We are featuring a series of nine Faith Sharing of Virtues of St. Anthony of Padua that were presented during the fiesta 9-day novena masses. This will temporarily replace the Sunday Gospel Reflections; after which the Gospel Reflections will return.
Loving the Animals
By Marilou Consing
Our patron saint – St. Anthony of Padua – just like St. Francis of Assisi, was known to be an animal lover. If St. Francis is known for his Sermon to the Birds – depicted in the Amorsolo painting that you may have noticed on your way inside this church – then St. Anthony has his Sermon to the Fishes.
The story goes that when St. Anthony went to preach in Rimini, Italy, a crowd of heretics listening to him resisted his words. So St. Anthony went over to the nearby shore and there preached to the fishes. These creatures all lined up with their heads above the water and listened to St. Anthony. When the heretics saw this miracle, they were all converted and the faithful among the crowd were comforted in their faith.
In another story, the Miracle of St. Anthony and the Donkey, St. Anthony was able to make a donkey kneel and bow in adoration in front of the Sacred Eucharist. The starved donkey chose to adore the Blessed Eucharist first instead of eating hay that was also put in front of him. Because of this, the hardened heart of the heretic who owned the donkey was touched. He was then converted to the Catholic faith.
These stories show you how St. Anthony was able to convert people through the Gospel virtues of humility, obedience and patience. And he did these through his compassion and respect for animals. He treated animals like people. He treated animals as God’s creatures, to be respected and cared for. No animal was too big or too small. No animal was considered trivial in St. Anthony’s eyes because nothing can be trivial in God’s eyes.
My name is Marilou Consing and I am in the Communication Ministry of this parish. I was particularly touched by these miracle stories of St. Anthony because it shows how creative we can be – and must be – to lead more people into the Catholic faith. How we can tap God’s creatures to strengthen our faith, to deepen our faith. To comfort us in our journey of faith.
My love of all animals has taught me to experience the virtues that St. Anthony used to convert people. The virtues I mentioned earlier – of humility, obedience and patience. Loving the animals has made me a better person, more empathetic to other people and I find myself becoming a kinder person to others. I think this is God’s way of showing me how to love another.
I love animals because they reciprocate the kindness and care I shower on them, they give me happiness and joy and they make me a more compassionate and kind person. I work and play with animals – all sorts – no animal is too low for me or too stray for me.
When I read the stories of St. Anthony and his miracles with the fishes and donkey, and probably how St. Francis’ kinship with animals and nature has influenced St. Anthony, I realize that this compassion and respect for animals show the grandeur of Christianity in a positive way.
By respecting all creatures great and small, we in turn respect God. By loving the animals we in turn show God our love.
How can I not love animals? My domestic pets give me happiness and joy. They give me back the love and care I shower them with. Other animals are my source of nourishment. They have a role to play in this world to sustain us and they do it well. There are many stories in the Bible that show how animals nurture and sustain the life of people – it was God’s command to the whale to conserve the life of the Prophet Jonah, and then after three days, to throw him back, safe and sound, on dry land.
It was a fish that gave the tribute-coin to Our Lord Jesus Christ when, because of his poverty, he had nothing to pay it. Also, fish served as nourishment of Jesus before and after His Resurrection.
Then, It was a donkey that a pregnant Mary rode on, led by Joseph, in Bethlehem, looking for an inn where Mary could give birth to Jesus. It was also a donkey that Jesus rode on into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Animals are part of our lives, we can’t live without them. They serve many roles in our lives.
I give thanks to the animals that feed and nourish me. I say grace before meals not only to thank the Lord for the food placed before me but also for the animal that gave up his life so that I can be fed and nourished.
I give thanks to the other animals that give me happiness and joy by being my companions, by giving me pleasure and enjoyment in life. They remind me of the goodness of God and his creation.
But best of all, I find that loving animals is good therapy for me.
I want to end my talk by saying that it is our responsibility, and our mission to care for all creation, for all creatures great and small, from the little ones to the big ones. Loving all the animals is the first step to loving one another.