“Hearken to my words, O Lord, attend to my sighing. Heed my call for help, my king and my God!” (Psalm 5:2-3)
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13, 2022): 1 KGS 21:1-16; PS 5:2-3.4-6,6-7; MT 5:38:42
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
St. Anthony rejoiced in encouraging everyone he met to know, love, and follow our Lord.
Born to a rich family in Lisbon, Portugal, the man we honor as St. Anthony of Padua was baptized Ferdinand. Perceiving a religious vocation from an early age, he entered the Augustinian community of Canons Regular in 1210 when he was 15 years old. He spent the next decade in prayer, study, and performing menial duties. Then he had an encounter with members of the Friars Minor, or Franciscans as we know them today, that changed his life. When he later learned that some of them had been martyred in northern Africa, he was inspired to enter that order and to become a missionary as well. Taking the name Anthony, he did, indeed, become a friar. However, sickness kept him from the missions. He continued to study Scriptures and work at whatever task he was assigned. When his extraordinary gifts for preaching and for teaching theology were finally discovered, he took on these challenges. He became well-known as a great homilist in Italy and France, drawing great crowds to listen to him. Anthony was asked by superiors to make a collection of his sermons to help other priests. Pope Gregory IX even referred to him as the “Ark of the Testament.” St. Anthony died in 1231. Canonized the following year, he was named a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
Many stories have been told about St. Anthony. One of them led to his being known as the patron of those seeking something lost. He owned a Psalter, or book of Psalms, that was stolen. Anthony prayed for its return and the thief repented and returned the book to him. It was also said that he was seen holding the Christ Child in his arms; and this is how many works of art show him. Above all, St. Anthony rejoiced in encouraging everyone he met to know, love, and follow our Lord. He said: “Each saint in heaven rejoices over the glorification of the other, and his love overflows to him. … The same joy will fill all the blessed, for I shall rejoice over your well-being as though it were my own, and you will rejoice over mine as though it were yours. … So shall it be in eternal life: My glory shall be your consolation and exultation, and yours shall be mine.”
Suggested missionary action: Let us pray to St. Anthony of Padua, and ask him to intercede for us that we may humbly, gratefully draw ever closer to Jesus, our Redeemer. We can also try to follow his zealous example of sharing the Gospel with our lives.