Sunday, June 19, 2011

St. Anthony--the one connection she kept

Our Lord Himself made it clear that all of us--and in an exemplary way the saints--are meant to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We in the Gospel how four men carried a paralytic to our Lord, lowered him through the roof to the feet of Christ, and the Lord said to them, because of your (plural in the original) faith, his sins are forgiven. St. Anthony is one of those saints who are particularly good at holding together threads of faith when it seems, on the surface, to have been torn away at the root. Why this is, doesn’t matter. It is simply part of God’s goodness. St. Anthony has long been known not only as a special Patron for those who have lost things, but also as the Patron of Lost Souls. We can never know how much God can do with apparently lost people--often working through saints like Anthony. And so, one woman writes of an aunt whose life was hard enough to rip away the normal tethers of faith--but who held onto St. Anthony. It is a touching story, but also should be the occasion for us to add our prayers for the soul of her aunt: Prayer is never wasted: Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her:

“I had an Aunt, born in 1915, who had a miserable and brutal home life, aside from desperate poverty. She was badly treated at a Catholic school by bullying classmates and a teacher who found her difficult to like because of her bitterness and shabby clothes, and one day insulted her so that she walked out of her high school, and the Church as well, and never came back. She had hard words for the Church and the "hypocritical people" in it. However though she never attended Mass the rest of her life she had a fondness for St. Anthony, and often asked him to find or obtain things for her. She was a woman who never smiled and was always suspicious. When it came time for her to die in 2005, in the hospital she expressed no desire for a chaplain, or to be reconciled to the Church... However I (her niece) prayed silently a lot by her bedside and sneaked a green scapular under her mattress. The night before she died she was in coma, so I slipped a brown scapular about her neck (I knew that as a school girl she must have been enrolled) and said all 20 mysteries of the rosary for her, and then the chaplet of Divine Mercy before I went home after midnight. She was found dead next morning with the loveliest sweet smile on her face--and I knew in my heart that she was OK with God. The one connection she had kept all her life long was a sincere devotion to St Anthony, and I know he engineered things so that I could be near her at the end "to have faith for her", and say prayers for her that she was unable to say for herself."

What the writer describes can be a common thing -- a breakdown in faith, a long wandering through life, but nevertheless a thread, who in this case was Anthony. And God can work with threads.