Archive for the ‘St. Anthony the Great’ Tag

Feast of St. Antony of Egypt (January 17)   1 comment

stanthony

Above:  Icon of St. Antony

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT (251-356)

Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism

Also known as St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony the Great, et cetera

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Let us not look back upon the world and fancy we have given up great things.  For the whole earth is a very little thing compared with the whole of heaven.

–St. Antony, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 34

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Asceticism is a vocation from God.  It, like other divine vocations, is not universal.  Asceticism has helped many people deal effectively with their idolatry related to physical and psychological attachments and appetites.  For others, however, it has not proven proper or useful.  So be it.

Asceticism was among the vocations of St. Antony of Egypt.  He came from a wealthy Christian family at Heracleas, near Memphis, Egypt, in 251.  St. Antony’s parents died when he was 18 or 20 years old, leaving him as the heir to a fortune and as his sister’s guardian.  Eventually, in church, he heard the gospel story in which Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  Our saint took this message to heart and acted on it, leaving just enough to meet his needs and those of his sister.  Years later he felt guilty for doing that much, given the biblical injunction not to be anxious about tomorrow.  At the age of 35 years St. Antony sold the rest of his possessions and gave himself to God.  His sister entered a convent (and eventually became an abbess) and he went off to live in the desert–to be precise, in a series of caves, huts, and cemeteries.  Our saint, a hermit for 20 years, survived the risks of wildlife and rejected temptations, such as wine, women, food, and indolence.  He remained healthy, living to the ripe old age of 105 years.

St. Antony ceased to be a hermit and became an abbot.  Not only did monks gather around him, but pilgrims came to him for spiritual guidance.  At Mount Kolzim, near the northwestern corner of the Red Sea, our saint was a magnet for those seeking to be near a holy man.  St. Antony, who encouraged Christians suffering under the persecution of Maximinus II Daia (reigned 305-313), was so removed from the priorities of the world that, when he received a letter from Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337), he was not impressed.  In his final years St. Antony condemned the Arian heresy.

He died at Mount Kolzim in 356.  Our saint’s biography has come to us courtesy of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373), author of the Life of Antony.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 29:  THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

THE FEAST OF RICHARD WATSON GILDER, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FRANCIS LYTE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PRISCILLA LYDIA SELLON, A RESTORER OF RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF THEODORE CLAUDIUS PEASE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you enabled your servant Antony

to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil:

Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Psalm 139:1-9 or 139:1-17

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Feast of St. Paphnutius the Great (September 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Trinitarian Symbol

SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT (DIED CIRCA 350)

Also known as Saint Paphnutius the Confessor and Saint Paphnutius of Thebes

Roman Catholic Bishop of Upper Thebaid

Diocletian‘s Tetrarchy was still in effect in 306, when Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) became Augustus of the West.  From 310 to 313 his eastern counterpart was Mamiminus II Daia.  Reports of Constantine’s Christianity were greatly exaggerated, but Maximinus Daia was an unapologetic pagan and a severe persecutor of Christianity.  He, for example, required everyone in the eastern part of the Roman Empire to attend public sacrifices and to eat flesh of the sacrificial beasts.  And if one refused….Eusebius, in his great Ecclesiastical History, wrote of some of the faithful who became martyrs.  And others did not die yet suffered severely.  St. Paphnutius, for example was an Egyptian monk (under St. Anthony/Antony) who had become Bishop of Upper Thebaid.  His sentence was blinding in the right eye followed by hard labor in a mine.

In 313 Constantine I, as senior Augustus, pulled rank and ordered Maximinus II Daia to cease the persecution of Christians.  The junior Augustus obeyed reluctantly.  He knew what Constantine I did:  the future lay with the Church.  And although Constantine I was an opportunist who hitched the wagon of the Roman Empire to that star, Maximinus II Daia tried to resist the future.  That same year the junior Augustus died.  And his successor, Licinius, granted religious freedom to Christians in the East.

St. Paphnutius, released from the mine, became an ardent opponent of Arianism.  He also attended the Council of Nicaea (325), persuading the majority of his fellow bishops to permit married men to receive Holy Orders as priests and bishops although he opposed any post-ordination weddings.

Aside:  Follow this link to read my thoughts on sexual continence among the clergy.

I read accounts of saints such as St. Paphnutius and wonder how much I would be willing to suffer for Christ.  I am not nearly as courageous, I suspect.  Yet I have been fortunate, for nobody has put me to the test.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Saint Paphnutius the Great,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60