Today is the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua.
He was born in Portugal, 15th August, 1195. His full name was Fernando Martins de Bulhões.
As a young man he left the comfort of a wealthy family and joined an Order and was ordained a priest.
He encountered the newly founded Franciscan Order and was attracted by the simplicity of their life and got permission to leave the Order he was in and join the Franciscans, taking the name Anthony.
Without intending to, due to a ship going off course, he ended up in Italy.
While in a hermitage in a Franciscan community, a young novice in the community left the monastery and stole a book of the Psalms that he had. In this book he had a lot of notes that he used for teaching. This book, in the days before the printing press, was very valuable to him. He prayed that it would be found or returned to him. The thief did return the book, not only that, but he also returned to the Order as well.
The return of this book is probably one of the main reasons why people have prayed to St. Anthony over hundreds of years to help them find lost things!
However, St. Anthony was much more than this. He was able to teach the Catholic faith in a very simple and yet profound way. He was a great preacher.
St. Francis of Assisi was still alive at this time and found great support from Anthony in promoting a life of true poverty and simplicity as some of the Friars struggled living up to Francis’ ideals.
In Anthony we find someone who deeply desired to search for God’s call and will for him in his life. He believed deeply that doing what God called him to be and do is the most important thing in life.
This, of course, is true for all of us. God wants the absolute best for us! Following the example of Jesus Himself, so many who have desired to live fully the Christian life have been committed to discover God’s will for them.
There are many Christian vocations. Francis and Anthony became great prophetic reminders to so many not to lose sight of simplicity in living, to have uncluttered lives. Like so many others, they found true peace by trusting fully in God.
Pope Francis has reminded us that holiness is for all. Certainly not just for monks or nuns or Francis or Anthony, etc.
The deep commitment to marriage, to being a parent, living a life of generosity and self-giving.
A single parent struggling on their own looking after their children, and deeply nurturing them as best as they can.
A person who never married but lives a generous and altruistic life.
The canonised Saints are a reminder that we are all called to be Saints.
Are you prepared to take the risk and ask God to guide you to what God is calling you to do and be?
Are you committed to a life of integrity and the pursuit of virtue?
Are you committed to not giving up just because you make a mistake?
Are you prepared to be poor in Spirit and to recognise that it is the gift of God’s unconditional love that energises us, and not our efforts alone, and that we can do nothing without God?
While recognising the need to cooperate with God’s Grace through a committed Christian life, do you acknowledge that it is only by God’s Grace, that is free gift, that we can be truly holy?
In God alone we find our peace and fulfilment!