San Antonio De Padua: My heavenly friend-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Thursday, June 7, 2012
ON JUNE 13, we will be celebrating the feast of San Antonio de Padua. As we started to make preparations for the feast, thoughts of last year came to my mind.
I was feeling rather guilty to be away for the 12th year that we have started the devotion to the San Antonio de Padua at the Sacred Heart Shrine. Not wanting to be totally remiss in my participation, weeks before the feast and my departure, I already sent out letters to all the annual sponsoring devotees and made arrangements with Fr. Jesmar, the rector then of the Seminary, and Fr. Raymand Asoy, the procurator.
Feeling assured that the devotees will help out and that Elsa Leonardia -- our gracious first lady who is likewise a devotee -- together with our Mayor Bing, has agreed to be present for the celebration, I knew that I left my favorite saint in great hands.
Having a friend saint is more than a good thing. Since elementary, we have heard of the communion of saints, so why not be in constant communion with a particular saint who you can count on as friend and support system. That has been St. Anthony of Padua for me.
My departure for Vancouver was on a Sunday so I asked my cousin, Dido, in Manila if she could bring me to an anticipated Mass that Saturday. And where did she bring me? To Sanctuario de San Antonio de Padua in Forbes. I knew then that St. Anthony was praying for me.
Arriving in Vancouver, and not losing a day despite the long hour flights, my friend Marianne Montano Santos asked if I wanted to go to Sunday Mass and, of course, I readily said yes to be grateful for a safe journey. Lo and behold, she brought me to the Church she frequents which is dedicated to San Antonio de Padua.
The Sunday Mass was well attended. There were many Filipinos present. They had started their nine-day novena masses for his feast, and after the Mass, there was even the veneration of his relic. I felt very close to St. Anthony. Marianne and I attended more Novena Masses.
One of the two things I wanted to do in New York was to visit Central Park and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The very first day, since Central Park was just down the street where we lived, we did that immediately. The very next day, we headed for 5th Avenue and who greeted me as I walked down the right side of the immense Church? San Antonio de Padua. There is a small chapel and altar there dedicated to him.
Again, in Brampton, Ontario, the Portuguese church beside my friend's home had his image prominently displayed. Even when we went to St. Michael's Church in Toronto, he was there to greet me first as I entered the beautiful church.
Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, causes -- anything that is important. The earliest records show that people and churches were named after apostles and martyrs as early as the fourth century.
St. Anthony often attracted huge crowds and was sensationally successful. One day when he found he was preaching to heretics who would not listen, he went to preach to the fish, who listened attentively, not for their own necessity, but for the glory of God.
To another heretic, St. Anthony had a mule (who had been starved for three days) bow before the Blessed Sacrament, although food was also placed near him. St. Anthony was also miraculously visited by the Infant Jesus, and most pictures show him carrying the baby Jesus.
St. Anthony started out as a reluctant preacher but his teachings were so profound that he is named as a Doctor of the Church. He is often depicted carrying a book. One miracle that the Lord has granted him is that his tongue is incorrupt, displayed at the Vatican.
St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of Padua, Portugal, and of San Antonio, Texas. Prayer cards manufactured in Italy identify him as the saint of "miracles;" but to most Catholics, he is the saint associated with the return of lost articles and missing persons. He is petitioned for help in finding almost everything that is lost, from car keys and misplaced papers to a lost job, a lost lover, or a straying partner.
People who are regarded as "lost souls" may also be placed in his care. Because he traveled widely, St. Anthony is also appealed to for safe travel, especially when ocean voyages are involved. In Portugal, France, Italy, and Spain, he is much beloved by those who work on the sea, and sailors may keep a statue of him on the mast of their ships.
In many sculptures and paintings, St. Anthony is depicted with a bag of bread, giving bread to the poor. Proverbial was his charity. He would empty the pantries of most communities where he lived and share them with the poor. That's why on his feast, in the Sacred Heart Shrine, bread is offered during the Offertory, blessed and shared with the faithful and indigents.
As St. Anthony was the pillar of purity, dedication and love that was so virginal, pictures also show him holding a small branch of a lily, not a blossoming one like St. Joseph.
Heavenly friends are always a plus! While God Almighty reigns supreme as our Lord and Master and who is in total control of our lives, it is good to have an intimate friendship with God's chosen people who share His heavenly mansion.
On earth, we need friends as our support system, the physical ear to listen to our woes, to hold our hand when in distress, the buddy to share our joys and triumphs. We likewise need heavenly friends to share our bliss as well as our angst. There are many to choose from. Mine is St. Anthony.
Thank you St. Anthony for that most fabulous and safe trip! My ultimate wish will be to visit his shrine in Padua, Italy. I know one day it will come true.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 07, 2012.