Franciscan Priest and Doctor of the Church († 1231)
Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon towards the end of the twelfth century. He joined the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine and was ordained a priest, but soon afterwards he transferred to the Franciscans in order to spread the faith in Africa. However it was in France and Italy that he won renown as a preacher. He was responsible for converting many heretics and was the ﬁrst to teach theology to the friars. The sermons he wrote are full of doctrine and very readable. He died at Padua in 1231. He was canonized in 1232 by Pope Gregory IX, who said in his sermon that the was the “Doctor Optime”, but it was only in 1946 that Pope Pius XII declared him ofﬁcially a Doctor of the Church.
From the sermons of Saint Anthony of Padua, priest
Book I number 226
Our speech is alive when our actions speak
The person who is ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit speaks with a variety of languages. The various languages are so many different witnesses to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience. These virtues speak in us when others see them in us. Our speech is alive when our actions speak. We are full of words but empty of deeds and so we stand condemned by the Lord, for he cursed the ﬁg tree on which he found only leaves and no fruit. “The law”, says Saint Gregory, “is given to the preacher that he may practice what he preaches”. Knowledge of the law is useless if one is undermining one’s preaching by one’s actions. The Apostles “spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak”. Happy the man who speaks according to the Holy Spirit and not according to his own inclination! Some people speak merely their own thoughts: they steal the words of others and give them out as their own. Of these and others like them the Lord says in Jeremiah: “So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets ‐ it is the Lord who speaks ‐ that steal my words from one another. I have a quarrel with the prophets ‐ it is the Lord who speaks ‐ who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams it is the Lord who speaks ‐ who recount them, and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for the people ‐ it is the Lord who speaks.” So let us speak as the Holy Spirit gives us utterance, beseeching him humbly and devoutly as he pours out his grace; that the wonders of Pentecost may be realized in our lives by the full and proper use of our ﬁve senses, by our observance of the commandments. May we be ﬁlled by the strong wind of contrition, and ﬁred by the ﬁery tongues of confession so that, glowing and radiant in the splendour of the saints, we may be found worthy to see God, Three and One.
Almighty, ever-loving God,
you gave Saint Anthony of Padua to your people
as a preacher of great power
and a patron in their needs.
Grant that, with his help,
we may follow the Christian way of life,
and feel your aid in all our trials.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.