Thought for the Day – 13 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“St Anthony of Padua was not born a saint but he became one as the result of prayer, self-denial and penance, which attracted to him, God’s many graces.
On a summer evening in the year 1219, five mendicant friars arrived at the gate of the ancient Abbey of Coimbra, asking for hospitality from the Canons Regular of St Augustine.
They received a whole-hearted welcome.
When they had refreshed themselves, they revealed that they belonged to the new Religious Family founded by St Francis of Assisi.
They said that they hoped to reach Morocco, in order to convert the Saracens and, if it was God’s pleasure, to receive the palm of Martyrdom.
Amongst the Canons Regular, who were listening to them, was the youthful Anthony, who had already consecrated his life to God.
Not long afterwards, this little band of Franciscan Missionaries, was cut down by the scimitars of the infidels and became a glorious band of Martyrs.
Their bodies were brought back in triumph to the Abbey which they had visited and there they were buried with great honour.
When they were going away, Anthony had listened enthusiastically to all that they had said and felt a noble envy.
Now that he was in the presence of their hallowed remains, he experienced an urge to follow in their footsteps.
St Anthony joined the Franciscan Order and joyfully set off for the coast of Morocco in search of Missionary labour and of Martyrdom.
But, when he landed on African soil, he was struck down by a serious attack of malaria, which compelled him to return to his native land.
There is no foreseeing the designs of Divine Providence.
The boat in which Anthony was travelling was battered by a tempest and had to go ashore in Italy.
Henceforward, Italy was Anthony’s second fatherland.
It was here, that he conducted his remarkable and fruitful apostolate and slowly accomplished his Martyrdom, by the daily struggle for perfection.
This, is a headline for us!
We may not have been called to go and spread the faith amongst the infidels, at the risk of Martyrdom.
But, we have all been called to a state of holiness.
Perfection, moreover, is a gradual Martyrdom.
The heroic daily effort which is required to abstain from sin and to overcome the wayward tendencies of our nature, can fairly be said, to be, no less difficult, than a bloody Martyrdom.
This is the kind of Martyrdom which we must all endure.
St Anthony of Padua, will obtain for us the grace, to undergo it with the same generosity and constancy, which he displayed.”