Archive for February, 2009

Virtual prayer book expected to gain popularity during Lent

February 25, 2009

By Evelyn Ring
Irish Examiner
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

THOUSANDS of people are expected to go online to pray today — Ash Wednesday — as the computer gains in popularity as a virtual prayer book.

Today, the start of Lent, is also the 10th anniversary of Sacred Space, the prayer website established by Irish Jesuits in their communications centre in Dublin.

The site, which guides the visitor through prayer, is available in almost 20 languages, with up to 20,000 visitors worldwide logging on every day.

Site editor, Fr Piaras Jackson, is expecting a big increase in visitors today. “We often see even more people logging on to pray on dates with religious significance,” he said.

Fr Jackson said the computer is now what the prayer book was for many years ago. “For many people, the computer is where everything happens — it’s where they keep notes, make appointments, get information. So it is no surprise that it’s also where people pray,” he said.

And the website has developed beyond daily prayer to include scripture commentaries, areas to write and send prayers, email greeting cards, novenas and audio.

“This is very much in line with the Jesuit approach to prayer,” said Fr Jackson. “From the spiritual exercises to operas, Jesuits have always tried to help people find engaging and imaginative connections with the gospel.”

He said the feedback left by visitors showed they felt part of a worldwide community of prayer.

“The messages we get range from longer and detailed enquiries to the short text-like ones such as ‘You guys rock! Thank you for all you do’.”

Editor of the Irish Catholic, Garry O’Sullivan said Lent had come even earlier for many people because of the economic crisis. “The warning given by Jesus about the dangers of people storing up treasures for themselves is very appropriate at this time.”

Sadly, many people who did well during the Celtic Tiger and then saw their savings disappear or their firm become bankrupt now knew what happened if they stored up wealth for themselves.

“The message of the gospel is a very wise one and you don’t need to be a Christian to believe it.”

Mr O’Sullivan believes Lent is a time for people to think of their neighbour.

“There was a time in rural parishes in Ireland when people who fell on hard times were quietly looked after and we need to get back to that way of looking after the weak and the vulnerable.”

He said old-fashioned words associated with religious practice such as greed, sin and repentance were now back in vogue — almost by default.


Google site search

February 15, 2009

For this journal, I have made a new Google site search. Lj will not take the code in an entry, however, so the search box is located on Please use it to search this journal for subjects and issues you are interested in. I will also put the link on the list on the right..


Miracles and Traditions of St. Anthony

February 15, 2009

**Every day I have need to call upon St Anthony for help when I lose things, which I do constantly. As soon as I ask this blessed saint to help me, the article I was unable to find previously becomes visible. It happens every time. You dun have to believe me, because I know many of you are sceptical.

I know that if St Anthony cares enough about me to help me find my lost keys, then he is my special saint to also ask for bigger help, and this I do. I ask him to watch over certain of my loved ones and to make sure they stay safe. He always comes through for me. This is not to say he is a god, for those of you not familiar with Catholic theology, but to illustrate that God’s power works through St Anthony.

St Anthony Shrine

Nearly everywhere St. Anthony is asked to intercede with God for the return of things lost or stolen. Those who feel very familiar with him may pray, “Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and must be found.”

The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.

A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony’s psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. And after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil, brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., proclaims, “The sea obeys and fetters break…And lifeless limbs thou dost restore…While treasures lost are found again…When young or old thine aid implore.”

St. Anthony and the Child Jesus

St. Anthony has been pictured by artists and sculptors in all kinds of ways. He is depicted with a book in his hands, with a lily or torch. He has been painted preaching to fish, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in front of a mule or preaching in the public square or from a nut tree.

But since the 17th century we most often find the saint shown with the child Jesus in his arm or even with the child standing on a book the saint holds. A story about St. Anthony related in the complete edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints (edited, revised and supplemented by Herbert Anthony Thurston, S.J., and Donald Attwater) projects back into the past a visit of Anthony to the Lord of Chatenauneuf. Anthony was praying far into the night when suddenly the room was filled with light more brilliant than the sun. Jesus then appeared to St. Anthony under the form of a little child. Chatenauneuf, attracted by the brilliant light that filled his house, was drawn to witness the vision but promised to tell no one of it until after St. Anthony’s death.

Some may see a similarity and connection between this story and the story in the life of St. Francis when he reenacted at Greccio the story of Jesus, and the Christ Child became alive in his arms. There are other accounts of appearances of the child Jesus to Francis and some companions.

These stories link Anthony with Francis in a sense of wonder and awe concerning the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. They speak of a fascination with the humility and vulnerability of Christ who emptied himself to become one like us in all things except sin. For Anthony, like Francis, poverty was a way of imitating Jesus who was born in a stable and would have no place to lay his head.

Patron of Sailors, Travelers and Fishermen

In Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. According to some biographers his statue is sometimes placed in a shrine on the ship’s mast. And the sailors sometimes scold him if he doesn’t respond quickly enough to their prayers.

Not only those who travel the seas but also other travelers and vacationers pray that they may be kept safe because of Anthony’s intercession. Several stories and legends may account for associating the saint with travelers and sailors.

First, there is the very real fact of Anthony’s own travels in preaching the gospel, particularly his journey and mission to preach the gospel in Morocco, a mission cut short by severe illness. But after his recovery and return to Europe, he was a man always on the go, heralding the Good News.

There is also a story of two Franciscan sisters who wished to make a pilgrimage to a shrine of our Lady but did not know the way. A young man is supposed to have volunteered to guide them. Upon their return from the pilgrimage one of the sisters announced that it was her patron saint, Anthony, who had guided them.

Still another story says that in 1647 Father Erastius Villani of Padua was returning by ship to Italy from Amsterdam. The ship with its crew and passengers was caught in a violent storm. All seemed doomed. Father Erastius encouraged everyone to pray to St. Anthony. Then he threw some pieces of cloth that had touched a relic of St. Anthony into the heaving seas. At once, the storm ended, the winds stopped and the sea became calm.

Teacher, Preacher, Doctor of the Scriptures

Among the Franciscans themselves and in the liturgy of his feast, St. Anthony is celebrated as a teacher and preacher extraordinaire. He was the first teacher in the Franciscan Order, given the special approval and blessing of St. Francis to instruct his brother Franciscans. His effectiveness as a preacher calling people back to the faith resulted in the title “Hammer of Heretics.” Just as important were his peacemaking and calls for justice.

In canonizing Anthony in 1232, Pope Gregory IX spoke of him as the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.” That explains why St. Anthony is frequently pictured with a burning light or a book of the Scriptures in his hands. In 1946 Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Universal Church. It is in Anthony“s love of the word of God and his prayerful efforts to understand and apply it to the situations of everyday life that the Church especially wants us to imitate St. Anthony. While noting in the prayer of his feast Anthony’s effectiveness as an intercessor, the Church wants us to learn from Anthony, the teacher, the meaning of true wisdom and what it means to become like Jesus, who humbled and emptied himself for our sakes and went about doing good.

Franciscan Father Norman Perry (1929-1999) served as editor-in-chief of ‘St. Anthony Messenger’ magazine for 18 years. He was the anonymous friar behind the publication’s popular “Wise Man” column for the 32 years he served on the magazine staff. This excerpt is from the book Saint Anthony of Padua: The Story of His Life and Popular Devotions, which was published in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of ‘St. Anthony Messenger.’

“The sea obeys and fetters break
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore
While treasures lost are found again
When young or old thine aid implore.”

—Responsory of St. Anthony

Miracles of St Anthony

February 15, 2009
–Documented: 1231-32

Miracle (During Lifetime)

One miracle that is attributed to Saint Anthony during his lifetime was described as follows:

A certain inhabitant of Padua, called Peter, had a daughter whose name was Padovana. Although she was four years old, she was absolutely incapable of using her feet and moved like a reptile, crawling with the help of her hands. Furthermore, it was said that, since she suffered from epilepsy, she would often fall and roll around. When Saint Anthony was still alive, her father, as he carried her in his arms while walking through the city one day, met the saint and began to beg him to make the sign of the cross over his daughter. The saintly father, admiring the man’s faith, blessed her and sent her away. When the girl’s father returned home, he made his daughter stand up on her feet. Supported by a footstool, she immediately began to walk about. Then, having taken away the footstool, her father gave her a cane. Indeed, walking about in the house, the girl always improved. At last, through the merits of most blessed Anthony, she healed completely and did not need any prop whatsoever. And, from that moment when she was blessed, she no longer suffered any illness or even the least falling sickness.

Miracles (After Death)

The following miracles are just a few of the many that occurred after Saint Anthony’s death, and were read, along with the one above, before Pope Gregory IX:

Prosdocima of Noventa, the widow of Mainerio, had a left hand and both feet that were contracted. She was carried to blessed Anthony’s sepulchre in a wooden tub. When she was raised above the ark, her feet were immediately straightened out and restored to their original use through the merits of blessed Anthony. Her hand, to be sure, opened a little, trembling at first, and then stretched out so that, while everyone looked on, she closed and opened it. Taken down from the ark, she at once jumped to her feet and, having regained the health she desired, she departed full of joy.

In the city of Padua, there was a certain boy, called John, whose chin for four years adhered to his chest so much that he could not raise his head in any way but walked about stooped forward, with his head at an angle. One day, when his mother brought him to blessed Anthony’s tomb, there and then, the boy himself raised his head and, cured, went back with his mother. But a cavity appeared in his chest, in the very spot where his chin had stuck.

A certain woman, whose name was Bilia, for three years suffering tremors in her whole body, came shakingly, straitened as she was, to the ark of the saintly father Anthony. While she persisted in prayer before the sepulchre, the tremor became stronger and she felt her temperature rise greatly. Men and women cried, moved to compassion by her trembling and perspiration. But, when she was taken outside the door of the church so that she might breathe a little, her temperature came down, and having been cured, she left the place.

A certain German woman, whose name was Caroline, was brought to the sepulchre of the most saintly father because for seven years she had been deprived of sight in both eyes. When she stayed there for a short time in prayer, she regained her sight through heavenly aid and happily returned home, praising God.

When a certain man, whose name was Guidotto, was once suffering from a serious illness, his kidneys were impaired and he developed a hump. He couldn’t walk without the support of crutches and his head would droop almost to the ground. When his mother had him led to blessed Anthony’s sepulchre so that he might regain his health, he suddenly began to feel such great pains throughout his whole body that he perspired violently because of his anguish. As the pain subsided, the man could distend his kidneys and immediately, through the saint’s merits, the hump disappeared.

In the book, “Life of St. Anthony: Assidua,” by A Contemporary Franciscan, the author lists fifty-three miracles that were read before Pope Gregory IX. It seems unbelievable that there could have been fifty-three miracles, but according to the author, who was also a franciscan friar and personally knew Saint Anthony, there were many more. The following is the author’s “Conclusion To The Book Of Miracles:”

Indeed, the Lord of majesty deigned to work through his servant Anthony many other signs which are not written in this book. Here we have gathered a few from among many, choosing from the better known those that are most certain, in order to give an opportunity to others, who may wish to do so, to add to these praises. And, not assenting to what is uncertain, while we intend to praise the saint, may we guard our tongues from the vice of lying. Truly, if his miraculous signs, some of which are great, and his marvels, which are extraordinary, were described one by one, I am afraid that just as their number might cause discomfort to the reader so also the unusual greatness of the works might give rise to the danger of disbelief in the minds of the weak.

From “Life of St. Anthony: Assidua” by A Contemporary Franciscan
Copyright © 1984 Prov. Pad. F.M.C. Editrice GraficheMessaggero di S. Antonio.