Through the years, much has been written about the beloved Saint Anthony of Padua. Although many think he is an Italian saint, he is actually Portuguese. Born in Lisbon in 1195, he joined the Franciscan order and was shipwrecked in Sicily on his way to evangelize Morocco, which is how he ended up in Italy. Renowned for his preaching, the Church declared him an Evangelical Doctor in 1946.
I often think about the great preachers and minds of the Church, and how I wish I could have just a glimpse of them in action. Really…don’t you just love great preaching? It waters the soul. Can you imagine what it would have been like to have heard him? He speaks not of his own accord, but with the power, strength, and authority of the Holy Spirit.
“The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” (Is 50:4) God demonstrates His gift to St. Anthony in a very unique way. In the normal course of events, the human body decays over time and returns to dust. The Church will often exhume a body some time after death to look for evidence of incorruption. St. Anthony died and was buried in 1231. The Church exhumed his body 32 years later, in 1263. Only skeletal remains should have been present after that much time. Upon examination, however, they found his incorrupt tongue. Two centuries later, when moving the relics into a new reliquary, his larynx was also found to be incorrupt.
This preacher among preachers, in his death, reveals the glory of God – just another amazing, inexplicable manifestation of the Saints of the Church. His primary vehicles of speech remain incorrupt, so that he continues to preach to this day!
St. James weighs in powerfully with his thoughts on the use of the tongue:
If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh. (Jas 3:2-12)
I once memorized this passage, and although I can no longer recite it word for word, its meaning sticks with me. How many times to we misuse our speech? How many times do our words fail to build another up in love? How many times do we set a forest ablaze with careless words? James tells us at the beginning of his letter, “Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.” (Jas 1:19-20) Ouch!
On this day, the feast of St. Anthony, let us pray for his intercession that we will effectively witness to the gospel with our words. On this day, too, the day after Pentecost, let us pray to the Father of Mercies, for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to shower abundant graces to help us to guard our speech so that our words will lead with love.
Come, Holy Spirit! St. Anthony, pray for us! Anne
Prayers to St. Anthony:
Unfailing Prayer to St. Anthony
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.
St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for his creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I ask you to obtain for me the favors that I seek (mention your request here).
The answer to my prayer may require a miracle, even so, you are the Saint of Miracles.
O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was full of sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the Infant Jesus, who loved to be held in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever by yours. Amen.
Prayer to St. Anthony of Padua – Performer of Miracles
Dear Saint Anthony, your prayers obtained miracles during your lifetime. You still seem to move at ease in the realm of minor and major miracles. Saint Anthony, Performer of Miracles, please obtain for me the blessings God holds in reserve for those who serve Him. Pray that I may be worthy of the promises my Lord Jesus attaches to confident prayer. [mention your special intentions]
Prayer to Saint Anthony for lost Items
St. Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (name your lost item) which has been lost. At least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss. To this favor, I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God. Amen.