Tag Archives: Saint Anthony of Padua

Preaching from the heart

Saint Anthony of Padua was a marvelous preacher. At times so many people flocked to his sermons that he had to preach outside the church.

The reading for Vigils of the feast is from one of his sermons.

For Anthony preaching had to come from the Spirit of God in one’s heart.

Happy is the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself!

It must come from the heart, he advises his hearers. He warns against what we’d call plagiarism: You must not steal someone else’s words and present them as your own.

For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim credit for them.

But for him this is much more than plagiarism; these people really do not serve God or God’s people.

How to speak?

We should speak as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Sprit for ourselves should be that we bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as the Holy Spirit infuses us with His grace, by using our bodily sense in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments.

Sometimes we reduce preaching to the words spoken by a priest or public speaker. But Pope Francis thinks otherwise.

“Preaching the Gospel” is central to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel. Preaching is a central part of our mission as disciples of Jesus. In paragraph 127, the pope writes:

Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.

Will we bring the love of Jesus to others – or merely mouth words, plagiarizing but not speaking from the heart of God?

Anthony friend of the poor

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Saint Anthony

One of the most loved saints is Saint Anthony of Padua, an early Franciscan friar. He is especially loved here in Honduras. In the parish of Dulce Nombre there are nine churches dedicated to him.

For most people here Saint Anthony is looked upon as the great wonder-worker, especially the saint to go to when you’ve lost or misplaced something. (I’m praying to him more often to help me find my keys or glasses or license in the house.)

He had a great love of the poor, as Franciscans ought to have.

But the story that strikes me today took place in 1222, about a year after he had arrived in Italy.

After his boat to Portugal from Morocco got blown off course to Sicily, he went to the Chapter of Franciscans in Assisi in 1221. After the chapter, he was sent to a remote friary in Montepaolo. He didn’t tell the other friars of his theological training and, among his duties, he washed the community’s dishes.

One day the Franciscans and Dominicans were having an ordination in Forli. But no one was prepared to preach. The Franciscans thought the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, would have designated someone. The Dominicans thought the Franciscan hosts had chosen someone.

Finally, after everyone backed out, the Franciscan guardian asked Anthony to say something simple, thinking he was an uneducated brother. His eloquence surprised them all and Anthony began to preach throughout Italy.

Anthony’s learning did not keep him from doing menial tasks. But, when asked, he agreed to share the wisdom God had given him.

But I marvel at the wisdom of the Franciscan guardian who asked Anthony to speak. He did not despise this supposedly uneducated friar but offered him the chance to share. And all were amazed.

We need more people who give people the opportunity to share the gifts God has given them.

Sometimes I think that one of the worsts sins against the poor is regarding them, with pity, as “those poor people,” failing to see the richness of the lives of the poor and their wisdom, which are so often ignored or despised by others.

And so today, on Anthony’s feast, I’ll be out in the countryside with Padre German for several Masses. I pray I may be open to the wisdom, the rich faith, and the presence of God among the poor campesinos and campesinos I meet.