Thought for the Day – 8 August – The Memorial of Ven Antonio Margil of Jesus OFM (1657-1726) “The Flying Father”
A quarter century before St Junípero Serra began his California adventure, there was an extraordinary Franciscan carrying out a great work of evangelisation across Central America, Mexico and finally, Texas. In his zeal to spread the Catholic faith, he faced inclement weather, hostile animals, forest insects and reptiles, lack of food and water and cruel treatment from hostile Indian tribes.
The life of Fr Antonio Margil of Jesus is an epic story of a man who seems larger than life. Barefoot, carrying only a staff, breviary and the materials he needed to say Mass, he established hundreds of missions in a territory extending from the jungles of Costa Rica to east Texas and the borders of Louisiana. Countless Indians of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Texas received the divine gift of faith from him and revered him a saint. For this, he is called the Apostle of New Spain and Texas.
In 1697, Fr Margil was recalled to Querétaro as superior, or presidente, of the Franciscan College of the Holy Cross, and a new phase of his life began as an administrator. When he reached the College, Fr Margil took off the ragged habit he had worn and mended for 14 years, patching it at times with bark from a certain tree called the mastastes and exchanged it for a new one, thus avoiding the least shadow of singularity.
As superior, he never dispensed himself from any public act or expected anything but what he himself practised. To maintain accuracy and the decorum of ritual, he imposed upon his religious the obligation of holding a conference once a week on the ceremonies of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The friar who loved “Lady Poverty” exhorted his brethren and the faithful to ornament the altars and churches as much as they could, so they might be worthy of the divine majesty of God.
For Our Lord, there was nothing too rich or decorous. For himself, it was a different story. With the exception of Sunday, he fasted every day, taking a few herbs, a piece of bread and some water or watered down chocolate once a day. He permitted himself sleep only from 8 to 11 every evening. He was wakened then by the brother porter and together they read a chapter from The Mystical City of God by María de Agreda. After praying the Divine Office at midnight, he made the Stations and would remain in prayer until the hour of Prime, absorbed in God.
The barefoot friar who walked on water in his extraordinary missionary work was a man of deep humility. More than once he was tortured, beaten, or left for dead. His name, which deserves to be known and his fame spread is Venerable Antonio Margil of Jesus, who titled himself and signed his letters as El Nada Mismo – Nothingness Itself.
“Do not forget your nothingness, no matter what others may do to you. Do not fear, so long as you live, Antonio, any demon greater than that called ‘I.’”
Let us Pray that Venerable Antonio that he may soon be raised to the altars of the most high!
Prayer for the Intercession of Venerable Antonio
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Your apostle Antonio Margil of Jesus,
left his homeland to bring
the Gospel of Salvation to the people
of Mexico and the United States.
He endured every hardship
and pain for love of You.
May You graciously deign
to reward Your servant Antonio
by hastening the day
when he will be raised
to the honour of Blessed and Saint.
We ask that Venerable Antonio Margil
intercede for us before God
by answering this request.
………………………………. (make your request)
Through Christ Our Lord,
Quote/s of the Day – 8 August – The Memorial of St Dominic (1170-1221)
“We must sow the seed, not hoard it.”
“Heretics are to be converted by an example of humility and other virtues far more readily, than by any external display or verbal battles. So let us arm ourselves with devout prayers and set off, showing signs of genuine humility and go barefooted to combat Goliath.”
One Minute Reflection – 8 August – Thursday of the Eighteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 16:13–23 and The Memorial of St Dominic (1170-1221)
“Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld, shall not prevail against it” … Matthew 16:18
REFLECTION – “This was the perplexity of believers in the old time, as we read in the Psalms and Prophets, viz. that the wicked should prosper, while God’s servants seemed to fail and so, in Gospel times. Not that the Church has not this peculiar prerogative with it, which no other religious body has, that as it began with Christ’s first coming, so it will never fail till He comes again.
Nevertheless, for a time, in the course of single generations, nay, I may say, in every age and at all times, it seems to be failing and its enemies to be prevailing. It is the peculiarity of the warfare between the Church and the world, that the world seems ever gaining on the Church, yet the Church is really, ever gaining on the world… Kingdoms rise and fall, nations expand and contract, dynasties begin and end, princes are born and die, confederacies are made and unmade and parties and companies and crafts and guilds and establishments and philosophies and sects and heresies. They have their day but the Church is eternal, yet in their day they seem of much account…
Much there is to try our faith at this moment, who cannot see the future and, therefore, cannot see the short duration of what shows proudly and successfully now. We at this day, see a number of philosophies, sects and parties, thriving and extending and the Church seems poor and helpless… Let us pray God to teach us – we need His teaching, we are very blind. The Apostles on one occasion said to Christ, when His words tried them, “Increase our faith” (Lk 17:5). Let us come to Him honestly, we cannot help ourselves, we do not know ourselves, we need His grace. Whatever perplexity the world gives us… let us come to Him with pure and sincere minds, imploring Him to reveal to us what we know not, to incline our hearts when they are stubborn and to make us love and obey Him honestly while we seek.” … Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Cardinal, Founder of the Oratory in England, Theologian – Sermons on Subjects of the Day, no.6, “ Faith and Experience ”
PRAYER – Lord God, may holy Mother Church be our guide at all times. May we never stray from the teachings of the Bride of Your divine Son and may she remain always in Your care. May the prayers of Saint Dominic assist us in our day and may his zeal be our inspiration to always fight the good fight. Through Christ our Lord and Saviour, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God for always and forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 8 August – The Memorial of St Dominic (1170-1221)
St Dominic’s Blessing
May God the Father,
who made us, bless us.
May God the Son,
send His healing among us.
May God the Holy Spirit,
move within us
and give us eyes to see with,
ears to hear with,
and hands, that Your work,
might be done.
May we walk and preach
the word of God to all.
May the angel of peace
watch over us
and lead us at last,
by God’s grace,
to the Kingdom.
Saint of the Day – 8 August – Venerable Antonio Margil of Jesus OFM (1657-1726) Franciscan Priest and Friar, Missionary, ascetic, mystic, miracle-worker, apostle of prayer and penance, administrator, known as the “Apostle of New Spain and Texas” and the “Flying Father” – born Antonio Margil on 18 August 1657 in Valencia, Spain and died on 6 August 1726 in Mexico City, Mexico aged 68, of natural causes.
Venerable Antonio laboured tirelessly as missionary, miracle-worker, servant of the Lord throughout the Americas. While others gave him such laudable nicknames, ever humble Antonio referred to himself as “La Misma Nada,” translated as “Nothingness Itself.” At his eulogy, it was said of him: “All America was the witness and the scene of his virtues and miracles . To trace his journeys among the pagans, turn your eyes to east and west, to north and south and you will find him in all these places, leading a very austere life, crossing mountains, combating the evil spirits until he had triumphantly planted his foundations. The widely scattered provinces of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, of Honduras and Chol and Panama, of Coahuila and Tejas – all of them heard his apostolic voice.”
Antonio was born in Valencia, Spain and at the young age of 15 joined the Franciscan Order at La Corona de Cristo. Ordained at 25, he was assigned to “New Spain” and made the voyage to Mexico where he was initially stationed at the newly established Mission college of Queretaro. Like other new world missionaries (for example, Junipero Serra in California, twenty-five years later), Antonio encountered difficult living and harsh conditions. Never one to complain, he embraced his challenges as mortifications, offering his sufferings to the Lord for the sake of those he preached to.
Over the course of his life, Antonio would travel throughout Mexico and Central America. His first two missions were to Guatemala and Nicaragua, where he founded colleges. He became known for his fierce preaching, life of penance and prayers, miracle-working and ability to read souls. He survived multiple attacks, including being burned in a pile of flaming wood by the Talamanca Indians. Rather than be injured, he walked unharmed from the pyre as the flames died. Similarly, reports were told of Anthony walking across swollen streams or rivers without getting wet and multiplied small quantities of food so that entire villages could eat for months on end.
While on his mission, Antonio received notice that he had been elected Father Guardian (Superior) of the Holy Cross Monastery in Queretero. Requested to return, he left immediately, covering the 700 mile distance barefoot (without a mule) in only 14 days. Once at the monastery, Father Antonio governed fairly and through his own example of exact observance of the Rule of the Order, penance, mortification, fasting and prayer. His favourite devotion was to that of the Stations of the Cross, which he prayed through the streets each Friday, barefoot, carrying a large cross, with a rope around his neck and a crown of thorns atop his head. In Guatemala alone, he established more than 2,500 Ways of the Cross to encourage this devotion.
Similarly, in a miraculous occurrence, a tree sprouted and grew in the courtyard garden of the monastery where Anthony stuck his walking stick into the ground one afternoon. After a few days, it became clear that the walking stick had sprouted and began growing into a tree. The miraculous tree produces a series of small thorns, each it the form of a cross along its trunk and branches. Each cross, in turn, presents three smaller thorns recognising the spikes of the crucifixion. The tree, which is unlike any other in the world, continues to grow in the monastery courtyard today.
At approximately the age of 60, Antonio was appointed vice-commissary of Missions of New Spain and was granted the right to establish missions wherever he thought the most work for the Lord could be accomplished. Having heard of the Indians of Texas, who lived in horrible conditions, he became intent on journeying to Texas to establish missions on their behalf. The journey was difficult due to weather, hostile animals and Indian tribes, insects, reptiles, hunger and lack of water. He was repeatedly captured and tortured, beaten and left for dead but never gave up. Walking barefoot through the harsh terrain, he established multiple missions throughout the region. Bringing nothing with him, he relied each day on the provisions of the Lord, which were never withheld from him.
Throughout his journeys, Antonio worked further miracles, kept peace between natives and settlers and founded multiple missions—some of which needed to be abandoned during the war between France and Spain in 1719. One of his most famous miracles occurred during a journey from Nacogdoches when his band of travellers found themselves without water and with no hope of finding any. Faint with thirst, Antoniosaid: “Fear not, do not be dismayed. Trust in God, for in a short time you shall have water.” Then striking a rock in the dry creek bed twice with his staff, fresh and clear water gushed forth and continues to flow to this day. The area is named in his honour.
Given Antonio’s great success at missionary work and the unmatched peace-keeping and influence, he had on all he encountered, he was sent on various missions in his elder years including travel to Zacatecas, Guadalajar, and other towns. These rigorous trips took their toll on his declining health and it soon became clear that he would not live much longer. When the people noted this, they began to surround him, cutting pieces from his travel cloak as holy relics. He was sent to Mexico City for medical attention and upon arrival declared to his superior: “Reverend Father Superior, the donkey has come here to deposit its burden.”
Antonio insisted on making a last confession, which due to the nature of his life, was quite short (given that he had few faults to confess). His confessor, having difficulty finding sufficient sin to absolve him of, paused with a look of wonder and confusion. Seeing this, Antonio said, “If Your Reverence should see a ball of gold suspended by a hair, though gold is very heavy, would you think that it was supported by itself? Now, I have been a poor creature, liable to fall at any moment and if God had not kept His omnipotent hand over me, I do not know what I might have done.”
His illness lasted five days, but he never complained of sufferings or asked the least relief, although he suffered greatly. He was heard preaching, singing hymns, invoking the holy names of Jesus and Mary, reprimanding sinners with kindness and charity and reciting the Rosary. On 5 August, a picture of Our Lady of Remedies, the Patroness of Valencia, his hometown in Spain,was brought to him and he greeted her lovingly saying, “Until tomorrow, my dearly beloved Lady.” The following day, on the feast of the Transfiguration, he died peacefully. Just short of his 69th birthday, Antonio had served the Lord with profound humility for nearly 53 years, 43 of which as a missionary in North and Central America.
When notice of his death was given, all the bells of the Mexico City began to ring announcing it. Citizens of all ages and conditions lined up to see the mortal remains of the Servant of God, exposed for three days in the Franciscan church and surrounded by guards to protect it from the multitudes. His face, pallid in life, had now assumed a rosy hue, his limbs remained flexible, his flesh warm. His feet, worn to leather and covered with rough calluses from the thousands of miles he had trod, became soft and supple like those of a child.
Shortly after his death the process for beatification was begun. But because of grave political situation in Europe, the process was interrupted and only in 1836 was he declared Venerable by Pope Gregory XVI.
Why he is not a saint yet? In 1992 the archivist of the Vatican Congregation for Causes of Saints and the Franciscan promoter of the cause, stated as soon as there is an approved miracle attributed to the intercession of Fr Margil, he will be beatified and then after a second miracle, he will be Canonised. Miracles can be reported to The Margil House of Studies, in Houston, Tx.
St Aemilian of Cyzicus
St Altman of Passau Ven Antonio/Margil of Jesus OFM (1657-1726)
St Cyriacus the Martyr
St Eleutherius of Constantinople
St Famianus of Compostela
St Gedeon of Besancon
St Hormisdas of Persia
Bl John Felton
Bl John Fingley
St Leobald of Fleury
St Leonidas of Constantinople
St Marinus of Anzarba St Mary of the Cross/ Mary MacKillop (1842-1909) – the first Australian born Saint Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2018/08/08/saint-of-the-day-st-mary-of-the-cross-1842-1909/
St Mummolus of Fleury
St Myron the Wonder Worker
St Paulus Ge Tingzhu
St Rathard of Diessen
St Severus of Vienne
St Ternatius of Besançon
St Ultan of Crayke
Bl William of Castellammare di Stabia
Bl Wlodzimierz Laskowski
Martyrs of Albano – 4 saints: Four Christians who were martyred together, and about we today know little more than their names – Carpóforo, Secondo, Severiano and Vittorino. They were martyred in Albano, Italy – their remains are interred in the San Senator cemetery, on the Appian Way, 15 miles from Rome, Italy.
Martyrs of Rome – 5 saints: Five Christians martyred together; we know nothing else about them but the names – Ciriaco, Crescenziano, Giuliana, Memmia and Smaragdus. They were martyred at the 7 mile marker, on the Via Ostia, Rome, Italy.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War – Martyrs of El Saler – 5 beati: Five nuns, all members of the Sisters of the Pious Schools, all teachers, and all martyred together in the Spanish Civil War.
• Antonia Riba Mestres
• Maria Baldillou Bullit
• María Luisa Girón Romera
• Nazaria Gómez Lezaun
• Pascuala Gallén Martí
They were martyred on 8 August 1936 in El Saler, Valencia, Spain and Beatified on 11 March 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Bl Cruz Laplana Laguna
Bl Fernando Español Berdie
Bl Leoncio López Ramos
Bl Manuel Aranda Espejo
Bl Mariano Pina Turón
Bl Pedro Álvarez Pérez