~ SO THERE WAS your humble WebElf, reading (online) the Pusey translation of The Confessions of St. Augustine (Book VIII), and I came across pre-saint Augustine’s comments about how deeply moved he was by the book, The Life Of Anthony (of Egypt). Quotation below.
My brain is.. well.. not unlike a goofy hamster on caffeine, so away I went to find a copy of the said other book, and started reading that.. before having finished Confessions... which I promptly forgot to finish. Welcome to my world.
What’s not to like? A book written by a saint.. about a saint, which inspired another man to eventually become a saint. Doesn’t that insta-rate five stars.. or, perhaps, haloes?
The Book Itself
Written by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life Of St. Anthony of Egypt, primary founder of Christian monasticism, is a readable, gripping, and inspiring Christian classic. St. Augustine, in his confessions, describes reading it along with his friends, and being deeply moved by it.
None of us knows the effect of our lives, actions, words– or failures in the same– on our neighbours and times, or those to come. For St. Anthony and St. Augustine both knew that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is faithful, and sow they spiritually sowed their seed and cleared the fields of rocks in their times. Lo and behold, those earlier heroes of the faith inspired one of the great Church Fathers in his day and age to fight the battles, the good fight of faith, in his day and age.
A reminder to abide faithful, however hard the slog or dark the times.
Binks, Elf of Web
14. Upon a certain day, then, Nebridius being away (why, I do not remember), lo, there came to the house to see Alypius and me, Pontitianus, a countryman of ours, in so far as he was an African, who held high office in the emperor’s court. What he wanted with us I know not, but we sat down to talk together, and it fell out that upon a table before us, used for games, he noticed a book; he took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it to be the Apostle Paul—for he imagined it to be one of those books which I was wearing myself out in teaching. At this he looked up at me smilingly, and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so unexpectedly found this book, and this only, before my eyes. For he was both a Christian and baptized, and often prostrated himself before You our God in the church, in constant and daily prayers.
When, then, I had told him that I bestowed much pains upon these writings, a conversation ensued on his speaking of Antony, the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high repute among Your servants, though up to that time not familiar to us. When he came to know this, he lingered on that topic, imparting to us a knowledge of this man so eminent, and marvelling at our ignorance. But we were amazed, hearing Your wonderful works most fully manifested in times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered— we, that they were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.
15. From this his conversation turned to the companies in the monasteries, and their manners so fragrant unto You, and of the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan full of good brethren, without the walls of the city, under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we were ignorant of it. He went on with his relation, and we listened intently and in silence.
He then related to us how on a certain afternoon, at Triers, when the emperor was taken up with seeing the Circensian games, he and three others, his comrades, went out for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls, and there, as they chanced to walk two and two, one strolled away with him, while the other two went by themselves; and these, in their rambling, came upon a certain cottage inhabited by some of Your servants, poor in spirit, of whom is the kingdom of heaven, where they found a book in which was written the life of Antony. This one of them began to read, marvel at, and be inflamed by it; and in the reading, to meditate on embracing such a life, and giving up his worldly employments to serve You….