4/120: Prayer is…

#CelebratingStAnthony #13June

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“Prayer is directing our affections towards God; it is a devout and friendly talk with Him.. Listen to His voice as He calls out to you.” – St Anthony of Padua

3/120: Lean on the cross

Keep walking towards the ultimate goal

Today’s #CelebratingStAnthony post is a quote:

As I read this quote, I thought about the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino is also known as the Way of St James, a pilgrimage walk through Spain. When I read about it and saw videos of a pilgrim’s journey, I was amazed at the dedication and strength (physical and mental) required to finish the journey under gruelling weather. Most pilgrims travel alone, unless they meet others along the way. In 2016, 227915 pilgrims completed the walk.

There are many routes, from France to Spain, Portugal to Spain, From within Spain, but a pilgrim needs to walk at least 100km to receive the compostela (certificate of achievement). Read more about it at Wiki.

I was drawn to this pilgrimage because it was really about finding God in the journey, walking with God despite circumstances and journeying with others on the path.

When you’re out there, walking to a destination you cannot see for a long time, the only thing you can do is to keep walking. I reflected about this in terms of life – we are heading towards a destination we cannot see (for now) and we don’t know when we’ll get there. The only thing we need to do is to keep walking towards the ultimate goal.

Have I been walking towards the ultimate goal?

I think so – but every day is different and I feel like some days I’m making good progress but other days, I find myself slipping back or taking a detour.

I pray that I too, will learn to lean on the cross, just as travellers lean on a staff on their journey.

St Anthony, pray for us.

2/120: Charity widens the heart

An excerpt from St Anthony’s homilies

heart

Homily theme:
A tile represents the heart of a sinner because of four characteristics which it has:
1. It is moulded between two boards
2. It is flattened out
3. It is hardened by fire
4. And it is made red

“Again, the heart is in a certain sense flattened out.

The breadth of charity widens the narrow heart of the sinner.

We may recall the words: “They commandment is exceedingly broad” [Ps 119:96] and “Charity is wider than the ocean”.

Text from the Franciscan Archive, homilies translated into English by Paul Spilsbury


 

Reflection

I thought about Zacchaeus in Luke 19. His first act of repentance was to give half his possessions to the poor and repay four times as much to anyone he has defrauded. Look how his heart grew in kindness and righteousness once he repented.

What is charity?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church [1822-1829] explains the meaning of charity:

“Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” [1822]

So charity calls us to:

1. Love God above all 
– through obeying the commandments
– “Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” [John 15:9-10]

2. Love neighbour before self, in reflection of love received from God

No wonder St. Anthony said that charity will widen the sinner’s heart! We are called to action, sharing God’s love that we have received.

Is charity synonymous with love then?

CCC 1827 says that “charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.”

So charity grows the heart as the sinner pursues good and chooses it in concrete actions. Because in doing good, we are choosing to love neighbour over self, and to share the goodness of God’s love that we’ve experienced through repentance.

How can we be more charitable? 

  • WWJD – When in doubt, ask yourself “What would Jesus do in this situation?” It will be clear – Jesus would help the old lady cross the road; Jesus would give whatever he had to the poor; Jesus would speak kindly; Jesus would reach out and help the needy.
  • Study the Gospels – Read what Jesus did in such situations.
  • Pray for God to fill your heart with charity – God will give you opportunities to be charitable. Choose charity over uncharitable thoughts / actions.
  • Avoid thinking we are better than others – Let your first response be of love, that is patient and kind. [1 Cor 13: 4-7]

 

Let’s pray:

Keep me, O God, from pettiness; let all my thoughts, words and deeds root from your love. Widen my narrow fault-finding, self-seeking and sinful heart. With your grace, Lord, help me to put aside hasty judgments, complaints, pretense and prejudice. Make me grow in love for you, and teach me to be generous with others  as you have been so generous with me. And, Lord, let me not forget to be kind! Holy Spirit, gentle and true, increase in me an awareness to place God first, and others before self. Help me to recognise the face of Jesus in the people I meet. Amen. 

 

 

1/120: Let the Word mould your heart

An excerpt from St Anthony’s homilies

potter-and-clay

The Holy Spirit says to Ezekiel, that is, to the preacher:

And thou, O son of man, take thee a tile, and draw upon it the plan of the city of Jerusalem. [Ezek 4:11]

A tile represents the heart of a sinner because of four characteristics which it has:
1. It is moulded between two boards
2. It is flattened out
3. It is hardened by fire
4. And it is made red

The heart of a sinner should be moulded between the two boards of the Old and New Testaments; for as the Psalmist says:

Between the midst of the hills the waters shall pass [Ps 103:101]

meaning that the waters of doctrine flow from the two Testaments. The word ‘moulded’ is appropriate, because the sinner who has become mis-shapen by sin receives a new shape from the preaching of the two Testaments.

Text from the Franciscan Archive, homilies translated into English by Paul Spilsbury



Reflection

Just a few paragraphs into the 1st homily text and I find myself marvelling at the symbolism described, which sets the subthemes for this homily.

He then says the heart of a sinner should be moulded between the Old and New Testaments. When I was renewed through the Life in Spirit Seminar, the first difference in me was a thirst for the Word. It was insatiable! I used to read many other things (unfortunately more than I read the bible), but things were changing. Nothing else was better than reading the Word.

And through reading more and more of the Word, I learnt lessons, I was inspired, I examined my wrongs, I became devoted to change – and I did.

The Word moulded my mis-shapen sinful heart to a heart yearning for God.

I thank God for sending me the Holy Spirit to open the Word to me and guide me as I read.

Prayer to St Anthony

O wonderful St. Anthony, glorious on account of the fame of your miracles, and through the condescension of Jesus in coming in the form of a little child to rest in your arms, obtain for me of His bounty the grace which I ardently desire from the depths of my heart: (State your intention).

You who were so compassionate toward miserable sinners, regard not the unworthiness of those who pray to you, but the glory of God that it may once again be magnified by the granting of the particular request (State your intention).  which I now ask for with persevering earnestness. Amen.

Pray one Our Father,
one Hail Mary, and
Glory Be to the Father, in honor of Saint Anthony.

Saint Anthony, pray for us!

[Prayer from https://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/novena/anthony.htm%5D

Celebrating St Anthony of Padua

There is so much to learn about this saint

Dear Friends,

St. Anthony of Padua is very special to me. Even before I moved to this parish (of St Anthony’s), my family attended the Feast Day celebrations and mass. Of course, another reason is that he was born in Lisbon, Portugal.

I must confess that I didn’t know much about St. Anthony until the past 5 years. All I knew in the past was that he was the Patron Saint of lost things (but I didn’t know why) and that his symbols were lilies, bread, a book and the Child Jesus.

I learned more about St. Anthony through helping out in my mother’s class while she taught catechism to Primary 5 kids.

She told the story of how St. Anthony had a book of psalms with notes but it was stolen by a young novice. St. Anthony prayed that it would be found or returned to him. Not only was the book returned to him, the novice also returned to the order!

There is so much to learn about this saint who is remembered all around the world. As spiritual preparation for planning the Feast Day this year, I will share a bit about St. Anthony every week – either a prayer or an image, a story or a quote.

I pray that through this journey, I will be drawn to God’s love and serve humbly just as St. Anthony did.

The countdown begins!