Monday, January 17, 2011

St. Anthony the Great (251-356): January, 17, 2011

St. Anthony the Great (251-356)

Anthony was born to wealthy Christian parents in Coma and lower Egypt. One day on his way to church, he was meditating on Jesus saying, “sell of you have, follow me and you will have riches in heaven (Mathew 19:21), At church, the same scripture was used, and as a result, Anthony at the age of 34 looked to the needs of his sister and sold the rest. The land he owned was given to the tenants who worked it. The money he made was given to the poor and he left to live in the desert.

He stayed in the desert for thirteen years, during which time he was faced with temptations by boredom, laziness and images of women. He then moved into a tomb and sealed it. Beaten in the body by the devil, he was found unconscious and taken to a church. After recovering there, he went out to the desert again but to an even more isolated place. Visions of various animals appeared to him to scare him, but he just laughed at them and told them they had no power over Christ. During this time he was locked in an abandoned fort and his only communication was through a crack in the wall. Eventually he emerged, peaceful and enlightened. He went to Alexandria to seek martyrdom and witnessed to many, but was not martyred. He returned to his fort for a while, but so many people came to see him that it interfered with his prayer life, so he moved yet again, deeper into the desert. He found a pool and palm trees and settled there. There he grew a garden and wove mats made of reeds. Many would come to visit him, but actually conversed with members of the community which gathered around him. A vision of an angel ispired his form of dress from here on, and he was never bored again. He prophesied the persecution of the church at this time. In 338 he was called by Athanasius to help him refute Aryanism.

Knowing his time was near, he divided his few possessions and charged the monks to bury him secretly so that his body would not be divided up. They obeyed and to this day the site of his burial is unknown. While not the founder of monastism, or anchorites, his life was an inspiration to both. He was well known for establishing monasteries in Egypt.

Collect: Dear Lord, you raised up Anthony to be a shining light in the desert, encouraging those suffering persecution, and strengthening those tempted by Aryanism, so raise up in this and every generation encouragers to strengthen us in true doctrine. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Lessons: (omitted if no celebration of the Eucharist)
Psalm 91:9-16 or 1
1 Peter 5:6-10
Mark 10:17-21

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