount them and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for this people, says the Lord.

We should speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfilment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendour of the saints and to look upon the triune God.


Victor S E Moubarak said...

I too often pray to St Anthony when I've lost something, then forget him afterwards. I hope he forgives me.

He's never let me down. I wonder where/how/why this belief about him originated.

When I've lost something and search for it everywhere, it is always in the last place I look. That's because when I've found it I stop looking!

God bless.

Crux Fidelis said...

Thirty years ago on the Feast of St Anthony of Padua I left seminary, never to return (except as a visitor). I often wonder if I found the right thing.