People were drawn to St. Anthony. He was widely known as a miracle-worker. Like those before him, and after him, whom God chooses to bring hope into the world through miracles and healings, St. Anthony always pointed away from himself, to the Lord. It was He Who healed, Who went out of His Way to bring about Miracle, so they would know He was with them, to the end of the world, and they need not be afraid. Anthony looked upon himself, as only a worthless pipeline for the Lord to flow through. St. Anthony performed miracles during his lifetime, or better, he obtained, through his prayer and penances, Miracles from the Lord.
St. Anthony was a priest! And through his faithful yes to that priesthood, Miracles came about. A typical day in his life, would read much like that of one of our own faithful priests, in our own parishes, only multiplied a hundredfold. Hearing of him, many came in need, and he was available to that need. Between preaching, teaching and hearing confessions, the sun set on many a day, leaving him without having had an opportunity to eat. I think many a priest today, maybe your priest, would love to have that kind of pain.
Even in his day, St. Anthony’s type of Christianity was not easy. Some of his fellow priests considered him unbending and stern; still, the faithful came in droves, for him to hear their confessions. The hours he spent in the confessional, thoroughly poured out and exhausted to the point of dropping, were enough to have taken his life at 36 years old. Imagine carrying all those sins upon himself, as he took the place of Jesus, in the confessional. Maybe, the most moving quality, penitents saw in Anthony, was the compassion behind his unrelinquishing, uncompromising living out of the Gospel. With this, he could touch even the most stubborn. Maybe, as we pray for our lost loved-ones, we should try praying for St. Anthony’s intercession.
Many miracles came to pass in the confessional. One day, he was reading a list of sins, written on a piece of paper, by a penitent. To the sinner’s amazement, as the Saint read, the sins disappeared from the page.
And then there was the time, a young man confessed, among other sins, he’d kicked his mother so violently, she fell to the floor. St. Anthony, strongly detesting the outrage, burst out passionately,
“The foot that kicks the father or the mother should be cut off.”
The young man, not understanding the meaning of his words, returned home, took a hatchet and chopped off his foot. People have always delighted in bad news. Results of the severe punishment meted out, supposedly by Anthony, quickly spread throughout the city. It soon reached the ears of the hero turned monster, Anthony. He followed the youth’s grieving parents to their house. He made his way to the young man’s bedroom. He prayed, holding the severed foot close to the leg of the misguided, but repentant son. St. Anthony made the sign of the cross, and instantly the foot became attached to the leg. The young man jumped up, giving praise to the Lord and thanksgiving to Anthony, who had healed his leg in this truly miraculous way
St Anthony was a peace-maker. He was highly esteemed, not only within the Church but without, among civil authorities, as a mediator of peace. They called on him often, to bring about reconciliation. So, it was no wonder that families turned to him, confidently, to resolve their differences and bring harmony back into their lives. One day, a woman was accused of infidelity by her husband, their newborn was not his. He wanted to leave her. She turned to Anthony for help. He came and placed his hands on the couple’s baby. The infant testified to the innocence of its mother, pointing to the husband as its father.
Another miracle, chronicled by Art over the centuries, is the Miracle of the miser. St. Anthony spoke out strongly against the “tyrannical bondage” of money. He never said having money was wrong, but having money own you was. Then, as now, money
Miracle of the Miser
owned people in many ways; if you were not careful, you could not tell victim from victimizer. Times have never been easy. They certainly were not easy in Anthony’s time. People worked very hard for very little. Most people depended on farming, raising sheep, and a little fishing. When nature was hard, very often, they had to turn to money-lenders to survive.
There were those who preyed on the desperation of the poor, “…fierce beasts who rob and devour.” St. Anthony was asked to speak at the funeral of one such as these, a money-lender. Preaching at this miser’s funeral, he referred to his (miser’s) treasure chest,
“Don’t bury this corpse in sacred ground. Bury it in any other place as you would the body of an animal, because his soul is already in hell and his heart is no longer in his body. In him the words of the Gospel have already been fulfilled: `For where your treasure is, there will your heart also be.’”
Legend tells us, when they opened the body of the miser, his heart was not there, but, with his beloved money in his treasure chest.
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