Wednesday, June 12, 2013

St. Anthony of Padua

Today is the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua.  Rather than preaching on the readings for either the memorial or the tenth Thursday of ordinary time, it is sometimes a pleasant diversion to preach on the saint.

The second reading in today's office is from a sermon by St. Anthony of Padua.  In it we hear a distinct echo of his contemporary and founder, St. Francis.  "Let your words teach and your actions speak."  These words recall Francis' famous dictum, "Preach the gospel at all times, use words only when necessary."  Anthony then shares an interesting insight into a perplexing Gospel parable, "We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves." 

Anthony was born in 1195 and died in 1231.  He entered an Augustinian monastery in 1210 only a year after the official founding of the Order of Friars Minor.  He was 15.  When he was 25 Anthony transcribed to the Franciscans with the hope of becoming a missionary.  He spent only one year in Morocco before illness compelled him to return home. 

Initially assigned to be a cook in one of the friaries, his natural eloquence as a preacher was discovered by accident at which point he was sent to teach theology by Francis himself.   One writer describes Anthony as "the Billy Graham of the 13th century."  Anthony was a man of contradictions:  physically unimpressive he was personally dynamic.  He was both reticent and charismatic, high-minded and down to earth. 

We Jesuits are lucky.  St. Ignatius is not a particularly sentimentalized figure.  Unfortunately, the Franciscans cannot say the same.  St. Francis was not a simpleton who picked flowers and spoke with animals.  We don't suffer the indignity of statues of St. Ignatius with birds sitting on his shoulders. 

Then there is St. Anthony. Lose something and invoke his name as the saint who finds things.  He deserves better.  The following quote comes from a handy resource about various saints that seems to avoid the hagiographical excesses of too many lives of the saints.  Anthony wrote, or more likely preached, the following about preachers:

"The ideal preacher should be hard as flint.  From him must spring the spark that gives light to the soul and enkindles in it the fire of divine love.  Society that is wounded with the sores of evil is Lazarus.  We are the dogs who must draw near to cure with our tongues--our preaching--the evils that afflict human kind."
These are photos hot off Aperture.  I took all of them last night after the rain stopped.  Am still playing with and learning about using a flash.  Hope to get a bracket that will allow taking the flash off the top of the camera.  These have been processed, sometimes beyond the bounds of nature.  The color, texture, and raindrops stand out beautifully with the adjustments. 

Three rosebuds.  I washed out most of the green so as to enhance the pink.
Another pink rose.   By heightening the contrast in the background it appears to be set against the milky way. 
Another single rose. 
The next two are my favorites from this outing.  They are the same rose.  The red was enhanced in the first one.  The second is obviously a study in color and texture.  I like the combination.  It suggests the purple lighting in the hotel from the last entry.

 +Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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