Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday Blessings - Walking With The Desert Fathers

Anthony of Egypt: First of the Desert Monks


Matthew 19:21
 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Quote: "The mind of the soul is strong when the pleasures of the body are weak." (Anthony's motto)

"If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor." These are the words that stopped the rich kid dead in his tracks. His parents had died, and now all their wealth belongs to him. The much-heralded city of Alexandria offers infinite opportunities for luxurious living. His whole life is ahead of him. He can travel in comfort and see the wonders of the world if he so desires. But he hears the call of God in that very pointed gospel passage. His only travel will be to the desert. His journey of the soul begins by giving his wealth to the poor and leaving his childhood home. His goal is to become a true lover of God - to give himself entirely to

Christ, ever vigilant in resisting the devil. His motto: "The mind of the soul is strong when the pleasures of the body are weak." He nourishes himself on bread and water, fasting altogether every other day and denying himself sleep, preferring to pray through the night.

Anthony (251 - 356), whose life story is told by Athanasius, lives among the tombs, where he is assaulted by wild animals and demons. This is God's way of training him to fight and win spiritual battles like an athlete prevailing in the arena. After a time he leaves the tombs, seeking an even more secluded area, where he remains for twenty years, becoming a celebrity - a superstar among desert saints. Disciples seek him out, and their encounters with him inspire generations of ascetics.

In one instance when a would-be follower tells him that he has given all his wealth away but for a small amount for necessities, the response is vintage Anthony: "If you want to be a monk, go into the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it and come here like that." When the man returns, his body is bloody and torn by wild dogs and vultures. The moral of the story: "Those who renounce the world but want to keep something for themselves are torn in this way by the demons who make war on them."

Anthony's activities intersect with the lives of other well-known figures of the era. During the brutal persecution under Emperor Diocletian in 303, he travels to Rome to minister to the suffering. He is also enmeshed in the theological controversies of the day. Athanasius persuades him to come to Alexandria from his desert hideaway to speak out against Arius, whose views are catching fire. Though he is no theologian, Anthony epitomizes sainthood. His life of self-denial is the support Athanasius most desires. Saint Augustine will later be put to shame by reading Athanasius's story of Anthony.

After his trip to Alexandria, Anthony returns to the desert with two companions who care for him in his final years. Despite all the privations he endures he lives to age one hundred and five, according to Athanasius, having secured the promise that his body will be buried in an unmarked grave. His concerns are not for dogs or vultures. He does not want his bones and remnants of clothing fought over and revered as relics. For him spirituality is self-denial and sacrifice, not saint-worship.

If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church
by Ruth A. Tucker

The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.
( Indian  countryside from  a train
photo  by  Megan  and  Ashish)
The  Muslim  festival  of  Eid  known   as
Bakrid in  India is   being  celebrated.
Thousand  of goats will  be  sacrificed
in  remembrance  of  the  sacrifice  of  Abraham.
God  asked  him  to  sacrifice  his  son  Issac,  the  Muslims  replace  him   with  Hazrat  Ishmael.
God  provided  a ram which  Abraham  sacrificed 
after  his  faith   and  obedience  was  tested.
Jesus   is   the  perfect Lamb  of  God
who  was  sacrificed for   the  forgiveness
of  our  sins.

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9
(New  Testament  Bible)

4 Fertilize my soul:

David Edward Linus said...

you always give me food for thought- or a reason to consider fasting.
I pray more after I read what you post here. this is a very effective blog, and you are a solid witness for Christ

Amrita said...

Dear David Phil 2;5, May the mind of Christ dwell within you.

May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day

By his power and love controlling, all I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour;

And may all who see I triumph, only in its power.

May the peace of God my Father rule my life in every thing;

That I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.

May his beauty rest upon me, as I seek the lost to win;

And may they forget the channel, seeing only him.

May the love of Jesus fill me, as the waters fill the sea;

Him extolling, self abasing - this is victory.

May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe;

Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.[1]

I am blest by your writings - your seeking after god inspires me to walk closer to the Lord and examine myself

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
Thanks for sharing these important words.
He who tries to save his life shall loose it, Jesus said.
I feel small when reading this.
Knowing that the world still has a strong grip on me.
Praying like Solomon, God, give me not richness nor poverty; but let me eat my daily bread.

God bless you in a special way this week. My lovings to your mother too.
From felisol

Amrita said...

Dear Felisol,
the simple lives of the monks inspire me to set aside stuff which entanges me. I need to simplify my life and identify with the unfortunate people around me. May God give me the grace to do so.

God is using yiou to spread His glory Felisol.

We are looking forward to an exciting week . This weekend we are having the revival meetings.