Thursday, June 07, 2007

St. Anthony of Padua---Master of Interillumination and "Ark of the Covenant"

J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R.*

St. Anthony of Padua---a supremely gifted scripture scholar and preacher---employed allegory, analogy and metaphor like a maestro, a world class symphony conductor. You may not know this but like the Blessed Mother, he too holds title to the vaulted phrase "Ark of the Covenant" (praise bestowed upon him by Pope Gregory IX in 1263).

I never heard of the term interillumination before I read about St. Anthony from but it makes great sense. The Ark was the source of miraculous power and light in the Old Testament. The Blessed Mother Mary was the human source of Jesus' humanity and she carried the Light of the World all the way from Bethlehem to the Cross and Tomb in the New Testament.

In his Sermones from the early 13th Century, St. Anthony—whose relationship to St. Francis of Assisi is likened to St. Paul's relationship to Jesus—carried the Gospel message and related life-giving concepts and images that are based on Sacred Scripture and powerfully imbued with universal spiritual meaning. His talents bore much fruit, souls won for Christ, and it is little wonder that this miracle-worker was canonized the year after his death in 1231 at the tender age of 36.

Concerning Baptism's relationshiop to a Christian soul (as ark) and the True Covenant's cherubim, he describes this angelic aid as protecting souls:

"...from the heat of worldly prosperity, from the rain of carnal desire, and from the thunder of diabolic temptation."

More on this personal Ark symbolism by St. Anthony:

"And so we have made this ‘chariot-throne’ to the honour of God, to the building up of souls, and to the comfort of reader and listener; from the understanding of Holy Scripture and from the authorities of either Testament, so that in it, with Elijah, the soul may be lifted up from earthly things and borne away into the heaven of celestial conversation. And note that as on a chariot there are four wheels, so in this work four matters are dealt with, namely: the Lord's Gospels, the history of the Old Testament as it is read in Church, the Introit, and the Epistle of the Sunday Mass. I have collected together and correlated each of these, as divine grace has granted and ‘as far as my slender and paltry knowledge allows, following the reapers with Ruth the Moabitess, to gather the fallen ears in the field of Boaz.’"

Such grace and humility are hard to find these days.

As the late Anglican Bishop, Rt. Rev. John Tinsley of Bristol related in a Dissertation on St. Anthony of Padua by S.R.P. Spilsbury:

[Like St. Anthony] "My contention will be that we must defy the view that has prevailed in the West since Plato banished the poets from his Republic, that whatever is true can best be expressed as literal truth. I shall suggest that there is a proper procedure for assessing the metaphors of the poets, the imagery of art and the great symbols of the religious traditions, for validity, and that these may express truths that literal language cannot capture. Were this not so, the critic’s description would represent an improvement on the work of art, and the commentary could replace Scripture!"

AMEN Bishop Tinsley I couldn't agree more.

As I continue to read Pope Benedict XVI's new book Jesus of Nazareth is clear that the Holy Father is attempting a modern version of interillumination.

Problem is we may have lost the ability to relate truth through languages that appear to accept no absolutes.

This is a great hurdle. We need truth bearing mystics and poets to counterbalance the truth bearing scholastics and scientists, but...

Can we ever achieve this marriage of unequally yoked horses in this age of science?

Meanwhile it looks as if the four horsemen are already saddled.

Sincerely yours in Jesus and Mary I am,
Mike Rizzio, SOLT

Imitate Mary
Become like Jesus
Live for the Triune God

Seek the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ
See you on the High Ground!

* - J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R. stands for: Jesus, Mary and Joseph;
O Beata Trinitas; Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael

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