Monday, June 13, 2022

Saint Anthony's "Brilliant Sparks of Light"

Today we celebrate Saint Anthony, the great medieval preaching Franciscan, who is still much beloved today not only because he helps people to find things, but also because of his outstanding witness to the Gospel and his ongoing "closeness" to people through the ages, especially in Italian and Ibero-hispanic cultures.

I ask Saint Anthony to pray for the eternal rest of my father Walter Anthony Janaro II. My father took "Anthony" as his confirmation patron saint, and - although (like most men of his generation) not one to speak much about his own spiritual life - I know that he had great affection for and reliance on the saint who was born in Portugal in 1195 and ministered in Padua, Bologna, and other parts of Northern Italy until his death in 1231. His sanctity was so evident that he was canonized in 1232.

Saint Anthony was one of the bright lights of the renewal of Christian life - the "new evangelization" - that swept over thirteenth century Europe. Here are some words from a sermon quoted in Magnificat for today's meditation:

“Today Christ stands at our door and knocks in the person of his poor. It is to him that we open when we give aid, when we give ourselves to those in need; for he tells us plainly, When you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.

“When a crystal is touched or struck by the rays of the sun, it gives forth brilliant sparks of light. When the man of faith is touched by the light of God’s grace, he too must give forth sparks of light in his good words and deeds, and so bring God’s light to others.”

~Saint Anthony of Padua