Was Anthony’s faith when he died in 1231 the same as when he became a Friar Minor in 1220? In many ways yes, but in other important ways no. In those intervening years, he had experienced God’s grace in new ways and encountered new challenges to faith.
Some people speak of their faith as though it is a diamond to be safeguarded in a bank vault. Other people speak of their faith as the result of incorporating the joys and sorrows of life into a seamless response to God’s inexhaustible grace.
Is my faith primarily an object or a relationship with God? How I answer that question determines the role of religious conversion in my life. As a disciple of Jesus, my faith has content—I believe some things and because of that don’t believe other things. But clarity about content arises from the growth of my relationship with Jesus. Without that growth, the content can easily become a hollow shell.
Every ministry led Anthony into some deeper conversion and openness to God’s grace. We follow Anthony not by replicating the details of his ministry but by allowing our faith to grow as much as his did.
Am I allowing my faith to grow as God wants it to grow?
In Anthony’s Own Words
“We beg you, Lord Jesus, bind us with the love of you and our neighbor so that we can love you deeply with our whole heart, and not be separated from you.”
Did You Know?
According to one legend—and there are many—there was a Count Tiso who had a castle about 11 miles from Padua. And on the grounds of the castle the count had provided a chapel and a hermitage for the friars.
Anthony often went there toward the end of his life and spent time praying in one of the hermit cells. One night, his little cell suddenly filled up with light. Jesus, in the form of a tiny child, appeared to Anthony. Passing by the hermitage, the count saw the light shining from the room and St. Anthony holding and communicating with the infant.
The count fell to his knees on seeing this sight. And when the vision ended, Anthony saw the count kneeling at the open door. Anthony begged Count Tiso not to reveal what he had seen until after his death. Whether this story be legend or fact, the image of Anthony with the child Jesus has important truths to teach us.
—Jack Wintz, OFM, Saint Anthony of Padua: His Life, Legends, and Devotions
Triune God, we thank you for
drawing us to yourself through
the gift of your grace and the
example of the saints, especially
Anthony of Padua.
Lead us to follow him in never
fearing that you might ask for
a conversion beyond what we
can offer you, our ever-gracious God.