Tuesday, January 17, 2012
St Anthony of Egypt heard the words, "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".
He did, he sold practically everything.
The next day he heard,“Do not be anxious about tomorrow". He then gave away the little of his property he kept for necessities and then spent fifteen years of his life in solitude, in combat with demons, slowly purifying his heart, only after this does he then go into the desert to live in absolute solitude in union with God.
What fascinates me about the story is the comparative ease with which St Anthony divests himself of the things of the world but the internal battle is so lengthy and only accomplished by much effort and suffering on his part, then begins Anthony's life of union with God, he then spends 20 years in solitude and ascetic union with God.
Only then does Anthony emerge to teach the spiritual life to those who formed a community around his cell.
I love the honest realism of the Egyptian saints; St Anthony reminds us that the spiritual life is not easy, that those who teach it should be rooted in asceticism and union with God.
I wonder if we say too much, too soon, when silence might be better.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake