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No one can claim to be seeking the monastic ideal who does not seek to imitate St. Antony of the Desert, justly called "the Great." Holy Abba Antony was the second of the Desert Fathers, learning from the primordial hermit himself, St. Paul the First Hermit. Illustrious in holiness, glorious in asceticism, magnificent in miracles, resolute against temptation, St. Antony remains unsurpassed by any monk as the greatest of Abbots, the original "Anthony" and namesake of St. Anthony of Padua.
The account is worth the read as much because of its subject—him who received the Jesus Prayer from Our Lady and mastered the swarms of demons that surround us all by humble invocation of the Name of the Savior—as because of the hand that wrote it: St. Athanasius, also called "the Great." The pious should consider that no other pen was deemed suitable to depict the life of the Father of Monasticism as the Father of Orthodoxy, who defended the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Jesus Christ against the blasphemies of the Arian heresy. St. Athanasius's holy voice resounds throughout this most venerable of hagiographies.
Let St. Antony touch your heart (through the words of St. Athanasius) as his own heart was when he heard the words of the Savior: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; then come, follow Me." Let us learn from holy Abba Antony just what this means for us.