There are many delightful legends about Saint Anthony of Padua but there is one that should cause us to step back and examine our lives.
One day Saint Anthony was asked to preside at the funeral of a rich man who lent money at extremely high interest. We need to remember that lending at interest was called usury and considered a serious sin until the fifteenth century.
Saint Anthony didn’t want to preside at the funeral because he considered this man to be a public sinner who defrauded the poor. He noted the statement of Jesus, “Where your treasure is, there you will find your heart.”
Family members, going through the coffers of the rich man, found his heart there. Examining his body, they found there was no heart.
These questions for all of us are: Where is my treasure? Where is my heart?
I would hope my heart is like the heart of Father Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma priest, martyred in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, who will be beatified this September. He gave himself completely to the persecuted indigenous poor of his parish, even returning after he had left briefly because of death threats.
After his death his body was transported to Oklahama to be buried there, But the people of Santiago Atitlán asked that his heart be left in the church. When I visited the church in the early 1990s, I was moved to see the shrine around the heart of Padre ‘Aplas, as they called him. His heart was with the poor and there it still is.