Dear Follower of St. Anthony,
In these terrifying and strange times of this pandemic, we can be comforted by the words of our dear Pope Francis: “We find ourselves afraid and lost,” Francis said. “We were caught off-guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, all of us are called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”
As we endure this alarming period in our lives, we pray earnestly for the heroic medical doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who are putting their lives on the line for us and for their neighbors. May God give them strength and physical immunity during this time, so that they can help push back against this ravaging virus.
And we continue to pray: Lord, you are the Great Physician, so we pray for healing for the victims of this coronavirus. And Lord, we pray for ourselves and our loved ones. Comfort us with your love and heal us with Your Presence. We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord, Amen. St. Anthony, pray for us. Please know that the Friars are praying for you and those you love each and every day. We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord, amen.
Fr. David Convertino, OFM
Executive Director of St. Anthony’s Guild
Many of us find ourselves worrying. Sure, these are unchartered times for all of us and we are trying to find ways to navigate through our worries every day. As Franciscans, much can be gained by studying the lives of the saints, as they did not live easy lives. These men and women have struggled with many of the same anxiety producing problems experienced by you and me. Here are a few saints that you should get to know now. We can learn much from their lives.
Saint Jude Thaddeus – If there is one saint we can turn to when all looks bleak, it is Saint Jude Thaddeus. One of the twelve Apostles, he is known as the patron of hopeless cases. Although many are aware of Saint Jude’s reputation for providing assistance when all else fails, there is some confusion as to how he was chosen for that role. One of the most popular theories is that, due to the similarity of his name with that of fellow Apostle Judas, the faithful steered clear of devotion to him. As a result, devotion to him became something of a “lost cause.”
He is available and willing to intercede for our most desperate intentions.
Saint Rita of Cascia – Born in 1381 in Italy, Saint Rita is known as the patroness of impossible cases. She was married to a man with a violent temper who abused and mistreated her. After eighteen years of marriage, her husband was murdered. One day Rita overheard her two sons plotting to avenge the death of their father. Fearing the loss of their souls, she prayed that her sons would avoid taking revenge on their father’s murderer. Suddenly, both of them took sick and died before any retaliation could take place. Although her prayers were answered in an unlikely manner, they were indeed answered, and her sons were stopped from carrying out a grave offense.
Saint Padre Pio – With a motto such as “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry,” it’s easy to see why this saint is included on this list. He was a firm believer in God’s providence and understood that worry was useless. Any time that we waste on worrying could be more productively spent in prayer. What should we pray for? One thing could be an increase in the theological virtue of hope, which allows us to believe that “all things work out for the good” (Romans 8:28) and that the problems of this life are temporary.
Saint Henry II – While at Monte Cassino in 1021, Saint Henry II (emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) became ill. Tradition has it that Saint Benedict then cured him by prayer. God can and does still perform miracles. Let us give Him the chance!
Blessed Julian of Norwich – Although not technically a saint, Blessed Julian of Norwich is greatly revered by many. Although very little is known about her life, she is famous for a quote that has provided consolation to many throughout the years. Those of us who tend to be anxious sometimes look at the waves crashing around us and fail to see the Lord’s providence. Blessed Julian helps us to regain our focus and recalls that God is ultimately in control. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Saint Vincentia Lopez – Canonized in 1975, Saint Vincentia Lopez was the foundress of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate for Domestic Service, a religious congregation dedicated to ministering to working girls. In a letter to her mother, she wrote: “Come and stay with us, and your ills will certainly mend. Imagination plays a large part in them, and here there are so many distractions that you will have no time to think.” One of the best ways to stop worrying is to keep busy. If worry motivates you to do something, then it can be productive. If, on the other hand, all you’re doing is mulling over the bad things that could happen in your life, it’s time to take Saint Vincentia’s advice and get busy.
Pope Saint Leo the Great – Attila the Hun was a ruthless and powerful warrior who conquered many lands, including Austria and Germany. In 452, he set his sights on Italy and proceeded to successfully conquer several cities and was heading toward Rome. Standing firm in the face of enormous odds, Pope Saint Leo the Great met Attila and his army near Mantua and convinced the tyrant to change his plans and turn back. Rome was spared. According to tradition, when Attila was asked why he backed down so easily, he noted that while the Holy Father spoke, he saw a vision of Saint Peter holding a sword in his hand. This frightened the ruthless Hun and caused him to change his plans.
Saint Stephen Harding – Born in England in the 11th century, Saint Stephen Harding was educated at the Sherborne Abbey and eventually became a monk at the Abbey of Molesme in Burgundy. Feeling that the Lord was calling him to found a monastery, he did just that. In 1098, along with twenty other monks, Saint Stephen founded a monastery at Citeaux. They lived a simple life, in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict. Eventually, Saint Stephen was elected abbot. As the monks began to die off, they were not being replaced by novices and their numbers began to dwindle. Just as it seemed the monastery would be forced to close, guess who showed up at the door? Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, along with 30 companions who were looking to join a monastery! During the next 8 years, a dozen new houses had to be built in order to house the many new monks who joined the order.
These saints can help serve as a reminder to us that God does provide, although he operates according to His own schedule. Sometimes He allows us to walk in the darkness in order to strengthen our faith. God will never give up on us.
Additionally, these saints help us in another important way, they can intercede on our behalf and help us to obtain the graces we need to deal with our problems. They know what it is like to experience real difficulties. So, go ahead, ask your heavenly friends for their help today or whenever you feel the need to just pray!
Test Your Knowledge of Saint Anthony of Padua
By Fr. Jack Wintz, OFM
Of all the places where St. Anthony prayed, which was his favorite? In the town of Camposampiero there was a hermitage built by a nobleman by the name of Count Tiso. Anthony asked the count to construct a small hut in the branches of a large walnut tree. It was not far from a Franciscans community and Anthony spent a good amount of time there towards the end of his life. That tree house was described as the place Anthony could find the connection between heaven and earth. Today there is a small chapel there called the Shrine of the Walnut Tree. Where do you find the quiet place to reflect on your connection to God?
Why do most churches have a statue of St. Anthony? It is a tribute to the popularity of St. Anthony that in most churches you will find a statue of St. Anthony. In newly constructed churches that may not be the case, since there is a new emphasis after Vatican II on the centrality of the altar. The Eucharist is the center of our faith life. If we are honest, sometimes in the past there has been too much of an overemphasis on devotional practices and not enough on the liturgy itself. As always balance is the key. Is there a statue of St. Anthony in the church you attend?
Please remember our recently deceased Friars in your prayers. Please continue to pray for them as they have done for all of you, each and every day. Philip O’Shea, OFM, 88, a professed Franciscan friar for 46 years and a priest for 44, died on November 16, 2019 at St. Cabrini Nursing Home where he had lived since March. He is survived by two cousins — Mary Ann Hirschhorn of Woburn, Massachusetts, and Heather O’Shea of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
In our last issue’s Transitus section, we inadvertently posted a picture of Alexander A. Di Lella’s brother, Mario Di Lella, OFM who is presently living at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Florida.