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The Irresistible Argument of Miracles: Saint Anthony, A Mule and the Eucharist 

  

Stained glass of the mule kneeling before Saint Anthony holding the Holy EucharistSaint Anthony (1195-1231) worked hard to convert those who did not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist because he genuinely felt sorry for them. He saw that they were depriving themselves of the most precious gift of the Eucharist, and he believed that no one could long survive without this spiritual nourishment.

Often, he was called to defend the dogmas of our faith to heretics, especially the Albigensians, who were multiplying in the South of France and the North of Italy.

However, theological arguments alone were not enough to convince those minds closed by pride and ignorance. Our Saint presented them with the irresistible argument of miracles.

During his travels through a city called Rimini, Saint Anthony engaged in conversation with a particularly stubborn heretic. This man obstinately refused to admit the mystery of transubstantiation, for he perceived no change in the sacramental species after the words of consecration.

In vain, Anthony presented proofs drawn from both Scripture and Tradition. When his efforts failed before the stubborn obstinacy of his doubter, he decided to alter his strategy.

“You possess,” he told the man, “a mule that you ride often. I will present a consecrated host to it; if it falls on its knee before the Blessed Sacrament, will you recognize the real Presence of the Savior under His Eucharistic appearance?”

“Certainly,” responded the unbeliever, who felt confident that the outcome of such a proposition would be to the apostle’s detriment.

The two men agreed to meet again in the market square three days later. They then went their separate ways, each to prepare for the spiritual showdown in his own way.

The heretic, in order to insure victory, deprived his beast from all food for the three days. Our saint employed gentler methods, preparing for his assured victory by doubling his accustomed time in prayer.

At the set day and time, Anthony left the Church, carrying a ciborium in his hands. The skeptic arrived leading the famished animal by the bridle.

A considerable crowd had gathered on the square, curious to attend such a remarkable sight. With a smile on his lips, the doubter, believing victory already to be his, set a sack of oats before the animal.

As all watched in breathless anticipation, the hungry animal turned away from the proffered food and turned toward the Sacred Host held high by the Miracle Worker. With a graceful motion uncharacteristic of his breed, the beast of burden bowed low to the ground, giving due reverence to his Creator. It did not straighten or stand up again until it had received permission from the Saint to do so.

It is easy to imagine the effect the miracle produced. A cheer rose up from the assembled crowd, many making the sign of the Cross to seal their belief in what they had just witnessed.

The heretic honored his word and converted. Several others who had shared his stubborn unbelief also embraced this most marvelous proof of Our Savior’s True Presence among his creatures.

 

“I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20)

Painting of the mule kneeling before Saint Anthony holding the Holy Eucharist, with a large crowd around, most kneeling.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 9, 2020

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us … If a man wants...

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August 9

 

Prayer purifies us,
reading instructs us …
If a man wants to be always in God’s company,
he must pray regularly and read regularly.
When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

St. Isidore of Seville


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Bl. Amadeus of Portugal

His sister, St. Beatriz da Silva, was the foundress of the O...

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Bl. Amadeus of Portugal

João Mendes da Silva, better known as the Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, was born in 1420 in Campo Maior on the eastern side of the country. The youngest son of twelve children, he was closely related to the Counts of Vila Real and Viana do Alentejo, whose lands lay near the border of Portugal and Spain. St. Beatriz da Silva, the foundress of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, was one of his sisters, and a strong devotion to this prerogative of Our Lady – centuries before it was defined as a dogma – was a profound spiritual characteristic they both shared.

João was married very young, but soon after entered the Hieronymite monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Spain, where he spent about ten years. Inspired by a vision of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy to join the Franciscans, he sought admission to their friary in Ubeda in Lombardy where he entered as a lay brother in 1452 and took the name of Amadeus.

Initially not well received by his confreres, some of whom took him for a religious fraud, he was widely persecuted within the Order bearing all the humiliations inflicted upon him with great patience. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1459 at the insistence of his superiors. Amadeus subsequently became renowned throughout the houses of the Order for his holiness and miracles.

In 1469, he founded the Friary of Notre Dame de la Paix under the protection of the Archbishop of Milan. This friary soon became the center of a Franciscan reform which eventually spread throughout Italy and beyond. When the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Francesco della Rovere, was elected to the throne of Peter as Pope Sixtus IV, he summoned Amadeus to Rome to be his confessor and counselor.

The reform of the Franciscan Order begun by St. Amadeus led to his founding of a distinct branch of the Friars Minor which was ultimately named after him. Amadeus later returned to Milan, where he died in 1482.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell...

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The Legend of the Locket

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell awakened me, whereupon I sprang from my bed, and, after a few hurried preparations, hastened to throw open the door. 

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It was a bitter cold night in January, and the moon without threw its pale light over the wan spectral snow-covered landscape. The sharp gust that swept into the hall as I opened the door made me pity the delicate-looking child who stood at the threshold.

Her hair gleamed with a strange and rare effect in the moonlight, long golden hair that fell in graceful ripples about her shoulders. She was lightly dressed, this little child, as she stood gazing straight and frankly into my eyes with an expression at once so beautiful and calm and earnest that I shall never forget it.

Her face was very pale, her complexion of the fairest. The radiancy about her hair seemed to glow in some weird yet indescribable fashion upon her every feature. These details I had not fairly taken in when she addressed me.

"Father, can you come with me at once? My mother is dying, and she is in trouble."

"Come inside, my little girl," I said, "and warm yourself. You must be half frozen."

"Indeed, Father, I am not in the least cold." I had thrown on my coat and hat as she made answer.

"Your mother's name, my child?"

"Catherine Morgan, Father; she's a widow, and has lived like a saint. And now that she's dying, she is in awful trouble. She was taken sick about a few hours ago."

"Where does she live?"

"Two miles from here, Father, on the border of the Great Swamp; she is a stranger in these parts, and alone. I know the way perfectly; you need not be afraid of getting lost."

A few minutes later we were tramping through the snow, or rather I was tramping, for the child beside me moved with so light and tender a step, that had there been flowers instead of snowflakes beneath our feet I do not think a single petal would have been crushed under the airy fall of her fairy feet.

Her hand was in mine with the confiding clasp of childhood. Her face, for all the trouble that was at home, wore a gravely serene air, such as is seldom seen in years of sprightly, youthful innocence.

How beautiful she looked!

More like a creature fresh from the perfect handiwork of God than one who walked in the valley of sin, sorrow, trouble and death.

Locket Upon her bosom I observed a golden locket fashioned in a heart shape.

She noticed my glance, and with a quick movement of her fingers released the locket and handed it to me.

"It's a heart," I said.

"Read what's on it, Father."

"I can't, my little friend; my eyes are very good, but are not equal to making out reading on gold lockets by moonlight."

"Just let me hold it for you, Father. Now look."

How this child contrived, I cannot say; but certain it is, that at once, as she held the locket at a certain angle, there stood out clearly, embossed upon its surface, the legend: 

"Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me." 

"Mamma placed that upon my bosom one year ago, when I was very sick, Father." And kissing the locket, the child restored it to its place.

We went on for a time in silence. I carried the Blessed Sacrament with me; and, young as she was, the girl seemed to appreciate the fact. Whenever I glanced at her, I observed her lips moving as in prayer, and her eyes seemed, in very truth, fixed upon the place where rested in His sacramental veil the Master of Life and of Death.

Suddenly the girl's hand touched my sleeve-oh, so gently!

"This is the place, Father," she said in soft tones that thrilled me as they broke upon the stillness; and she pointed to a little hut standing back in the dim shadows of three pine trees.

I pushed open the door, which hung loosely upon its hinges, and turned to wait her entrance. She was gone. Somewhat startled, I was peering out into the pallid night, when a groan called me to the bedside of the dying woman.

A glance told me there was no time to lose. The woman lying in that room had hardly reached middle life, but the hand of Death had touched her brow, upon which stood the drops of sweat, and in her face I read a great trouble.

I was at her side in an instant; and, God be thanked for it, soon calmed and quieted the poor creature. She made her confession, and in sentiments of faith and love such as I have rarely seen, received the Last Sacraments of the Church.

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Standing beside her, I suggested those little prayers and devices so sweet and consoling at the dread hour. I noticed, as the time passed on, that her eyes frequently turned toward a little box at the farther end of the room.

"Shall I bring you that box?" I asked.

She nodded assent.

On placing it beside her, she opened it with trembling hands and took out the dress of a child.

"Your little daughter's dress?" I said.

She whispered, and there was love in her tones: "My darling Edith's."

"I know her," I continued. "She brought me here, you know."

I stopped short and caught my breath. The woman half rose in her bed; she looked at me in wonder that cannot be expressed. I, no less amazed, was staring at a golden, oval locket fastened to the bosom of the child's dress which the woman was holding in her hands.

"Madam," I cried, "in the name of God, tell me, where is your daughter? Whose is that locket?"

"The locket is Edith's. I placed it here on the bosom of her dress when my little girl lay dying a year ago. The last thing my darling did was to hold this locket to her lips, and say:

'Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me.'

"She died a year ago."

Then the mother's face grew very sweet and very radiant.

Still holding the locket in her hands, she fixed her eyes straight before her.

"Edith, my dear Edith, we are at last to be united in the Sacred Heart. I see you, my darling: ‘Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me."'

Her voice faded with the last syllable into silence.

She and Edith were again united.

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From Fr. Finn's Mostly Boys (New York: 1896), pp. 90-95.
Illustrations by: AF Phillips

 

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell

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