Near the end of his life, Anthony of Padua composed a collection of sermons or “sermon notes.” Having been an outstanding theology teacher and preacher for much of his life, Anthony wanted to help his Franciscan confreres in their preaching ministry.
He wrote these so-called “sermon notes” for the benefit of his brothers. I'd like to share with you some passages of St. Anthony’s sermons.
Sunlight Reveals Dirt
Let me begin with this short passage from one of Anthony’s sermons:“When it is dark, we do not see how dusty and dirty our house is. Only when the place is flooded with sunlight do we realize its awful condition. So we need the light of God’s grace to show us the real state of our soul and to induce us to clean up our hearts!”Reflection: Anthony’s words inspire us to pause and reflect on how closely we do—or do not—measure up to Christ, who is our shining model in all things. But Jesus’ light is not simply a light that exposes our darkness and shortcomings or puts us in touch with our guilt. Jesus’ light is also a warm flood of comforting sunlight and forgiveness that replaces our darkness and wraps us in God’s healing love.
A Tiny Child Is ‘Lord of the Universe’
In another sermon passage, Anthony reflects on the mystery of Christ’s birth in a humble stable at Bethlehem. Anthony expresses amazement, for example, at “the Lord of the universe wrapped in swaddling clothes” and at “the King of Angels lying in a stable.” He also salutes “the one whose name is boundless and yet is laid in a narrow manger.”
Reflection: St. Anthony’s words seem to echo the following passage of St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, in which Paul urges us to embrace the attitude of Christ: Though “he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness. And found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
Seek the Face of God
In another sermon passage of St. Anthony, we find these words: “Nothing apart from God can satisfy the human heart, which is truly in search of God.”
Reflection: As an Augustinian monk in Portugal for many years, Anthony would have surely pondered the famous quote of St. Augustine: “You have created us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” May Anthony intercede for us so that each of us may truly seek the face of God and find our own contemplative gift—and, indeed, full union with our loving God.