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St. Anthony is recognized as the head of the monastic family. His date of birth was in 251 and somewhere in Egypt. His parents died when he was only sixteen years old. He remained to be the guardian of his younger sibling, Dious. Six months after the demise of his parents, he went to the church to hear the word of our lord. 'If you would be perfect, go sell all you have, given to the poor and come follow me.' (Matthew 19:21)
He regarded to this advice as a personal message sent to him God himself. From the fortune his family left behind, he sold 300 acres land that was fertile and the proceeds he gave the poor remaining with a little for taking care of his sister. He left the sister to be taken care of by the community of virgins. This allowed him to be free and have time for devotion to asceticism that was being guided by the holy man who was living near coma. This was a norm being observed by ascetic- to be under the guidance of a leader and learn the spirituality principles, fasting and praying. After some time, Anthony left and went to settle in the western desert. He sheltered in a tomb on the side of a mountain. A friend of his was responsible for bringing him water and bread. In his course, he encountered and struggled with demons and the desires of flesh (Anthony and Derwas, 135).
When he was thirty years of age, he left for the east bank of River Nile. There, he lived in complete isolation. Twenty years of his course had already proved many followers who settled around him. They also wished to learn his lifestyle. They crowned Anthony to be their spiritual leader to teach them the ascetic life by word. Five years later, he made a return to his isolation life in the inner mountain. Discouragement and boredom tempted Anthony while in the mountain (Rubenson and Anthony, 167).
After a short while, we went to have a walk and saw an image of him working and sitting-making palm leaves mats and going to pray. The lord had sent an angel to teach Anthony on the ways of living in the desert. The angel did the same thing several times until Anthony realized that he was supposed to mix prayer and manual work to overcome the temptation of boredom. Living in complete isolation is what made St. Anthony to be a spiritual father above all others. He ran away from the world's care, but not from his brothers' love. Thus, he had an obligation of paying a visit to Alexandria during times of Christian persecution that had been established by Maximin Daja in 316. He used to spend most of his time preaching the gospel to those who were facing oppression and troubles in prison. After the end of the persecution, he went back to his cell and became a day-to-day martyr of his own conscience, always struggling with the battles of faith Athanasius, (Rubenson and Anthony 178).
Popularity of Christian Mysticism at that period
The popularly known as the Monksi' father, the great St. Anthony was part of the diverse group in the 3rd century (Desert Fathers) hermits Christians who habited in the desert of Egypt. These spiritualists tried to imitate the spiritual insights of Jesus through austere living, dreaming, seeing and mediation. Concerning the autobiography of Saint Anthony that was authored by Athanasius of Alexandria reads that during his younger years, he put to sale all his possessions and resettled back in the desert. During his isolation life in the desert, he used to fast, pray and meditate. In his course, he also went through trials that were spiritually profound that came in the form of waking visions and dreams. The trials were also inclusive of demons' attack that was trying to stop him from practicing asceticism. The trials of St. Anthony the great have been perceived through paintings by many artistes including Salvador Dali and Hieronymus (Chiffolo and Rayner, 184).
After twenty years in the exile, Anthony the great came out of the solitude, wise, and radiant. This was parallel to what members of his village were spreading about him. As his fame started growing with spread of word, people from distance places started making visits to him to seek his counseling and advice. Among the people who paid him, visits were fellow hermits of the desert. This resulted in a portable commune forming around him. St. Anthony in the course of his mission had to leave his community because he thought that commanding such attention would eventually lead to pride. Other hermits tried to persuade him to return. He agreed to do so for a short while before he brought f his wishes to live alone. When he left and the time of his death was close, he called two disciples who were very close to him and told them to secretly burry him.
The hermit fellowships and St. Anthony that were circulating around his environment are seen to be the founding blocks of Monasticism of Christianity. All the disciples whether his or those of the common desert hermits; started formulation of organizations and practicing the ascetics. The currently known preeminent monastic Christianity life guide originated from the perception of St. Benedict and became the pillar of inspiration for Saint Benedict's rule (Rubenson and Anthony, 178).
Anthony and Derwas J. Chitty. The Letters of Saint Anthony the Great.Fairacres, Oxford: SLG Press, 2010. Print.
Athanasius, .The Life of St. Anthony the Great: 17 Jan 356 Written a.d. 357. Willits, CA: Eastern Orthodox Books, 2008a. Print.
Athanasius, .The Life of St. Antony the Great. Willets, CA: Eastern Orthodox Church, 2009b. Print.
McDannell, Colleen. Religions of the United States in Practice: 1. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2006. Print.
Chiffolo, Anthony F, and Rayner W. Hesse. We Thank You, God, for These: Blessings and Prayers for Family Pets. New York: Paulist Press,…[continue]
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