luminary: 'a person who inspires or influences others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere'
That's the best way to describe a man who departed this world 1600 years ago, but whose life continues to influence people to this day. Across the world, that man is known simply as Anthony the Great (gotta love that name!).
Before his death in the 4th century, St. Anthony left us with a wealth of spiritual wisdom in the form of several letters he wrote. Below are 7 of my favorites from that collection. I hope you’ll appreciate them as much as I do.
SEVEN SAYINGS OF ST. ANTHONY THE GREAT
1. "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, "You are mad, you are not like us."
2. "I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, 'What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, "Humility.'"
3. "Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."
4. One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph. Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, "You have not understood it." Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, "How would you explain this saying?" And he replied, "I do not know." Then Abba Anthony said, "Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: 'I do not know."
5. “Reject pride, and consider everyone more righteous than yourself.”
6. Once St. Anthony was asked, “What good work shall I do?” And he answered. “All works are not equal, the scriptures said that Abraham was hospitable, and God was with him. And, Elijah loved quiet, and God was with him. And, David was humble, and God was with him. What therefore you find that your soul desires in following God, that do, and keep your heart.”
7. “Do not focus on your old sins, lest the war will be renewed on you. Do not remember your carelessness and your pleasures in the time of your laziness; do not talk about them so that they do not become a stumble.
BONUS #8: "Now therefore, my beloved, I beseech you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to neglect your salvation, that this transitory life may not deprive you of eternal life, nor the skin of this corruptible body deprive you of the kingdom of light ineffable, nor a guilty seat lose you the angelic thrones of judgment. Truly my children, my heart is in wonder and my spirit in terror, that even when we were given the full freedom to become saints, we all take our pleasure like drunkards on new wine.”
May the prayers of this great saint be with us all forever.