ST. ANTHONY OF EGYPT
St. Anthony was born in 251 in a small village in Egypt. When he was twenty years old, his parents died. They left him a large estate and placed him in charge of the care of his younger sister. Anthony felt overwhelmed and turned to God in prayer. Gradually he became more and more aware of the power of God in his life. About six months later, he heard this quotation of Jesus from the Gospel: "Go, sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" (Mark 10:21). He took the words as a personal message in answer to his prayer for guidance. He sold most of his possessions keeping only enough to support his sister and himself. Then he gave the rest of the money to people who needed it.
Anthony's sister joined a group of women living a life of prayer and contemplation. Anthony decided to become a hermit. He begged an elderly hermit to teach him the spiritual life. Anthony also visited other hermits so he could learn each one's most outstanding virtue. Then he began his own life of prayer and penance alone with God.
When he was fifty-five, Anthony built a monastery to help others. Many people heard of him and sought his advice. He would give them practical advice such as: "The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross."
St. Anthony visited Paul the hermit whose feast is celebrated on January 15. He felt enriched by the example of Paul's holy life. Anthony died after a long, prayerful life. He was 105. St. Athanasius wrote a well-known biography of St. Anthony of Egypt. St. Athanasius' feast day is May 2.
We should never become discouraged when the devil tempts us to do wrong. Remember that Jesus is right beside us. If we pray, he will help us. He will reward us for our love and faithfulness.
Saint Anthony, you spoke of the importance of persevering in our faith and our practice. Help us to wake up each day with new zeal for the Christian life and a desire to take the next challenge instead of just sitting still. Amen