Jul 5 – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest
St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.
- Patron Saint Index
And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd,
The Book of Hosea is a difficult read. The premise of Hosea is of a prophet who continues to love and forgive his wife despite her unfaithfulness. God uses Hosea’s very personal story of family heartbreak to illustrate His disappointment and indignation at Israel’s infidelity. Though the Book of Hosea is believed to have been written around 760-720 BC, the issues it confronts are as relevant as the ones we face today – apostasy, perjury, theft, promiscuity, idolatry (Hosea 4: 1-2). A 2021 Pew Research study found that one in three American adults has no religious affiliation, a 10-point increase compared to a decade ago. Less than half of American adults (45%) say they pray daily, with one third (32%) saying they seldom or never pray. And 27% of American adults say they don’t attend religious services. Numbers on spreadsheets have a prosaic quality to them. It’s easy to shrug and say, “Well, this isn’t me or my family”. I am not one of those who can claim that though. Because it has happened in my family. We are well on our way to becoming one of the ‘Nones’.
Almost 10 years ago, this family used to go to mass together. Christmas and Easter were big events at church. So were baptisms and christenings. That has now flipped dramatically, and COVID rules these last two years have exacerbated the malaise. We don’t worship anymore, not even during Christmas and Easter. Some of us don’t worship at all. I can’t remember the exact moment it happened. It was probably something innocuous, like a difficulty finding parking spots. Or a priest’s style of sermonizing that rubbed one or two of us the wrong way. Or an overly aggressive fundraiser we attended. Or we just got too busy with life. These small and inconsequential irritations have compounded over time, and now, it’s been more than 3 years since we attended mass together. Concurrent with this ‘backsliding’ has been a marked rise in the dinner table disagreements that we’ve had. Like so many other American families, ours has been divided by politics as well, to the point where it has become easier simply not to meet up. Nobody wants Sunday dinner with a slice of rancour and acrimony. Did we replace God with politics and popular culture? Maybe.
Can this downward trend be arrested? I don’t know. “The harvest is abundant, but the labourers are few”, so to speak. Peacekeepers run the risk of getting mauled in the middle. It’s tough to be a practicing Catholic when your own family are the ones making you feel persecuted with their pointy, cleverly constructed secular arguments. In order to heal, we all have to acknowledge that there’s a problem and recognize the part we have each played in it. But without God in our lives to mediate and give us a purpose greater than our selfish agendas to reach for, I don’t see how we can repair things. If we are lost and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd, we only have ourselves to blame for wandering off.
So what happens now? I don’t know. Aside from prayer, I don’t have an answer.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all families dealing with division and estrangement. We pray for the Holy Spirit’s intervention. We pray for God’s forgiveness and mercy, that He helps us all find a way to wipe the slate clean and start over.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who work for peace. We give thanks for those who put themselves out there, who run the risk of being attacked for their roles as peacemakers.