|Saint Anthony of Egypt|
The life of Saint Anthony (the authorship of which same is ascribed to Saint Athanasius) hath the following items regarding him who is venerated as the first Abbot of monks. Anthony was an Egyptian, the child of noble and Christian parents, whom he lost while yet very young. On one occasion he heard read in church this passage of the Gospel : If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor : and he straightway took these words as addressed to himself personally, and therefore distributed all his possessions to the poor. Since he was about to enter the field of battle against Satan, he first gave heed to the examples set by all those who were eminent for any grace, and strove to copy them. * He was excelled by none in watchfulness and self-restraint, and continual study of the Holy Scriptures. He had such a loathing of hereticks and schismatics, specially Arians, that he would never go near them. He slept lying on the ground. He took nothing with his bread but salt, and drank only water. He never ate or drank before sunset, and often abstained from food altogether for two days at a time. Very often he passed whole nights in prayer. And being so valiant a soldier of God, he was attacked by the devil with divers temptations. * He betook himself to the deserts round about Egypt, where many disciples became monks under his direction. Day by day the attacks of the fiends became more violent, but day by day his strength grew greater to strive against them. At length he came to mock at their powerlessness, saying : Satan is afraid of good men’s prayers and fasts, but above all for their warm love of our Lord, the mere Sign of whose holy Cross is enough to put him to flight. He became such an object of dread to the devils, that many persons tormented by them were delivered by calling on his name. Moreover, the fame of his holiness was so spread abroad that Constantine the Great and his sons wrote to him to commend themselves to his prayers. In the hundred and fiftieth year of his age, having roused up great numbers to follow his example, he passed to heaven, on January 17th, in the year 356.
Collect:Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Anthony, may commend us unto thee, that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, may by his advocacy find favour in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.