June - St Anthony of Padua
The weather is hot and the sun secretly nourishes the seeds that are laying in the earth and summer flowers are budding forth. The Son of God allowed St Anthony of Padua to bud forth in the brilliance of His light. St Anthony was born in Portugal in 1195. He was taught by the Augustinian friars as a child, and he easily turned his mind to becoming a friar himself.
He lived a comfortable life with them until one day he heard about some Franciscan friars who had gone to Morocco to tell people about Jesus' love. The king of Morocco was not pleased by this message of love because he liked his people to live in fear of him, so he had the Franciscan friars put to death. Anthony thought of those brave Franciscan brothers going to preach about Jesus and he wanted to be brave like them.
So he left his Augustinian community and went in search of some Franciscan brothers. He wanted to die a glorious death like the Franciscan martyrs. When he found them he asked to join them and with the new Franciscan habit on his back he set off for Africa to preach about Jesus’ love.
Jesus however had different plans for Anthony and as they were travelling to Africa Anthony became so sick that they had to turn back and leave him in Italy. Realising that this must be God’s will Anthony stayed in Italy. He went to live in a Franciscan friary, still thinking of preaching about Jesus but was assigned work in the kitchen, cleaning the dishes and pans.
Anthony learnt to be very humble and he realised that it didn’t matter where he was as long as he was with God. One day hundreds of people gathered in the church to hear a famous preacher. They were all in their seats when word was sent to the brother friars that the preacher could not come.
What were the brothers to do, who would preach to the people?
The brothers run to the kitchen ‘brother Anthony put those dishes down, you must go and preach to the people.’
The brothers held their breath while Anthony climbed the stairs in the pulpit. The brothers were very worried about what was going to happen now. God however had given Anthony a ‘tongue of gold.’ Because of Anthony’s obedience and his humility in accepting the work in the kitchen and doing the lowest tasks God made him ready to preach His word and to preach without fear of becoming proud. Anthony opened his mouth and spoke so well and lovingly of God that many, many people were converted at the sound of his voice.
The brothers were shocked at how well Br Anthony could preach and wondered why they had left him in the kitchen for so long.
Never again did they ask other preachers to come, they now knew they had their own preacher in Anthony. He became so famous that he went all over Italy speaking to crowds of people, bringing their hearts to God. As well as this Anthony was very kind and would often hire himself out for work on farms, doing lowly jobs so that the money he was paid could given to the poor and sick to pay their bills.
Anthony was so filled with the love of God that on one Christmas day the Child Jesus appeared to him and let Anthony hold Him in his arms. This is why St Anthony is often seen holding the Christ Child.
As St Anthony lay on his sick bed he said to his brother friars ‘ I have searched for God over mountains and hills, valleys and seas, but only now do I know that He is found inside of me.
Anthony died near Padua on the 13th of June 1231 and was proclaimed a saint just one year later by the Pope.
St Anthony, you lived your life searching for God and His will in your life, you followed Him humbly and did any task asked of you. Teach us as you taught others, about the love of Jesus, so that Jesus may shine through us as He shone through you. Help us to be His witnesses and give glory and praise to God the Father.