Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui populo tuo beatum Antonium
praedicatorem insignem dedisti,
eumque in necessitatibus intercessorem,
concede, ut, eius auxilio, christianae vitae documenta sectantes,
in omnibus adversitatibus te subvenientem sentiamus.
This prayer was of new composition for the 1970MR. Whoever worked on it, however, knew his stuff. It is "classical" in many respects.
Subvenio and adversitates give us a military flavor to this prayer. Subvenio means, "to come up or advance to one’s assistance (the figure taken from the advance of a military reserve; v. subsidium), to come to one’s assistance, to aid, assist, relieve, succor; to obviate, remedy, heal, cure a disease, an evil, etc."
We also need to turn to our knowledge of ancient rhetoric for a glimpse into documentum. This is a “pattern for imitation”, like exemplum, but also in some contexts having the meaning of “a proof”, a concrete demonstration that what is asserted is true: evidence. In this case it is a paradigm after which we are to pattern and shape our own lives. But this pattern or model itself actually has power to shape us. Christ transforms us the baptized who are made in his image and likeness, after his perfect exemplum, and who imitate His exempla and documenta, His words and deeds.
Almighty eternal God,
who gave blessed Anthony to Your people
as an outstanding preacher,
and in times of need as an intercessor,
grant, that, by his help, following his examples of Christian life
we may sense You coming to aid us in every adversity.
I recall seeing statues of the famous Franciscan when I was in Lisbon, many years ago. St. Anthony, a native of Portugal, is there depicted in his pre-Franciscan mode, indeed, as an Augustinian canon with long hair, not the corona we are used to seeing.
You know the old Italian phrase, "Chi fa per se, fa per tre". You also know the old rhyme of those in need:
Tony, Tony, look around.
Something’s lost and must be found.
It might be consolation to many of you that St. Anthony was able to help himself when something important was lost. Some years ago an important relic of St. Anthony (jaw, perhaps?) was stolen from a shrine here in Italy. It was recovered after not very long. I am not sure how much confidence that should inspire, but if it had not been recovered…