Sorry, I’m on a kick with 2005 memories and I can’t stop.
Today is the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua.
First of all, Padua – or Padova – is an awesome place to go on pilgrimage. Looking back, I’m not really sure how my friend Megan and I decided to go there, but we did, and it was awesome. We went for a weekend (stopping in Bologna on the way, to see St. Dominic) and I’m so glad we did. I never really hear of groups going to Padua, even Catholic pilgrimage groups, which is kind of sad. It wasn’t very crowded (maybe that’s because it was 25 degrees and snowing?), which was nice on a purely selfish level. I think a lot of people bounce over there from Venice, but it was our destination. (I’ve never been to Venice.) It was far more beautiful, peaceful, and welcoming than I expected. In fact, I think it would be on my list of top ten places to live some day.
So I highly recommend visiting. And staying in the house for pilgrims, right across from the Basilica of St. Anthony.
Sorry, none of this is the point of this post. The point of this post is that while we were in Padua, we were able to not only pray at the tomb of St. Anthony, we were able to see his vocal chords.
His vocal chords. And his tongue.
Both are incorrupt. As in — I’m looking at a glass reliquary and I’m seeing the tongue and vocal chords of someone who lived in the 13th century.
How cool is that? Why is his tongue incorrupt, you ask?
Because during his life he wasn’t just some dude who had a knack for finding things.
He was a preacher of the Gospel — a renowned preacher. By the end of his life, when he lived in Padua, crowds of over 30,000 people would come to hear him preach. He was a great theologian — really the first Franciscan theologian (strictly speaking; he received special permission from St. Francis himself to teach the friars theology. Francis was worried it would harm the friar’s humility and simplicity, but Anthony realized they needed formal schooling in order to combat the heresies of the day. Good intentions are great, but without formal schooling, good intentions can be disastrous. And deadly, morally speaking.)
He was such a beautiful preacher that God has preserved his tongue and vocal chords. These gifts from God, and the gift of preaching, Anthony gave back to God by using them to preach the Gospel.
His vocal chords are not incorrupt just because he was a talented preacher, but because that talent was used for the glory of God. Look at what those vocal chords reaped! Souls for Christ. Anthony’s “success” ultimately came because he realized his talent was a gift from God to be given back to God. He did not preach his own message or his own Gospel – He brought people to Someone else.
“For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.” (2 Cor 4:5, from today’s first reading)
What a lesson for those of us who teach … May I speak so well of HIM. May I preach Him, not myself. If I gain a crowd of 30,000 people, may I always realize they come for HIM and not for me.
New goal: incorrupt vocal chords.
Now excuse me, I’m off to go teach.