“After one particular difficult struggle [with the temptations of the Devil], he saw a light appearing in the tomb he lived in. Knowing it was God, Anthony called out, “Where were you when I needed you?” God answered, “I was here. I was watching your struggle. Because you didn’t give in, I will stay with you and protect you forever.” Source.
O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Collect for January 17, 2014
A simple soul, a miracle-worker, mystic, hermit, ascetic, he gave up all his property to follow the teachings of Jesus and lived until the age of 105. He was prey to the torments and temptations of the Devil – which took many forms.
David Teniers the Younger
In these times, we have lost an understanding of temptation. We pray, or at least some of us do, ‘And lead us not into temptation’ without any inner understanding of what temptation might be for us. We rationalise, changing sin into virtue, or at the very least, slippage. The ancients knew better than us. They knew about falling.
We think we know about how Eve fell and took Adam with her, about how Christ resisted the Devil. We know that we are brighter than Eve, more modern than Christ. In these times, we eat chocolates called Temptations. We fall into the trap of thinking: “I am not such a bad person as xxx, what I do is not as bad as doing xxx, at least I am only doing xxx and not yyy, I am justified in doing xxx because yyy did zzz”. Even a small child knows that this is bunkum and yet we, the grown-ups, excuse our gravest faults and sins by an appeal to relativism and a moral grading system that we have derived from, oh how laughable, the moral leadership of our media. We need no demons in our modern-day caves. They will come later.
I leave you with this rather wonderful account of how one Archbishop of New York, born a poor, derided, unschooled labourer on the Irish land, through sheer bloodymindedness, raised up the Irish people in New York, founded Fordham University and built the Catholic school system and that jewel of the faith, St Patrick’s Cathedral. One of his most powerful works was to bring the spirit of temperance to the poor huddled masses of Irish New Yorkers, to encourage them to resist temptation and to build towards, that most excellent of human accomplishments, a civilisation of love or, at the very least, sobriety.
St Anthony the Abbot, pray for us.