Thought for the Day – 5 July – Friday of the Thirteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year Cand the Memorial of St Anthony Mary Zaccaria CRSP (1502-1539)
The main devotion and teachings of the orders founded by Saint Anthony were those of Saint Paul, with an emphasis on love for the Eucharist and the suffering of Christ crucified. Dedicated to reformation of the clergy, Saint Anthony earned himself enemies within the church and was twice accused of heresy (both times acquitted). So humble, he refused to serve as superior of his orders, instead travelling, reforming convents and monasteries and extending the membership of the laity.
St Anthony is also known for popularising and renewing, the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, known as the Forty-hour devotion. He also is said to have originated the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays, in recognition of the hour of the crucifixion of Christ.
What is the Forty Hours Devotion?
Forty Hours’ Devotion, in Italian called Quarant’ore or Quarantore, is an exercise of devotion in which continuous prayer is made for forty hours before the Blessed Sacrament in solemn exposition and to which Indulgences are attached. A celebration of such a devotion is begun by a Solemn Mass or “Mass of Exposition” and ended by a “Mass of Deposition”. Each of these masses includes a procession and the litany of the saints being chanted.
Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman (1802-1865), first Archbishop of Westminster, England, observed of the Forty Hours:
“In no other time or place, is the sublimity of our religion so touchingly felt. No ceremony is going forward in the sanctuary, no sound of song is issuing from the choir, no voice of exhortation proceeds from the pulpit, no prayer is uttered aloud at the altar. There are hundreds there and yet they are engaged in no congregational act of worship. Each heart and soul is alone in the midst of a multitude; each uttering its own thoughts, each feeling its own grace. Yet you are overpowered, subdued, quelled, into a reverential mood, softened into a devotional spirit, forced to mediate, to feel, to pray. The little children who come in, led by a mother’s hand, kneel down by her in silence, as she simply points toward the altar, overawed by the still splendour before them – the very babe seems hushed to quiet reverence in her bosom.” — From “The Sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church,” by Andrew A. Lambing
St Anthony died peacefully at age 36 and was buried in the convent of the Angelics of Saint Paul in Milan. His incorrupt body was translated to the Church of Saint Barnabas in Milan. He is survived by the legacy of the orders he founded, as well as several letters, sermons and other writings in service of the Lord.