The Forty-Day Retreat with Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Anthony of Padua at Prayer
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 Six reflections follow. To access reflections for the other weeks of this retreat, please click on this link:
WEEK SIX OF THE FORTY-DAY RETREAT WITH SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
DAYS THIRTY-SIX THROUGH FORTY OF THE FORTY-DAY RETREAT WITH SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
In May, 1231, Anthony was very ill. His body was bloated, perhaps because he may have contracted hepatitis from eating raw fish when he had been sailing to Morocco ten years before. He knew he was dying, but he was determined to intercede for the lives of prisoners held unjustly by a local tyrant. Anthony walked to see this tyrant and to beg for the release of the prisoners, one of whom was a child. The tyrant refused.
Prayer: My Lord, I, too, have tried to work against evil and have failed. Why does evil exist, my God? Why can't even a saint like Anthony prevail against the evil will of another? My Lord, grant me the courage to keep hoping and trying despite my failures and my faltering. Help me to struggle for good for as long as I live.
Action: Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. In one write evils that you have confronted. In the second column, write evils you have ignored. Has any good come from your confrontations, at least as far as you know? Can any good come from evils you have not addressed? Pray, "Enlighten me, Holy Spirit, so that I may know how to deal with the evils I have recognized in my life. Help me to follow Your lead, my God. Amen."
In May of 1231, Anthony was staying on the estate of Count Tiso da Camposampiero, twelve miles outside of Padua. He was concerned because Anthony was so ill. Anthony had worked hard in Padua for a law that protected debtors and that kept them from being unjustly imprisoned. Anthony was well-loved in the city and Tiso, who was a penitent, was concerned about his health.
Prayer: My Lord, I am concerned about someone's health, too. I love that person and hate to see him or her suffer. I fear for their life sometimes, my Lord. My God, ease that person's suffering and make Your presence felt.
Action: Have you called, phoned, or sent a card to someone whom you know is ill? It only takes a few minutes to offer charity to someone else. Do it today.
Brother Luke Belludi was Anthony's traveling companion. He was present when Anthony worked a healing miracle over a young man's severed foot. He witnessed Anthony's increasing ecstasies. He helped the weakened friar climb a tree on Count Tiso's estate so that Anthony could preach to the people from it. He knew Anthony's purity and could understand why the Infant Christ had trusted Anthony so much that He allowed Anthony to hold Him in a wondrous vision at Chateau-neuf-de-Foret near Limoges, France. Brother Luke knew Anthony better than any other friar.
Prayer: Lord, I ask You to bless my friends. Those who know me are so special to me, Lord. Grant them all Your graces in gratitude for all their support of me. What would I do without my wonderful friends!
Action: Have you told your friends how much you appreciate them? Look for the next opportunity and then do so!
Brother Roger was in attendance with Anthony when he collapsed during the noon meal at Camposanpiero. Anthony asked Brother Roger to take him to the friary in Padua to die, but en route another brother met the cart carrying the dying friar. The brother told Roger to take Anthony to a convent of Poor Clares because Anthony would not survive the longer trip to Padua. At the friary at this location, Anthony was placed in a chair and, with Roger supporting his head, made his confession, chanted "O Glorious Lady," and, after experiencing anxiety, had a vision of the Savior. Anthony recited the seven penitential psalms with the friars, and then had an hour of peace before dying on June 13, 1231.
Prayer: My Lord, I do not think of my own death, but it will come some day. Grant me a holy death, Lord. Grant me the grace of being able to confess my sins and receive Your Body in my final moments. Let me be at peace in You and come to You with trust.
Action: Do you have a will? If not, make an appointment with a lawyer to write one. Pray each day for the grace of a happy death.
The friars tried to keep Anthony's death a secret because they knew that many people would want relics from his body and they feared a riot. But somehow the children of Padua found out and ran through the streets crying, "The holy father is dead! The saint is dead!" In fact, there was contention over where his body was to be buried and the body did have to be heavily guarded to prevent relic seekers from dismembering it.
Prayer: My Lord, Anthony was known as a saint immediately upon his death. Help me to live my life so that, when I die, I will leave behind a legacy of goodness.
Action: A relic of saint is a precious token of the holy person's physical presence. Do you have a memento from someone dear to you who has died? If the item is part of their body, such as a lock of hair, you would have a first class relic if that person were ever declared a saint. If you possess something that person wore or used, you would have a second class relic and, if you had something that was touched to a first or second class relic, you would have a third class relic, should that person ever be canonized. Take that memento and pray for the person to whom it belonged. Ask God to bring him or her into eternal union with God if such has not already happened.
This concludes the Forty-Day Retreat with Saint Anthony of Padua. If you would like to extend your reflection for fifteen days of meditation, consult this link for fifteen of Saint Anthony's insights on the person of Jesus.