MANILA, June 14, 2015—Drawing from the heroic virtues of St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan priest invited the faithful to follow his example in reaching out to people most in need, especially this Year of the Poor.
“We must be one in helping the poor … We must continue this mission as one community, as one family of God,” declared Fr. Angelito A. Salazar, OFM, chief pastor of St. Mary of the Angels in Cagayan, in his homily for the fiesta Mass held in honor of the medieval Portuguese “Wonder-worker” and Doctor of the Church on Saturday, June 13, at the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua in Sampaloc, Manila.
“May St. Anthony of Padua continue to teach so that we continue also to follow our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
So young, so holy
Salazar went on to share with the faithful some highlights in the life of the saint, recalling how as a young man he heeded the call to follow Christ.
“He died when he was barely 36-years old. But young though he was, he did more than what most people can only hope to do in a lifetime,” he noted.
“Gifted with eloquence and the skill to make himself understood even by common folk, St. Anthony gave his best in preaching the Word of God,” he added.
Moreover, the priest stressed that like St. Anthony each of the faithful must look at the Crucified Lord, allowing Him to transform them through His mercy and compassion, as well as the generosity of God.
Devotion = Conversion
According to him, conversion must result from devotion.
“Devotees of St. Anthony are expected to imitate St. Anthony, who in turn imitated the Lord,” Salazar said.
Offering flowers and bread, hundreds of these pious men and women flocked to the sanctuary to pay their respects to one of the best-loved saints of the Catholic Church, while dozens more joined in the procession of various Antonian images.
Masses were held almost non-stop throughout the day, all focusing on the theme of the Year of the Poor.
St. Anthony, 1195-1231
Known as the patron saint of lost articles and people, Anthony of Padua was the most learned and eloquent Franciscan preacher of his time who also worked miracles and fought heresies.
Legend tells of him evangelizing fishes instead when heretics would hear none of the Gospels.
Initially an Augustinian, then Fernando Martins was inspired to joined the Order of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) after he saw the dead bodies of the first Franciscan martyrs brought home from North Africa where they had served.
Renamed Antonio to underscore his conversion, he vowed to die for the faith, but never saw martyrdom considering God had other plans for him.
Gifts to the Church
A talented theologian and preacher, he found himself using his gifts to spreading God’s word in an age mired in religious errors, as well as corruption in the Church hierarchy.
He was raised to the altar by Pope Gregory IX on May 30, 1232, at Spoleto, Italy, less than one year after his death, making his the second-fastest canonization after that of St. Peter Verona.
Moreover, St. Anthony was declared a Doctor of the Church, “Doctor Evangelicus,” on January 16, 1946 by Venerable Pius XII due to the richness of spiritual teaching contained in his “Sermons.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)