Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 17th January 2023: Saint Anthony of Egypt, Hermit, Abbot (356 CE)

Prayer Hermit Monk Matthew 19 Saint Anthony Saint

Reading : Verses from Matthew, Chapter 19

Saint Anthony

The Rich Young Man

Then someone came to Jesus and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Today we remember Saint Anthony of Egypt, also called St Anthony the Great, born c251 CE in Egypt, who died in 356 CE at Dayr Mārī Antonios hermitage, near the Red Sea. He was the "Father of monasticism" and we can learn much from his life. When he was twenty his parents died and left him very rich. Soon after this he decided to follow the words of Jesus: "‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ Unlike the young man in the Gospel, this is what he did, putting his sister in the care of some Christian virgins, giving some family land to his neighbours, and then selling the rest and giving the money to the poor.

He began to live a solitary life but after 15 years moved for absolute solitude to a mountain called Pispir near the Nile. Here he began his legendary fight against temptations in the form of visions, either seductive or horrible, eg a monk bringing bread when he was fasting, or as wild beasts, or women, or soldiers. Those who saw them were convinced they were real. About 305 CE he emerged from his retreat to teach and organize the monastic life of hermits who imitated him locally. His rules for monastic living are still observed by some Coptic and Armenian monasteries today. When Christian persecution ended in 313 he moved to a mountain in the eastern desert where the monastery of Dayr Mārī Antonios still stands. Later he travelled to Alexandria, the last time to preach against Arianism - a major heresy.

Saint Anthony is an example for us all because of his faithfulness in prayer, his discernment of good and evil, and his dependance on God alone to fight temptation. Two quotes that might be useful are:

  • 'The person who abides in solitude and quiet is delivered from fighting three battles: hearing, speech, and sight. Then there remains one battle to fight - the battle of the heart'
  • 'When you lie down on your bed to sleep, remember with thanksgiving the blessings and the providence of God'.


Collect for this day:

Most gracious God,
who called Your servant Anthony to sell all that he had
and to serve you in the solitude of the desert:
by his example may we learn to deny ourselves
and to love You before all things.

Follow Up Thoughts

If you would like to look at the Monastery of Dayr Mārī Antonios today, there is some information and pictures on Trip Adviser:

If you would like to look at a brief explanation of Arianism, and why it's a heresy, then look up this site:

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