Courage! It is I; do not be afraid!
- the 'great' God (Matthew 14:27)
If St. Anthony and Baby Jesus look a little blurry, no doubt my hand was shaking when I took this screenshot. It's not every day you get to take a photo of two of your favoritest people in the universe! And on the feastday of one of them, no less!
Which brings me to my conundrum: what to say on so great a feast, in the company of such great friends and so great a God?
As I quoted just the other day from Therese, our littlest Saint and greatest friend, "I'm not breaking my head over the writing . . . it's as though I were fishing with a line: I write whatever comes to the end of my pen."
Our little sister said these words on June 11, 1897, and two days later on June 13 (feast of St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, just where we find ourselves today 123 years later), she said in explanation of her imagery of the Thief Who would come to steal her away to Heaven:
"Whenever I am speaking of the Thief, I'm not thinking of little Jesus; I'm thinking of the 'great' God."
Do you ever find it disconcerting to move from season to season in this life? I suppose that discombobulation could apply to moving from one season of life to another (it's always a bit disconcerting, I find, to get married, for instance. Thank the good Lord I've had that change of seasons only once so far!), and certainly if you live in a place that has radical climate shifts from let's say winter to summer (some call it spring, but I think there are locales where it is simply freezing and then broiling), that might certainly be disorienting. Not to mention the change that happens in gloriously leaf-turning centers of orange and red and yellow when those last leaves fall and winter is upon one.
I'm thinking now, though, of the change in liturgical seasons, and I feel it most between Christmas-tide and Lent. Sure, there's the steady counting of Ordinal (or Ordinary) Time in between, but if you stretch Christmas out to Februrary 2nd and then procrastinate in taking down your decorations, you can find yourself in Lent (if it's an early Lent) lickety-split, and before you know what's hit you, that transition from Little Jesus to the great God-made-man come to save us is (at least for me) a touch alarming.
But then, for those of us who like Therese and Marcel are card carrying members of the Child Jesus Fan Club, the switch back to Little Jesus (or the option to return unto Him) at the close of the Easter Season is quite a welcome relief if perhaps abrupt too. At least this time of year we have the 7 weeks of Easter (whew! That's a lot of partying and I haven't succeeded yet in keeping Easter completely!), then the novena of Pentecost following the Ascension . . . Though does anyone else find the drop from Pentecost Sunday to "counting time" again (Ordinal or Ordinary Time) just a wee bit fast (again) in the new calendar? Thankfully we have the glorious Feasts of the Most Holy Trinity and then Corpus Christi to help make the landing easier . . . but with St. Anthony's feast amidst these, our musings - at least over here at Miss Marcel's place - certainly return to Little Jesus!
And GUESS WHAT? Little Jesus and St. Anthony have a special announcement they've asked me to make. They're feeling slightly fuzzy after the time change from Eternity to Universal Co-ordinated, so let's give them a second to adjust and I'll make that announcement for them. Are you feeling out of focus too? Get a grip, because we have big news and you'll want to be sitting down (or better yet lying down - or laying down as the case may be, depending on whether your angel sets you there or you set yourself, if I remember my grammar). Ready?
This is the day to ASK FOR MIRACLES!!!!
We are finishing up our St. Anthony novena, and it is a doozy this year, running neck and neck with our prayers to Servant of God Julia Greeley, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew (one of the big St. Teresa's besties), and Tim-the-best-hugger-ever (see our blog post a couple down for more on this holy (though uncapped) trinity of feast day compatriots, Julia, Anne, and Tim).
In fact, this year in our run-up to St. Anthony we've also been slightly pre-occupied, but in a hilariously little way, you might say, with the 125th anniversary of Therese's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love - and another Trinity, the Real One-in-Three Whom we celebrated last Sunday, and a third dear trinity, though this last one of anniversaries actually: for on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity we celebrated (albeit somewhat silently) Therese's initial offering of herself to Merciful Love (125 years ago this year on that day), then this past Tuesday, June 9th, we celebrated the same again though on the calendar date (rather than the liturgical calendar date), and finally on Thursday we managed a blog post (just below this one you're reading now) in honor of Therese's formal offering with Celine to the same Merciful Love of the Good God - yep, 125 years ago that very day, June 11.
But here is the GUESS WHAT part, for those who have survived that last paragraph. I'm almost dizzy myself (always ditzy and sometimes with a touch of vertigo) after all those dates, anniversaries, and parentheses! So let's try to relax, catch our breath, and get a load of this crazy conjunction:
This past Thursday, June 11, the 125th anniversary of Celine and Therese making their Act of Oblation together before the Virgin of the Smile, was actually the Feast of Corpus Christi - at least in those places where it hasn't been transferred out of immense kindness for the masses who work so that they can go to Masses in honor of The Body and Blood of Our Lord on Sunday!
Have you heard about Something New? I don't mean just anything new, but Therese's Eucharistic Miracle book which I was privileged (and pushed by her) to write and which was recently published. Something New with St. Therese: Her Eucharistic Miracle, which you can read for fun and for free - and begin as soon as you wish by simply clicking on one of those boxes that crowd around "Miss Marcel's Musings" at the top of the page near the roses from Therese - or for $15 (print copy) by clicking on the bold title or HERE, is all about Therese's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love, but more specifically it is about one petition in that Act, a petition Therese encourages us to pray with her, and in this prayer obtain for ourselves a miracle having to do with our union with Little Jesus, the great God, Who gives Himself to us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity!
How fortuitous, then, that God's one single thought from all eternity has included this beautiful and tenderly solicitous happenstance of days in which He brought together our tiny 125th anniversary of Therese and Celine's history-changing Act and the Feast of Corpus Christi!
Luckily for us, we are now in the octave of that anniversary, celebrating today our beloved St. Anthony, wonder worker and model adorer of Little Jesus and Grown Jesus too! And this St. Anthony Day is going to crowd into and morph into (in its later hours) the Vigil of Corpus Christi - which we get to celebrate again because hey, come on, how could one feast alone be enough for the Body and the Blood of Christ?! (How's that for feminine logic? You should see my feminine finances! If you have a spare moment, watch William Powell and Irene Dunne in "Life with Father" and enjoy Irene's illustration of the same.)
Anyhow, have I gotten off the beaten path again? This is the trouble with musing and taking whatever He puts on the end of my line: He tends to lead me, just like He led Marcel (unless it was Marcel leading Him!) always on an extremely little way. I'm not complaining; I don't want to be anywhere but with Jesus and Marcel and Therese on Mary's lap, but sometimes I seem to lose the obvious thread in these meandering musings, and I sure hope I haven't lost you!
Let's get down to basics then.
Today is the Feast of St. Anthony.
He is so great that you find his statue - like our sister Therese's image - in churches All Over The Planet. I bet if we ever find prayerful life on other planets, we'll find statues of St. Anthony holding baby Jesus there too! Because what's not to love? I started this post with Jesus' words because when I opened the Gospel last night (after a day of dusting-as-prayer but knowing that prayer-as-prayer certainly deserves its place too!), those were the words Jesus gave me:
Courage! It is I; do not be afraid!
And I felt their perfect timing for St. Anthony's day, the day of one who has so many titles that his Litany is replete with stunning imagery. Did you know St. Anthony is the Hammer of Heretics? And although unknown in his official litany, he is also to Nigerians (and honorary Nigerians like myself) the Marco Polo of every need - instead of blindly calling out "Marco" and having your compatriots reply "Polo" from the other parts of the pool, the Nigerian St. Anthony Guild has taught us to call out "Anto!" when in search of something lost (or even just to let out a resounding battle cry of Love), to which our fellows reply "Padua!" How very marvelous is that?
And yet there is one image of St. Anthony that trumps all the rest. . . whether painted by Murillo or drawn by the loving hand of a child, who can resist those Franciscan arms outstretched in love and most often seen embracing darling Jesus?
What a gift! Here is Jesus in so adorable a form that none can resist Him! I love, love, love the many pictures and statues of Him caressing St. Anthony's face, or gazing into his eyes, or merely resting in his arms. This is hope! This is the image of how Jesus wants to be with us! This is the whole substance of Marcel's Conversations! Jesus cannot get enough of us - bizarre as that may seem and be!
And He puts Himself in a position, whether as the infinitely great Merciful God of Love to whom we offer ourselves, or as the tiny consecrated Host we will receive on the Feast of God's Body and Blood, or as the little child in St. Anthony's embrace: He puts Himself in a position to love us and be loved by us without fear.
Yes, without fear.
God does not fear to come to us. He trusts us to love Him, as pathetic as our love may be and often certainly is.
And He asks us - better yet, He who said "Let there be light" and at that moment there was light, commands us, and may it be according to His all-powerful Word - Be Not Afraid, have courage, trust in Him because He is here among us, so near that we can close our eyes and embrace Him just as St. Anthony endlessly does.
What miracles will you ask for today? I'm posting early, and I'm giving my day for your and your miracles. Let's do it! Let's have confidence in God, and when our confidence is falling short (like already, or in about 45 seconds), let's ask the Saints for their confidence. They had confidence to spare, which is how they always had miracles to spare - and they don't need their confidence anymore because in Heaven (where they are) sight has replaced blindness and knowledge has supplanted hope, so let's ask for their hope, their bold confidence, their miracles, and take all they offer for the asking!
St. Therese, Celine, and St. Anthony, Marcel and Julia Greeley, Blessed Anne and your BFF St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and dear Tim M: give us your confidence that we might hold Jesus and demand all we need for ourselves and those we love! Bring back to the Faith all those who have wandered that they too might enjoy the Love of the Good God! Heal all those who are sick - through the power of God, the Mighty and Merciful One-in-Three Who gives us more than we ask or imagine because He can't contain His Goodness!
And dear St. Anthony, on this your feast, thank Little Jesus for us, for letting us know and love Him, and kiss Him countless times for us today and until we, like you now, embrace Him face to Face!
Draw me, we will run!!!
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