Category Archives: Antony of Egypt

Ascend to God

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)

Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, ‘this is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath. He  also  said,  ‘Whoever  has  not  experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. ‘He even added, ‘Without temptations no-one can be saved.’

—-Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Commentary

In a world where TV networks hire “spin doctors” to make the story turn in the “right” direction,  it is no wonder we fail to acknowledge our weaknesses and failures. After all, this problem must be somebody else’s fault. It is no wonder that Anthony called it the great work of life. All of us have someone to blame for our sin and shortcomings. It is our childhood, the boss, the job, the teacher or if all else fails, just everyone. That’s bad enough, but the best is yet to come. We are to expect temptations throughout our lives – no relief, no time out. They are part of the human condition. Temptations are what form us into the children of God. Our challenge is to ascend to God and walk the path he has set before us.

Prayer

Lord God, give me the courage and grace to ascend to You. Help me to turn away from the excuses that so readily fill my lips and rise to the occasion of my sin. Help me to see the many temptations of my life as the road to perfection. I ask for strength and grace to stay on that road. I ask this though the one who saves and sustains me. Amen

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Pleasing God

Haarlem, Netherlands, Church of Saint Anthony

Haarlem, Netherlands, Church of Saint Anthony (Photo credit: Multerland………)

Someone asked Abba Anthony, ‘What must one do in order to please God?’ The old man replied, ‘Pay attention to what  I  tell  you:  whoever  you  may  be,  always  have  God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.  Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.’

—–sayings of the desert

Commentary

Abba Anthony gives us three simple, and yet difficult principles, that we must do to please God. The challenge is to keep God before our eyes when our sight is so cluttered with the saga of life. Additionally, we are called to live with the scripture as the ever present guide for our lives. As if that were not enough, we are then instructed to “stay put” even when things are tough. Our world tells us quite clearly to keep focused on the earthly, while perhaps giving some attention to God, and to move on whenever life gets uncomfortable. Perhaps if we all developed a vision of God and followed that vision where we are planted, we would find that peace that eludes us.

Prayer

Lord God, help us to see you in all that we do. Guide us by divine revelation each day of our lives. Help us to find true peace in the place you have given us. In these things we can find you in your fullness and grace. After all, that is what our journey is all about. We humbly ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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Work and Prayer

The Angelus (1857-1859) by Jean-François Millet.

The Angelus (1857-1859) by Jean-François Millet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by accidie, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, ‘Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction?  How can I be saved?’ A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray.   It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him.  He heard the angel saying to him, ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage.  He did this, and he was saved.

—–Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Commentary

What would life look like for you and me if we truly dedicated ourselves to work and prayer? At first glance it looks a little bit dreary, but with further thought it may begin to make a lot of sense. Most of us spend a great deal of time and money trying to figure out how to entertain ourselves. Another great goal is becoming a successful and productive person. If we truly dedicated our lives to work and prayer, I think both of those issues would be resolved. We would find ourselves very successful and productive, and with prayer very much at peace and rested. For a few days , let’s just try this work/prayer pattern and see what happens.

Prayer

Lord let me see my work as prayer. This day I dedicate myself to be a person of prayerful work, that is, one who does my very best at every task that comes my way. Help me to truly see my work as sent from you as a way of loving me. In this I will find productivity and peace. It is only through this trust  that I can come to see the fullness of your grace.

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A Week with the Desert Fathers

St Anthony the Great

St Anthony the Great (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Desert Fathers were monks, asethics and hermits who lived mainly in Egypt beginning around the third century. Their objective was to remove themselves from the many corruptions of the world and to seek God in the “emptiness” of the parched dry desert. The greatest of these was Antony who live a remarkably long life of 95 years and is considered the father of monasticism. Their main practices were: love for all men, silence and stillness to wait for God, recitation of scripture and withdrawal from society. They truly tried to get as close to God as possible.

Irvin J. Boudreaux

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The Heart of Discernment

Abba Anthony said, ‘Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God.’ He also said, ‘Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.’

—–Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Asceticism can be defined as the rejection of the pleasures of life. It does not really matter how much we deprive ourselves in the name of God, if we do not have the discernment to know that we must interact with all of our neighbors. Our true calling as Christ followers is to be at harmony with all who are around us .Our ultimate calling is to gain the trust and friendship of those around us. In this there is Godly living. To be destructive to our neighbor is a sin against God and man.

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The Donkey Died

Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons.  They had a donkey, which died on the way.  When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, ‘How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?’ They said, ‘How do you know about that, Father?’ And he told them, ‘The demons showed me what happened.’ So they said, ‘That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true.’ Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

……sayings of the Desert Fathers

The age old question for us is: How does the devil lead us? In this somewhat complicated saying the Abba leads his followers to believe that they can be led by the evil one. Many people see “visions from God” that are not from God at all. Today, as it was then, we must be on our guard when with put God into our claim. When the scripture tells us to approach Him with “ fear and trembling” we are to take heed of those words. Our society is all too quick to assign things to God, or to the devil, when they are really just our own ramblings. Be very careful when you call on either that you have the discernment necessary to make such a decision.

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Ascend to God

Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, ‘this is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath. He also said, ‘Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. ‘He even added, ‘Without temptations no-one can be saved.’

Jacob’s Ladder

 

—-Sayings of the Desert Fathers

In a world where TV networks hire “spin doctors” to make the story turn in the “right” direction,  it is no wonder we fail to acknowledge our weaknesses and failures. After all, this problem must be somebody else’s fault. It is no wonder that Anthony called it

the great work of life. All of us have someone to blame for our sin and shortcomings. It is our childhood, the boss, the job, the teacher or if all else fails, just everyone. That’s bad enough, but the best is yet to come. We are to expect temptations throughout our lives – no relief, no time out. They are part of the human condition. Temptations are what form us into the children of God. Our challenge is to ascend to God and walk the path he has set before us.

 

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Filed under Antony of Egypt, Christian Living, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Missional Living

Pleasing God

“Someone asked Abba Anthony, ‘What must one do in order to please God?’ The old man replied, ‘Pay attention to what  I  tell  you:  whoever  you  may  be,  always  have  God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.  Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.”

—sayings of the Desert Fathers

Abba Anthony gives us three simple, and yet difficult principles, that we must do to please God. The challenge is to keep God before our eyes when our sight is so cluttered with the saga of life. Additionally, we are called to live with the scripture as the ever present guide for our lives. As if that were not enough, we are then instructed to “stay put” even when things are tough. Our world tells us quite clearly to keep focused on the earthly, while perhaps giving some attention to God, and to move on whenever life gets uncomfortable. Perhaps if we all developed a vision of God and followed that vision where we are planted, we would find that peace that eludes us.

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What Should I Do ?

” Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony,’What ought I to do?’ and the old man said to him ‘Do not trust in your own righteousness do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.’ “

 —sayings of the Desert Fathers

 Control your tongue and your stomach is the advice of the wise old man. Our tongue determines what we say and our stomach represents what we consume .In countless ways we sin by saying something or giving in to some physical craving. Abba Anthony instructs us to more forward from  our sin and keep control of our bodies. In that way we find peace.

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A Taste of Humility

One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph.   Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able.  But to each one the old man said, ‘You have not understood it.’ Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, ‘How would you explain this saying?’ and he replied, ‘I do not know.’ Then Abba Anthony ‘Indeed Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: “I do not know.”

“I do not know.” These are the four most difficult words to say in our society. Admitting these words has been difficult for people since the beginning.. We are   created with a “must know” nature. All men run from mystery, and yet God is a mystery. He calls us to believe what we have not seen. We are led to serve without knowing the results of our service. Be attentive to the voice of the Spirit that calls us to action, even to the things that remain mystery to us.

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