THOUGHT FOR TODAY BY
ST. ANTHONY ZACCARIA
If through perfect humility you will be able to know objec tively yourself, only then will you be.
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Bethlehem, PA 18020
The manuscript codex of the Sermons is kept in the General Archives of the Barnabites in Rome. It was entrusted by Anthony Mary’s mother to the Angelics of Santa Marta Convent in Cremona. Early Barnabite historian, Father Giovanni Antonio Gabuzio, retrieved it during his stay in that city from 1584 to 1595. It is an index-notebook. When he was a student at the University of Padua, Anthony Mary recorded in it some lines of the philosopher, Averroës. Later on, as a priest in Cremona, he wrote in it the talks on the Ten Commandments, which he gave at the Amicizia Oratory in St. Vitalis church. Clearly, he planned to write out ten sermons, one on each commandment. However, the notebook contains only five sermons: four on the first four commandments. The fifth one is on the commandment, but it is only half finished. Sermon I has an appendix on how nuns should practice the first commandment. Maybe it was intended for the Augustinian Community of Santa Maria Annunziata in Cremona.
A sixth sermon was part of a projected trilogy on moral and spiritual lukewarmness. The Sermons are addressed to noble laymen, who were married and had children, and were active members of the Amicizia Oratory, in the years 1529-1530 when Anthony Mary was a priest; however, their content is applicable to everyone. The above-mentioned appendix to Sermon I proves it. All the Sermons have the same structure. They are divided in two parts. The first one treats of a specific theme. In Sermon I it is the “due order” of the spiritual life; in Sermon II, “true spiritual life”; in Sermon III, “acknowledgment”; in Sermon IV, love; in Sermon V, passions; in Sermon VI, the “way of God.” The second part of Sermons 1–V is an extensive exposition of each commandment and its practice. In the case of Sermon VI, the second part is a detailed explanation of lukewarmness. The Sermons exhibit a more elaborate style than that of the Letters. The language, though direct, reveals greater care and elegance. The reasoning is cogently logical and is structured on solid theological preparation. The numerous Biblical quotations reveal a mastery of the Scriptures.
Recently, a hypothesis was put forth, according to which the Sermons are not liturgical homilies, but opening talks given at the Amicizia Oratory meetings, where all present could then speak. It is noteworthy that Anthony Mary reserves the term “sermon” only to his talk on lukewarmness.