Thought for the Day – The Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua OFM (1195-1231) Doctor of the Church, 13 June
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Saint Anthony of Padua
Priest and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from Sermon, I #226
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 practice 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.
Saint of the Day – 13 June – St Anthony of Padua OFM (1195-1231) Doctor of the Church
The gospel call, to leave everything and follow Christ, was the rule of Saint Anthony of Padua’s life. Over and over again, God called him to something new in his plan. Every time, Anthony responded with renewed zeal and self-sacrificing to serve his Lord Jesus more completely.
His journey as the servant of God began as a very young man when he decided to join the Augustinians in Lisbon, giving up a future of wealth and power, to be a servant of God. Later, when the bodies of the first Franciscan martyrs went through the Portuguese city where he was stationed, he was again filled with an intense longing to be one of those closest to Jesus Himself: those who die for the Good News.
So Anthony entered the Franciscan Order and set out to preach to the Moors. But an illness prevented him from achieving that goal. He went to Italy and was stationed in a small hermitage where he spent most of his time praying, reading the Scriptures and doing menial tasks.
The call of God came again at an general chapter where no one was prepared to speak. The humble and obedient Anthon,y hesitantly accepted the task. The years of searching for Jesus in prayer, of reading sacred Scripture and of serving Him in poverty, chastity and obedience, had prepared Anthony to allow the Spirit to use his talents. Anthony’s sermon was astounding to those who expected an unprepared speech and knew not the Spirit’s power to give people words.
Recognised as a great man of prayer and a great Scripture and theology scholar, Anthony became the first friar to teach theology to the other friars. Soon he was called from that post to preach to the Albigensians in France, using his profound knowledge of Scripture and theology, to convert and reassure those, who had been misled by their denial of Christ’s divinity and of the sacraments..
After he led the friars in northern Italy for three years, he made his headquarters in the city of Padua. He resumed his preaching and began writing sermon notes to help other preachers. In the spring of 1231, Anthony withdrew to a friary at Camposampiero, where he had a sort of treehouse built as a hermitage. There he prayed and prepared for death.
On 13 June, he became very ill and asked to be taken back to Padua, where he died after receiving the last sacraments. Anthony was Canonised less than a year later and named a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
Anthony should be the patron of those, who find their lives completely uprooted and set in a new and unexpected direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one’s life completely over to Christ. God did with Anthony as God pleased—and what God pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today heaping miracle upon miracle during Anthony’s lifetime. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects, found himself by losing himself totally, to the providence of God.
St Anthony writes: “Christ, who is your life, is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross, as in a mirror. There you will be able to know, how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine other, than the Blood of the Son of God, could heal. If you look closely, you will be able to realise, how great your human dignity and your value are…. Nowhere other than looking at himself, in the mirror of the Cross, can man better understand how much he is worth”(Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, pp. 213-214).
In meditating on these words we are better able to understand the importance of the image of the Crucified One for our culture, for our humanity that is born from the Christian faith. Precisely by looking at the Crucified One we see, as St Anthony says, how great are the dignity and worth of the human being. At no other point can we understand how much the human person is worth, precisely because, God makes us so important, considers us so important that, in His opinion, we are worthy of His suffering, thus, all human dignity appears in the mirror of the Crucified One and our gazing upon Him is ever a source of acknowledgement of human dignity…..Pope Benedict XVI (General Audience – February 10, 2010)
St Anthony of Padua, pray for us!
Wonderful St Anthony the miracle worker: https://anastpaul.com/2018/06/13/saint-of-the-day-13-june-st-anthony-of-padua-o-f-m-evangelical-doctor-hammer-of-heretics-professor-of-miracles-wonder-worker-ark-of-the-tes/
Celebrating St Anthony: https://anastpaul.com/2017/06/13/celebrating-the-life-and-miracles-of-st-anthony-of-padua-on-his-memorial-today-13-june/
O God, send forth Your Holy Spirit By St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) Doctor of the Church
send forth Your Holy Spirit
into my heart
that I may perceive,
into my mind,
that I may remember,
and into my soul,
that I may meditate.
Inspire me to speak
Teach, guide and direct my thoughts
and senses, from beginning to end.
May Your grace,
ever help and correct me,
and may I be strengthened now
with wisdom from on high,
for the sake of Your infinite mercy.
News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad and he exhorted them all, to remain faithful to the Lord, with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord...Acts 11:22-24
“While we cannot see God, there is something we can do, to open a way, for the eye of our understanding to come to Him. It is certain that we can see now in His servants, one whom we can in no way see in Himself. When we see them doing astonishing things, we can be sure that God dwells in their hearts… None of us can look directly at the rising sun by gazing at its orb. Our eyes are repelled as they strain to see its rays. But we look at mountains bathed in sunlight and see that it has risen. Because we cannot see the Sun of righteousness (Mal 3,20) Himself, let us see the mountains bathed in His brightness, I mean the holy apostles. They shine with virtues and gleam with miracles… The power of His divinity, is in itself, like the sun in the sky; in human beings it is like the sun shining on earth…”
St Pope Gregory the Great (c 540-604), Father & Doctor of the Church
Today is the First Feast Day since his Canonisation, of dearly beloved St Pope Paul VI. So, although a rather belated post for those in the Southern Hemisphere, I simply could not allow this day to go unrecorded.
Saint of the Day – 29 May – St Pope Paul Paul VI (1897-1978), born Giovanni Battista Montini, on 26 September 1897, at Concesio, near Brescia, Italy—died 6 August 1978, at Castel Gandolfo. Priest, Bishop of Rome, Social Reformer. He reigned 1963–1978 during a period including most of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and the immediate postconciliar era, in which he issued directives and guidance to a changing Roman Catholic Church. His pontificate was confronted with the problems and uncertainties of a church facing a new role in the contemporary world. His Mottos were: Cum Ipso in monte (With Him on the mount) and In nomine Domini (In the name of the Lord). Patronages – Archdiocese of Milan and the Ambrosian Rite, Paul VI Pontifical Institute, Second Vatican Council, Diocese of Brescia, Concesio (his birth town), Magenta and Paderno Dugnano.
Early Life And Career
The son of a middle-class lawyer—who was also a journalist and local political figure—and of a mother belonging to the same social background, Montini was in his early years educated mainly at home because of frail health. Later he studied in Brescia. Ordained a priest on 29 May 1920, he was sent by his bishop to Rome for higher studies and was eventually recruited for the Vatican diplomatic service. His first assignment, in May 1923, was to the staff of the Apostolic Nunciature (papal ambassador’s post) in Warsaw but persistent ill health brought him back to Rome before the end of that same year. He then pursued special studies at the Ecclesiastical Academy, the training school for future Vatican diplomats and at the same time resumed work at the Vatican Secretariat of State, where he remained in posts of increasing importance for more than 30 years.
In 1939 Montini was appointed Papal Undersecretary of state and later, in 1944, acting Secretary for Ordinary (or non-diplomatic) affairs. He declined an invitation to be elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1953. In the beginning of November 1954, Pope Pius XII appointed him Archbishop of Milan and St Pope John XXIII named him a Cardinal in 1958.
He was elected pope on 21 June 1963, choosing to be known as Paul VI.
Vatican II And Paul VI’s Pontificate
The Montini pontificate began in the period following the difficult first session of the Second Vatican Council, in which the new pope had played an important, though not spectacular, part. His lengthy association with university students in the stormy atmosphere of the early days of the fascist regime in Italy, in combination with the generally philosophical bent of his mind—developed by a long-standing habit of extensive and reflective reading—enabled him to bring to the perplexing problems of the times an academic understanding, coupled with the knowledge derived from long years of practical diplomatic experience. Paul VI guided the three remaining sessions of the Second Vatican Council, often developing points he had first espoused as Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. His chief concern was that the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century should be a faithful witness to the tradition of the past, except when tradition was obviously anachronistic.
Upon the completion of the council (8 December 1965), Paul VI was confronted with the formidable task of implementing its decisions, which affected practically every facet of church life. He approached this task with a sense of the difficulty involved in making changes in centuries-old structures and practices—changes rendered necessary by many rapid transformations in the social, psychological, and political milieu of the 20th century. Paul VI’s approach was consistently one of careful assessment of each concrete situation, with a sharp awareness of the many varied complications that he believed could not be ignored.
This prevalently philosophical attitude was often construed by his critics as timidity, indecision and uncertainty. Nonetheless, many of Paul VI’s decisions in these crucial years called for immense courage. In July 1968 he published his encyclical Humanae vitae (“Of Human Life”), which reaffirmed the stand of several of his predecessors on the long-smouldering controversy over artificial means of birth control, which he opposed. In many sectors this encyclical provoked adverse reactions that may be described as the most violent attacks on the authority of papal teaching in modern times. Similarly, his firm stand on the retention of priestly celibacy (Sacerdotalis caelibatus, June 1967) evoked much harsh criticism. Paul VI later likened the large numbers of priests leaving the ministry to a “crown of thorns.”He also was disturbed by the growing numbers of religious men and women asking for release from vows or who were abandoning out of hand their religious vows.
From the very outset of his years as pope, Paul VI gave clear evidence of the importance he attached to the study and the solution of social problems and to their impact on world peace. Social questions had already been prominent in his far-reaching pastoral program in Milan (1954–63). During those years he had travelled extensively in the Americas and in Africa, centring his attention mainly on concern for workers and for the poor. Such problems dominated his first encyclical letter, Ecclesiam suam (“His Church”), 6 August 1964 and later became the insistent theme of his celebrated Populorum progressio (“Progress of the Peoples”), 26 March 1967. This encyclical was such a pointed plea for social justice that in some conservative circles the pope was accused of Marxism. (- ring any bells folks?)
In an address to the Council Fathers at the end of the first session of the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Montini formulated a question that may be called the theme of his pastoral service as pontiff: “Church of Christ, what say you of yourself?” In an effort to answer this fundamental question, Paul VI undertook a series of apostolic journeys that were unparalleled occasions for a pope to set foot on every continent. His first journey was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (January 1964), highlighted by his historic meeting with the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, in Jerusalem. At the end of that same year, he went to India, becoming the first pope to visit Asia. The following year (4 October 1965), in the first visit by a pope to the United States, he delivered a moving plea for peace at a special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City and said mass at Yankee Stadium. In 1967 he undertook short visits to Fátima (Portugal) and to Istanbul and Ephesus (Turkey), a journey that had special ecumenical significance – a second meeting with Athenagoras in the patriarch’s own episcopal city (Constantinople). In August 1968 the pope went to Bogotá, Colombia, and he appeared before the International Labour Organisation and the World Council of Churches in Geneva in June 1969. The following month he was in Uganda, East Africa. In the autumn of 1970 he undertook the longest papal journey in modern history up to that time – 10 days spent in visits to Tehrān, Pakistan, the Philippines, Western Samoa (now Samoa), Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), each stop bringing Paul VI into personal contact with different peoples of the world of the Universal Catholic Church! His arrival in Manila almost ended in tragedy – within minutes of his descent from the plane, an attempt was made on his life but with no serious injury.
The themes treated by Paul VI on these trips were basically the same – world peace, social justice, world hunger, illiteracy, brotherhood under God and international cooperation.
Social And Ecumenical Interests
On 6 January 1971, in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican, Paul VI conferred the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize on the Albanian-born Mother Teresa, who had spent most of her life in India, where she had founded a special religious congregation of women dedicated to the alleviation of the countless ills of the poorest classes in the country. Paul VI declared on this occasion that the award was intended to centre attention on how even a humble individual without means can further world peace without fanfare, simply by proving in day-to-day action that “every man is my brother.” Here, as in other instances, Paul’s aim was to confront the world at large with the inescapable problems of justice and peace while at the same time proving conclusively that even these apparently insoluble problems can and must be settled with realistic courage and individual perseverance.
Paul VI’s human concern found further expression in his efforts to lessen the long-standing tensions between the church of Rome and other churches and even with those professing no religion at all. He sought out closer understanding with numerous religious leaders throughout the world, both Christian and non-Christian, placing more emphasis on those aspects that unite the churches than on those that divide. To show that mutual acquaintance is at the very foundation of any plans or hopes for unity, Pope Paul met with prominent religious leaders from various communities in Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union as well as other countries. Paul VI also set up a special secretariat for nonbelievers, stressing the need of understanding and endeavouring to solve the problems posed by atheism.
Under his guidance the Roman Catholic Church drastically revised its legislation governing marriages between its own members and those who profess other faiths, expressing a firm desire to diminish the threat of human tragedy following possible clashes of individual consciences. For this reason Paul VI’s motu proprio was welcomed and praised for its understanding of human problems and its desire to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of mixed marriages without demanding of either side any renunciation of basic principles of conscience.
In the rise of modern ecumenism, Paul VI saw excellent opportunities to encourage world brotherhood, which, he hoped, might further efforts for human well-being in the pursuit of happiness in unity of faith in God. On 15 May 1971, commemorating the 80th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum novarum on the reform of the social order, Pope Paul issued a forceful apostolic letter, Octogesima adveniens, with particular insistence on the necessity of involvement of all human beings in the solution of the problems of justice and peace.
In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI declared that Paul had lived “a life of heroic virtue.” Two years later he was Beatified by Benedict’s successor, Francis. He was Canonised by Pope Francis on 14 October 2018.
One Minute Reflection – 24 May – Friday of the Fifth week of Easter, C, Gospel: John 15:12–17 and the Memorial of Our Lady Help of Christians and Blessed Maria Gargani (1892-1973)
“You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide”…John 15:16
REFLECTION – “Oh, how happy and blessed are those who love God and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel – “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and your neighbour as yourself.” Let us love God, therefore and adore Him with a pure heart and a pure mind…
And let us love our neighbours as ourselves. And if there is anyone who does not wish to love them as himself, at least let him do no harm to them but rather do good. But those who have received the power to judge others, should exercise judgement with mercy, as they themselves desire to receive mercy from the Lord… Let us then have charity and humility, let us give alms since this washes our souls from the stains of our sins. For people lose everything they leave behind in this world but they carry with them, the rewards of charity and the alms which they gave, for which they will have a reward and a suitable remuneration from the Lord…
Upon all men and women, if they have done these things and have persevered to the end, the Spirit of the Lord will rest and He will make His home and dwelling among them. They will be children of the heavenly Father whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ… Oh, how glorious it is, how holy and great, to have a Father in heaven! Oh, how holy, consoling, beautiful and wondrous it is to have a Spouse! Oh, how holy… humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all things to have such a Brother and Son, who laid down his life for his sheep and who prayed to the Father for us, saying: “Holy Father, protect those in your name whom you have given to me…; and I wish, Father, that where I am they also may be with me so that they may see my glory in your kingdom” … St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226) Founder of the Friars Minor – Letter to all the faithful, 2nd version
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, You gave us a new birth in holy baptism and a new life in Your Son, who gave His life for us. Give us the grace to bear much fruit always striving after what He has taught who goes ahead of us to lead us to You. May the prayers of His beloved Mother and ours and Blessed Maria Gargani, grant us help and inspiration as we travel the road to eternal life. Through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God now and for all eternity, amen.
Saint of the Day – 24 May – Blessed Maria Gargani OFS (1892-1973) – Religious, Founder of the the Sisters Apostles of the Sacred Heart, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, Teacher and was involved with Catholic Action during her teaching career but is well known for having been the first spiritual daughter and correspondent of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968) from World War I until St Pio’s death in 1968. He wrote a total of 67 letters to Gargani during this period. Blessed Maria is the Patron of the Order she founded.
Maria Gargani was born in the evening on 23 December 1892 in Morra de Sanctis as the last of eight children to Rocco Gargani and Angiolina De Paola. Her devout father instructed the children in catechism and it was from him that Gargani’s faith grew over time.
Her education was spent in her hometown before finishing it in Avellino where she was the guest of an uncle. She obtained a master’s degree in 1913 that would allow her to begin work as a teacher.
She began teaching in San Marco la Catola in Foggia from 1913 to 1928 and lived there alongside her married sister Antonietta. It was also there, that she first met Father Benedetto and Father Agostino Daniele who both became spiritual guides for her as she discerned her vocation. It was in 1914 that this manifested and she recorded that she wept as she discerned her call to follow God, due to the seriousness of the task. Gargani later entered the Secular Franciscan Order after having discovered Saint Francis of Assisi. St Francis represented to her, a model of love, that served as an influence on her religious convictions. Not long after this she began teaching catechism to children while also preparing them for the reception of their First Communion and she even purchased a machine to project images to explain to them the life of Jesus Christ, a very rare possession in those days. Blessed Maria also began collaborating with Catholic Action around this time. From 1928 to 1945 she began teaching in Volturara Appula.
In 1915 her adviser Father Agostino was summoned to serve in World War I as a chaplain and so entrusted her to the spiritual care of the Franciscan Capuchin priest Padre Pio, while advising her to maintain correspondence with the friar. Gargani made first contact with the friar at the beginning of August 1916 via letter which began several decades of spiritual guidance, friendship and correspondence that lasted until the saint’s death in 1968. The first letter he wrote to her was dated 26 August 1916. St Padre Pio became a spiritual guide to Blessed Maria and a source of moral support. The two met for the first time, face-to-face, in the Capuchin convent at San Marco la Catola in mid-April 1918.
In 1934 she received diocesan permission to form a group of companions in the former convent of Santa Maria della Sanità – this became the foundation for the religious congregation that she would establish not long after. She later established the Sisters Apostles of the Sacred Heart on 11 February 1936 with the permission of the Archbishop of Lucca Antonio Torrini. The first convent for the order opened that 21 April. In 1945 the order moved its headquarters to Naples – with other companions, she made her profession as a professed religious as “Mary Crucified of Divine Love” “Maria Crocifissa del Divino Amore”.
From 1946 until her retirement she taught in Naples. On 21 July 1951 she met the zealous priest Antonio Fanucci who became their spiritual director. Her order later received diocesan approval from Cardinal Marcello Mimmi on 2 June 1956 and she made her perpetual profession a month later on 22 July. St Pope John XXIII granted her order full pontifical approval on 12 March 1963 and the sisters continue their good work today in many centres and countries.
Blessed Maria died on the evening of 23 December 1892 at Morra de Sanctis, Avellino, Italy, of natural causes. Her remains were later exhumed and relocated to the order’s motherhouse on 17 May 1992.
The cause for her beatification opened in 1988 and she became titled as a Servant of God. Pope Francis named her as Venerable in mid-2017 and later approved a miracle attributed to her in 2018. The Beatification took place in Naples in the metropolitan cathedral on 2 June 2018, by Cardinal Angelo Amato on behalf of Pope Francis.
Our Lady of China: Our Lady of China is a title for the Virgin Mary in China who is believed to have appear at the small village of Donglu in 1900. In Chinese she is called Zhōnghuá Shèngmǔ. She is also known as Our Lady of Donglu.
St Afra of Brescia
Bl Benedict of Cassino
St David of Scotland
Bl Diego Alonso
St Donatian of Nantes
St Gennadius of Astroga
St Hubert of Bretigny
Bl Isidore Ngei Ko Lat
St Joanna the Myrrhbearer
Bl John del Prado
Bl John of Montfort
Bl Juan of Huete
Bl Louis-Zéphirin Moreau
St Marciana of Galatia Bl Maria Gargani OFS (1892-1973)
Bl Mario Vergara
St Meletius the Soldier
Bl Nicetas of Pereslav
St Patrick of Bayeux
Bl Philip of Piacenza
St Rogatian of Nantes
St Sérvulo of Trieste
St Simeon Stylites the Younger
Bl Thomas Vasière
St Vincent of Lérins
St Vincent of Porto Romano
Martyrs of Istria: A group of early martyrs in the Istria peninsula. We know little more than some names – Diocles, Felix, Servilius, Silvanus and Zoëllus.
Martyrs of Plovdiv: 38 Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian. We don’t even known their names. They were beheaded in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Martyrs of the Small West Gate: Additional Memorial – 20 September as part of the Martyrs of Korea. A group of lay catechists and catechumens who were imprisoned and executed together for the crime of being Christian.
• Saint Agatha Kim A-Gi
• Saint Agatha Yi So-Sa
• Saint Anna Pak A-Gi
• Saint Augustine Yi Kwang-Hon
• Saint Barbara Han A-Gi
• Saint Damianus Nam Myong-Hyok
• Saint Lucia Pak Hui-Sun
• Saint Magdalena Kim Ob-I
• Saint Petrus Kwon Tug-In
They were beheaded on 24 May 1839 at the Small West Gate, Seoul, South Korea and were Canonised on 6 May 1984 by Pope John Paul II.