Sayings of the Fathers: Anthony

Beginning of the letter A.
About Abba Anthony.

1. When the holy Abba Anthony was living in the desert, he was in a state of melancholy (ακηδια) and his mind was darkened by a multitude of imagined things (λογισμων), and he said to God, Lord, I want to be saved, but these thoughts will not leave me alone. What shall I do in my trouble? How will I be saved? A little later, when he went outside, Anthony saw someone like himself, sitting and working, then rising from work and praying, and again sitting and plaiting a rope, then again rising for prayer. It was an angel of the Lord, sent for the correction and insurance against stumbling of Anthony. And he heard the angel saying, Do this, and you will be saved. And when he heard this, he had great joy and courage, and did this, and was saved.

2. When Abba Anthony meditated upon the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, saying, Lord, how is it that some perish when short-lived, and some live to extreme old age? And why are some poor, and yet others rich? And why are the unrighteous rich, and yet the righteous are poor? And he heard a voice saying to him, Anthony, keep your attention on yourself, for these things are the judgments of God, and they will not benefit you to learn them.

3. Someone asked Abba Anthony, saying, What must we keep in order to be pleasing to God? And the elder answered, saying, Keep what I tell you. Whoever you may be, always keep God before your eyes. And whatever you do, do it from the witness of the Holy Scriptures. And in whatever place you live, do not leave quickly. Keep these three things, and you will be saved.

4. Abba Anthony said to Abba Poimen that this is the great work of man: always to reproach himself for his own faults before God, and expect temptation until the last breath.

5. The same said, No one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven untempted. He said, Remove the temptations, and no one would be saved.

6. Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, What should I do? The elder said to him, Do not put your trust in your righteousness, nor regret past actions, but control your tongue and stomach.

7. Abba Anthony said, I saw all the traps of the enemy spread over the earth, and groaning, said, What can get through these? And I heard a voice saying to me, Humility.

8. He also said that there are some who have worn out their bodies in asceticism, and because of this they do not have judgment, being far from God.

9. He also said that from a neighbor is life and death. For if we gain a brother, we gain God. And if we scandalize a brother, we have sinned against Christ.

10. He also said, Just as fish die on dry land, thus also the monks loitering outside their cells or spending time with those of the world lose the intensity of quiet (ησυχιας). And so, like the fish to the sea, so we must hurry to the cell, lest we loiter outside and we forget our inner guard.

11. He also said that one living in the desert and in quiet (ησυχαζων) is delivered from three battles: of hearing, and speaking, and seeing. He only has one: fornication.

(to be continued)

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