Rorate Caeli

SAINT ANTHONY warns negligent superiors and prelates of the dire personal consequences of their omission

Exsulta, Lusitania felix! O felix Padua, gaude! -- with these words, Pope Pius XII, of most glorious memory, started his Apostolic Brief naming Saint Anthony of Padua Doctor of the Church. The Doctor Evangelicus was a fiery preacher, filled with the righteous indignation of a true saint -- not at all like the emasculated simpleton some seem to believe him to have been.

We present below two excerpts of his "Sermon on the justice of hypocrites and of true penitents", commonly included, in the "Sermones Dominicales", in the sermons for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost. Saint Anthony warns negligent superiors and prelates of the dire personal consequences of their omission -- and the danger of ambition, particularly of superiors ("In superiori gradu præferuntur, ut lapsu graviore ruant.")


If the ox was wont to push with his horn yesterday and the day before, and they warned his master, and he did not shut him up, and he shall kill a man or a woman: then the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. [Exodus xxi, 29] The ox that pushes with his horn is the carnal appetite, which with the horn of pride kills a man or a woman: that is to say, his reason or his good will. Because his owner, the spirit, does not shut him up, he is killed along with the ox: body and soul will be eternally punished together. Hear this, you abbots and priors! If you have an ox that pushes with his horn, a monk or canon who is proud, a lover of wine and pleasure, and you will not shut him up, so that men and women are not scandalized by his bad example: the ox shall be stoned to death, and die in his sin, and the abbot or prior who would not restrain him will be punished eternally.

There follows: And call on the names of your gods, etc. They call on, and worship, as many gods as they have mortal sins. It says in Exodus: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. [Exodus xxxii, 4]

Alas! How many religious there are today, who still worship, in the desert of religion and the cloister, the same gods that they worshiped in Egypt, the world! Because they lack the fire of charity, their sacrifice is useless to them. From morning until noon the cry out: Baal, hear us! [3 Kings xviii, 26: And they called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying: O Baal, hear us.] What is "crying to Baal" if not desiring to be a superior? But there is no voice, no one who answers their will. So they cry again, still louder. To cry is to desire. They cut themselves with knives and lancets, with fasts and disciplines. They disfigure their faces, fasting early in the day, so that later on they can celebrate the festival of the belly!

In Elijah's day, the prophets of Baal cried and were not heard. Nowadays, they cry and are heard! They are promoted to higher office, so that their fall is more ruinous. First they displayed a humble voice, a rough habit, a thin belly, a pale face, and assiduous prayer. Now they utter threats, and go coped and robed. They walk with ample stomach and ruddy face. They are assiduous in sleeping: but prayer -- not at all! Come, Elijah, come! Take the prophets of Baal and slay them at the brook Cison [cf. 3 Kings xviii, 40].