Saint Anthony: Are we Christians wise?

Every year on the thirteenth of June the Custody wears its holiday clothes in honor of its patron saint, Saint Anthony of Padua. Attesting to a shared devotion, the friars were accompanied by the local Catholic Church as well as representatives of the Orthodox communities present in Jerusalem.

Celebrated by Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa in the presence of H.E. the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem, the Pontifical Mass allowed the large assembly to express their attachment to that great preacher, Saint Anthony. A contemporary and close disciple of Saint Francis, Saint Anthony lived in the 13th century, the beginning of the Franciscan Order.

At Saint Saviour Church, the Custos of the Holy Land preached a homily based on the first reading of the mass, taken from the Book of Wisdom (7:7-14). In English, he explained, “Three verbs should draw our attention in this passage: pray, prefer, and love.” Speaking about God’s wisdom, he began by saying, “Wisdom is not an aggregation of knowledge that we can find in books; in is not something that we learn.” Wisdom is an attitude that we receive from God in prayer. But to receive it, we first have to express the desire for it, and that is the second verb, “prefer”: “Preferring this means making choices and decisions,” said the Custos. “In the same way that we choose to love God, we must love the wisdom that God inspires in us.” Recognizing the wisdom of God acting in us is to agree to see the reality of our world through God’s eyes and to bear witness to this beauty of mankind and creation. “Wisdom is not a concept. For us Franciscans, it is a daily experience and a challenge that we accept,” he continued before closing with a question: “We Christians – are we wise?”

The mass ended with an invocation to Saint Anthony and the hymn of the Custody of the Holy Land, Super muros tuos, Jerusalem, sung by the Magnificat choir of the Custody. Everyone was then invited to share refreshments in the Curia. Latins, Ethiopians, Armenians and Greeks – everyone wished one another a happy feast of Saint Anthony.

Following custom, brethren from the Orthodox churches then joined the Franciscans for a meal.

The Saint Saviour community closed the feast day in the late afternoon with Vespers and veneration of the saint’s relics.

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