Life of Saint Anthony by Saint Athanasius -Saint Anthony receives his vocation

From the Life of Saint Anthony by Saint Athanasius, bishop
Saint Anthony receives his vocation

When Anthony was about eighteen or twenty years old, his parents died, leaving him with an only sister. He cared for her as she was very young, and also looked after their home.

Not six months after his parents’ death, as he was on his way to church for his usual visit, he began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Savior, and also of those mentioned in the book of Acts who had sold their possessions and brought the apostles the money for distribution to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. This was all in his mind when, entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor—you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.

It seemed to Anthony that it was God who had brought the saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away to the villagers all the property he had inherited, about 200 acres of very beautiful and fertile land, so that it would cause no distraction to his sister and himself. He sold all his other possessions as well, giving to the poor the considerable sum of money he collected. However, to care for his sister he retained a few things.

The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel: Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Without a moment’s hesitation he went out and gave the poor all that he had left. He placed his sister in the care of some well-known and trustworthy virgins and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent. Then he gave himself up to the ascetic life, not far from his own home. He kept a careful watch over himself and practiced great austerity. He did manual work because he had heard the words: If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. He spent some of his earnings on bread and the rest he gave to the poor.

Having learned that we should always be praying, even when we are by ourselves, he prayed without ceasing. Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books.

Seeing the kind of life he lived, the villagers and all the good men he knew called him the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother.

All creation gives praise to God

From the book of Sirach 43:13-35 All creation gives praise to God


His rebuke marks out the path for the lightning,
and speeds the arrows of his judgment to their goal.
At it the storehouse is opened,
and like vultures the clouds hurry forth.
In his majesty he gives the storm its power
and breaks off the hailstones.
The thunder of his voice makes the earth writhe;
before his might the mountains quake.
A word from him drives on the south wind,
the angry north wind, the hurricane and the storm.
He sprinkles the snow like fluttering birds;
it comes to settle like swarms of locusts.
Its shining whiteness blinds the eyes,
the mind is baffled by its steady fall.

He scatters frost like so much salt;
it shines like blossoms on the thornbush.
Cold northern blasts he sends
that turn the ponds to lumps of ice.
He freezes over every body of water,
and clothes each pool with a coat of mail.
When the mountain growth is scorched with heat,
and the flowering plains as though by flames,
The dripping clouds restore them all,
and the scattered dew enriches the parched land.
His is the plan that calms the deep,
and plants the islands in the sea.

Those who go down to the sea tell part of its story,
and when we hear them we are thunderstruck;
In it are his creatures, stupendous, amazing,
all kinds of life, and the monsters of the deep.

For him each messenger succeeds,
and at his bidding accomplishes his will.
More than this we need not add;
let the last word be, he is all in all!
Let us praise him the more, since we cannot fathom him,
for greater is he than all his works;
Awful indeed is the Lord’s majesty,
and wonderful is his power.
Lift up your voices to glorify the Lord,
though he is still beyond your power to praise;
Extol him with renewed strength,
and weary not, though you cannot reach the end:

For who can see him and describe him?
or who can praise him as he is?
Beyond these, many things lie hid;
only a few of his works have we seen.
It is the Lord who has made all things,
and to those who fear him he gives wisdom.