sAINT OF THE dAY FEB 17
St. Anthony the Abbot
(ABBOT, PATRIARCH OF MONKS)
Born: 251 at Heracleus, Egypt
Death: 356 at Mount Colzim of natural causes
Canonized: Pre-CongregationPatronage:against pestilence; amputees; animals; basket makers; basket weavers; brushmakers; butchers; cemetery workers; domestic animals; eczema; epilepsy; epileptics; ergotism; erysipelas; gravediggers; graveyards; hermits; hogs; Hospitallers; monks; pigs; relief from pestilence; shingles; skin diseases; skin rashes; swine; swineherd
Following the death of his parents when he was about 20, Anthony insured that his sister completed her education, then he sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, joined the anchorites who lived nearby, and moved into an empty sepulchre. At age 35 he moved to the desert to live alone; he lived 20 years in an abandoned fort.
Anthony barricaded the place for solitude, but admirers and would-be students broke in. He miraculouslyhealed people, and agreed to be the spiritual counselor of others. His recommendation was to base life on the Gospel. Word spread, and so many disciples arrived that Anthony founded two monasteries on the Nile, one at Pispir, one at Arsinoe. Many of those who lived near him supported themselves by making baskets and brushes, and from that came his patronage of those trades.
Anthony briefly left his seclusion in 311, going to Alexandria, Egypt to fight Arianism, and to comfort the victims of the persecutions of Maximinus. At some point in his life, he met with his sister again. She, too, had withdrawn from the world, and directed a community of nuns. Anthony retired to the desert, living in a cave on Mount Colzim.
Descriptions paint him as uniformly modest and courteous. His example led many to take up the monastic life, and to follow his way. Late in life Anthony became a close friend of Saint Paul the Hermit, and he buried the aged anchorite, leading to his patronage of gravediggers. His biography was written by his friend Saint Athanasius of Alexandria.
His relationship with pigs and patronage of swineherds is a little complicated. Skin diseases were sometimes treated with applications of pork fat, which reduced inflammation and itching. As Anthony’s intervention aided in the same conditions, he was shown in artaccompanied by a pig. People who saw the art work, but did not have it explained, thought there was a direct connection between Anthony and pigs – and people who worked with swine took him as their patron.
dAILY READING AND REFLECTION
Reading 1, Isaiah 58:9-14 9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he will say, 'I am here.' If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist and malicious words, 10 if you deprive yourself for the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkest hour will be like noon. 11 Yahweh will always guide you, will satisfy your needs in the scorched land; he will give strength to your bones and you will be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never run dry. 12 Your ancient ruins will be rebuilt; you will build on age -- old foundations. You will be called 'Breach-mender', 'Restorer of streets to be lived in'. 13 If you refrain from breaking the Sabbath, from taking your own pleasure on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath'Delightful', and the day sacred to Yahweh 'Honourable', if you honour it by abstaining from travel, from seeking your own pleasure and from too much talk, 14 then you will find true happiness in Yahweh, and I shall lead you in triumph over the heights of the land. I shall feed you on the heritage of your father Jacob, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken. ________________________________________ Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 1 [Prayer Of David] Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard me, for I am faithful, save your servant who relies on you. You are my God, 3 take pity on me, Lord, for to you I cry all the day. 4 Fill your servant's heart with joy, Lord, for to you I raise up my heart. 5 Lord, you are kind and forgiving, rich in faithful love for all who call upon you. 6 Yahweh, hear my prayer, listen to the sound of my pleading. ________________________________________ Gospel, Luke 5:27-32 27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting at the tax office, and said to him, 'Follow me.' 28 And leaving everything Levi got up and followed him. 29 In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?' 31 Jesus said to them in reply, 'It is not those that are well who need the doctor, but the sick. 32 I have come to call not the upright but sinners to repentance.'