17 Jan – Memorial for St. Anthony, abbot
Following the death of his parents when he was about 20, St. Anthony (251-356) ensured that his sister completed her education, then sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, joined the anchorites who lived nearby, and moved into an empty sepulchre. At 35, he moved alone to the desert, living 20 years in an abandoned fort.
Anthony barricaded the place for solitude, but admirers broke in. He miraculously healed people and agreed to be the spiritual counsellor of others. His recommendation was to base life on the gospel. Word spread, and so many disciples arrived that Anthony founded two monasteries on the Bile, one at Pispir, one at Arsinoe. Many of those who lived near him supported themselves by making baskets and brushes, and from that came his patronage of those trades.
Anthony briefly left his seclusion in 311, going to Alexandria to fight Arianism, and to comfort the victims of Maximinus’ persecution. At some point in his life, he met with his sister again. She, too, had withdrawn from the world, and directed a community of nuns. Anthony retired to the desert, living in a cave on Mount Colzim.
Descriptions paint him as uniformly modest and courteous. His example led many to take up the monastic life, and to follow his way. He became a friend late in life of St. Paul the Hermit, and buried the aged anchorite, leading to his patronage of gravediggers. His biography was written by his friend St. Athanasius.
His relationship with pigs and patronage of swineheards is a little complicated. Skin diseases were sometimes treated with applications of pork fat, which reduced inflammation and itching. As Anthony’s intervention aided in the same conditions, he was shown in art accompanied by a pig. People who saw the artwork, but did not have it explained, thought there was a direct connection between Anthony and pigs — and people who worked with swine took him as their patron.
- Patron Saint Index
“…a strong encouragement to take a firm grip on the hope that is held out to us…an anchor for our soul…”
Promises, promises. How many of you have experienced broken promises? Whether made by us or by someone else, we have all experienced broken promises. Sometimes, we make promises we have little intention of keeping. A clear indication is when we swear by “Scout’s honour”; funny thing is that some of us were never a scout, and probably never will be.
Regardless of who made the oath and depending on the promise made, sometimes the breaking of it hurts us deeply; other times, it leaves little mark. With a promise comes hope, trust and expectation. When it is broken, we may experience hurt, disappointment, mistrust and, in some cases, hopelessness. This is all on the human level, because of our fallen nature, we do not live out the best potential.
The good news is that God is pure goodness. He cannot lie and will not desert us. This was His promise to Abraham and his descendants. In fact, God made a promise to redeem our fallen parents, Adam and Eve, from the get-go! Throughout the Old Testament, God has given His chosen people many chances, and they have failed each time to be righteous. Before you start condemning those in the past, we are no better. God has given us many chances, and we turn our backs and walk away so many times and continue to do so.
Even with all the disappointment and betrayals, God has not turned His back to us! He sent His only Son, who is pure Good and Righteous; who will not fall like us; to redeem us! Talk about keeping a promise! Going to the length of sacrificing Your Son to atone for someone else’s misdeeds; doesn’t that leave you awestruck at the wonder of God’s love?
Besides being awestruck, we should feel so encouraged that Jesus is sent to provide us with guidance to navigate this world, to anchor our soul so that we will not be lost whilst making our way home – home to Heaven where our Heavenly Father dwells.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Lord, please grant us the grace to fully understand the Father’s love and Your sacrifice for us. Help us appreciate with a grateful heart and to wait with joy for Your coming again.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your steadfastness, for keeping Your promises. Thank You for giving us Jesus, who anchors our soul, and gives us hope for the journey as we make our way back to You.