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17 January

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  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Celtic and Old English Saints 17 January =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * St. Nennius of Ireland * St. Anthony of Egypt
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 18, 2013
      Celtic and Old English Saints 17 January

      =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
      * St. Nennius of Ireland
      * St. Anthony of Egypt
      =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


      St.Nennius (Nennidhius), Abbot
      -------------------------------------------------
      6th century. All that is known of him is that he was Irish, became a
      disciple of Saint Finnian of Clonard (f.d. December 12) at Clonard in
      Meath, and is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. It is said that
      from his youth, Nennius was a Christian who was single-hearted for God,
      and received his first training under Bishop Saint Fiace of Leinster
      (f.d. October 12). Tradition says that he left Clonard to become a
      hermit on the isle of Inismuighesamb on lake Erne, Ulster, where many
      sought his spiritual direction and he founded a monastery (Benedictines,
      Delaney, Husenbeth).


      St. Anthony the Great, Abbot
      -------------------------------------------------
      Born at Koman (Coma) near Memphis, Egypt, c. 251; died on Mount Kolzim,
      January 17, 356.

      -------------------------------------------------
      The same St. Anthony is often depicted on
      Irish High Crosses, together with St Paul of Thebes,
      both being brought bread by a raven
      as they converse about spiritual matters
      -------------------------------------------------

      "Whoever sits in solitude and is quiet has escaped from three wars:
      hearing, speaking, and seeing. Yet against one thing he must constantly
      battle: his own heart." --Saint Antony Abbot.

      "The devil dreads fasting, prayer, humility, and good works: He is not
      able even to stop my mouth who speak against him. The illusions of the
      devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the
      Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which
      He triumphed over and disarmed them."
      --Saint Antony Abbot.

      Antony's work was of lasting import--centuries later, in the 20th
      century, the monasteries he established still exist and are peopled by
      numerous monks as thr Coptic Orthodox Church enjoys a thriving monastic
      life in the 20th century.

      But the Church has never been simply a clique of saints but a field of
      weeds as well as wheat. Even after only its first 250 years of existence
      the level of early enthusiasm and standard of holiness had sunk a great
      deal as large groups of people, some lukewarm, entered the Church. The
      Church does not exist for men who are already holy, but rather to help
      us to grow in sanctity. Her moral laws do not exist to inhibit our
      freedom, but as signposts allowing us the freedom to become most
      ourselves, who are made by, for, and in the image of God. Her Sacraments
      are not prizes for the already perfected but medicine for the sick and
      weak.

      Yet the Church is not just a hospital for the morally wounded or
      spiritual convalescents. The generous heart, the strong worker, the
      vivid imagination, the triumphant will--all these are cared for,
      nurtured, and called to live within her. And not only the Church as a
      body, but each of us within Her, contains this mixture of the sick and
      the holy. We are beaten down by the evil within and around us but, with
      God's help, arise again to continue the fight. Antony was one of those
      whose virtues encouraged others to continue the battle and win the crown
      of glory offered to all by our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Antony, the founder of Christian monasticism, is considered as such
      because he gathered the desert hermits into loosely-knit communities and
      exercised a certain authority over them. Nevertheless, he himself spent
      most of his life in solitude.

      In order to keep Antony from being tainted by bad example, his rich and
      pious parents kept him always at home, unacquainted with any branch of
      human literature or other languages. His childhood was marked by his
      even temper, attendance to religious duties, and obedience to his
      parents.

      At age 18 to 20, his parents died leaving him a vast fortune, including
      300 "auras" (about 120 acres) of rich Egyptian soil. The "Golden Legend"
      says that one day in church Antony heard: "If you wish to be perfect, go
      and sell all that you have and give it to the poor." Many of us hear
      this passage without really paying much attention to it. But Antony,
      impressed by Christ's words to the rich young ruler, gave up everything
      and, providing only for the needs of his sister, became an ascetic. She,
      however, following his example, surrendered her share in the inheritance
      and entered a house of virgins.

      He went to live alone in various spots in the neighbourhood of his home
      in Lower Egypt, but sought the counsel of an aged hermit to teach him
      the spiritual life and help to control what he felt was his wayward,
      impressionable temperament, which he knew he could not govern all alone.
      During the next 15 years, he also visited other solitaries, copying in
      himself the principal virtue of each. Soon he was a model of humility,
      charity, and prayerfulness.

      He found God on the abrupt and rocky banks of the Nile, where burning
      stones take possession of flowers before they even bloom. Fleeing the
      agony of a corrupt and crumbling world, he sought in silence and poverty
      to hear the whispers of the divine presence, to make the sand and
      flagstones flourish with spiritual flowers.

      Antony began the life of a hermit, living in a tomb. He spent his time
      in prayer, study, and the manual work necessary to earn his living,
      while practising the strictest self-denial. He ate only bread, with a
      little salt, and water, which he never tasted before
      sunset, and sometimes only once every several days. He wore sackcloth
      and sheepskin, and often knelt in prayer from sunset to sunrise. When he
      did sleep, it was on a rush mat or the bare floor. Thus, he became
      Antony the Great: the giant of holiness, the athlete of the spiritual
      order, the colossal mystic whose name dominates early Christianity in
      Egypt.

      Here the devils assaulted him most furiously, appearing as various
      monsters and worldly temptations such as rich clothing, delicious food,
      and beautiful women. They even wounded him severely. But his courage
      never failed, and he overcame them all by confidence in God and by the
      Sign of the Cross. One night many devils scourged him so terribly that
      he lay as if dead. A friend found him that way and, believing him dead,
      carried him home. When Antony awakened, he persuaded his friend to
      carry him, in spite of his wounds, back to his solitude. Here, prostrate
      from weakness, he defied the devils, saying, "I fear you not; you cannot
      separate me from the love of Christ."

      Hereupon the fiends appearing again, renewed the attack, and alarmed him
      with terrible noises and a variety of spectres in hideous shapes until a
      ray of heavenly light chased them away. He cried out as we so often do
      when besieged by the enemy: "Where were You, my Lord and my Master? Why
      weren't You here from the beginning of my conflict to assuage my pain?"
      A voice answered: "Antony, I was here the whole time; I stood by you,
      and saw your combat. And because you manfully withstood your enemies, I
      will always protect you, and will make your name famous throughout the
      earth."

      Not only did the devils assault him in this way, they also tempted him
      with thoughts about failed opportunities for doing good with the
      property he had given away. This is a common ploy of the evil one: to
      attempt to pull us away from the vocation to which God has called us,
      making us slothful or dissatisfied with our own role in the salvation of
      the world and the glorification of the Father.

      About 285, in a quest for greater solitude, he left the area around his
      birthplace and took up residence in an abandoned fort atop Mount Pispir
      (now Der el Memun), living in nearly complete solitude and seeing almost
      no one, eating only dates growing nearby and the bread thrown to him
      over the wall. He continued this life for 20 years until he knew and
      could govern himself to do the exterior work.

      In 305, he emerged to organise at Fayum (Phaium) the colony of ascetics
      that had grown around his retreat into a loosely organised monastery
      with a rule, though each monk lived in solitude except for worship. Most
      say it was the first Christian monastery. The dissipation occasioned by
      this undertaking led him into a temptation of despair, which he overcame
      by prayer and hard manual labour.

      During this time of his life, he daily ate six ounces of bread soaked in
      water with a little salt, and sometimes added a few dates. He generally
      ate after sunset, but on some days at 3:00 p.m. In his old age, he also
      added a little oil. Thus, in his more active period he somewhat modified
      his earlier austerities.

      It is said that he was always so cheerful when in company that strangers
      could always identify him from among his disciples by the joy that
      always painted his countenance. This, of course, was the result of the
      inward peace and composure of his soul--Christ's final gift to us, His
      servants. (It does appear, however, that Antony also possessed the gift
      of tears.)

      Antony exhorted his brethren to spend as little time as possible in the
      care of the body. Nevertheless, he was careful never to place perfection
      in mortification, but rather in charity. He instructed his monks to
      always be mindful of eternity: to reflect every
      morning that they might not live until nightfall, every evening that
      they may never see the sun rise, and to perform every action as if it
      were the last of their lives, with all the fervour of their souls to
      please God.

      In 311, at the height of Emperor Maximin's persecution, he went to
      Alexandria to give encouragement to the Christians being persecuted
      there and in the mines of the Sudan where they were imprisoned. He wore
      a white tunic of sheepskin during his stay in Alexandria so that he
      would be recognised by other Christians. He took care, however, never to
      provoke the judges or impeach himself, as some rashly did. He returned
      to his monastery when the persecution subsided in 312 and organised
      another at Pispir, near the Nile.

      Again he retired, this time with his disciple Saint Macarius the Younger
      (f.d. January 2) to a cliffside cave on Mount Kolzim near the northwest
      corner of the Red Sea, where he remained for the rest of his long life
      cultivating enough land to support himself, weaving reed mats, and
      visiting the monks of the desert community. Generally, Macarius would
      entertain any strangers who managed to reach their aerie. If they were
      found to be spiritual men, Antony would spend time with them, too.

      Another lesson we can learn from Saint Antony: In a time of spiritual
      dryness take up an ordinary occupation. When Antony found uninterrupted
      contemplation above his strength, an angel taught his to use intervals
      of manual labour interspersed with prayer. Soon prayer was added to the
      work of his hands.

      He had many followers and soon his life of solitude became impossible.
      Numerous colonies of monks, following his example, multiplied with great
      rapidity, so that the deserts of the Nile and the sands of Libya were
      peopled with thousands of anchorites. The rocks resounded with their
      songs, and at Easter immense congregations of up to 50,000 people would
      gather to celebrate the glory of the Risen One.

      Antony's influence exerted itself like a radiating force in other
      countries, too. Saint Hilarion (f.d. October 21) visited him about 310,
      and inaugurated monasteries in Palestine; Mar Agwin did so in 325 in
      Mesopotamia; Saint Pachomius (f.d. May 9), nearer home, in 318. Antony
      had two qualities proper to great men--he was able (such was the force
      of his personality) to leave almost complete freedom and initiative to
      the men under his immediate influence; and he did not grumble if others
      imitated and also modified his system. Thus, Pachomius started a much
      more centralised, highly organised monasticism more like modern
      monasteries--the system that spread to the West.

      A significant feature of these desert saints was their physical strength
      and energy. Antony himself remained alert and vigorous despite his
      privations, and those who followed him became spiritual athletes, men
      and women who under conditions of great severity developed strong
      physique and braced themselves in health and virtue. (When Antony died
      at age 105, his sight and hearing were unimpaired and he had all his
      teeth.) These desert fathers lived in remote places in huts, caves or
      abandoned buildings, and sought God through intellectual and physical
      self-discipline in a life of prayer, meditation, austerity, and manual
      labour (to feed themselves). Such lives produced characters of
      impressive integrity and wisdom, as well as keen nderstanding of the
      human psyche.

      Some desert monks were characterised by extravagant austerities and
      fanaticism; not so Antony. He was notably moderate for his time, a man
      of spiritual wisdom, whose austerity of life was always consciously
      directed to the better service of God.

      Many stories are told of Antony and of his encounters with strange
      creatures (including a centaur and satyr in the story of his search for
      Saint Paul the Hermit (f.d. January 15), and of how by the power of
      prayer he overcame his fears and proved that the wildest phantasies of
      the mind can be dispelled by the grace of God. He had also the gift of
      taming wild animals and on that account is called their patron saint.
      "Why do you hurt me," he asked the beasts of the desert, gently taking
      hold of one of them, "who do not hurt you?" and they left him in peace.

      He had a great reputation for holiness, but on one occasion he heard an
      inner voice: "Antony, you are not so perfect as is a cobbler that dwells
      at Alexandria." Whereupon he took his staff and sought him out. The
      cobbler was amazed to see such a holy and famous man at his door. Antony
      enquired how he spent his time.

      "Sir," he replied, "as for me, good works have I none, for my life is
      but simple and slender. I am but a poor cobbler. In the morning when
      Irise, I pray for the whole city wherein I dwell, especially for all
      such neighbours and poor friends as I have. After, I set me at my
      labour, where I spend the whole day in getting my living. And I keep me
      from all falsehood, for I hate nothing so much as I do deceitfulness;
      wherefore when I make to any man a promise, I keep to it and perform it
      truly. And thus I spent my time poorly with my wife and children, whom I
      teach and instruct, as far as my wit will serve me, to fear and dread
      God. And this is the sum of my simple life."

      Thus, Antony learned that there are many way of holiness and that
      perfection is not only to be found in the lonely places of the desert.

      About 337, Emperor Constantine and his two sons, Constantius and
      Constans, wrote a joint letter to Antony seeking advice and asking for
      his prayers. His monks were surprised that he should be so honoured.
      Unmoved he said, "Do not wonder that the emperor writes to us, one man
      to another; rather admire that God should have written to us, and that
      He has spoken to us through His Son." In total, his response to the
      emperor preserved by Saint Athanasius (f.d. May 2), and seven other
      letters to various monasteries are the sum of Antony's literary output.

      In 339, Saint Antony had a vision in which mules kicked down the altar.
      This was taken as a warning about the havoc the Arian persecution
      wrought just two years later in Alexandria. At the request of the
      bishops, about 355, Antony again went to Alexandria to join those
      combatting Arianism. He taught that God the Son is not a creature but
      the same substance as the Father, and that the Arians, who claimed he
      was, were heathens. There he met and became close friends with Saint
      Athanasius, whose "Vita Antonii" is the chief source of information
      about Antony.

      On his return, he again sought refuge in the cave on Mount Kolzim, where
      he received visitors, including Emperor Constantine, and dispensed
      advice. He chief advice was that knowledge of oneself was the necessary
      and only step by which one can ascend to the knowledge and love of God.

      Full of years, of battles and victories, Antony died on January 17 in
      the desert where only legend could trace his path. He was secretly
      buried on Mount Kolzim. About 561, his body was discovered and with
      great solemnity translated to Alexandria, then to Constantinople, and is
      now at Vienne, France.

      After Saint Antony had lived in the desert for 75 years, he was told in
      a vision about the hermit Saint Paul (f.d. January 15), who had been
      living in asceticism for 90 years. At once he resolved to find him and
      set out across the desert. On the way he met with a centaur and a satyr,
      before finding Saint Paul in a cave in the rocks beside a stream and a
      palm-tree. The two embraced in immediate recognition, after which Saint
      Paul inquired about the state of the world that he had left so long ago.

      Saint Jerome (f.d. September 30), in his account of Paul the Hermit,
      describes the meeting of the two during which a raven dropped a loaf of
      bread for the hermits to share. Paul then asked Antony to return to his
      own hermitage and fetch the cloak given to him by Bishop Saint
      Athanasius in which he wished to be buried. En route back to the elder
      hermit, Antony saw Paul ascending into heaven. At the cave he found the
      dead body in an attitude of prayer. Antony was too old to have the
      strength to dig a grave, but two lions came and dug it with their paws.
      Antony wrapped Paul's body in the cloak and buried it.

      The ascetic lives of Paul of Thebes and Anthony was known to the monks
      of ancient Ireland and they strove to emulate their asceticism. They
      frequently carved onto the Irish High Crosses the scene of the two
      ascetics conversing while a raven brings them bread. These High Crosses,
      with Paul.and Antony depicted on them, may be seen in Ireland even
      today. If you go here
      http://www.flsouthern.edu/eng/abruce/rood/home.htm and look at the North
      Face of the Cross you can see the two hermits on the Ruthwell Cross,
      created about 700 AD.

      Saint Jerome (f.d. September 30) and Rufinus relate that Antony met
      Didymus, the blind head of the catechetical school at Alexandria.

      His fights with the devil, his temptations, his meeting with Saint Paul
      the Hermit, his association with monks who treasured his
      sayings, his prophecies: These are all told in his "Life" written by
      Saint Athanasius, to whom he bequeathed one of his sheepskins and his
      cloak as a public testimony of his being united in faith and communion
      with that holy prelate.

      Upon his death 14 years after that of Saint Paul, Antony was buried
      secretly, according to his own wish. Both during his life and after his
      death his influence was great, and veneration for him remains strong all
      over Christendom (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Delaney,
      Encyclopaedia, Gill, Husenbeth, Martindale, Meyer, Tabor, White).

      In art Saint Antony is depicted as a very old monk in a habit to
      indicate that he was the founder of monasticism. But he is represented
      in various ways: (1) with a bell or asperges (both to exorcise evil
      spirits) and a "tau"-shaped cross which designates, perhaps, his age and
      authority, and which is worn by the Knights of Saint Antony (instituted
      1352); (2) with a pig (representing sensuality and gluttony), to denote
      his battles with the devil; (3) with a book to signify Antony's devotion
      to the Scriptures; or (4) with flames to indicate the disease known as
      Saint Antony's Fire, against which his name was invoked in the Middle
      Ages; (5) with the devil near him; (6) tempted by devils or carried
      aloft by them; (7) with the centaur and satyr he met on his way to Saint
      Paul; (8) breaking bread with Saint Paul the Hermit (the bread is
      brought to them by ravens); (9) with two lions, who dig Paul's grave;
      (10) making baskets, which was one of the primary occupations of the
      Egyptian monks; or (11) as a young man distributing his wealth
      (Appleton, Encyclopaedia, Roeder, Tabor). Attwater claims that his
      emblems are a pig and a bell.

      Saint Antony is the patron of basket-makers (Roeder), domestic animals,
      pet, people those with skin diseases (White). He is invoked against
      erysipelas (Saint Antony's Fire), probably because of his reputation as
      a healer (Roeder, White).

      Troparion of St Anthony the Great tone 4
      Thou didst follow the ways of zealous Elijah, and the straight path of
      the Baptist, O Father Anthony./ Thou didst become a desert dweller/ and
      support the world by thy prayers./ Intercede with Christ our God that
      our souls may be saved.

      Icon of St. Anthony:
      http://htmadmin.phpwebhosting.com/images/a-28.jpg



      ********************************
      Suppliers of Icons of Celtic Saints for the church
      or the prayer corner at home.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/2875
      *********************************

      Lives kindly supplied by:
      For All the Saints:
      http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/saint_a.shtml

      An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West
      http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/saintsa.htm

      These Lives are archived at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints
      ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤
    • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
      Celtic and Old English Saints 17 January =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * St. Nennius of Ireland * St. Anthony of Egypt
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 18, 2014
        Celtic and Old English Saints 17 January

        =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
        * St. Nennius of Ireland
        * St. Anthony of Egypt
        =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


        St.Nennius (Nennidhius), Abbot
        -------------------------------------------------
        6th century. All that is known of him is that he was Irish, became a
        disciple of Saint Finnian of Clonard (f.d. December 12) at Clonard in
        Meath, and is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. It is said that
        from his youth, Nennius was a Christian who was single-hearted for God,
        and received his first training under Bishop Saint Fiace of Leinster
        (f.d. October 12). Tradition says that he left Clonard to become a
        hermit on the isle of Inismuighesamb on lake Erne, Ulster, where many
        sought his spiritual direction and he founded a monastery (Benedictines,
        Delaney, Husenbeth).


        St. Anthony the Great, Abbot
        -------------------------------------------------
        Born at Koman (Coma) near Memphis, Egypt, c. 251; died on Mount Kolzim,
        January 17, 356.

        -------------------------------------------------
        The same St. Anthony is often depicted on
        Irish High Crosses, together with St Paul of Thebes,
        both being brought bread by a raven
        as they converse about spiritual matters
        -------------------------------------------------

        "Whoever sits in solitude and is quiet has escaped from three wars:
        hearing, speaking, and seeing. Yet against one thing he must constantly
        battle: his own heart." --Saint Antony Abbot.

        "The devil dreads fasting, prayer, humility, and good works: He is not
        able even to stop my mouth who speak against him. The illusions of the
        devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the
        Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which
        He triumphed over and disarmed them."
        --Saint Antony Abbot.

        Antony's work was of lasting import--centuries later, in the 20th
        century, the monasteries he established still exist and are peopled by
        numerous monks as thr Coptic Orthodox Church enjoys a thriving monastic
        life in the 20th century.

        But the Church has never been simply a clique of saints but a field of
        weeds as well as wheat. Even after only its first 250 years of existence
        the level of early enthusiasm and standard of holiness had sunk a great
        deal as large groups of people, some lukewarm, entered the Church. The
        Church does not exist for men who are already holy, but rather to help
        us to grow in sanctity. Her moral laws do not exist to inhibit our
        freedom, but as signposts allowing us the freedom to become most
        ourselves, who are made by, for, and in the image of God. Her Sacraments
        are not prizes for the already perfected but medicine for the sick and
        weak.

        Yet the Church is not just a hospital for the morally wounded or
        spiritual convalescents. The generous heart, the strong worker, the
        vivid imagination, the triumphant will--all these are cared for,
        nurtured, and called to live within her. And not only the Church as a
        body, but each of us within Her, contains this mixture of the sick and
        the holy. We are beaten down by the evil within and around us but, with
        God's help, arise again to continue the fight. Antony was one of those
        whose virtues encouraged others to continue the battle and win the crown
        of glory offered to all by our Lord Jesus Christ.

        Antony, the founder of Christian monasticism, is considered as such
        because he gathered the desert hermits into loosely-knit communities and
        exercised a certain authority over them. Nevertheless, he himself spent
        most of his life in solitude.

        In order to keep Antony from being tainted by bad example, his rich and
        pious parents kept him always at home, unacquainted with any branch of
        human literature or other languages. His childhood was marked by his
        even temper, attendance to religious duties, and obedience to his
        parents.

        At age 18 to 20, his parents died leaving him a vast fortune, including
        300 "auras" (about 120 acres) of rich Egyptian soil. The "Golden Legend"
        says that one day in church Antony heard: "If you wish to be perfect, go
        and sell all that you have and give it to the poor." Many of us hear
        this passage without really paying much attention to it. But Antony,
        impressed by Christ's words to the rich young ruler, gave up everything
        and, providing only for the needs of his sister, became an ascetic. She,
        however, following his example, surrendered her share in the inheritance
        and entered a house of virgins.

        He went to live alone in various spots in the neighbourhood of his home
        in Lower Egypt, but sought the counsel of an aged hermit to teach him
        the spiritual life and help to control what he felt was his wayward,
        impressionable temperament, which he knew he could not govern all alone.
        During the next 15 years, he also visited other solitaries, copying in
        himself the principal virtue of each. Soon he was a model of humility,
        charity, and prayerfulness.

        He found God on the abrupt and rocky banks of the Nile, where burning
        stones take possession of flowers before they even bloom. Fleeing the
        agony of a corrupt and crumbling world, he sought in silence and poverty
        to hear the whispers of the divine presence, to make the sand and
        flagstones flourish with spiritual flowers.

        Antony began the life of a hermit, living in a tomb. He spent his time
        in prayer, study, and the manual work necessary to earn his living,
        while practising the strictest self-denial. He ate only bread, with a
        little salt, and water, which he never tasted before
        sunset, and sometimes only once every several days. He wore sackcloth
        and sheepskin, and often knelt in prayer from sunset to sunrise. When he
        did sleep, it was on a rush mat or the bare floor. Thus, he became
        Antony the Great: the giant of holiness, the athlete of the spiritual
        order, the colossal mystic whose name dominates early Christianity in
        Egypt.

        Here the devils assaulted him most furiously, appearing as various
        monsters and worldly temptations such as rich clothing, delicious food,
        and beautiful women. They even wounded him severely. But his courage
        never failed, and he overcame them all by confidence in God and by the
        Sign of the Cross. One night many devils scourged him so terribly that
        he lay as if dead. A friend found him that way and, believing him dead,
        carried him home. When Antony awakened, he persuaded his friend to
        carry him, in spite of his wounds, back to his solitude. Here, prostrate
        from weakness, he defied the devils, saying, "I fear you not; you cannot
        separate me from the love of Christ."

        Hereupon the fiends appearing again, renewed the attack, and alarmed him
        with terrible noises and a variety of spectres in hideous shapes until a
        ray of heavenly light chased them away. He cried out as we so often do
        when besieged by the enemy: "Where were You, my Lord and my Master? Why
        weren't You here from the beginning of my conflict to assuage my pain?"
        A voice answered: "Antony, I was here the whole time; I stood by you,
        and saw your combat. And because you manfully withstood your enemies, I
        will always protect you, and will make your name famous throughout the
        earth."

        Not only did the devils assault him in this way, they also tempted him
        with thoughts about failed opportunities for doing good with the
        property he had given away. This is a common ploy of the evil one: to
        attempt to pull us away from the vocation to which God has called us,
        making us slothful or dissatisfied with our own role in the salvation of
        the world and the glorification of the Father.

        About 285, in a quest for greater solitude, he left the area around his
        birthplace and took up residence in an abandoned fort atop Mount Pispir
        (now Der el Memun), living in nearly complete solitude and seeing almost
        no one, eating only dates growing nearby and the bread thrown to him
        over the wall. He continued this life for 20 years until he knew and
        could govern himself to do the exterior work.

        In 305, he emerged to organise at Fayum (Phaium) the colony of ascetics
        that had grown around his retreat into a loosely organised monastery
        with a rule, though each monk lived in solitude except for worship. Most
        say it was the first Christian monastery. The dissipation occasioned by
        this undertaking led him into a temptation of despair, which he overcame
        by prayer and hard manual labour.

        During this time of his life, he daily ate six ounces of bread soaked in
        water with a little salt, and sometimes added a few dates. He generally
        ate after sunset, but on some days at 3:00 p.m. In his old age, he also
        added a little oil. Thus, in his more active period he somewhat modified
        his earlier austerities.

        It is said that he was always so cheerful when in company that strangers
        could always identify him from among his disciples by the joy that
        always painted his countenance. This, of course, was the result of the
        inward peace and composure of his soul--Christ's final gift to us, His
        servants. (It does appear, however, that Antony also possessed the gift
        of tears.)

        Antony exhorted his brethren to spend as little time as possible in the
        care of the body. Nevertheless, he was careful never to place perfection
        in mortification, but rather in charity. He instructed his monks to
        always be mindful of eternity: to reflect every
        morning that they might not live until nightfall, every evening that
        they may never see the sun rise, and to perform every action as if it
        were the last of their lives, with all the fervour of their souls to
        please God.

        In 311, at the height of Emperor Maximin's persecution, he went to
        Alexandria to give encouragement to the Christians being persecuted
        there and in the mines of the Sudan where they were imprisoned. He wore
        a white tunic of sheepskin during his stay in Alexandria so that he
        would be recognised by other Christians. He took care, however, never to
        provoke the judges or impeach himself, as some rashly did. He returned
        to his monastery when the persecution subsided in 312 and organised
        another at Pispir, near the Nile.

        Again he retired, this time with his disciple Saint Macarius the Younger
        (f.d. January 2) to a cliffside cave on Mount Kolzim near the northwest
        corner of the Red Sea, where he remained for the rest of his long life
        cultivating enough land to support himself, weaving reed mats, and
        visiting the monks of the desert community. Generally, Macarius would
        entertain any strangers who managed to reach their aerie. If they were
        found to be spiritual men, Antony would spend time with them, too.

        Another lesson we can learn from Saint Antony: In a time of spiritual
        dryness take up an ordinary occupation. When Antony found uninterrupted
        contemplation above his strength, an angel taught his to use intervals
        of manual labour interspersed with prayer. Soon prayer was added to the
        work of his hands.

        He had many followers and soon his life of solitude became impossible.
        Numerous colonies of monks, following his example, multiplied with great
        rapidity, so that the deserts of the Nile and the sands of Libya were
        peopled with thousands of anchorites. The rocks resounded with their
        songs, and at Easter immense congregations of up to 50,000 people would
        gather to celebrate the glory of the Risen One.

        Antony's influence exerted itself like a radiating force in other
        countries, too. Saint Hilarion (f.d. October 21) visited him about 310,
        and inaugurated monasteries in Palestine; Mar Agwin did so in 325 in
        Mesopotamia; Saint Pachomius (f.d. May 9), nearer home, in 318. Antony
        had two qualities proper to great men--he was able (such was the force
        of his personality) to leave almost complete freedom and initiative to
        the men under his immediate influence; and he did not grumble if others
        imitated and also modified his system. Thus, Pachomius started a much
        more centralised, highly organised monasticism more like modern
        monasteries--the system that spread to the West.

        A significant feature of these desert saints was their physical strength
        and energy. Antony himself remained alert and vigorous despite his
        privations, and those who followed him became spiritual athletes, men
        and women who under conditions of great severity developed strong
        physique and braced themselves in health and virtue. (When Antony died
        at age 105, his sight and hearing were unimpaired and he had all his
        teeth.) These desert fathers lived in remote places in huts, caves or
        abandoned buildings, and sought God through intellectual and physical
        self-discipline in a life of prayer, meditation, austerity, and manual
        labour (to feed themselves). Such lives produced characters of
        impressive integrity and wisdom, as well as keen nderstanding of the
        human psyche.

        Some desert monks were characterised by extravagant austerities and
        fanaticism; not so Antony. He was notably moderate for his time, a man
        of spiritual wisdom, whose austerity of life was always consciously
        directed to the better service of God.

        Many stories are told of Antony and of his encounters with strange
        creatures (including a centaur and satyr in the story of his search for
        Saint Paul the Hermit (f.d. January 15), and of how by the power of
        prayer he overcame his fears and proved that the wildest phantasies of
        the mind can be dispelled by the grace of God. He had also the gift of
        taming wild animals and on that account is called their patron saint.
        "Why do you hurt me," he asked the beasts of the desert, gently taking
        hold of one of them, "who do not hurt you?" and they left him in peace.

        He had a great reputation for holiness, but on one occasion he heard an
        inner voice: "Antony, you are not so perfect as is a cobbler that dwells
        at Alexandria." Whereupon he took his staff and sought him out. The
        cobbler was amazed to see such a holy and famous man at his door. Antony
        enquired how he spent his time.

        "Sir," he replied, "as for me, good works have I none, for my life is
        but simple and slender. I am but a poor cobbler. In the morning when
        Irise, I pray for the whole city wherein I dwell, especially for all
        such neighbours and poor friends as I have. After, I set me at my
        labour, where I spend the whole day in getting my living. And I keep me
        from all falsehood, for I hate nothing so much as I do deceitfulness;
        wherefore when I make to any man a promise, I keep to it and perform it
        truly. And thus I spent my time poorly with my wife and children, whom I
        teach and instruct, as far as my wit will serve me, to fear and dread
        God. And this is the sum of my simple life."

        Thus, Antony learned that there are many way of holiness and that
        perfection is not only to be found in the lonely places of the desert.

        About 337, Emperor Constantine and his two sons, Constantius and
        Constans, wrote a joint letter to Antony seeking advice and asking for
        his prayers. His monks were surprised that he should be so honoured.
        Unmoved he said, "Do not wonder that the emperor writes to us, one man
        to another; rather admire that God should have written to us, and that
        He has spoken to us through His Son." In total, his response to the
        emperor preserved by Saint Athanasius (f.d. May 2), and seven other
        letters to various monasteries are the sum of Antony's literary output.

        In 339, Saint Antony had a vision in which mules kicked down the altar.
        This was taken as a warning about the havoc the Arian persecution
        wrought just two years later in Alexandria. At the request of the
        bishops, about 355, Antony again went to Alexandria to join those
        combatting Arianism. He taught that God the Son is not a creature but
        the same substance as the Father, and that the Arians, who claimed he
        was, were heathens. There he met and became close friends with Saint
        Athanasius, whose "Vita Antonii" is the chief source of information
        about Antony.

        On his return, he again sought refuge in the cave on Mount Kolzim, where
        he received visitors, including Emperor Constantine, and dispensed
        advice. He chief advice was that knowledge of oneself was the necessary
        and only step by which one can ascend to the knowledge and love of God.

        Full of years, of battles and victories, Antony died on January 17 in
        the desert where only legend could trace his path. He was secretly
        buried on Mount Kolzim. About 561, his body was discovered and with
        great solemnity translated to Alexandria, then to Constantinople, and is
        now at Vienne, France.

        After Saint Antony had lived in the desert for 75 years, he was told in
        a vision about the hermit Saint Paul (f.d. January 15), who had been
        living in asceticism for 90 years. At once he resolved to find him and
        set out across the desert. On the way he met with a centaur and a satyr,
        before finding Saint Paul in a cave in the rocks beside a stream and a
        palm-tree. The two embraced in immediate recognition, after which Saint
        Paul inquired about the state of the world that he had left so long ago.

        Saint Jerome (f.d. September 30), in his account of Paul the Hermit,
        describes the meeting of the two during which a raven dropped a loaf of
        bread for the hermits to share. Paul then asked Antony to return to his
        own hermitage and fetch the cloak given to him by Bishop Saint
        Athanasius in which he wished to be buried. En route back to the elder
        hermit, Antony saw Paul ascending into heaven. At the cave he found the
        dead body in an attitude of prayer. Antony was too old to have the
        strength to dig a grave, but two lions came and dug it with their paws.
        Antony wrapped Paul's body in the cloak and buried it.

        The ascetic lives of Paul of Thebes and Anthony was known to the monks
        of ancient Ireland and they strove to emulate their asceticism. They
        frequently carved onto the Irish High Crosses the scene of the two
        ascetics conversing while a raven brings them bread. These High Crosses,
        with Paul.and Antony depicted on them, may be seen in Ireland even
        today. If you go here
        http://www.flsouthern.edu/eng/abruce/rood/home.htm and look at the North
        Face of the Cross you can see the two hermits on the Ruthwell Cross,
        created about 700 AD.

        Saint Jerome (f.d. September 30) and Rufinus relate that Antony met
        Didymus, the blind head of the catechetical school at Alexandria.

        His fights with the devil, his temptations, his meeting with Saint Paul
        the Hermit, his association with monks who treasured his
        sayings, his prophecies: These are all told in his "Life" written by
        Saint Athanasius, to whom he bequeathed one of his sheepskins and his
        cloak as a public testimony of his being united in faith and communion
        with that holy prelate.

        Upon his death 14 years after that of Saint Paul, Antony was buried
        secretly, according to his own wish. Both during his life and after his
        death his influence was great, and veneration for him remains strong all
        over Christendom (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Delaney,
        Encyclopaedia, Gill, Husenbeth, Martindale, Meyer, Tabor, White).

        In art Saint Antony is depicted as a very old monk in a habit to
        indicate that he was the founder of monasticism. But he is represented
        in various ways: (1) with a bell or asperges (both to exorcise evil
        spirits) and a "tau"-shaped cross which designates, perhaps, his age and
        authority, and which is worn by the Knights of Saint Antony (instituted
        1352); (2) with a pig (representing sensuality and gluttony), to denote
        his battles with the devil; (3) with a book to signify Antony's devotion
        to the Scriptures; or (4) with flames to indicate the disease known as
        Saint Antony's Fire, against which his name was invoked in the Middle
        Ages; (5) with the devil near him; (6) tempted by devils or carried
        aloft by them; (7) with the centaur and satyr he met on his way to Saint
        Paul; (8) breaking bread with Saint Paul the Hermit (the bread is
        brought to them by ravens); (9) with two lions, who dig Paul's grave;
        (10) making baskets, which was one of the primary occupations of the
        Egyptian monks; or (11) as a young man distributing his wealth
        (Appleton, Encyclopaedia, Roeder, Tabor). Attwater claims that his
        emblems are a pig and a bell.

        Saint Antony is the patron of basket-makers (Roeder), domestic animals,
        pet, people those with skin diseases (White). He is invoked against
        erysipelas (Saint Antony's Fire), probably because of his reputation as
        a healer (Roeder, White).

        Troparion of St Anthony the Great tone 4
        Thou didst follow the ways of zealous Elijah, and the straight path of
        the Baptist, O Father Anthony./ Thou didst become a desert dweller/ and
        support the world by thy prayers./ Intercede with Christ our God that
        our souls may be saved.

        Icon of St. Anthony:
        http://htmadmin.phpwebhosting.com/images/a-28.jpg



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