This link will take you to a PDF ebook of St. Anthony's sermons.
"If you would suffer patiently the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would gain power and strength to overcome the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would mortify your will with all its affections and lusts, be a man of prayer. If you would understand the cunning devices of Satan, and defend yourself against his deceits, be a man of payer. If you would live joyfully, and with sweetness walk in the path of penitence and sorrow, be a man of prayer. If you would drive out the troublesome gnats of vain thoughts and cares from your soul, be a man of prayer. If you would sustain your soul with the richness of devotion, and kept it ever full of good thoughts and desires, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and confirm your heart in the pilgrimage with God, be a man of prayer. Lastly, if you would root out from your soul every vice and in their place plant the virtues, be a man of prayer, for in this is obtained the unction and grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things.Thus far the words of St. Bonaventure. Then, what richer treasure? What field can be found more fertile, yielding more abundantly than this? Hear also what another most religious and holy doctor, speaking of this same virtue, says:
"And besides all this, if you would climb to the height of contemplation, and delight in the sweet embraces of the Bridegroom, exercise yourself in prayer, for this is the way by which the soul mounts up to contemplation and to the taste of heavenly things.
"You see, then, of how great virtue and power is prayer, and for proof of all that has been said (to say nothing of Holy Scripture) let this now be sufficient assurance that we have seen and heard, and see, day by day, many simple persons who have attained to all these things above mentioned and to others greater, through the exercise of prayer."
"In prayer the soul is cleansed from sin, pastured with charity, confirmed in faith, strengthened in hope, gladdened in spirit. By prayer the inward man is directed aright, the heart is purified, the truth discovered, temptation overcome, sadness avoided, the perceptions renewed, languishing virtue restored, lukewarmness dismissed, the rust of vices done away; and in it there do not cease to come forth living sparkles of heavenly desires, with which the flame of divine love burns. Great are the excellencies of prayer, great are its privileges! Before it Heaven is opened, secrete things are made manifest, and to it the ears of God are ever attentive." (St. Lawrence Justinian, In Signo Vitae)This now is sufficient to show in some way what is the fruit of this holy exercise.
In what way did you use your bodily senses, and the powers of your soul, which God gave to you for the purpose of knowing and serving Him? In what did you use your eyes, except in things of vanity?Then what will you answer on that day of reckoning when God shall say unto you: "Give an account of your stewardship." O withered tree, destined for eternal torments! What will you answer on that day, when there shall be required from you the account of your whole life, and of every point and moment in it? Think, next, of the sins which you have committed, and do each day commit, even after your eyes have been opened to the knowledge of God, and you will find that the old Adam still lives in you, with many of the old roots and habits. See how you have stood aloof from God, how unthankful you have been for His benefits, how rebellious against his inspirations, how slothful in things concerning His service, which you never performed with that readiness and diligence and purity of intention which you do owe Him; nay, think of how you have discharged them even for the sake of human respects and interests!
In what did you use your ears, except to hear things of falsehood; in what your tongue, except in all manner of rash oaths and murmurings? and your taste and all your senses, except in sensual pleasures and flattery?
How have you profited by the Holy Sacraments, which God ordained for your assistance?
What thanksgivings have you made for all His benefits?
How have you responded to His inspirations?
How have you used your health and strength, your natural talents, your earthly goods, your opportunities and occasions for living well?
What care have you taken of your neighbor whom God commended to you, and what works of mercy towards him can you show?
Against Whom have you sinned?If you think, against Whom you did sin, you will find that it was against God, whose goodness and majesty are infinite, whose blessings and mercies to man are more in number than the sands of the sea-shore. Or if you think, for what end you did sin, it was for some point of honor, some foul lust, or some trivial interest, or very often for something of no interest whatsoever, for no other reason than habit, and disregard for God. Or if you think, in what way you did sin, it was with such ease and audacity as to be without scruple or fear; nay, at time with such ease and content as if you were sinning against a god made of wood who neither knew nor saw anything that was done on earth. Is this the honor which is due to so great a Majesty? Is this the thanks you gave for so great blessings? Is this the return you make for that most Precious Blood shed upon the Cross, for those scourgings and buffetings endured on your behalf? O miserable you, for what you have lost, and more for what you have gained for yourself, and much more still, if with all this, you do not sense your impending perdition!
For what end did you sin?
And in what way?