The Forty-Day Retreat with Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Anthony of Padua at Prayer
A FORTY-DAY RETREAT WITH SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA -- WEEK FOUR
This Forty-Day Retreat with Saint Anthony of Padua is designed to be prayed in one's own home. It was first used by the Confraternity of Penitents during Lent 2008. Week Four reflections follow. To access reflections for the other weeks of this retreat, please click on this link:
WEEK FOUR OF THE FORTY-DAY RETREAT WITH SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
DAYS TWENTY-TWO THROUGH TWENTY-EIGHT OF THE FORTY-DAY RETREAT WITH SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Anthony preached about the humanity and divinity of Christ. "Just as a rational soul and body form one person, so God and man form one Christ. Christ is both God and man. He can subsist by Himself as far as He is God--part of the Trinity-but He cannot subsist by Himself in as far as He is human--that is, body and soul. Acts 4:12 tells us, "There is no other name given to us whereby we must be saved." (From writings of St. Anthony of Padua)
Prayer: Lord, do I ever think that neither Christ, as God made man, nor I nor any other person could exist as a human being without You? Who am I, Lord, but creature? Who are You but Creator Who became creature for me?
Action: Spend ten minutes reading and reflecting on what St. Anthony preached in today's meditation. What does this tell you about Christ? About yourself? About others? If Christ could not subsist by Himself as a human being, what about us?
Anthony preached about contrition. "When a person is contrite for his sins, he is like a piece of soil that has been reduced to dust. Crushed by sorrow for his offenses, the sinner can turn his mind to God and make of it a delightful garden. What other possible pleasure or joy can satisfy a man when he stands before God, from Whom and in Whom everything exists?" (from writings of Saint Anthony)
Prayer: Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. May the water of my tears on the dust of my contrition bring forth a delightful garden of virtues, my God. Amen.
Action: Take fifteen minutes and make a thorough examination of conscience. For the first five minutes, write down every sin that you are currently engaged in. For the next five minutes, pray about those sins, asking God's forgiveness and repenting of them. For the final five minutes, ask God to give you insights on how to deal with those sins so that, with His grace, you may overcome them. Then make a resolution to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the next opportunity, taking your list of sins with you to confess to the priest.
Anthony preached about spiritual dryness. "There are three stages in our spiritual life. God describes them through the mouth of the prophet Hosea. 'I will nourish her. I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.' With God's grace, a beginner in the spiritual life is 'nourished,' becoming stronger and stronger in the practice of virtue. In the second stage, God 'leads the soul into the desert.' Where did God speak to John the Baptist? In the desert, 'parched, lifeless, and without water where I have gazed on you' as Psalm 62 states." (from the writings of Saint Anthony)
Prayer: Lord, is it possible that You will speak to me in the desert of my spiritual experiences? When all is dry and lifeless in my spiritual life, then I should listen for Your voice and expect to hear it? Open my spiritual ears, Lord. I want to hear You!
Action: Look at your own spiritual journey. Can you find the beginning when God nourished your faith? Have you thanked Him for that time? Have you experienced a time when your faith seemed dry and lifeless? Perhaps that time is now. How you thanked God for that time? Have you listened for His voice in that time? Take five minutes to be still and silent. You may not hear God speaking. But listen with your soul. What do you "hear" spiritually in that time?
Anthony had great insights into the spiritual desert. "John came 'as a voice crying in the desert.' A voice is a preacher and the desert is the symbol of the cross on which Christ died, abandoned, naked, and crowned with thorns. From the desert of the cross, Christ, cried, 'Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.' Thus we must do as well, in the desert of our own questioning. For Satan's influence is always present in the desert." (from the writings of Saint Anthony)
Prayer: Lord, in the deserts of my own life, when I have felt abandoned by You, I have cried to You but did not always feel Your Presence. In those times of despair, satan worked to pull me away from You. I know how often I was tempted to abandon You because I felt that You had abandoned me. I even wondered if You cared or even existed. Lord, in such temptations, be with me. Give me the grace to commend myself into Your hands. Amen.
Action: Do you know anyone who is in the spiritual desert? Can you visit, phone, or email that person to encourage him or her to hold fast to the faith? The evil enemy of God lurks in the spiritual desert to lure suffering people away from the faith that will give them strength and grace for the fight ahead. How can you be a source of prayer and help to these others?
Anthony preached about the voice of God. "In the desert, when one submits to God, one can also find peace and quiet, away from the tumult of internal unrest. Here God 'speaks to her heart' the way a loving mother speaks to her child. In this third stage, the soul experiences the complete joy of God's presence within it. What a superabundance of love, joy and zeal a soul experiences when it possesses God!" (from the writings of Saint Anthony)
Prayer: My Lord, the word "submits" is key in what Anthony is teaching. Help me to submit to You. How often I am like a child throwing a temper tantrum because I want my own way! Like a patient, knowing parent, You wait while I wear myself out with my wailing and anguish. Only when I submit do I find peace and quiet in my Father's arms. Only when I submit can I enter into Your joy. Grant me the grace of submission to You, my God. Amen.
Action: Are you in a spiritual desert because you want things to be your way? Might God's absence be because you are not willing to submit to what He wants of you? Just as a parent cannot pick up a thrashing child, so God cannot embrace you until you grow calm and allow Him to gather you into His arms. That will happen only when you submit to His Will. Spend a few quiet moments today reflecting on these thoughts and evaluating your spiritual life.
Anthony's words convinced many people to confess their sins. "Jeremiah says, 'Lift your eyes on high.' Who looks on high? The person who acknowledges the malice of his deeds and confesses them openly, sincerely and without reservation. Therefore, 'lift your eyes on high.' Do not cast them down or sideways. Do not be ashamed. Do not fear. If you lift your eyes on high and acknowledge your sins, you will 'surely live and not die.' Abandon yourself completely to the judgment of the priest. Make your words those of Saul, who became the Apostle Paul. 'Lord, what will you have me do?'" (from the writings of Saint Anthony)
Prayer: Saint Anthony, intercede for me so that I may be given the grace to look honestly at my sins and to confess them at the next opportunity. Pray that I may frequent the sacrament of confession regularly. Amen.
Action: When was the last time you were to confession? If it has been more than a month, resolve to attend confession at the next regularly scheduled time in a nearby parish. If you have not been to confession for a year or more, phone a parish or monastery and make an appointment to go to confession. You might consider sometime making a life confession which is a confession that goes over every sin of your past life. That is a healing grace but takes a few hours.
Anthony preached about the Blessed Mother. "Maria means 'star of the sea.' The name is most appropriate for our Mother in heaven. Mariners watch the North Star for safe passage while sailing. It is a fixed star in the heavens and, by watching it, they are able to find their bearings in any sea. Mary is like this star. She is a star which indicates a clear path to all those tossed about on the turbulent waters of life."
Prayer: Blessed Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, be to me the morning star that lights the way to Christ. Help me to look to you when I am in distress and confusion, for you show the way to Jesus. You, whose life was anything but easy, understand and will intercede for me. Amen.
Action: Take ten minutes and write down all that you know of Mary's life. Then read what you wrote. Can you feel her emotions during these experiences? Which of her emotions are similar to how you have felt? Can you understand why she is our Mother?