Today, June 13th, is the feast day of one of my favorite Saints, St. Anthony of Padua.
Like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony was born into a wealthy family, he would give all that up to follow Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
From age 15, he would learn the importance of finding the riches that God offers.
Psalms 45:13 teaches that the rich (in spirit) seeks Our Lady’s favor, where Our Lady is, there also is Our Lord.
Throughout the life of St. Anthony, he first sought to obey Jesus out of love for Jesus.
St. Anthony would join the Canons Regular of St. Augustine.
In 1220 A.D., five Franciscans that St. Anthony knew, were martyred by Muslims in Morocco which led St. Anthony’s desire to become a Franciscan.
Once a Franciscan, it didn’t take long before St. Francis would recognize the gifts that God was working through St. Anthony.
SAINT FRANCIS died on October 3, 1226. But shortly before his death, Francis appeared to St. Anthony. In September, 1226, at an assembly of Franciscan friars at Arles, St. Anthony was preaching “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. As St. Anthony was speaking, St. Francis appeared in the room suspended in the air. St. Francis was blessing the Franciscans gathered and blessed the work of St. Anthony.
St Anthony became known as one of the chosen disciples and companions of St Francis. He would refer to St. Frances as his “Vicar”, “was preaching one day before the Pope and the Cardinals in Consistory, there were therefore present at that moment men of different countries- Greeks and Latins, French and Germans, Slavs and English and men of many other different languages and dialects. And being inflamed by the Holy Spirit and inspired with apostolic eloquence, he preached and explained the word of God so effectively, devoutly, subtly, clearly and understandably that all who were assembled at that Consistory, although they spoke different languages, clearly and distinctly heard and understood everyone of his words as if he had spoken in each of their languages. Therefore they were all astounded and filled with devotion, for it seemed to them that the former miracle of the Apostles at the time of Pentecost had been renewed, when by the power of the Holy Spirit they spoke in different languages. “And in amazement, just like in the Acts of the Apostles they said to one another: “Is he not a Spaniard?’ How then are we all hearing him in the language of the country where we were born-we Greeks and Latins, French and Germans, Slavs and English, Lombards and foreigners?”
It was not only at this consistory that St. Anthony’s gift of tongues was utilized. It is written that while preaching in Italy he spoke in perfect Italian, and while in France he preached in French, although he had never studied these languages. Also remarkable is the fact that “the simple-minded and the most ignorant listeners were capable of fully comprehending all he said; and his voice, though gentle and sweet, was distinctly heard at a very extraordinary distance from the speaker.”
It is quite clear here that St. Anthony’s tongues was languages similar to the original Pentecost. Would you then be surprised to find that St. Francis would see the power of the Spirit working in St. Anthony?
Another interesting case related to St. Anthony is as follows, a man was murdered and the criminals threw the body of the man in a field that happened to be St. Anthony’s Father’s land. Because of the circumstantial evidence, it didn’t look good for the accused?
An angel came to St. Anthony and took him hundreds of miles away nearly instantly to his home to defend his Father.
What did St. Anthony do that sprung his Father? You guessed it, God raised the dead man from the grave just like Lazarus of old. When the raised man testified who killed him, St. Anthony’s Father was off the hook.
After the case was quickly alleviated, St. Anthony asked the man if he would like to stay, he would be granted more time. The man thanked him for the offer, but because he was already saved in Purgatory, he did not want to jeopardize his Salvation, so he went back to the dead. What a story, God is good all the time!
Debating with heretics of his time, the Lord Jesus was pleased to show his anointing on St. Anthony using a school of fish. This story is mindful of God reproving the ignorance of Balaam talking to his ass?
Unfortunately, at Rimini, there were a number of heretics who wanted to challenge St. Anthony. In the presence of these heretics, St. Anthony, inspired by God, went to the sea where the river runs into the sea and said, “Listen to the word of God, O ye fishes of the sea and of the river, seeing that the faithless heretics refuse to do so.”
At last St Anthony, inspired by God, went down to the sea-shore, where the river runs into the sea, and having placed himself on a bank between the river and the sea, he began to speak to the fishes as if the Lord had sent him to preach to them, and said: “Listen to the word of God, O ye fishes of the sea and of the river, seeing that the faithless heretics refuse to do so.”
Immediately, as in response, a great multitude of various fish approached the bank where St. Anthony was preaching. This greatly impacted the heretics who were reduced to silence. Literally, a school of fish were paying attention to St. Anthony. from smallest to the largest fish. Clearly a sign from the Lord.
St. Anthony said to the fish, “My brothers the fishes, you are bound, as much as is in your power, to return thanks to your Creator, who has given you so noble an element for your dwelling; for you have at your choice both sweet water and salt; you have many places of refuge from the tempest; you have likewise a pure and transparent element for your nourishment. God, your bountiful and kind Creator, when he made you, ordered you to increase and multiply, and gave you his blessing. In the universal deluge, all other creatures perished; you alone did God preserve from all harm. He has given you fins to enable you to go where you will. To you was it granted, according to the commandment of God, to keep the prophet Jonas, and after three days to throw him safe and sound on dry land. You it was who gave the tribute-money to our Saviour Jesus Christ, when, through his poverty, he had not wherewith to pay. By a singular mystery you were the nourishment of the eternal King, Jesus Christ, before and after his resurrection. Because of all these things you are bound to praise and bless the Lord, who has given you blessings so many and so much greater than to other creatures.”
With the sight of the fish responding to St. Anthony, he prayed these words, “Blessed be the eternal God; for the fishes of the sea honor him more than men without faith, and animals without reason listen to his word with greater attention than sinful heretics.”
This did not end the miraculous scene, even more fish increased and none left and this was witnessed by the people touching their hearts to repentance. The Priests were busy that day!
Despite all that occurred with the miracle of the fish, there was one heretic who was obstinate, he would not believe St. Anthony. He could not bring himself to accept the Eucharist.
As St. Anthony sat in the town square contemplating the wonders of God, this heretic made this proposition to St. Anthony. The unbelieving heretic who owned a near by farm, made this challenge to St. Anthony. He would starve his mule for three days. After three days, he would bring his mule right here in this town square for all to see. If the mule would prostrate before the Monstrance with the Eucharist, then this heretic would confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Universe and pledge his faith in the Blessed Sacrament. St. Anthony, inspired by God, took the challenge.
Because of the miracle of the fish, there was great anticipation among the people of Rimini. On the appointed day, people gathered in the town square awaiting for the face off to begin. St. Anthony approached from the west towards the center of the town as the heretic came from the other side of the town with his mule. As they met in the middle of the town square, a large pan of oats and a bundle of hay were placed in front of the mule. The people were gathered with great anticipation as the mule ignored the feed and instead, approached St. Anthony and fell on her knees before the Monstrance with the Eucharist. With great joy among the people, the heretic yielded before the miracle and made his profession of faith and went to Confession. With this scene, St. Anthony kind of took something from a Clint Eastwood playbook!
Ladies and Gentlemen, what a great testimony this is, and how often we meet people today that displays such lack of faith. God’s work is never done.
With all these events taking place, St. Francis recognized the powerful preaching of St. Anthony. Today, St. Anthony is remembered as the “Hammer of Heretics”! He is also recognized as the Patron Saint for lost and found articles. The following is a story that happened to me:
One morning as I was in my office (when I served at the New Orleans MEPS) I placed my keys and wallet in or on my desk when I went out to do PT. When I came back, we were knee deep in applicants so I helped out with the physicals until almost noon when I went back into my office to change into my uniform.
At this time, I could not find my keys. I looked everywhere for them. I asked everyone to include going to the other sections in the MEPS, but to no avail. I could not find the keys. I ended up having to get a ride home with a friend. Gigi and Matt actually went back for me and got the jeep to bring it home.
The next day, I had to borrow Gigi’s keys to drive the jeep to work. During the day, I could not find the keys and so another day passed and I was about to think the keys were gone for good. On the third day, I still did not find the keys and still borrowed Gigi’s keys to drive the jeep.
About noon, I left the MEPS to go over to another base where they had an Army PX so I could get something from clothing sales. On my way back I decided to stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken for a quick pick up for lunch. I placed my order, drove around to the window, paid my bill and waited for my lunch.
I was still upset about losing my keys that I left on my desk, when I asked St. Anthony to help me on this issue. I felt strange that he didn’t pop up into my mind before this, when a stranger walked up from behind me, someone I never seen before, and asked me if these were my keys?
I was shocked as I sat there at Kentucky Fried Chicken, with my keys that I hadn’t seen in three days, right in my hands. Nobody, not even me knew that I was going to be there when I was there. I almost decided to go up the road to McDonald’s for a hamburger but at the last second turned in where I turned in.
The individual was civilian, would never had been on an Military base, and didn’t know me from Adam. Shocked with my keys in hand, the stranger was gone as quickly as he came. I called Gigi to let her know what just happened and she thought I was high on something.
The prayer of the Saints around the Throne of Heaven is very powerful, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who make of the Catholic Church “Hall of Fame”, those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. They do praise the Lord and live in perfect happiness.
St. Anthony has been a friend of my wife’s too as she has found several things that she had lost, he’s been a friend.
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