St Anthony of the Desert healing oil 2 (Father of Monks)
St Anthony of the Desert healing oil 2 (Father of Monks) from A Blessed Call To Love, Ireland.
The first three centuries of the Church saw sporadic persecutions of Christianity which at times turned vicious. These spasms of violence against Christians produced a large class of martyrs, many of whose last words and sufferings recorded in official Roman judicial documents or in the written testimonies of witnesses.
As Christianity legalized at the start of the fourth century martyrdom ceased to be the primary form of Christian witness. A new form of radical witness to Christ emerged—the witness of radical isolation, fasting, prayer, and penance of the desert fathers. These monks retreated into remote places to lead solitary lives of dedication to Christ. Foremost among these desert fathers was St. Anthony of the Desert, born around 250 A.D. He was not the first ascetic, but he was perhaps the first to take the radical decision to retreat into the desert.
Saint Anthony preceded St. Benedict by two hundred years. He offers us an example of being a monk outside of a community of monks in a monastery. He sought Christ alone in every sense. Alone in the desert, without family, community, or money. Alone to the world, he clinged to the only person who truly mattered—God himself. Saint Anthony’s path of holiness is both radical and refined. It is for few people to walk. But he was the first to walk it so well. He shows us that alone, stripped of all worldly concerns, is a sort of rehearsal for death, where we will meet God alone, every last thread tying us to the world having cut.
St. Anthony, we ask your intercession to help us cling to God alone. Help us to strip ourselves of those needs and concerns which stuff our lives from morning to night. Help us not to distracted from the one thing, the only thing, the last thing, God Himself.