ST ANTHONY OF PADUA

Words for the Red

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          From the joyful red~shine of Advent days here, rose a red of a different kind, one far removed from joy and hope. It is an insidious thorn that rears its head at the end of almost every year since my husband and I started a family life moons ago. I had assumed that with the deep, illuminating spiritual journey that this year was, my husband and I would be in a better place in this largely lively and joyful marriage. Then came the morning and a thoughtless, dismissive statement and we were right back where I thought we had left for good. Granted, my grievance is nothing in comparison to what many people  are facing. Many would even consider it laughably trivial and so might I some distant day, but that reasoning fails to stamp out the red flames today.

          I try to turn away from the hurt. I try to shrug it off and fill the sun~dappled morning hours with home chores and yard work. But the red follows in waves and dips. As soon as I have crested one, as soon as I dare to think the hurt has gone, the next rise comes.

          But there’s a difference to my anger. It is not rage. There is no wild slant to it. The sadness it evokes in my heart burrows deep. It brings to life old disappointments and frustrations that I had assumed were in our past.

          As hour spills into hour, I struggle with myself. I struggle to not return to twisted ruts of old. Nonetheless, numerous retorts, rebuttals and accusations march steadily and stormily though my mind.  Snatches of speeches and choice words I conjure.

          The very second they form, I force myself fight them off, to turn my back on them. And then I realize, they need to come out. They are all reactions to my hurt that must have some place to go. So, I give them to Jesus, saying, I chose You, Jesus.

          On and on I battle until I am overwhelmed. I tell God I cannot do it anymore. I cannot pretend, neither can I overlook. I place my husband in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You take over, Lord. I can’t.

          Hours later, the flames have died. In their place an odd quietness – which I put to the test immediately. No, it is not of wanting to forget and make up. Yet, the stillness within me tells me that I am no longer in control of my spirit. I am no longer in control of anything or anyone.

          Someone else is now in charge. I am content to let that be. For once, I do not want to lead. I am tired. I can barely make out the path in front of me.

          My chores for the day done, I cautiously open my door to God. Although my injury is real, in my struggle to overcome my hurt and in my inability to pray in humility for my husband, I am not sure that I am walking in the will of God.

          Timidly, yet with a strange certitude, I ask my God, Lord, give me my prayer. 

          The Almighty’s response is swift, as if He has been waiting for me to ask. His prayer for me is unexpected.

          Prayer of St. Anthony of Padua

          O Light of the world, Infinite God, Father of eternity, giver of wisdom and knowledge, and ineffable Dispenser of every spiritual grace; who knowest all things before they are made, who makest the darkness and the light: put forth Thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy words. Make my tongue, O Lord, as a chosen arrow, to declare faithfully Thy wonders. 

          Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate.

          Do thou lovingly, holily, mercifully, clemently and gently inspire me with Thy grace. 

          Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of my senses and my thoughts. And let Thy discipline instruct me even to the end, and the counsel of the Most High help me through Thine infinite wisdom and mercy.

 

          Oh no, I groan. The last thing I want is to speak. Words have had no effect on this situation that arises without fail every year end holidays. Same fight. Different words. Same failure. Year after year. And now God asks me to pray, put forth Thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy words?

          I begin to think that I may have been mistaken about the prayer being for me. That’s when St Anthony, a saint close to my heart, steps in swiftly and takes my eyes directly to the line,

Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of my senses and my thoughts.

          That closes the door on my doubts. That prayer line directly addressed my struggles with my emotions since the morning. It told me God saw the back-and-forth, the tug-and-push, and that He was with me. He understood my hurt. He saw my struggle to contain it and cope.

          I was not alone. That realization suffices.

          I raise my eyes to heaven. Give me Thy words, I pray.

          Not mine but Yours. 

 

 

 

         

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Fire On My Ear

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Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate.  ~ Prayer of St Anthony of Padua

 

          Six years ago, I was attending an outstation meeting. Late in the evening, having some time to myself, I decided to visit a church nearby. Living so far away from a church, I have seldom been able to enjoy visits alone to a quiet church, far removed from the bustle of Sunday Masses. But that sultry day, yearning to be freed from empty chatter and work thoughts, I hoped to give myself some quiet time with the Lord.

          There was not a soul about, not even the parish priest with whom I was hoping to have a chat. I walked into the stillness I sought, the waiting hours outside the church slowly falling into the sunset slumber of day’s end. Settling into the front pew, I cast my burdens aside and as best as I could, fixed my heart on Jesus on the Cross before me.

          Never short for a word, I beat God to it and launched into my monologue.

          He patiently allowed me to unreel every whine, rant and squeal, till the babbling no longer made sense even to me. Then, I sat back and waited. Long minutes passed, yet the winds were not stirred, the earth never shook, nor was a great message given. A tad disappointed, I made ready to leave.

          It was then that I felt a searing heat on my outer right ear.

          Someone’s holding my ear, I thought, flummoxed because I didn’t even know where that thought had come from. Then, it hit me. The Divine is holding my ear!

          I quickly sat back and hurried to stuff and shove my recalcitrant spirit into some state of created holiness. God was here, and ready to speak, and there I was, on a flight of my own, totally not dressed to face Him. Giving myself a good, great shake, I froze myself and waited for the other ear to burn.

          I don’t know how long I waited, but nothing more happened. I even clumsily tied up my hair, away from my ears, just to give God a hand. But He had no need of it. The heat stayed on my right ear, and it stayed for a time.

          Then, it gently began fading away, taking with it my quivering restlessness and getting ahead. It left my spirit subdued, recollected. Quiet and pliant.

          Without any effort on my part, in my spirit, I suddenly knew that God had given me a sign. Fire on my ear. A personal sign for when He wanted me to pay close attention to the hidden notes in the coming winds.

          Today, I weave the tiny bell~chimes of St Anthony’s prayer through my heart,

Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate. 

          I write these words on my heart, chiseling them deep.

          Because on this rain~dewed morning, the fire fell on my ear yet again.