By: Rev. Robert Campagna, OFM
St. Anthony of Padua has two distinguished titles: Priest and doctor of the Church. Ever a missionary, St. Anthony’s plain-spoken words help us understand why the Church heralds him as a priest walking in the steps of our Lord, and a doctor whose faith, knowledge and love opened even the most complex theological doctrines.
The Holy Spirit “speaks in different languages,” Father Anthony preached, languages, which are “different ways of witnessing to Christ.” On this list: “…humility, poverty, patience and obedience.” And reminding his listeners that we are each called by Our Lord to be missionaries, he said this: “It is not enough to speak well of Jesus, but one has to love him and make him our testimony in our life, that is make him live and talk to the world of today.”
It is nearly 800 years after St. Anthony went home to God at an early age. And it is likely that he would preach the very same message if he were to be speaking to us today.
Many parishes invite us to get to know Jesus better by offering Bible Study. We know that many young people, from their earliest classes to college years, also read and pray with the Bible – again drawing the ‘curriculum’ from the readings we hear proclaimed at Mass.
I can suggest another way to get to know Jesus better. Many families enjoy a Sunday dinner together. There, why not talk over what each heard in the readings at Mass? What stood out? How can that special message be put to work during the week?
As to those who find it hard to get to Bible Study gatherings: not to worry. Today’s technology comes to the rescue. Tablets, smart phones, e-books are second nature and can be used anywhere, including in the comfort of our own homes.
St. Anthony would tell us that Bible Study is never “just reading.” God’s Holy Word brings us to prayer, helps us to know the Lord and more. We get to know ourselves better, as well as what the Lord may ask of us.
As the Missionary Doctor muses: “Who can be more blessed or happier than one in whom God has set up his dwelling place?”
Fr. Robert, OFM, is Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Conception in New York and director of Franciscan Mission Associates.