From the Desk of Father Michael

 The Venerable and God-bearing Father Among the Saints, Anthony the Great

 You imitated the ways of zealous Elijah, and followed the straight path of John the Baptist. You became a desert dweller and strengthened the world by your prayers. Father Anthony, intercede with Christ God that our souls may be saved. Troparion Chanted In Tone 4

You rejected the tumult of this life and lived your life to the end in solitude, imitating the Baptist in every way. With him we honor you, most venerable Anthony, foundation of the Fathers. Kontakion Chanted In Tone 2

Beloved in Christ,

On January 17th the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates the Blessed Feast of Saint Anthony the Great the Father of Monasticism. Saint Anthony was born in Egypt in 251AD of devout parents who died when the Saint was a young man.

Saint Anthony’s true thirst was to seek the blessings of the Holy Scriptures. He spent a great deal of time examining and studying scripture, through his studies he came upon a passage that would change his life. He read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, “If you will be perfect, go sell what you have, and give to the poor” (Matt. 19: 22) this passage brought him to a cross road and a life changing decision.

Anthony immediately put this blessing it into practice; he distributed all he had to the poor and left the worldly to live in the desert. During his twenty years in the desert Anthony experienced and endured many incredible temptations. As a devout and blessed ascetic Anthony suffered ardently for Christ and reached the height of insignificance, which exceeded the limit of human nature.

The Saint began his ascetic life outside his village of Coma in Egypt. He studied the way of the ascetics with many holy men that lived in the area. Desiring to increase his growth in Christ, Anthony departed and lived deep with- in the desert. He discovered an abandoned ancient citadel where he lived and made his monastic cluster.

The news of his Spiritual deeds brought a multitude of men to follow him. The desert was transformed into a holy city where Saint Anthony became the Spiritual Father and Spiritual Authority.

During the time of the persecution of the Christians under Emperor Maximinus in 312, the Saint came to their aid and defense. Anthony consoled them and gave them strength and courage which came from God. When the Arians attacked the Church Anthony enthusiastically and without any hesitation came to Alexandria and fought against the Arians on behalf of Orthodoxy. Through his wisdom and by the Grace of God his words turned many unbelievers to Christ.

Saint Athanasius, who wrote the life of Saint Anthony, wrote, "His countenance had a great and wonderful grace. This gift also he had from the Savior. For if he were present in a great company of monks, and any one who did not know him previously wished to see him, immediately coming forward he passed by the rest, and hurried to Anthony, as though attracted by his appearance. Yet neither in height nor breadth was he conspicuous above others, but in the serenity of his manner and the purity of his soul". Saint Anthony became the example of virtue and his life style became the example for all monastics.

Saint Anthony fell asleep in the Lord on January 17, 356 at the age of 105.

In His Love,

Father Michael