Teachings of Saint Anthony

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

THE THIRD PRAYER OF ORTHROS (MATINS)

+In the Name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

From the early morning watch, O God, our spirit rises to You, for Your Commandments are for us as the light of life. Teach us, O God, Your Righteousness, Your Commandments, and Your judgments. Enlighten the eyes of our mind, that we may never slumber in sinfulness unto death. Cast out every darkness from our heart, and grant to us the Sun of Righteousness. Keep our life safe from evil influence and preserve in it the seal of the Holy Spirit. Guide our steps on the road of peace. Give us this dawn and this day to raise up our morning prayers in gladness to You. For Yours is the dominion, and Yours is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On January 19th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Mark Evgenikos of Ephesus; Translation (Anakomedi) of the holy relics of Saint Gregory the Theologian; Saint Arsenius of Corfu; Saint Makarios of Alexandria; Saint Macarius the Great of Egypt; Saint Makarios, Hierodeacon of Kalogera, Patmos; Venerable Meletios, Confessor of Mt. Galesios.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Righteous, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Hierodeacons, Holy Bishops, Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

SAINT MACARIUS THE GREAT OF EGYPT. Saint Macarius the Great was from the Thebaid of Egypt, a disciple, as some say, of Saint Anthony the Great. He was born about 331 AD and struggled in asceticism in the desert at Scete. Although young, he was called "the child elder" because of his great wisdom and austere manner of life.  He was ordained presbyter and reposed in 391 AD, at the age of sixty. There are fifty homilies ascribed to him.

It is said of Saint Macarius that he became as a God upon earth, for even as God protects the whole world, so did he cover the faults he saw as if he did not see them. Once he came back to his cell to find a thief taking his things and loading them on a camel. Macarius' non-possessiveness was so great that he helped the thief load the camel. When the camel refused to rise, Saint Macarius returned to his cell and brought a small hoe, said that the camel wanted the hoe also, loaded it on, and kicked the camel telling it to get up. The camel obeyed Saint Macarius' command, but soon lay down again, and would not move until everything had been returned to Saint Macarius. His contemporary, Saint Macarius of Alexandria, was so called because he came to Alexandria and was therefore of that Greek-speaking colony; while Saint Macarius the Great is called "of Egypt," that is, he belonged to the ancient race native to Egypt, the Copts.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Mode

Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an Angel in the flesh, and a Wonderworker, O Macarius, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

SAINT MARK, BISHOP OF EPHESUS. The great teacher and invincible defender of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Saint Mark, was the offspring and scion of the imperial city, Constantinople. Reared by most pious parents, and instructed in secular and spiritual wisdom, he became preeminent in both. Saint Mark lived as an ascetic on the Prince's Islands and later in the monastery of Saint George Magana in Constantinople. He passed through all the degrees of the Priesthood, and was finally advanced to the dignity of Archbishop and the lofty throne of the Metropolis of Ephesus. At the insistence of Emperor John Paleologos, the Saint was sent to the council of the Latins in Florence, Italy, to unite the Churches (Orthodox and Roman) that had been divided for so many years. He astounded the Papal teachers with the divine wisdom of his words, and was the only one who did not sign the blasphemous decree of that false council. Because of this, the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ has ever honored this great Father of the Church benefactor, teacher, sole defender, and invincible champion of the Apostolic Confession. He reposed in 1443 AD.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn

All-laudable and most divine Mark, in thee the Church found a great zealot by thy confession of the holy and sacred Faith; for thou didst champion the doctrines which the Fathers taught and didst cast down darkness' boastful pride. Wherefore pray thou to Christ God for them that honor thee, that we be granted the forgiveness of sins.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 5:22-6:2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 19:16-26

HOLY SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"The man who is sent unceasing sorrow is known to be especially under God's care" (Saint Isaac the Syrian).

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TEACHINGS OF SAINT ANTHONY THE GREAT

"One who knows oneself, knows God: and one who knows God is worthy to worship Him as is right. Therefore, my beloved in the Lord, know yourselves."

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Some elders came to Saint Anthony and asked him, "which is the greatest of all virtues?" Each one then gave an opinion, some saying that "fasting and keeping of vigils" best help one come near to God; others said "voluntary poverty" and "detachment"; others said "compassion." Last of all, Saint Anthony gave his reply: "All that you have said is both necessary and helpful for those who are searching for God and wish to come to Him. But we cannot awarded the first place to any of these virtues; for there are many among us who have endured fasting and vigils, or have withdrawn into the desert, or have practiced poverty to such an extent that they have not left themselves enough for their daily sustenance, or have performed acts of compassion so generously that they no longer have anything to give; and yet these same monks, having done all this, have nevertheless fallen away miserably from virtue and slipped into vice. What was it, then, that made them stray from the straight path? In my opinion, it was simply that they did not possess the grace of discrimination [discernment]; for it is this virtue that teaches a man to walk along the Royal Road, swerving neither to the right through immoderate [excessive] self-control, nor to the left through indifference and laxity. Discrimination [Discernment] is a kind of eye and lantern of the soul, as is said in the Gospel passage: 'The light of the body is they eye; if therefore your eye is pure, your whole body will be full of Light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness' (St. Matthew 6:22-3). And this is just what we find. For the power of discrimination, scrutinizing all the thoughts and actions of man, distinguishes and set aside everything that is base and not pleasing to God, and keeps him free from delusion...Holy Scripture also refers to it as 'discernment' (diakrisis) without we must do nothing--not even drink the spiritual wine that 'makes gold the heart of man' Psalm 104:15), for it said, 'drink with discernment' (Proverbs 31:3), and 'he that does not do all things with discernment is like a city that is broken down and without walls' (Proverbs 25:28). Wisdom, intellect, and perceptiveness are united in discrimination; and without these our inner house cannot be built, nor can we gather spiritual wealth (cf. Proverbs 24:3-4). These passages show very clearly that without the gift of discrimination no virtue can stand or remain firm to the end, for it is the mother of all the virtues and their guardian." (Quoted by Saint John Cassian in his Conferences).

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Saint Anthony writes to his dear spiritual children...Truly my children, the love that is between you and me is no bodily love but a spiritual, religious love. For this cause I grow not weary of praying to God day and night for you, that you may be able to know the grace which He has wrought toward you..."

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"Now, my children, neglect not to cry out day and night to God, constraining the bounty of the Father, and in His bounty He will give you help from heaven, teaching you until you know what is, [spiritually] good for you. Truly, my children, we are dwelling in our death, and staying in the house of the robber [finite, fleeting Time], and bound with the bonds of death. Now therefore, don't sleep, that you may offer yourselves a sacrifice to God in all holiness, which none can inherit without sanctification...Know that God always loves His creatures--their substance being immortal, not to be dissolved with the bodies [at death]." (Letter V)

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"Strive to offer yourselves as a sacrifice to God always, and give gladness to the power that helps you...and to all the band of the saints [who are looking over and helping us]...[I pray that] since we are all created of the same invisible substance, which has a beginning but no end, we may love one another with a single love. For all who know themselves, know that they are of one immortal substance…Therefore we are all members of one another, and the body of Christ. Therefore we ought greatly to love one another. For he who loves his neighbor, loves God; and he who loves God, loves, too, his own soul." (Letter VI)

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"Except through great humility in your whole heart and mind and spirit and soul and body, you will not be able to inherit the kingdom of God…for he knows his own disgrace, seeks again his elect grace; and whoever knows his own death, also knows his life eternal." (Letter VI)

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"The Holy Spirit comforts us and brings us back to our beginning, to recover our inheritance and the dominion of that same comforting Spirit. Therefore, "as many as have been baptized into Christ [the Divine anointing], have put on Christ: there is neither male nor female, there is neither bond nor free." (Galatians 3:27-8). {Letter VII)

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"I no longer fear God: I love Him. For perfect love cast out fear." [Sayings of the Fathers, Alphabetical Collection)

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"A man asked Abbot Antony, 'What shall I keep, that I may please God?' Antony said: "Wherever you go, have God ever before your eyes. In whatever you do, hold by the example of the Holy Scripture; and in whatever place you abide, don't be swift to leave [out of restlessness]. These three things keep, and you will be saved."

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"Whoever hammers a lump of iron, first decides what he is going to make of it, a scythe, a sword, or an axe. Even so we ought to make up our minds what kind of virtue we want to forge or we labor in vain."

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George