Olbia: Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua – Archdiocese of Sassari

Olbia: Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua – Archdiocese of Sassari
Olbia: Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua – Archdiocese of Sassari

On the afternoon of Sunday 16 June, Archbishop Gian Franco presided over the Eucharistic celebration in Olbia on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua, organized by the Parish of San Michele Arcangelo.

Below is the homily given by the archbishop.
«Saint Paul, this evening, helps us to discover the meaning of Christian life, of human life. It is a pilgrimage that we make in trust, a journey that we make comforted by trust in the Lord, always full of trust and knowing that we are in exile, far from the Lord as long as we live in the body. We are full of confidence with the desire to dwell with the Lord.

It is an image that is welcomed by the original Christian community, but also by every person, because it expresses the situation, the condition of the human person. We are all people on a journey. And the sense of exile, the image of exile, is not a contempt for earthly realities, it is not a contempt for earthly life, but rather the image, the condition that expresses the situation of those who are oriented towards the definitive homeland .

The meaning of exile says that we are on a journey and we are on our way towards a new citizenship: the citizenship of God, that is, the heavenly homeland. Through this image the meaning of life is explained. Our life has fulfillment in God. The path we lead is a path that already takes place on this earth. The Lord is already present on our journey and his presence fills us with confidence.

This is also the meaning of prayer, of devotion for the saints. Saint Anthony of Padua is one of those popular saints through whom the dynamics and dimension of trust and walking are strongly expressed.

How many pilgrimages are made to the tomb of Saint Anthony in Padua! How many small pilgrimages are made and have been made to this small shrine of Saint Anthony at the gates of the city – of our city of Olbia – and then to the little church dedicated to Saint Anthony, a living sign of a people on the move who through the intercession of the Saints places their trust in God.

Probably, in a society in which it is not always so natural to place trust in God, we are called to rediscover the meaning, value and importance of trust in God.

We live in a culture in which the performance of the human person is often placed in the foreground. And this would be a good thing, but it becomes less good when God does not seem to have any space in this project. It would seem that we can achieve all our goals, all our goals, all our programs, with our own strength alone.

Here a short circuit occurs in the life of the human person, because we live as if God did not exist.
Many times, especially in situations of fragility, illness, crisis, suffering, weakness, the Lord helps us to understand that he has given us many talents, he has given us many strengths.

The human creature is endowed with many physical and intellectual energies, but he is still a limited creature. The limit is not one of conditioning, but is simply the limit of differentiation between being a creature and being a creator.

Saint Anthony of Padua is a Saint to whom we turn to bring back to him many needs, many questions, many questions. He is a Saint of trust, a Saint who accompanies the journey. And he himself is the one who walked in his life, since it is true that we remember him as Saint Anthony of Padua, but he came from Portugal, from Lisbon, and therefore walked a long way from Portugal passing through North Africa, arrive in Italy.

What led him to walk? The testimony of other Christians. When he learned of the martyrdom of the first Franciscan martyrs, the followers of Saint Francis, he was deeply touched by their testimony and thus desired to meet the Saint, follow in his footsteps, spend his life bearing witness to Jesus. Here is the testimony of faith it can transform people’s paths.

Many times today we ask ourselves how it is possible to transform a life, how it is possible to transform an existence, how it is possible to transform the life of a society that experiences very beautiful dimensions of human life, of the world at this moment, but also the tragedies of wars, conflicts, lacerations.

The transformative task of the Christian passes through the path of testimony. Testimony is a form of preaching that Pope Francis would call “evangelization by contagion”. Sometimes in testimony no words are uttered, no speeches are made, books are not written, nothing is said. It’s a way of being, it’s a way of living. This is holiness, this is the following of the Gospel. It is what Pope Francis calls “holiness next door”, the holiness of daily life, in families, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, in the workplace, in ordinary life, in the workplace. Testimony is transformative. And it was so transformative that Saint Anthony decided to leave everything, leaving the community of canons regular of Saint Augustine, to choose an even deeper and more radical path of donation, through the Franciscan path.

Thus Saint Anthony is a very current, very important Saint. It is true that he is remembered as the Saint of great preaching, the Saint of miracles, but the great miracle that he announces, that he experienced in his life, was the miracle of testimony. And he lived it, passed it on to his contemporaries. It’s that miracle that doesn’t make any noise. The testimony is not media; the testimony is silent. The testimony is not emblazoned. Testimony chooses the path of silence, of humility.

Testimony is similar to that mustard seed spoken of today in the Gospel. It is the smallest of all seeds, but once it is thrown onto the ground, when it is sown, it grows and becomes larger than all the plants in the garden. It’s really true, many times words are not effective in building the Kingdom of God, but testimony is effective.

And it was the street of San Francesco and the street of Sant’Antonio. Sometimes culture is contrasted with the absence of culture. In these two Saints, however, they are put together, in the sense that Saint Anthony received from Saint Francis the faculty to dedicate himself to preaching, to study, but well aware that he would put the two things together, the testimony of life with words.

In this respect, Saint Anthony also becomes a model for us. To build the Kingdom of God in silence every day, to build the Kingdom of God every day in active silence. The seed thrown on the ground rots and gives life, it is not idle. Silence and humility are not inactivity, they are not selfish acidity, as Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium, but rather it is a living, humble presence, a generative and regenerative presence.

And in a time in which human life deeply feels the need – and our communities also feel the need to regenerate – this path, this style, is so important because it is a path that matures from within, matures from within. It grows and becomes the largest of all plants, but not only the largest, it also becomes a place of welcome. The Kingdom of God and Christian life are a symbol of welcome. The Kingdom of God does not exclude anyone, it welcomes everyone. Pope Francis often returns to this theme: everyone has an open door in the Church. His dream of a Church with open doors was the Franciscan prophecy in medieval times and this prophecy is the evangelical prophecy that always continues, in every time and at every moment. In fact, the birds of the sky can nest in its shade, all of them, not some yes and others not.
And so this is why so many also resort to sanctuaries, they resort to the sanctuary of Sant’Antonio, for example, because one feels, one perceives that it is a place where every human situation can be welcomed, can find space, can find acceptance. This sanctuary must be life, a sign of the Kingdom of God, as the Eternal Homeland will be, once this earthly pilgrimage is over, when people of every language, culture, nation and religion will find a place in the house of God.”

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