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SATURDAY OF THE TENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME JUNE 13, 2020 MEMORIAL OF ST ANTHONY OF PADUA, PRIEST



Gospel LK 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'"

REFLECTION:

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;”

I cannot pass up the chance to talk about St. Anthony on his feast day, June 13th. I have heard tell that Fernando Martins de Bulhões, better known as St. Anthony, was a great saint. He performed many miracles during his short life on earth. I only knew a few of his miracles, so I decided to do a little research and find out what was the big deal about one of the best-known laborers for Christ. Some of the reported miracles are so outlandish, they can be hard to believe. Never-the-less, he was one of God’s harvesters whose reputation of sanctity and wisdom resulted in a great harvest.


The Holy See recognized his gifts and sent him to preach a Lenten mission to a large gathering in Rome. Even though the multitude came from great distances, each understood him in their own language. This happened many times during his missionary work.


Many sought after his homilies, including a lady who eagerly wanted to travel an hour to hear him preach. However, this was not possible since she needed to care for her sick husband. At the time of his visit, she stood on her balcony and faced the direction of the distant church and could hear him preach. Doubtful of this miracle, she called her husband, and yet, he could also hear the sermon. When her neighbors returned from listening to St. Anthony, they confirmed what the couple heard at the church while remaining at home.


He was instrumental in saving his father from being convicted of murder by having the dead man’s coffin exhumed and the corpse sit up and declare St. Anthony’s father was not his murderer. Then the dead man asked St. Anthony for absolution from excommunication due to his untimely death. After receiving it, the young man laid down just as he was found in the coffin. St. Anthony promptly disappeared from everyone’s sight, leaving the crowd shouting, “A miracle!”


St. Anthony went out to beg for food for the monastery from a pious lady, who immediately sent her servant to pick from the garden and bring the needed food to the monastery. Despite a storm, the maid went out, did as she was told, and thanks to St. Anthony’s blessing, returned completely dry.


A distrusting husband with a jealous heart lived in strife with his beautiful wife. She eventually bore him a son. On witnessing this father’s anger over the newborn, St. Anthony took this infant in his arms and jokingly asked the child who was his father. The infant, only weeks old, spoke clearly for the crowd to hear and identify his father. The delighted father never doubted again.


The famous statue of St. Anthony holding the child Jesus, standing on his breviary, comes to us from a witness’s account of this vision. A friend of St. Anthony often housed him on his journeys. One night he noticed a light coming from the room where St. Anthony prayed. He peeked through the keyhole and saw this beautiful sight, which St. Anthony asked him to keep a secret. His friend remained faithful until St. Anthony’s death.


He was known as the “Hammer of the Heretics”. He fought the iron-hearted heretics in Rimini, a northern town in Italy. The heretics made it clear they weren’t going to listen to his sermons and St. Anthony virtually spoke to just a handful of people. He therefore turned to the sea and spoke to the marine life, which congregated by the thousands and appeared to listen to him. St. Anthony admonished the heretics and said even the fish knew how to obey. The heretics had a change of heart and stopped their erroneous teaching.


He was invited more than once to dine with heretics. Once, they fed him a bat and after St. Anthony blessed the food, it turned into a delicious capon. Another time his host tried to poison him. After he blessed the food, the poison had no effect.


St. Anthony regularly performed miracles in his fight against evil. He spoke truth at a rich usurer’s funeral and admonished the large crowd to not fall into the sin of usury. To prove his point, he said the people would find this dead man’s heart where his treasure is found. So, they went to dead man’s home and opened his treasure box. At the bottom of the box, they found the man’s heart. To prove this was the dead usurer’s heart, they opened his body and found it was missing a heart. This convinced the whole town of Florence, and eventually all of France, to stop the unfair practice of usury.


He was known to have the gift of prophesy, bilocating, and having animals obey his commands. He healed the cripple and even reattached a foot to the leg of a young man. With each miracle, his popularity grew as did the devotion to the Catholic faith.


Lastly, he is the “go-to” saint for lost things: “Tony, Tony, come around, something’s lost and cannot be found.” As a teacher of novices, Anthony used the book of Psalms, penned in his own hand and annotated for instruction. This very valuable book went missing, so Anthony prayed. Immediately the escaping thief, who had grown tired of the monastic life, encountered the devil. The evil one threatened to kill him if he didn’t go back to the monastery. The young novice returned the book, asked for forgiveness and permission to remain at the monastery.


This Miracle-worker and doctor of the church, performed many more miracles during his life than I have mentioned. He is still in the business of laboring for Christ, so let us rejoice and pray to St. Anthony. A thirteen-day novena, or a Tredicina to St. Anthony is a great way to start.


It is so important to pray for our priests, the men who stand in the place of Jesus. Let us pray for the same sanctity and wisdom gifted to St. Anthony for our shepherds, so that the Kingdom of God will be at hand for us.

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