Born in Lisbon in the late 1100s, Anthony became an Augustinian and then left to become a Franciscan. He was renowned for his gentleness and simplicity. He died in Padua in 1231 while still only in his mid 30s.
In the Office of Readings for his feast we have a section of one of his sermons. In it, St Anthony urges us to practice what we preach and to be sincere. He says, "language comes alive when it speaks by deeds." The whole sermon reminds us of the work of the Spirit in the lives of the Apostles and in our lives. It is very deep and at the same time profoundly simple. It is worth reading in a spirit of humility and searching. It will speak to your heart of the way you live your life.
Reading: A sermon by St Antony of Padua
Actions speak louder than words:
The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: “A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches.” It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.
But the apostles spoke as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech. Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself! For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim the credit for them. The Lord refers to such men and others like them in Jeremiah: So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets that steal my words from each other. I have a quarrel with the prophets, says the Lord, who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, who recount them and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for this people, says the Lord.
We should speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfilment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendour of the saints and to look upon the triune God.
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