A Year of Getting to Know Our Patrons Comes to an End: St. Anthony of Padua
From 1680, the Falls of the great Mississippi River came to be associated with St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan friar and missionary priest of the 13th century. Fr. Louis Hennepin, a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi like St. Anthony, bestowed the name that stuck for the falls and the eventual settlement on the eastern bank of the Mississippi. When the first parish in Minneapolis was established to serve the fledgling population along the river in what is now Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, the parish was entrusted to the patronage of St. Anthony of Padua. This foundation took place in 1849, effectively making St. Anthony the first patron of the territory that would become the bustling commercial and cultural center of Minneapolis. Of course, because St. Anthony of Padua parish forms part of our parish territory and heritage, we can humbly and gratefully boast that our merged parish of Holy Cross has been serving the community of Nordeast for over 165 years.
As we have dedicated time throughout this past year to reflect on the significance of our parish patrons, we come to our final celestial friend and intercessor, St. Anthony of Padua (known by the Portuguese as St. Anthony of Lisbon, since that was his original home. It is hard to say if the Italians or the Portuguese are more passionate about this universally beloved saint). I have steadily made the claim that parish patrons are very different than team mascots. Because the saints experience profound communion among themselves in God, despite their varied temperaments, nationalities, languages, and preferences, they provide for us a living model of the unity to which we are invited by the Lord. It would be absurd to take up the mascot of our rival’s team; but in taking up the patron saints of our merged parish campuses, we can open our hearts to the powerful collective witness of St. Clement of Rome, St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Anthony of Padua, all beneath the shelter of the Holy Cross, in company with Our Sorrowful Mother.
St. Anthony was a convincing and compelling preacher of the Gospel who almost singlehandedly brought about the so-called ‘re-conversion of Italy’. He knew with clarity where his strength and efficaciousness issued from: no doubt, it came from the Cross. Tradition holds that St. Anthony once taught a prayer to a poor woman who sought help against the temptations of the devil. This prayer, which has come to be called ‘the motto of St. Anthony’ was chosen by Pope Sixtus V, another Franciscan, to be carved into the base of the massive obelisk in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It has become a beloved prayer to defeat temptation and celebrate the victory of the Cross of Christ in which we place our hope:
Behold, the Cross of the Lord! Ecce Crucem Domini!
Begone, all evil powers! Fugite partes adversae!
The Lion of the tribe of Judah, Vicit Leo de tribu Juda,
The Root of David, has conquered! Alleluia! Radix David Alleluia!
St. Anthony knew in the depth of his being that we could not count fully on anything except the Cross. On the Cross, Christ freely embraced poverty, as St. Anthony embraced it through his Franciscan vows. “Earthly riches are like the reed. Its roots are sunk in the swamp, and its exterior is fair to behold; but inside it is hollow. If a man leans on such a reed, it will snap off and pierce his soul.” The Cross alone was stable and the fact that Christ had embraced it freely allowed His followers to discover a stability and firmness in faith that the world could not imagine: “Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it can they derive peace, grace, and truth.” This corresponds beautifully to our parish motto, taken from a reflection of St. Bruno the Carthusian, “As the world spins, the Cross stands firm.” How we need that stability in our lives!
This weekend, as we honor our patron, St. Anthony of Padua, we give thanks for the longstanding patronage that he has exercised over the City of Minneapolis and ask for courage to follow in his footsteps, leaning on the dependable traveler’s staff of the Cross. Our seven church walk from Holy Cross to All Saints will pass by way of St. Anthony of Padua Chapel is a profound reminder to keep close to the saints and to the Holy Eucharist. This is the fourteenth year we have publically processed through the streets to bear witness to our Eucharistic Faith that unites the parishes of this neighborhood and beyond.
One final thought from a man who knew how to find the face of Christ and who radiated a peace and serenity to others, because he had discovered peace in Christ which surpasses all understanding: “The Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in peace and humility of heart. If you look in murky and turbulent waters, you cannot see the reflection of your face. If you want to see the face of Christ, stop and collect your thoughts in silence, and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”
May you find some recollection and silence this Lord’s Day and always,
I apologize for the cliffhanger in last weekend’s bulletin. Technology has its pluses and minuses! What I intended to say is that Fr. Andrew Jaspers, a friend and classmate of mine has been designated as a weekend assistant for our parish campuses. We will refer to him as a Priest-in-Residence, which explains that although he has another full-time assignment, namely spiritual direction at St. John Vianney College Seminary, he is available as a priestly support and presence. Fr. Jaspers lives in residence with Fr. Hagan and I at the St. Boniface Rectory. You will soon find out that he is an outstanding preacher, teacher and confessor. We have already appreciated his periodic presence as a presider in recent months. Please join me in welcoming him more fully to the parish!
Here is a brief bio from him: Father Andrew M. Jaspers, priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, is in his sixth year of priesthood. Father Jaspers is from Lake Crystal, Minnesota and graduated from Mankato Loyola High School, Marquette University, Fordham University, and the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Father Jaspers was a Jesuit retreat master and parish mission preacher of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Midwest for five years before joining the Archdiocese. He also taught philosophy and theology at Creighton University in Omaha from 2005-2008. Father has served as associate pastor at St. John Neumann parish in Eagan, St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, and St. Agnes in St. Paul, where he also taught the 11th grade. He is most recently a spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary for 18 seminarians and parochial vicar of the Cathedral of St. Paul. He will soon direct more than 30 seminarians at St. John Vianney Seminary as a full-time director. It is his joy to live with Frs. Spencer Howe and Byron Hagan in their prospective founding of an Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Minneapolis, and to assist at Holy Cross on the Sabbath. Father Jaspers likes to play piano and waterski, and prefers dogs to cats.