Monday, January 17, 2011

St. Anthony the Great

As we honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the US, the church's calendar today marks a saint whose example could be of particular importance to us in the 21st century, the Egyptian saint Anthony.

Anthony is often called the father of monasticism. The translation into Latin of his biography written by Athanasius and its rapid popularity became the basis for the growth of the monastic life in the west. Long before St. Francis, Anthony heard the words of the gospel "Go and sell all that you have..." and followed them in a most literal way. After the dead of his parents, he sold all that he had, entrusted the care of his sisters to a group of virgins, and began to live the simplest possible life. He became the model for what is known as the anchorite, the person who withdraws from the world to seek religious perfection, withdrawing into the desert.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am about as connected as anyone can be(iPhone, iPad, etc.) and I believe we make a hugh mistake when we try and paint the Internet or technology as evil or blame the technology for societies ills. They are merely tools for us to use, for good or bad.

St. Anthony reminds us that we do need to create deserts, quiet spaces in our life, when we shut off the constant flow of data,and listen to the quiet voice of God. Silence. Meditation. Contemplation.

Do you have a prayer space in your life? Can you shut off you phone,tv and other devices for even 10 minutes of absolute silence and withdraw from the world to spend some quality time with God?

Today as we remember Dr. King, we look at our world and see we are still far from his dream. The paradox of the gospel;however, is that in order to get there we need to stop working, and listen to the source of all true peace.