17th January – St Antony of the Desert

PRESBYTERY BROADBAND IS DOWN AT THE MOMENT. THIS IS BEING POSTED FROM A PARISHIONERS HOUSE. CLINIC YESTERDAY WAS FINE. CAR PASSED NCT/MOT TEST FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 5 YEARS WITHOUT A PROBLEM – PRAISE THE LORD!

The Church teaches us that when we come to Mass we are fed spiritually from two tables. One table is the altar of Sacrifice which gives us Jesus’ complete gift of self in Holy Communion. The second table is that of God’s Word. We are told by Jesus today in the Gospel Acclamation: “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciple. You will come to know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

The blessings that present themselves to us at this second table can be lost if we want a ‘quickie’ Mass (something that is not unheard of here in Ireland!) In the following account of St Antony’s life, it was Jesus words to the Rich Young Man coming alive within him that changed his life. As we read in Hebrews, “The Word of God is alive and active, it cuts more finely that a double edged sword” – when we receive it with faith.

St Antony (*251 +356) is the originator of the monastic life. (He is not to be confused with St Anthony of Padua who helps us find lost articles.) He was born in Egypt: when his parents died, he listened to the words of the Gospel [whilst at Mass one morning – see above] and gave all his belongings to the poor. He went out into the wilderness to begin a life of penitence, living in absolute poverty, praying, meditating, and supporting himself by manual work. He suffered many temptations, both physical and spiritual, but he overcame them. Disciples gathered round him, attracted by his wisdom, moderation, and holiness. He gave support to the victims of the persecutions of Diocletian, and helping St Athanasius in his fight against the Arians [a sect that denied the divinity of Christ].

The Gospels are full of wise sayings of Jesus that seem to be ignored, and one of the most poignant of these was in his meeting with that young man who asked over and over again, insistently, “What must I do to have eternal life?.” When, in the end, Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect he would have to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor, the young man went away, sorrowing; because he was very rich. What could be more of a waste than that? You tell someone what he has to do, and he is afraid to do it. And yet… 250 years later, St Antony hears the story, and [with an open and generous heart] does give away all that he has, and becomes the founder of monasticism. And then again, over 1,000 years later, St Francis of Assisi hears the story, and gives away his possessions (and some of his father’s!!!) and revolutionises Christianity again.

Not all the words that we speak are forgotten, even though we cannot see their effects ourselves. Let us pray that those unknown effects may always be good ones.

(Universalis website)

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