Browsing News Entries

More Important than Food: St. Anthony's Advice on Prayer

Today Br. Thomas Davenport, O.P. reflects on the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt, the “Father of Monks.” Although most of us are not called to follow his path into desert seclusion, his life does provide a wakeup call to the spiritual lethargy we're all tempted to drift into.

Saint Anthony of Egypt

<em>The Temptation of Saint Anthony</em> | Hieronymus Bosch
Image: The Temptation of Saint Anthony | Hieronymus Bosch

Saint Anthony of Egypt (Saint Anthony the Abbot)

Saint of the Day for January 17

(251 – 356)

Saint Anthony of Egypt’s Story

The life of Anthony will remind many people of Saint Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, “Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor” (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony’s life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares, and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again, like Francis, he had great fear of “stately buildings and well-laden tables.”

At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. “The mule kicking over the altar” denied the divinity of Christ.

Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil—the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for “the book of nature” over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at age 105.

Reflection

In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a “rat race,” one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony’s hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God’s good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.


Saint Anthony of Egypt is the Patron Saint of:

Butchers
Gravediggers
Skin Diseases


Tumbleweeds, Plagues, and Freedom

What can troublesome tumbleweeds teach us about grace? Rozann Lee, our resident rancher, explains how the relentless struggles of farming offer both terrible difficulties and tremendous grace. She reminds us that joy and freedom are not found in comfort but in the daily fidelity to God's work.

The Anomaly of Being an Anti&#45;Drifter

Today, Jared Zimmerer talks about his conscious eschewing of the drifter-stoner-manchild model in favor of something with a good deal more sanctity.

Uncovering the Movement of God

How do I hear God's voice? How do I know what God wants me to do?

The Call of Samuel

The story of the call of Samuel is illuminating for our time of corruption and cleansing. I argue that the sex abuse scandal in the church should be read through the lens of this narrative.

What Is It That Leads People Into the Catholic Church?

What factors lead to someone becoming Catholic? Fr. Michael Cummins discusses the conversion of his parents, who were led into the Church not by one single experience, but through what Bl. John Henry Newman called “the illative sense,” a capacity to draw together many converging experiences.

Alluring Landscapes

Today, Br. Norbert Keliher reflects on the power of God's creation to inspire a deeper need for the divine.

Bishop Barron on Contraception and Social Change

This coming July, we will mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s deeply controversial encyclical letter “Humanae vitae.” But I would like to draw particular attention to a remarkable passage in this encyclical, namely section 17, in which Paul VI plays the prophet and lays out, clearly and succinctly, what he foresees as consequences of turning away from the Church’s classic teaching on sex.

A Change of Vision

Fr. Barron has said that Christianity is essentially a new way of seeing. Today, Jared Zimmerer teaches us how to attain this new vision of faith.