HOW does God communicate with us? Well, I would say in many ways. First of all through Scripture, that is, the Bible. Then through the Word of the Church, the beauty of nature, the circumstances of our lives, the people we meet… God sometimes uses particular places to speak to us: the places where Jesus lived; where the Virgin Mary appeared; our parish church; a place where some miracle took place or where a saint who performed many miracles is buried.

The Basilica of St Anthony is surely one of those places where God has chosen to speak to us. I don’t know if you’ve ever come to Padua to visit the Basilica, but if you have, and have placed your hand on St Anthony’s Tomb, you must surely have felt that, thanks to the Saint, it is possible to draw nearer to God.

Roberto’s story is really a good example of what I am trying to tell you. Roberto lives in Milan and was born into a very religious family. As a child he always went to church, prayed and went to Sunday School. Then, after his Confirmation, he gradually lost contact with the Faith, without even being aware of it. University, work, pressing commitments and friends did the rest. Sometimes some serious questions did come up, but his real focus in life were work, career, and money.

He gradually started to feel an inner emptiness until one morning, while shaving and looking at himself in the mirror, he asked himself: is this all there is? He began to have strange, uneasy feelings. Why did he have this feeling of dissatisfaction? What could it be? He didn’t know.

One Saturday evening Roberto couldn’t fall asleep. He went to the kitchen and saw his mother praying with a booklet in her hands: it was the 13 Tuesdays Novena to St Anthony. His mother asked him if all was well; if there was something worrying him. “No” he said – “it’s just that I can’t sleep”. It looked like their conversation would end there, but then his mother added one last comment: “I entrust you to St Anthony”.

Apparently, that sentence “I entrust you to St Anthony,” was like a slap in the face for Roberto. “Not St Anthony again!” he replied. “Well then, since he is such a great friend of yours, let’s go to meet him at once!”

His mother thought he was joking, but Roberto was serious and meant what he said. So mother and son left Milan at 4:00 in the morning, and three hours later they had already reached the Basilica of St Anthony in Padua.

It had been years since Roberto had crossed himself. However, he had not forgotten how to do it. He asked a priest where he could go for the Sacrament of Penance, and to his mother’s great surprise he went to the Basilica’s Hall of Confessions.

Of course we do not know what he said during his confession, just like we will never know what the confessor said to him. We do know, however, that afterwards Roberto went to Mass and took Communion.

Roberto’s mother, who told this story to one of our friars here, says that this is really and truly a miracle performed by St Anthony. Her son’s life has been deeply transformed. He now prays regularly, goes to Mass… and often returns to Padua because, thanks to our Saint, he feels God’s presence here.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, don’t mistake God’s patience for his absence. His timing is always perfect and his presence constant. He is always with you.

Updated on July 03 2019