Conditional Commitment

Monastery of Saint Anthony, Egypt

Monastery of Saint Anthony

A brother renounced the world and gave his goods to the poor, but he kept back a little for his personal expenses.  He went to see Abba Anthony.  When he told him this, the old man said to him, ‘If you want to be a monk, go into the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it and come here like that.’ The brother did so, and the dogs and birds tore at his flesh.   When he came back the old man asked him whether he had followed his advice.  He showed him his wounded body, and Saint Anthony said, ‘Those who renounce   the   world   but   want   to   keep   something   for themselves are torn in this way by the demons who make war on them.’

—– saying of the Desert Fathers

At face value this saying seems to be unreasonable. Meat, birds, dogs, torn flesh what a revolting picture. The real story is, conditional commitment is noe commitment at all. Abba Anthony is trying to tell us that a monk must fully commitment himself to his calling. This same thinking applies to us who seek to be followers of Christ. The goal is to become fully devoted to the Christian journey and to hold nothing back from this way of life. As Christians, we promise to give our all to our savior. In the holding back, we invite temptation and evil to come into our lives. These forces keep us from the high calling that we have received and limit the power of the gospel that lives within us

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Filed under Commitment, Desert Fathers, Evil, Monasticism

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