St. Anthony of Padua
A life larger than him (1195-1231):
St Anthony was born in 1195 near Lisbon receiving the name of
Ferdinand. His father was a revenue officer and knight at the court of
Alfonso II, King of Portugal.
Ferdinand was sent to the cathedral school in Lisbon. At the age of
fifteen, he joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. He stayed in the
house in Lisbon. But he found the visits of his relatives too disturbing
and so he asked to be transferred to Coimbra.
St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade
|The Feast of St. Anthony
will be celebrated on June 13 at the shrine of St. Anthony,
Pontifical Vespers will be
sung on June 12 at 7 p.m. The Festive High Masses will be at
8 a.m. in Tamil, 10 a.m. in Sinhala and 12 noon in English.
The other masses will be at 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. in Tamil, 5
a.m. and 7 a.m. in Sinhala.
The procession on June 13 at
5.30 p.m. followed by Benediction.
The Coimbra monastery had a renowned school of biblical studies which
Ferdinand found a most congenial environment. He studied with intense
application for eight years and became a profound theological and
One day, Ferdinand, in his capacity as guest-master, looked after
five Franciscan friars, who were on their way to Morocco. Later he came
to know that no sooner had they arrived at the mission that they were
Their remains were brought back to Coimbra and given a State funeral.
Ferdinand was completely unsettled by his fleeting acquaintance with the
martyrs. He longed to give his life on some distant mission field.
Fired with this new ambition, Ferdinand took the painful and unusual
step of leaving the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in order to join the
Franciscans. They soon conceded him permission to go to Morocco.
But the longed-for martyrdom was not for him. Illness supervened at
once and he was ordered home. On the return journey, his ship was driven
out of its course by a storm and he had to land at Messina in Sicily. He
then joined his Franciscan brethren in Italy. He was sent to a little
hospice near Forli in Emilia where he was given some menial duties.
Within a year, Anthony’s brilliant gifts were discovered. At an
ordination ceremony at Forli, the special preacher engaged for the
occasion failed to appear. None of the others present would agree to
fill the gap and oblige with an extempore sermon.
To get out of his predicament, the Father Provincial briefly ordered
Anthony to preach. His performance astonished the audience who saw at
once that Anthony had all the gifts of a first-rate speaker: poise,
delivery, conviction, personal charm, amazing memory, mastery of
theology and Scripture. Hence he was immediately appointed as the
preacher to the whole of Italy.
The Froli hospice saw no more of Anthony. He was always on the road,
travelling ceaselessly from the south of italy to the north of France,
devoting all his time, talents and energy to the work of preaching. The
world became his cloister. The response of the people was too high.
The churches could not hold the crowds who came to hear him. A
platform had to be set up for him out of doors. Soon the streets and
squares could not accommodate the people and the platform had to be
carried outside the town or city to a plain or hillside where twenty,
thirty, forty thousand would gather to hear him.
At the rumours of his coming, shops were shuttered up, markets
suspended and law courts closed. During the night before the sermon, the
whole countryside became alive with flittering lights as people began to
converge from all sides to the venue.
It seemed that to those who had once come within the sphere of
Anthony’s influence, nothing whatsoever could rival the interest of his
sermons. He came to be called ‘The Hammer of Heretics’ and ‘The Ark of
Anthony’s favourite line was a virulent attack on the weakness of the
secular clergy and on the prevalent sins of contemporary society: their
greed, their luxurious living and their tyranny.
Once he was invited to preach at a synod at Bourges, presided over by
the Archbishop Simon de Sully. With the words Tibi loquor cornute (‘as
for you, there with the mitre on your head’), he denounced the prelate
who had invited him and petrified the audience.
Anthony preached his last Lent in Padua. It is long remembered for
the furore it caused in the city. The Paduans could find neither food
nor accommodation for the crowds who invaded them.
After Easter, Anthony and his two companions went to a friend’s
country estate outside the city for a rest. Walking through the woods,
they were whimsically delighted with a giant walnut tree which had six
branches growing upwards from the crown. They bound the branches
together with woven willows and roofed them with rushes to make a cool,
airy cell for the tired preacher.
Anthony was far from well. Ten years preaching had taken all his
He had developed dropsy, which made breathing difficult. He was
finding it increasingly difficult to get about because his swollen body
refused to respond. He had worn it out at the age of thirty six.
In this characteristic Franciscan retreat, Anthony had an intimation
of death on June 13, 1231. He told his companions to take him back to
St. Mary’s in Padua, because he did not want to be a trouble to their
kind host. They placed him on a peasant’s cart drawn by an ox and began
the doleful journey back to the city through the summer dust and heat.
Soon Anthony was beyond speech. So they halted at the convent of the
Poor Ladies at Arcella. Here they placed him sitting upright again to
help him to breath. He began to chant a Lauds hymn and so singing, he
Shortly after Anthony’s death, his fame shifted to focus. He was
canonized in less than a year after his death. It was because he lived a
life larger than him.
Fr.Don Anton Saman Hettiarachchi, Aquinas University College,
St. Anthony’s Church, Batagama celebrates 120th Anniversary
Month of June is very special for devotees of Batagama as they
celebrate the feast of their patron saint - St. Anthony, a saint rich in
miracles and full of virtues.
The parish priest and the assistant Rev. Fr. Nishan Bernard
Wilathgamuwa and Rev. Fr. Kalana Peiris together with Parish Council
have made arrangements to celebrate the 120th annual feast of St.
Anthony on a grand scale on June 13.
With the hoisting of the flagstaff Rev. Frs. Sagara Hettiarachchi,
Ranjan Silva, Terence Perera and Kennedy Perera conduct preparatory
Novenas from June 7 to 11 delivering sermons.
Rev. Fr. Roshan de Alwis, Director of Catholic Press will conduct the
Vespers, on June 12. The festive high mass is to be celebrated by the
Director of Catacathecal Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Colombo, Rev.
Fr. Indra Ratnasiri Fernando on June 13 at 8 a.m. Special masses are to
be celebrated at 5.30, 6.30 and 11.00 in the morning, on the same day.
The chief celebrant of the 6 p.m. final festive mass will be Rev. Fr.
Lakshman Anthony. The procession carrying the statue of St. Anthony will
parade along the streets.
Rev. Frs. who served the Batagama parish: Rev. Fr. Yves OMI
(1937-1939), Rev. Fr. R. D. Charles, Rev. Fr. Jerome Silva OMI, Rev. Fr.
Louis Wolf OMI, Rev. Fr. SCR Nand Moyse OMI, Rev. Fr. Anthony Perera,
Rev. Fr. Peter Stanislaus, Rev. Fr. Don Hettiarachchi, Rev. Fr. D. S.
Stanley Wedasinghe, Rev. Fr. Noel Dias, Rev. Fr. Benedict Joseph, Rev.
Fr. R. Cyril Kurugama, Rev. Fr. Mahes Ganemulla, Rev. Fr. Peter Ravel
Pulle, Rev. Fr. Julian Tissera, Rev. Fr. Joseph Perera, Rev. Fr. Jayanth
Balagalla, Rev. Fr. Linton Joseph Fernando, Rev. Fr. J. Bertram Fernando
and Rev. Fr. Indra Ratnasiri Fernando (present parish priest).
- R. S. A. Rangala, Batagama Parish Council.
Remedy for Predicament
After preaching about the useless waste of energy in worrying about
worldly requirements, Jesus now speaks as to how to find a remedy to
this predicament. One should be interested in finding out about God and
His Kingdom, and as we focus our eyes on these events, every other
aspect of our lives will fall into place.
first the Kingdom of God and all His righteousness and all
these things shall be added unto You. Matt. 6:33.
God’s Kingdom is quite different. It operates on different principles
and there is no similarity whatsoever with the worldly kingdoms. We have
to wilfully seek after it, directing our desires towards this, and God
recognizes your heartfelt feelings for Him and His rulership, and things
begin to change in your life.
By doing this, one will not only experience a deep inner peace, but
one’s thinking pattern also changes. There is a paradigm change and
everything falls into place as God intended our lives to be.
The greediness that is common in human beings - this insatiable
appetite of wanting more and more and the never ending desire to have
excess of everything is replaced by an inner satisfaction with simple
things and what Paul says in Philippians 4:12, becomes a way of life to
you too. “I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every
situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in
want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”.
What a wonderful change that would be? To be content in whatever
situation we are in. There will be no aggression but an inner peace that
Christ bestows on people who are truly after His own mind and are
willing to allow the peace of God to take over and bring about an inner
change. Since there is so much to benefit from, will you, as you read
this devotion, truly seek Christ’s Kingdom and His righteousness?
Jesus, my Precious Saviour - the Lord of my life - teach me the way
to reach this stage of life where I understand that as I place you in
the centre of my heart and seek the Kingdom of God to be my first
priority, Life will be filled with your peace resulting in my
- Sunitha Sahayam
‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20, 22)
Last week, I was deeply shocked by the sudden demise of a good old
friend of mine. ‘All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, and therefore,
Socrates is mortal’ is syllogistically valid and empirically true.
But what shocked me most was the way he died - rather, the way he
took his own life. I never expected it to happen that way. The man, who
fought once for the nation in World War II, lost the battle of life.
Worn out and much depressed by the stark solitude, owing to the loss
of his loved ones, especially his beloved wife, he hanged himself in the
basement. He could have felt, ‘My bones are dried up. My hope is all
lost. I am cut off.’
In today’s Gospel pericope, we can detect the Risen Lord appearing
through shut doors to ten of the Twelve on Easter night, presumably in
Jerusalem. He commissions them formally and breathes on (evnefu, shsen
from evmfusa, w) then saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
This action of breathing recalls Gen 2, 7 where we see how God,
portrayed anthropomorphically as a potter, breathing on the first man
and infusing in him the spirit of life:
“The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into
(LXX: evnefu, shsen from evmfusa, w) his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.” Remarkably the same Greek verb (evmfusa,w)
in the same verbal form (aorist tense, indicative mood) is found in both
GNT1 John and LXX2 Gen stitching the two sacred texts. Adam’s life thus
came from God.
The dramatic act of breathing reminds us also of the revivification
of the dry bones in Ezek 37. At the prophesy of Ezekiel the exilic
prophet, the spirit came into the dry bones, symbol of the house of
Israel, and they became alive in the valley.
The exilic people, who were lamenting, ‘Our bones are dried up, our
hope is lost, and we are cut off’ were given hope of return of the
Having deciphered the inter-textual relations (both Gen and Ezek), we
are now to probe into intra-textual relations to the Text of this
Pentecost Sunday. We may quote John 7,38-39: “On the last and greatest
day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, ‘If anyone thirsts, let
him come to me; and let him drink who believes in me; as the scripture
says, ‘From within him there shall flow rivers of living water.’
He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to
believe in him were to receive. There was of course no Spirit yet,
because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” In John 7,39 the conferral of
the Spirit is connected to Jesus’ glorious return to the Father.
The sending of the Spirit cannot take place until Jesus’
glorification through His death, Resurrection and ascension. Now it is
the moment of exaltation.
Jesus returns to the Father from the cross. Hence 7,39 is fulfilled;
the promised Spirit is communicated to the discples. Consequently from
within them, “rivers of living water - i.e. the Holy Spirit - would
begin to flow.
The Spirit, thus given, brings “peace” to our lives. The peace that
Jesus speaks of is a gift of salvation that connotes the bounty of
It is integral. The frightened disciples, who had locked themselves
up, were revivified by the Spirit of Jesus. They were created anew.
Let us hence receive the Holy Spirit. Let the “rivers of living
water” flow from within us as well. These “rivers” can cleanse our old
self and enrich our weary, barren hearts. These “rivers” may heal our
depressed hearts and accompany our lonely life to its glorified end.
Hence let us allow the Spirit, “river of living water”, to flood into
our lives craving for renewal.
Fr. Don Anton Saman Hettiarachchi,
1. Greek New Testament.
2. Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.
Pope John Paul II could be beatified ‘this year’
Pope John Paul II could be beatified as early as this year, which
would move the late pope a big step closer to sainthood, his former
spokesman told an Italian newspaper.
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who ran the Vatican press office for 22 years,
told the daily Il Sole 24 Ore that two key elements of the beatification
process could be completed “this year”.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints must issue a
decree on John Paul’s “heroic virtues” while a miracle linked to the
late pope must be certified.
After that, Pope Benedict XVI “can decide when the beatification
takes place and he can choose when that happens,” Navarro-Valls said.
The former press chief said the beatification process “continues
moving forward” and “will not be delayed” by the publication in Poland
of correspondence between the late Polish pope and a female compatriot.
Holy Spirit - the Lord and Giver of Life
Now that Jesus, who is the Son of God and indeed the Messiah, that
the Jews were eagerly looking forward to, was now dead, having faced an
ignominous death on a Cross, the disciples began to be disillusioned.
Their hope for a better time had just been shattered with the future
looking hopelessly bleak.
Comforter which is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send
in My Name, He shall teach you all things and bring all
things to your remembrances whatever I have said under you.”
(John 14 - 26)
Their very existence was no in peril, since they were marked out as
close followers of that person called Christ, who according to the High
Priests and Pharisees, was the epitome of a revolutionary with the sole
intent of bringing about a dramatic change in the administration of the
country at the time.
In a cloistered room
Consequently, the disciples were at all times within closed doors,
terribly frightened of what was possibly in store for them. Their lives
and those of their families were also in serious jeopardy and hence
unable to attend to their legitimate professional duties, like fishing
and consequently no income was therefore forthcoming.
As if by intuition, some of them remembered that Jesus, when He was
still alive, had promised them that He would send the Holy Spirit, the
Comforter, who will enrich their lives with the necessary strength to
carry His church forward.
While still cloistered within the upper room in Jerusalem, praying
and perhaps wondering over those amazing events of the recent past and
their happiness over the encounter with the risen Lord and the power
that Jesus promised them before His Assension into Heaven, became
vividly clear within their troubled and estranged minds.
Descent of the Spirit
Not sometime later while still praying, there came a loud rumble
which sounded afar at first, quickly rose to a roar and then it was the
sound of a mighty wind, that swept across and filled the room.
As the disciple looked around in fear, they saw flashes of light like
flames or tongues of fire coming over and resting over the heads of each
one of them. It is said that every fibre of their very being ached with
joy as God Himself rushed into them.
The y cried praises to the Lord, much to their astonishment, by
speaking in languages they did not even understand. The commotion thus
experienced, drew a huge crowd into the streets through sheer curiosity.
What intrigued them most was when they heard their native language
been spoken by those rustic, illiterate fishermen.
The new church
Then Peter, as is usual, the leader, addressing the crowd, under the
influence of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the name of Jesus, with such
passion and conviction that about three thousands persons were converted
that very day.
Once these Christians had received the Holy Spirit they had
accumulated much joy in the new life that they felt, moved to form a
community of believers, praying together, breaking bread, caring for one
another and inspiring them to greater acts of generosity. (Acts
From that Community was born a church animated by the Holy Spirit,
where again and again the spirit moved powerfully and guiding them in
the path of truth.
With the recurrent visits by the Holy Spirits, the apostles were
moved to realize that Pentacost was not just a one time experience, but
a continual and ongoing reality that would energise and propel them to
move forward relentlessly.
Stephen and Saul
Stephen, one of the disciples, who was so much filled with the Holy
Spirit was seen preaching in the streets and healing the sick and infirm
as well. Some of the Jews were so scandalized that they hauled Stephen
before the Sanhedrin accusing him of blasphemy.
Undettered by this charge Stephen began to address the council which
only infuriated them further and dragging him out of the city, caused
that he be stoned to death. As the stones pounded on him, Stephen cried
out, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them.’ (Acts 7 - 60).
Paul, who was earlier named Saul, is another classic example. He was
at the time a persecutor of the Christians. It wasn’t until that a
heavenly light blinded him on his way to Damascus did he realize that he
was actually persecuting Jesus. A voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you
persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You Lord? Then the Lord said, ‘I
am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.......’ Once he was filled by the
Holy Spirit, that he began to preach the Gospels to the gentiles. Paul,
throughout his life, relied completely and unreservedly on the Holy
This Spirit continued to influence His people powerfully then and
even today, transforming human beings into the likeness of Jesus,
bringing them together to build the church, empowering them to spread
the gospel in the face of hardships and persecution that are rampant in
the world today.
As we allow the Spirit to take possession of our hearts, we will have
our own tales to tell. Therefore, this Easter Season, let us all
fervently pray. -
“Come Holy Spirit
Fill the hearts of
And kindle in them,
The fire of Your Love.”
The disabled children at ‘Nisansala’
Tudella perform a dance to welcome the Superior General of
the Brothers of Charity Very Rev. Bro. Rene Stockman who was
in Sri Lanka recently visiting the schools run by his
Congregation for the welfare of the children with learning
disabilities. Bro Rene along with Archbishop Emeritus Most
Rev. Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando and Rev. Bro Gregory Boyle
are seen watching the children dancing. Picture by E.