St. Anthony of Egypt

Friends in the Lord, today is the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt. This is not Anthony of Padua, but Anthony of Egypt. He was born around the year 250AD, and is honored in both the East and the West, and is most famous for his life of penance in the desert.
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When Anthony was only 18, his parents died, leaving he and his sister. He cared for her and looked after their home and property. One day, he was on his way to church for his usual visit, and he began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Savior; he also thought of those in the Acts of the Apostles who had sold their possessions and gave the money to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for those who give all for Christ.
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This was all in his mind when, entering the church, he heard the gospel being read. ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give to the poor – then follow me. It seemed to Anthony that it was God who had earlier brought all those thoughts to his mind, and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away the property he had inherited: 200 acres of beautiful, fertile land, However, to care for his sister he retained a few things.
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The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the gospel: ‘Do not be anxious about tomorrow.’ Without a moment’s hesitation, he went out and gave the poor all that he had left, and he placed his sister in the care of some trustworthy virgins, to be brought up in the convent. Then he himself took up the ascetic life, not far from his home.
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He prayed without ceasing, and was so attentive when scripture was read, that nothing escaped him. He retained all that he heard, and therefore his memory served him in place of books. The villagers came to call him the friend of God, and they loved him as both a son and brother.
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He then went off to live a life of penance in the desert, and many would follow him. His bed was the hard ground, he fasted rigorously, eating bread and salt, and drinking only water. Often, he spent whole nights in prayer. He often taught that we should begin each day as if we will not live ‘till evening, and go to bed as if we will not awaken in the morning. If we live this way he said, as if each day is our last, then we will not fall into sin, and no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, and no treasure bind us to earth.
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Anthony of Egypt died in 356 on Mount Kolzin by the Red Sea. He was 105 years old.

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