“I preached myself, the scholars came and praised me. I preached Christ, the sinners came and thanked me.”
St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Doctor of the Church
“There is a difference between renouncing all things and leaving all things. For it is the way of few perfect men, to leave all things, that is, to cast behind them the cares of the world but, it is the part of all the faithful, to renounce all things, that is, so to hold the things of the world, instead of by them, being held in the world.”
St Bede the Venerable (673-735)
Father and Doctor of the Church
“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”
St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)
“Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelisation – it is unthinkable, that a person, should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom, without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.”
St Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
“Tell others about the truth that sets you free.”
Pope Benedict XVI
“Our solid conviction, is that Jesus is, who He said He is and He can do, what He says He can do. Not only that but if Jesus is, who He says He is, then you are, who He says you are. And if He is who He says He is, then you can do, what He says you can do.”
“You are a billboard for Christ!”
Father Mike Schmitz
“God will put someone in your path today who doesn’t necessarily need you… but who desperately needs Christ in you.”
“Oh, how thunderous the applause must be in Heaven, all those times we are mocked on earth for the sake of His name.”
Mark Hart serves as Executive Vice President for Life Teen International. A graduate from the University of Notre Dame, Mark is a best-selling and award-winning author (or co-author) of over a dozen books. His wildly popular DVD Bible Study Series,”T3″ is revolutionizing Catholic youth/young adult Scripture Study. He is the “Bible Geek.”
“Withholding the truth of Christianity would be even more uncharitable, than withholding a cure for cancer.”
Quote/s of the Day – 1 November – The Solemnity of All Saints
“Follow the saints, because those who follow them will become saints.”
Saint Pope Clement I (c 35-99)
“This is the army the Lord raises, these are the children of the baptismal font, the works of grace, the fruit of the Spirit. They have followed Christ without having seen Him, they sought Him and believed. They recognised Him with the eyes of faith not those of the body. They have not put their finger into the mark of the nails but they have bound themselves to His cross and embraced His sufferings. They have not seen the Lord’s side but, by grace, they have become members of His body and have made His words their own: “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe!”
Basil of Seleucia (Died c 468) Bishop
The Angel to Gerontius “There was a mortal, who is now above In the mid-glory – he, when near to die, Was given communion with the Crucified – Such, that the Master’s very wounds were stamp’d Upon his flesh and, from the agony Which thrill’d through body and soul in that embrace Learn, that the flame of the Everlasting Love Doth burn, ere it transform ….”
From the Dream of Gerontius
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure but He does. what is still more wonderful, He makes saints out of sinners.”
“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the Martyr dies and his rule begins.”
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
“Let us speak about saints to forge saints.”
Saint Jose Maria de Yermo y Parres (1851–1904)
“For the saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.”
St Adauctus of Ephesus
Bl Alfonso Tabela
St Ammon the Great
St Caius of Corinth
St Callisthene of Ephesus
St Crispus of Corinth
St Damaris of Athens
St Diogenes of Milan
Bl Julian Majali
St Lucius of Alexandria
St Peter of Damascus St Petronius (Died c 450)
St Quintius of Tours
Martyrs of Alexandria – 2+ saints: A group of Christians, men and women, young and old, murdered together for their faith. The only names that have come down to us are the brothers Mark and Marcian.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Alfredo Pellicer Muñoz
• Blessed Avelí Martínez de Arenzana Candela
• Blessed Dionisio Ibáñez López
• Blessed Francisco Martínez Granero
• Blessed Fulgencio Martínez García
• Blessed José Aloy Doménech
• Blessed José Gafo Muñiz
• Blessed José Miguel Peñarroya Dolz
• Blessed Juan de Francisco Pío
• Blessed Juan José Orayen Aizcorbe
• Blessed Martina Vázquez Gordo
• Blessed Publio Fernández González
• Blessed Tomás Barrios Pérez
Quote of the Day – 1 September – Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C and The 5th World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Dear mother earth, who day by day Unfolds rich blessing on our way, O praise God! Alleluia! The fruits and flowers that verdant grow, Let them His praise abundant show. O praise God, O praise God, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)
(Translated by William H Draper) (Image by St Francis by Albert Chevallier Tayler)
Our Morning Offering -29 November – The Memorial of All Franciscan Saints and Blesseds and in particular, of St Francesco Antonio Fasani OFM Conv (1681 – 1742)
Prayer to do the Will of God By St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)
Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant us in our misery, the grace to do for You alone what we know You want us to do and always to desire, what pleases You. Thus, inwardly cleansed, interiorly enlightened and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And, by Your grace alone, may we make our way to You, Most High, Who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity and are glorified God all-powerful, forever and ever. Amen. (From “A Letter to the Entire Order”)
Quote/s of the Day – 26 November – Today’s Gospel: Luke 21:1-4 “The Widow’s Mite”
Speaking of: Almsgiving
“When you can do good, defer it not, because “alms delivers from death.”
St Polycarp (69-155)
“In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving, above all else, requires money but even this, shines, with a brighter lustre, when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites, was poorer than any human but she outdid them all.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father & Doctor
“As far as you can, do some manual work. so as to be able to give alms, for it is written, that alms and faith purify from sin.”
St Poemen (340-450)
“Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.”
St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)
“Satisfaction consists in the cutting off of the causes of the sin. Thus, fasting is the proper antidote to lust; prayer to pride, to envy, anger and sloth; alms to covetousness.”
St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)
“If you are attached to the things of this earth, you should give alms sufficient, to enable you to punish your avarice, by depriving yourself, of all, that is not absolutely necessary for life.”
One Minute Reflection – 7 November – Today’s Gospel: Luke 14:25–33 – Wednesday of the Thirty First week in Ordinary Time, Year B and The Memorial of St Willibrord (c 658 – 739) “Apostle to the Frisians” and Bl Anthony Baldinucci SJ (1665-1717)
So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple...Luke 14:33
REFLECTION – “Francis’ father led this child of his before the bishop. He wanted to have Francis renounce into his hands his family possessions and return everything he had. A true lover of poverty, Francis showed himself eager to comply; he went before the bishop without delaying or hesitating. He did not wait for any words nor did he speak any but immediately took his clothes and gave them back to his father… Drunk with remarkable fervour, he even took off his underwear, stripping himself completely naked before all. He said to his father : “Until now I have called you father here on earth, but now I can say without reservation, ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ (Matt. 6:9), since I have placed all my treasure and all my hope in him.”
When the bishop saw this, he was amazed at such intense fervour in the man of God. He immediately stood up and in tears drew Francis into his arms, covering him with the mantle he was wearing, like the pious and good man that he was. He bade servants give Francis something to cover his body. They brought him a poor, cheap cloak of a farmer who worked for the bishop. Francis accepted it gratefully and with his hand marked a cross on it with a piece of chalk, thus signifying it as the covering of a crucified man and a half-naked beggar. Thus the servant of the Most High King was left naked so that he might follow his naked crucified Lord, whom he loved.”… St Bonaventure (1221-1274) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Holy God and Father, You sent your Son to show us the way to our eternal home. Teach us always to understand that by relinquishing the things of this world and focusing our efforts only on following the Light He shines on our path, we may attain the eternal victory. May the prayers of St Willibrord and St Anthony, assist us in carrying our cross after Him. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 19 October – The Memorial of St Peter of Alcantara OFM (1499-1562)
The Absorbeat St Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226)
May the power of Your love, Lord Christ,
fiery and sweet as honey,
so absorb our hearts
as to withdraw them
from all that is under heaven.
Grant that we may be ready
to die for love of Your love,
as You died for love of our love.
Second Thoughts for the Day – 4 October – Celebrating St Francis of Assisi OFM (1181/2–1226)
His name was Francis…
He used to praise God the Artist in every one of God’s works. Whatever joy he found in things made he referred to their maker. He rejoiced in all the works of God’s hands. Everything cried out to him, “He who made us is infinitely good!’
He called animals “brother” or “sister” and he exhorted them to praise God. He would go through the streets, inviting everyone to sing with hi m. And one time when he came upon an almond tree, he said, ‘Brother Almond, speak to me of God.” And the almond tree blossomed.
That is what Saint Francis of Assisi did and that is what he does for us once we are caught up in his life and teachings. He makes us blossom, wherever and whoever we are. We blossom because we see in Francis what could happen to us if we were to embrace the overflowing goodness of God revealed in everything that exists and let that embrace change us.…Murray Bodo, OFM
Thought for the Day – 4 October – The Memorial of St Francis of Assisi OFM (1181/2–1226)
Dear friends, Francis was a great Saint and a joyful man. His simplicity, his humility, his faith, his love for Christ, his goodness towards every man and every woman, brought him gladness in every circumstance. Indeed, there subsists an intimate and indissoluble relationship between holiness and joy. A French writer once wrote that there is only one sorrow in the world – not to be saints, that is, not to be near to God. Looking at the testimony of St Francis, we understand that this is the secret of true happiness: -to become saints, close to God!
May the Virgin, so tenderly loved by Francis, obtain this gift for us. Let us entrust ourselves to her with the words of the Poverello of Assisi himself:
“Blessed Virgin Mary, no one like you among women has ever been born in the world, daughter and handmaid of the Most High King and heavenly Father, Mother of our Most Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for us… to your most blessed and beloved Son, Lord and Master”
(Francesco di Assisi, Scritti, 163)….Excerpt from Pope Benedict XV’s Catechesis on St Francis – General Audience, 27 January 2010
Blessed Virgin, Holy Mother, Pray for us!
St Francis of Assisi, Pray for us!
St Francis leaves us with his blessing:
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
One Minute Reflection – 4 October – Today’s Gospel: Luke 10:1-12 – Thursday of the Twenty-sixth week in Ordinary Time – The Memorial of St Francis of Assisi OFM (1181/2–1226)
“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’”...Luke 10:4-5
REFLECTION – “Three times Christ on the Cross came to life and told him: “Go, Francis, and repair my Church in ruins”. This simple occurrence of the word of God heard in the Church of St Damian, contains a profound symbolism. At that moment, St Francis was called to repair the small church but the ruinous state of the building, was a symbol of the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church herself…. it is important to note that St Francis does not renew the Church without, or in opposition, to the Pope but only in communion with him. Authentic renewal grew from these together….
Francis, standing before the Bishop of Assisi, in a symbolic gesture, stripped off his clothes, thus showing he renounced his paternal inheritance. Just as at the moment of creation, Francis had nothing, only the life that God gave him, into whose hands he delivered himself….
The truth is that St Francis really did have an extremely intimate relationship with Jesus and with the word of God, that he wanted to pursue sine glossa – just as it is, in all its radicality and truth. It is also true, that initially he did not intend to create an Order with the necessary canonical forms. Rather he simply wanted, through the word of God and the presence of the Lord, to renew the People of God, to call them back to listening to the word and to literal obedience to Christ.”…Pope Benedict XVI – Catechesis on St Francis – General Audience, 27 January 2010
“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received—only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”….St Francis of Assisi
PRAYER – Lord God, You made St Francis of Assisi, Christ-like in his poverty and humility, his gentleness and charity, his love and courage. Help us to walk in his ways that, with joy and love, we may follow Christ Your Son and be united with You. May the intercession of St Francis, be an assistance on our journey. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 4 October – The Memorial of St Francis of Assisi OFM (1181/2–1226)
Prayer of Self-Giving By St Francis of Assisi
I beg You, Lord,
let the fiery, gentle power
of Your love
take possession of my soul,
and snatch it away
from everything under heaven,
that I may die
for love of Your love
as You saw fit to die
for love of mine.
Saint of the Day – 4 October – St Francis of Assisi OFM (1181/2–1226) – born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Friar, Deacon, the First known Stigmatist, Founder, Mystic, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, of the Blessed Virgin, of Charity, Confessor, Missionary, Writer, Poet, Miracle-Worker, Preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance.
Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolised his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”
From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.
He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father—who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor—so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.” He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evoking sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.
But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realise that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said : “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no travelling bag, no sandals, no staff” (Luke 9:1-3).
Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no intention of founding an order but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.
Francis was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favour of the latter but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.
During the last years of his relatively short life, he died at 44, Francis was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.
On his deathbed, Francis said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior’s permission to have his clothes removed when the last hour came in order that he could expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord. (via Franciscan media)
Thought for the Day – 17 September 2018 – The Memorial of Stigmata of St Francis of Assisi & St Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542-1621)
The glory of the Saints and of the Church never ceases to amaze me in every finer detail of the arrangement of our communal life together with them, thus confirming the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Divinity of this Mystical Body of Christ!
St Robert Bellarmine had a great devotion to St Francis of Assisi and was especially devoted to honouring Francis’ stigmata. Bellarmine urged that there be a special feast in honour of the five stigmata of St Francis. Bellarmine had an important position in the Vatican and he made sure that the feast was introduced in the Church, despite strong opposition.
As Providence arranged, Robert Bellarmine died on the feast of the Stigmata of St Francis, 17 September. And in the revised liturgical calendar St Bellarmine’s feast, which used to be celebrated on 13 May, has been moved to 17 September. In the Universal Church today is the feast of both!
St Francis of Assisi and St Robert Bellarmine, pray for us, your family here on earth and in great need of your prayers!
Thought for the Day – 2 July – Monday of the Thirteenth Week, Year B – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 8:18-22
“The poverty that makes rich.”
Excerpt from the “Sacrum Commercium” – “The Sacred Exchange between St Francis and Lady Poverty”
“And when He had fulfilled all those
Things of which you have spoken,
and desired to return to the Father Who had sent Him,
He made me a Testament to His Elect
and confirmed it by irrefragable Decrees :
Lay not up Gold nor Silver, nor Money.
Carry neither Purse, nor Scrip, nor Bread, nor a Staff, nor Shoes, nor two Coats.
And if any Man will contend with thee and take away thy Coat,
let go thy Cloak also. And whoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him other twain.
Lay not up unto yourselves Treasures upon Earth,
where Rust and Moth doth corrupt
and where Thieves break through and steal.
Take no thought, saying:
What shall we eat, or what shall we drink,
or wherewithal shall we be clothed?
And take no thought of the morrow,
for the morrow will take thought for itself.
Sufficient unto the Day is the Evil thereof.
Whosoever doth not renounce
all that he hath, cannot be my
disciple . . . And many the
like sayings, which are all to
be found in the Gospels.”
The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady Poverty, is one of the richest texts of the early Franciscan movement, “the single most brilliant example of the simple but lapidary allegory which was to become a major mode of spiritual writing in the later Middle Ages.” An allegory offering insights into Francis’s vision of poverty, the Sacred Exchange weaves a luxuriant tapestry of images held together by the strong threads of a biblical theology. For all of its richness, however, no text of these first hundred and fifty years is more mysterious. Like the weaver of an undated tapestry, the author of the Sacred Exchange is content to hide obscurely making sure that the ends and threads are in their proper place that the beauty and exactness of his work may be seen. Although there are many names suggested, the author of the Sacred Exchange still remains unknown. The same holds true for the date of its composition though it is believed by solid historical explorations, to date from late 13th century.
The allegory is an exhortation written to encourage Francis’s followers to live in the authentic way of the saint’s biblical vision of poverty. The central figure of the work is Lady Poverty, the personification of biblical Wisdom and, at times, of the Church. The Passage above is one of the most profound, as each word is taken from scripture and bound together into a poem of immense richness.
This is a lesson we now need to embrace, as difficult as it would seem in the world in which we live, the world led only by riches. For this is a true desire for sanctity, with Christ alone as our riches!
Out of Town from 20 November for roughly 10 days – until the job is finished!
Dear friends and followers
I have to fly off tomorrow on a work assignment. As soon as I am done I will start posting again.
In the meantime, I am pre-scheduling the Novena, the list of Saints for each day, a Morning Offering and a post for the beautiful Feast of Christ the King next Sunday 26 November. On which day, I will be praying for you all to be abundantly blessed.
Stay well and be saints!
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Salutation of the Blessed Virgin By St Francis of Assisi (1181–1226)
Hail, holy Lady, most holy Queen,
Mary, Mother of God, ever Virgin;
chosen by the most holy Father in heaven,
consecrated by Him,
with His most holy beloved Son
and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter:
on you descended and in you still remains
all the fullness of grace and every good.
Hail, His Palace; hail, His Tabernacle;
hail, His Robe, hail, His Handmaid;
hail, His Mother;
and hail, all holy Virtues, who,
by the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
are poured into the hearts of the faithful.
So that, faithless no longer,
they may be made faithful servants of God
May the power of Your love, Lord Christ,
fiery and sweet as honey,
so absorb our hearts
as to withdraw them
from all that is under heaven.
Grant that we may be ready
to die for love of Your love,
as You died for love of our love.
Quote/s of the Day – 11 August – The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi
“He, Christ, is the splendour of eternal glory, “the brightness of eternal light and the mirror without cloud.” Behold, I say, the birth of this mirror. Behold Christ’s poverty even as he was laid in the manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. What wondrous humility, what marvellous poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth resting in a manger! Look more deeply into the mirror and meditate on His humility, or simply on His poverty. Behold the many labours and sufferings He endured to redeem the human race. Then, in the depths of this very mirror, ponder His unspeakable love which caused Him to suffer on the wood of the cross and to endure the most shameful kind of death. The mirror Himself, from His position on the cross, warned passers-by to weigh carefully this act, as He said: “All of you who pass by this way, behold and see if there is any sorrow like mine.” Let us answer His cries and lamentations with one voice and one spirit: “I will be mindful and remember and my soul will be consumed within me.”
“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.”
St Clare’s second letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague
“ Blessed be You, O God, for having created me. ”
St Clare’s Last Words
“Cling to His most sweet Mother, who carried a Son whom the heavens could not contain; and yet she carried Him in the little enclosure of her holy womb and held Him on her virginal lap.”
“Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him. ….Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love.”
“They say that we are too poor but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor? We should remember this miracle of the Blessed Sacrament when in Church. Then we will pray with great Faith to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist: ‘Save me, O Lord, from every evil – of soul and body.’”
St Clare of Assisi
St Pope John Paul II said of Saint Clare:
“her whole life was a Eucharist because … from her cloister she raised up a continual ‘thanksgiving’ to God in her prayer, praise, supplication, intercession, weeping, offering and sacrifice.
She accepted everything from the Father in union with the infinite ‘thanks’ of the only begotten Son.
Saint of the Day – 13 June – St Anthony of Padua OFM (1195-1231) Evangelical Doctor – Hammer of Heretics – Professor of Miracles – Wonder-Worker – Ark of the Testament – Repository of Holy Scripture (1195 at Lisbon, Portugal – 13 June 1231 of natural causes) Religious Priest and Friar of the Franciscan Order, Evangelist, Preacher, Teacher, Apostle of Charity, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, Scriptural expert, Miracle Worker, Teacher, Confessor, Defender of the Faith. He was buried on the Tuesday following his death in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Padua, Italy and legend says that all the sick who visited his new grave were healed. Also known as St Anthony of Lisbon. Patron of – against barrenness or sterility, against shipwreck, against starvation; starving people, American Indians, amputees, animals, both wild and domestic, asses, boatmen, mariners, sailors, watermen, elderly people, expectant mothers, pregnant women, for faith in the Blessed Sacrament, fishermen, for harvests, horses, lost articles, seekers of lost articles, mail, oppressed people, paupers, poor people, swineherds, travel hostesses, travellers, Brazil, Portugal, Tigua Indians, 4 dioceses, 17 cities.
St Anthony of Padua/Lisbon, was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most-quickly canonised saints in church history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946.
St. Anthony’s Youth & Conversion
St Anthony was born in the year 1195at Lisbon (Portugal) where his father was a captain in the royal army. Already at the age of fifteen years, he had entered the Congregation of Canons Regular of St Augustine and devoted himself with great earnestness both to study and to the practice of piety in the Monastery at Coimbra (Portugal).
About that time some of the first members of the Order of Friars Minor, which St. Francis has founded in 1206 came to Coimbra. They begged from the Canons Regular a small and very poor place, from which by their evangelical poverty and simplicity they edified everyone in the region. Then in 1219 some of these friars, moved by divine inspiration, went as missionaries to preach the Gospel of Christ to the inhabitants of Morocco. There they were brutally martyred for the Faith. Some Christian merchants succeeded in recovering their remains and so brought their relics in triumph back to Coimbra. The relics of St Bernard and companions, the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order, seized St. Anthony with an intense desire to suffer martyrdom in a like manner. So moved by their heroic example he repeatedly begged and petitioned his superiors to be given leave to join the Franciscan Order. In the quiet little Franciscan convent at Coimbra he received a friendly reception and in the same year his earnest wish to be sent to the missions in Africa was fulfilled.
St Anthony’s Arrival in Italy
But God had decreed otherwise. And so, St Anthony scarcely set foot on African soil when he was seized with a grievous illness. Even after recovering from it, he was so weak that, resigning himself to the will of God, he boarded a boat back to Portugal. Unexpectedly a storm came upon them and drove the ship to the east where it found refuge on coast of Sicily. St Anthony was greeted and given shelter by the Franciscans of that island and thus came to be sent to Assisi, where the general chapter of the Order was held in May, 1221. Since he still looked weak and sickly,and gave no evidence of his scholarship, no one paid any attention to the stranger until Father Gratian, the Provincial of friars living in the region of Romagna (Italy), had compassion on him and sent him to the quiet little convent near Forli (also in Italy). There St Anthony remained nine months as chaplain to the hermits, occupied in the lowliest duties of the kitchen and convent and to his heart’s content he practiced interior as well as exterior mortification.
St Anthony, Preacher and Teacher
But the hidden jewel was soon to appear in all its brilliance. For the occasion of a ceremony of ordination some of the hermits along with St Anthony were sent to the town of Forli. Before the ceremony was to begin, however, it was announced that the priest who was to give the sermon had fallen sick. The local superior, to avert the embarrassment of the moment, quickly asked the friars in attendance to volunteer. Each excused himself, saying that he was not prepared, until finally, St Anthony was asked to give it. When he too, excused himself in a most humble manner, his superior ordered him by virtue of the vow of obedience to give the sermon. St Anthony began to speak in a very reserved manner; but soon holy animation seized him and he spoke with such eloquence, learning and unction that everybody was fairly amazed.
When St Francis was informed of the event, he gave St Anthony the mission to preach throughout Italy. At the request of the brethren, St. Anthony was later commissioned also to teach theology, “but in such a manner,” St Francis distinctly wrote, ” that the spirit of prayer be not extinguished either in yourself or in the other brethren.” St Anthony himself placed greater value in the salvation of souls than on learning. For that reason he never ceased to exercise his office as preacher despite his work of teaching.
The number of those who came to hear him was sometimes so great that no church was large enough to accommodate and so he had to preach in the open air. Frequently St. Anthony wrought veritable miracles of conversion. Deadly enemies were reconciled. Thieves and usurers made restitution. Calumniators and detractors recanted and apologised. He was so energetic in defending the truths of the Catholic Faith that many heretics returned to the Church. This occasioned the epitaph given him by Pope Gregory IX “the ark of the covenant.”
In all his labours he never forgot the admonition of his spiritual father, St Francis, that the spirit of prayer must not be extinguished. If he spent the day in teaching and heard the confession of sinners till late in the evening, then many hours of the night were spent in intimate union with God.
Once a man, at whose home St Anthony was spending the night, came upon the saint and found him holding in his arms the Child Jesus, unspeakably beautiful and surrounded with heavenly light. For this reason St. Anthony is often depicted holding the Child Jesus.
St Anthony’s Death
In 1227 St Anthony was elected Minister Provincial of the friars living in northern Italy. Thus he resumed the work of preaching. Due to his taxing labours and his austere penance, he soon felt his strength so spent that he prepared himself for death. After receiving the last sacraments he kept looking upward with a smile on his countenance. When he was asked what he saw there, he answered: “I see my Lord.”He breathed forth his soul on June 13, 1231 A. D., being only thirty six year old. Soon the children in the streets of the city of Padua were crying: “The saint is dead, Anthony is dead.” Anthony is buried in a chapel within the large basilica built to honour him, where his tongue is displayed for veneration in a large reliquary. For, when his body was exhumed thirty years after his death, it was claimed that the tongue glistened and looked as if it was still alive and moist; apparently a further claim was made that this was a sign of his gift of preaching.
Pope Gregory IX enrolled him among the saints in the very next year. At Padua, a magnificent basilica was built in his honour, his holy relics were entombed there in 1263. From the time of his death up to the present day, countless miracles have occurred through St. Anthony’s intercession, so that he is known as the Wonder-Worker. In 1946 St Anthony was declared a Doctor of the Church.
Why do we ask St Anthony to help us find lost things?
St. Anthony had a book of psalms that was quite special to him. It was special because in those days before the printing press, books were rare and expensive. But it was also special because it contained many notes Anthony had made to help him in his preaching and teaching.
Late one night, a young Franciscan decided to leave the community. He’d had enough of that life, so he made plans to just sneak out in the middle of the night. He saw Anthony’s book of psalms on his way out and he snatched it up and ran. He knew that he could sell this precious book for a good deal of money.
Of course, Anthony was quite upset. He prayed that God would change the young man’s heart and bring him back to the Franciscan life. He also hoped that while God was at it, he would return Anthony’s book too. The next day, the young man returned, tired and ashamed, with Anthony’s book. He also brought back his own gifts and talents, which he decided once more to offer to the Franciscan community.
So that’s why we like to ask St Anthony to help us find lost things. He was an extraordinary man who can still help us from heaven, even in the most ordinary ways.
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