Today is the Feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot! He was a native of Egypt, and, among many other things, the namesake of the popular Saint Anthony of Padua. Saint Anthony was born in southern Egypt to wealthy parents, but they died when he was only in his late teens; he inherited their land and was given charge of his unmarried sister.
Soon after, however, Anthony decided to live by the Gospel—literally. He sold all of his land and possessions, donated to the poor, sent his sister to a group of Christian virgins, and went off into the wilderness to learn from a hermit. He lived a life of constant effort: Saint Anthony strove to live according to the Word of God, and so he moved around, seeking out great priests and teachers—not to learn from them, but to emulate them.
He wrestled with temptation and the Devil for much of his life, even to the point that, after one encounter, his friends thought him dead and took him to a church. After time and perseverance, however, God came to him and defended him, promising Anthony that he would be free of the Devil's torments from then on.
Saint Anthony the Abbot attracted a great many pilgrims as his reputation spread. After spending twenty years in isolation, a group of people forced their way into his room; several were healed of their afflictions, and many others were so moved by his words that they left their old lives and established what is regarded as the first religious community.
After time, however, Anthony began to fear that his notoriety would tempt him to be overproud, so he fled into the desert with a group of Saracens. He lived to be over one hundred years old, most of which was spent in solitude and active work to bring himself closer to God. He is a shining example in today's culture of commercialism and materialism, demonstrating the incredible faith of one who was truly a saint, working every day to dedicate himself to Our Lord.
A prayer to St. Anthony the Abbot
Lord God, You gave Saint Anthony the Abbot the grace of serving in the desert in prayer with You. Aided by his intercession, may we practice self-denial and hence always love You above all things.