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Friday, October 24, 2008

Feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret

Although I wanted to show you the ruins of the Augustinian Nunnery on Iona, I will say something about this feast. Anthony was born in Spain in 1807 so he is a 19th century saint I really did not know until I read about him in "Living with Christ", my daily companion for praying and living the Eucharist. Anthony was a weaver but also studied Latin and printing. He entered the seminary at 22, was ordained in 1835 and founded the Religious Library for publishing and the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians). He was appointed Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba where he reformed both clergy and laity, but he resigned his see after seven years and returned to Spain to be confessor to Queen Isabella; he also wrote books and oversaw the Claretians. He and the Queen were exiled in the revolution of 1868 and he died in 1870.

Paul tells us today in his Letter to the Ephesians how to live: "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace..."

I love this quote from St. John Chrysostom about Paul: "The most important thing of all for him was that he knew he was loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else." I hope this is true of me, too, and each of my readers!

Iona Trip continued:
Philip Newell in his "Christ of the Celts" wrote: "Here on Iona I find myself wanting more often to pray in the ruins of the nunnery than in the rebuilt abbey church. And I am not alone in this desire. Although all of the attention historically has been focused on the reconstructed Benedictine Abbey, a place of masculine spirituality, rather than on the ruins of the neglected Augustinian Nunnery of the same period, a place of feminine spirituality, we are in the midst of a shift." I had read Newell's book before going to Scotland and so my first stop in the morning was to pray at the Nunnery; it also was my last stop of the day. As I wandered through the ruins and stood in what was their Chapel, I felt the prayer of all those nuns during more than six centuries. It is a place of peace. It is easy to imagine those nuns sitting in their Chapter room or huddled together in the "warming room". Newell says that the Nunnery was a "place of relationship, of intentional community, and devotion to Christ and the cross." I certainly felt a presence there.

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