Thursday, January 17, 2013

St Anthony, abbot

St Anthony surrounded by his faithful friends

Saint Antony is also known as St. Anthony of the Desert or St. Anthony of Egypt. Along with St Francis of Assisi, he is invoked as the patron saint of the animal kingdom, and special Masses take place on the Sunday closest to his feast day of January 17th, with the blessing of animals and pets held afterwards. St Anthony was a hermit who lived in Northern Egypt. He was a staunch defender of the faith against Arianism. During his travels he met many animals, some helpful and some not, but they all befriended him and were kind to him, just as he was kind to them.
Anthony died when he was 105 years old. A life of solitude, fasting, and manual labor in the service of God had left him a healthy, vigorous man until very late in life. And he never stopped challenging himself to go one step beyond in his faith.
Saint Athanasius, who knew Anthony and wrote his biography, said, "Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God." We may wonder nowadays at what we can learn from someone who lived in the desert, wore skins, ate bread, and slept on the ground. We may wonder how we can become him. We can become Anthony by living his life of radical faith and complete commitment to God.

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