Today we celebrate the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time and tomorrow we celebrate the patronal feast of our parish, Saint Anthony of Padua. Clearly we come to the Eucharist each Sunday to be fed by the Body and Blood of Christ, sustained by this meal that is the “source and summit” of our faith, our very life in the Lord. So, while we gather after Masses for a picnic, share a meal and conversation, watch young people engage in games, you might ask: Who is our patron saint? Who is Saint Anthony? Some of you may be very familiar with his life, for those who are not familiar with his life I will give you a brief overview from the Lives of the Saints. Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195. As a very young man he decided to join the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, but shortly after ordination to the priesthood, transferred to the Friars Minor (Franciscans) to devote himself to spreading the faith among African peoples. Due to an illness he was not able to pursue that dream. He returned to Italy where he spent much of his time in prayer, reading the scriptures and doing menial tasks. He had his greatest success, however, preaching in France and Italy and converting heretics. He was the first member of the Franciscans to teach theology to his brethren. His sermons are notable for their learning and gentleness. He died at Arcella, Italy on June 13, 1231.
From an excerpt of one of his sermons he preached these words on the feast of Pentecost: “The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions…” May our actions performed in faith, speak louder than our words, inviting others into the faith community, expanding our faith community to our friends and neighbors. We also know that Saint Anthony is known as a “ready helper in time of need.”
Even to the extent of finding objects that are lost around the house or home. Some say, “Tony, Tony, turn around there is something lost that needs to be found.” He also had a special love for the poor. Anthony was a preacher, teacher, healer and servant. We give thanks for his life, may his example inspire us to live our lives of faith.