Independence

For those who have lost their independence:

There is an old Yiddish saying that when a father helps a son, they both smile. When a son helps a father, they both cry. No one likes to be dependent upon others. If we had to choose between helping others and asking them for help, most of us would choose to help others.

St. Anthony knew what it was like to depend upon others when he could not care for himself. When he first became a Franciscan, he volunteered to go to the missions in Morocco where he hoped to die as a martyr for the faith. Instead, he took ill as soon as he landed. He could not even leave the dock because he was semi-conscious with a high fever for weeks on end. The friars had to wait on him because he could not care for himself.

Then, toward the end of his life, St. Anthony's health took a serious turn for the worse. He had exhausted himself preaching a Lenten mission in Padua. He was probably also suffering from hepatitis. The friars took him to a place in the countryside called Camposanpiero. Count Tizio, the owner of the property, even had a tree house built for St. Anthony so that he would not have to sleep on the damp ground (for in that part of Italy, there is a lot of fog and mist during the Spring). In spite of this and the friars' solicitous care, St. Anthony's health continued to decline until he died on June 13, 1231.

Prayer for oneself:

St. Anthony,
You understand what it feels like
to have to be cared for by others.
Teach me your lessons of humility and vulnerability.
May I surrender to God's will
and find the peace that only God can give.
I ask you, also, to bless those who are caring for me.
Reward them for their kindness and generosity.
Amen.

Prayer for others:

St. Anthony,
You understand what it feels like
to have to be cared for by others.
Teach _________ your lessons of humility and vulnerability.
Help him/her to surrender to God's will
and to find the peace that only God can give.
Bless those who are caring for _______.
Reward them for their kindness and generosity.
Amen.

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