Today, the Church recalls the memory of Saint Antony, Abbot (251-356) ~ “Father of Monasticism”! The saint was born in Egypt: he listened to and then followed the words of the Gospel and gave all his material things to the poor. Anthony left civilization as it was known then and went into the wilderness to begin a life of penitence, living in absolute poverty, praying, meditating, and supporting himself by manual work. He suffered many temptations, both physical and spiritual, but he overcame them. As you would expect, disciples found his manner of life and teaching attractive: his wisdom, love, moderation, and holiness. He gave support to the victims of the persecutions of Diocletian, and helping Saint Athanasius in his fight against the Arians. He lived to be over a hundred years old.
Saint Anthony of the Desert taught,
“One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life; but one should say that it is not easy. Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain. Those who are devout and whose intellect enjoys the love of God participate in the life of virtue; the ordinary intellect, however, is worldly and wavering, producing both good and evil thoughts, because it is changeful by nature and directed towards material things. But the intellect that enjoys the love of God punishes the evil which arises spontaneously because of man’s laziness.”