St. Anthony of Padua Prayer Society*
Prayer is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. When life is grueling or our direction unclear, prayer is both a channel to hope and our true compass.
In the daily work of charity, prayer is vital. Individually, we are given a clear vision of how we can be present in love for one another through it. In ministries like Catholic Charities – which strive to live the Church’s call to bring Christ’s love to those most in need – prayer likewise allows us to know how we are to act.
Jesus told the faithful the impact of prayer 2,000 years ago, and he tells us the same thing today: “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” What an assurance! Can there be any greater comfort in our lives than to know that, if we pray as Christ did, our Lord will always hear?
In his encyclical, God is Love, Pope Benedict XVI stresses the importance of prayer. “Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed. People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone. Piety does not undermine the struggle against the poverty of our neighbors, however extreme.”
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta knew that prayer was indispensable to her charitable work. Early on, she connected “co-workers” to the success of her order. People who loved Mother Teresa’s efforts, but could not assist in person because of illness or distance, were able to offer their prayers in an intentional way. They became “second selves” of the religious and volunteers in the field. The prayers of these people – who unite their sufferings with those of the poor – are potent weapons. They are wielded by means of a critical spiritual connection.
In this same spirit, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado is pleased to announce the formation of the St. Anthony of Padua Prayer Society. Through this society, we hope to recruit volunteers to pray for Catholic Charities and those we serve. In turn, we will ask volunteers to share any intentions they may wish us to keep in prayer. The goal is to be a spiritual support for one another.
Why St. Anthony? St. Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal as Fernando de Bulhões. Anthony was first drawn to the Augustinian order, but was later inspired by the Franciscan martyrs whose bodies were returning from Morocco, and he himself became a Franciscan, taking the name Anthony at that time. He set out for Morocco, but was deterred by a severe illness. On his way back to Portugal, his ship encountered a severe storm and was driven to Sicily. He remained in Italy, and soon impressed even St. Francis with his powers of oration. St. Anthony was a noted teacher and preacher, and battled the heresies of the day with powerful and clear instruction.
It was not long before many miracles were attributed to him, even while he was still living. Jesus, in the form of an infant, appeared to Anthony during his lifetime, which is why he is often depicted with the infant Jesus in his arms. St. Anthony is also famous for his care for the poor, and he assisted them often. Anthony died in 1231, and was canonized the following year. In 1946, he was named a Doctor of the Church. St. Anthony is often prayed to as a finder of lost articles. He is a patron of women who cannot conceive, as well as expectant mothers. St. Anthony is also the patron against starvation, and the patron saint of the elderly.
Because Catholic Charities cares for the poor (young and old) with food and basic needs, assists those who are lost to find their way, and cares for children both in our poverty programs and in the work we do with birth parents and adoptive families, St. Anthony is the perfect patron for our new prayer society.
St. Anthony’s feast day is celebrated June 13, and we will mark the official launch of the prayer society on that day this year. I ask that you prayerfully consider joining the society to pray for our work, and to have your intentions prayed for. Every year, Bishop Sheridan will say a Mass for the intentions of all the members of the society, and we will communicate special needs to you regularly throughout the year. A special prayer coin will also be sent to you to remind you of your commitment to pray.
Catholic Charities will be sending a mailing this month with more information. If you don’t currently receive mailings from Catholic Charities, please contact (719) 866-6422 to join the prayer society!
*This article by Mark Rohlena, Esq., first appeared in The Colorado Catholic Herald in May of 2012.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mark C. Rohlena, Esq.
Mark has been interviewed by the New York Times best-selling author, Hugh Hewitt, and was recently cited on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. Mark is a monthly columnist with the Colorado Catholic Herald and His blog, The Charity of Christ has received national acclaim. Follow him at: http://www.thecharityofchrist.com