Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

The Month of January Dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus

Saint: Saint Anthony the Great, Abbot (251-356)

Readings of the Day

Rule of Saint Benedict: Ch 3:7-13 Summoning the Brothers for Counsel

Mass: Heb 6:10-20; Resp Ps 111; Mk 2:23-28 

Great are the works of the Lord.



Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God,
For great is the power of God; by the humble He is glorified.
(Sirach 3:18-19)

We have the privilege to commemorate Saint Anthony the Great, the Father of Western Monasticism, on this Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary. That alone makes this time anything but ordinary. There is plenty to say about dear to all monks and nuns Saint Anthony. The best way to learn about his life is by reading The Life of St. Anthony, written by another great saint, Saint Athanasius (c. 296-373). You can also turn to the second reading in the Office of Readings for January 17. It is in that excerpt from the Life of Saint Anthony that one learns how Anthony got started. When Anthony was about 20 years old, his parents died; Anthony and his younger sister were left to care for themselves. Some months after the death of his parents, Anthony was entering a church just as the Gospel was being proclaimed and he heard the words of the Lord to the rich young man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor- you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me. In brief, Anthony listened to the Lord's call and gave away all the property he inherited, and his possessions too. He placed his sister in the care of some well-known virgins and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent (I wonder whatever came of the dear nameless girl). Then Anthony gave himself to the ascetical life of prayer and manual labor. People in the local area called Anthony "the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother." And from that time on, many men and women have responded to the same call from the Lord and followed Anthony's lead. And we keep at it. Anthony died at the ripe age of 105. Well done, good and faithful servant. 

At the same time, it is a good day to reflect on The Sayings of the Desert Father, here from the alphabetical collection, translated by the late Anglican nun, theologian and historian, Benedicta Ward, SLG (1933-2022). Not surprisingly, the first sayings under Alpha come from Anthony the Great. I've included a few sayings for you here.

Abba Anthony said, 'A time is coming when men will go mad, and they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, "You are mad, you are not like us."'

They said that a certain old man asked God to let him see the Fathers and he saw them all except Abba Anthony. So he asked his guide, 'Where is Abba Anthony?' He told him in reply that in the place where God is, there Anthony will be.

Some say of Saint Anthony that he was 'Spirit-born', that is, carried along by the Holy Spirit, but he would never speak of this to men. Such men see what is happening in the world, as well as knowing what is going to happen. 

Abba Anthony said, 'I no longer fear God, but I love Him. For love casts out fear.' 

Abba Anthony said, 'Whoever hammers a lump of iron, first decides what he is going to make of it, a scythe, a sword, or an axe. Even so we ought to make up our minds what kind of virtue we want to forge or we labor in vain.'

He also said, 'Obedience with abstinence gives men power over wild beasts.'

He also said, 'Nine monks fell away after many labours and were obsessed with spiritual pride, for they put their trust in their own works and being deceived they did not give to the commandment that says, "Ask your father and he will tell you."

And he said this, 'If he is able to, a monk ought to tell his elders confidently how many steps he takes and how many drops of water he drinks in his cell, in case he is in error about it.'


Today's photo: I thought it would be a while before we had this glorious sky. However, things cleared some yesterday. And it looks like some of the same is on tap for today. I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart.

© Gertrude Feick 2023

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