Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our Lady of Hope

On this day in 1871 the heavens opened at Pontmain in France. Once again, the Blessed Mother gave hope to her children. According to Fr. Mark:
Before the beautiful Lady appeared a blood red crucifix. At the top of the cross, on a white crosspiece, the Name of Jesus Christ was written in red letters. The beautiful Lady grasped the crucifix in both hands and showed it to the children while a small star lit the four candles in the blue oval. Everyone prayed in silence. They sang the Ave Maris Stella. The red crucifix disappeared. The beautiful Lady extended her hands in a gesture of welcome. A small white cross appeared on each shoulder. Everyone knelt down in the snow. A white veil, like a great sheet, covered the beautiful Lady from foot to head. “It’s finished,” said the children. Eleven days later the armistice was signed. The Prussians never entered Laval.

It is also the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt.
The liturgy today makes it clear that Saint Antony of the Desert holds a certain primacy among the saints. The Missal gives us a complete set of proper texts; the Lectionary gives us proper readings. Antony is a primary reference, a model of how we are to hear the Word of God, an inspiration in spiritual combat, a radiant icon of holiness for the ages.

No Rest From Spiritual Combat

The feast of Saint Antony, falling between the Christmas festivities and the beginning of Lent, is an invitation to shake off the sluggishness that comes with winter, a bracing reminder that there is no rest from spiritual combat, and that "the monk's life ought at all seasons to bear a Lenten character" (RB 49:1). It is the custom in some monasteries on the feast of Saint Antony to go out to the barn to bless the animals. He is the patron of horses, pigs, cattle, and other domestic animals. Icons of Saint Antony often show his little pet pig nestled in the folds of his tunic.

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