January 16, 2017

St. Anthony of Egypt on Living as a Disciple of Christ

St. Anthony of Egypt

St. Anthony, the "Father of Monks", sought perfect solitude in the desert at the age of 18. Laying the foundations of monastic life, he instructed his disciples to live lives of severe mortification and prayer; the basis of Christian asceticism. The following ten quotations from St. Anthony the Great, demonstrate his great wisdom and profound insight into living as disciples in imitation of Jesus Christ.
Believe me; the devil fears the vigils of pious souls, and their fastings, their voluntary poverty, their loving compassion, their humility, but most of all their ardent love of Christ our Lord. As soon as he sees the sign of the Cross, he flees in terror. 
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Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man's whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity...
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Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man, But rather, wonder that God wrote the Law for men, and has spoken to us through his own Son.
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If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle's words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.
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If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul. There is no obstacle for a man who wants to be saved other than negligence and laziness of soul.
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The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His  providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.
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Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Without temptations no-one can be saved.
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What is slander? It is every sort of wicked word we would dare not speak in front of the person whom we are complaining about.
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This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.
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Learn to love humility, for it will cover all your sins. All sins are repulsive before God, but the most repulsive of all is pride of the heart. Do not consider yourself learned and wise; otherwise, all your efforts will be destroyed, and your boat will reach the harbor empty. If you have great authority, do not threaten anyone with death. Know that, according to nature, you too are susceptible to death, and that every soul sheds its body as its final garment.

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