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Marian thought for January

«If Peter has been proclaimed blessed, shall we not call the Virgin who has given birth to Him whom Peter confessed, blessed among all? If St. Paul is called the chosen instrument because he carried the name of Christ throughout the earth, what instrument, then, is the Mother of God, who carried Him in her womb?» (Saint Basil)

Saint Basil was Father of the Church and a great bishop. He is admired by the Western and Eastern Church for his holiness of life and excellent doctrine. He was born around 330 in Caesarea, Cappadocia, in Asia Minor. He studied in Athens and Constantinople with the best teachers at the time. Yet very soon he grew tired of worldly successes and repented of having lost time in vanities. He said, "One day, as if waking up from a deep sleep, I turned to the admirable light of the truth of the Gospel... and cried over my miserable life." He was captivated by Christ and began to look and listen to Him alone. Basil dedicated himself to a monastic life through prayer, the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and the exercise of charity and developed an intense and dedicated apostolic activity. He was among the bishops who fought against the Arian heresy. Exhausted from tireless work and illness, he died on January 1, 379.

St. Anthony

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“To thee, oh blessed Virgin, be praise and glory, because today we are filled with the goodness of thy house; that is, of thy womb.”

St. Anthony was born in Portugal. He is known as “of Padua” because of the Italian city of Padua where he died and where his relics can still be venerated today. Statues and devotion to him are found everywhere, which is why Leo XIII referred to him as “everyone’s Saint.” One biographer said of him, “He was powerful in deeds and in words. His body dwelled on this earth but his soul lived in Heaven.”

He was born in the year 1195. The name given to him at baptism was Fernando, but when he joined the Order of Friars Minor, he changed his name to that of Anthony because of his devotion to the great patriarch of monks and the official patron of the chapel in which he received the Franciscan habit.
From the time of his youth, he had many difficulties. He was harshly assaulted by temptations against purity, but he did not allow himself to be defeated and with the help of God, dominated his passions. He was strengthened by visiting the Most Blessed Sacrament. He renewed the consecration he had made as a child to the Most Blessed Virgin, to whom he had entrusted his purity.
In 1220, while he studied in Coimbra with the regular canons of St. Augustine, the King, Don Pedro of Portugal, brought relics of the Franciscan Friar Saints who shortly beforehand had obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom in Morocco. Upon seeing the relics, a deep desire was born in his heart to give his life for Christ. Shortly afterwards, some Franciscan Friars arrived to where he was and helped him to open his heart. He was admitted to the Order at the beginning of 1221 and almost immediately afterwards was given permission to journey to Morocco. His goal? To preach the Gospel to the Muslims. On his way, he fell gravely ill and was forced to return to Europe. Due to strong winds, the ship on which he sailed had to take a different route and stopped in Messina, the capital of Sicily. From there, he travelled to Assisi. St. Anthony, full of extraordinary intellectual and spiritual gifts, gave himself over to prayer and the service of the other Friars. Having discovered a great gift for preaching, he fully dedicated himself to it and eventually became very famous.
People came from all over to listen to him and touch him. He arrived at Padua. News spread of the miracles he performed and it was said of him that he radiated holiness. He said, “The great danger of the Christian is to preach and not practice, believe but not live according to what he believes.” His lived out what he preached. Despite his poor health, he completely dedicated himself to his Brothers and tirelessly worked for souls. In the spring of 1231, after having preached a series of sermons, St Anthony’s health declined and he took to rest. Aware of his imminent end, he asked to be taken to Padua. He never reached the city. On June 13, 1231, in the private room of the Poor Clares’ chaplain at Arcella, he received the last sacraments. He sang a hymn to the Blessed Virgin and smiling, said, “I see Our Lord coming,” and died.

He was canonized before a year had passed since his death and seven centuries later, Pope Pius XII declared St. Anthony a “Doctor of the Church.”

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