Saint Anthony the Great

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“I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.’ “

Commemorated January 17

Our venerable and God-bearing Father Saint Anthony the Great was born in to a wealthy family in upper Egypt about 254 AD. Also known as Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony the Anchorite, he was a leader among the Desert Fathers, who were Christian monks in the Egyptian desert in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

One day after hearing the Gospel proclaimed in church, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21), St. Anthony sold everything he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, and left the city behind to live in the desert.

Although he held no titles or position, his holiness marked him as one whose wisdom commanded respect. When the Synod of Nicea was convened, he was invited to participate. His eloquent defense of the Orthodox doctrine concerning the person of Jesus Christ was instrumental in weakening the position of Arianism. His witness led to the eventual and complete elimination of Arianism.

He instructed his followers to bury his body in an unmarked, secret grave, lest his body become an object of veneration. The monastic rules of Saint Anthony, the “patriarch” of monastic life, have served as the basis for countless monasteries.

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)
O Father Anthony, you imitated the zealous Elijah.
You followed the straight paths of the Baptist and became a desert dweller.
By prayer you confirmed the universe.
Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.

Kontakion (Second Tone)
Forsaking the uproars of life O venerable one,
you completed your life in quiet, fully imitating the Baptist.
Therefore, we honor you with him, O Anthony, Father of Fathers.

For the complete life of Saint Anthony, the Great father of desert spirituality, please visit http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/vita-antony.asp. You will need to scroll down the page a bit through some academic commentary. The vita begins with the words
Athanasius: LIFE OF ANTONY.

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