Saint Anthony the Great might seem like a silly saint to get to know when you’re a Catholic single trying to find a spouse. He was a desert hermit, a monk, and he was never married. To top it all off, he barely ever saw people! But St. Anthony is a good friend for singles, married couples, and anyone because his radical commitment to God not only changed his life, but the lives of those around him.
May we all live radically in the ways specific to our own lives and callings. If you’re still wondering how this saint’s life applies to your life today, here are seven reasons you should get to know St. Anthony the Great.
1. St. Anthony was the father of all monks
Everything we know and love about monasticism today stems from St. Anthony the Great and his way of life. This means many of the spiritual practices you as a single person are accustomed to stemmed from him, as well.
When St. Anthony chose to live differently from those around him, he may not have known what an impact that would have on the practice of the faith. What St. Anthony did know was that this was the life God was calling him to. He followed God wherever he led– even to the desert.
St. Anthony’s example propels us forward in learning how to listen to God and follow his call, no matter where it takes us or, perhaps, to whom!
2. He never ate meat or drank wine
St. Anthony’s radical life choice included abstaining from meat and wine. Forever! He prioritized his spiritual health over his physical health. Because of this, God took care of him in all ways.
Now, this isn’t to say that you should give up meat and wine forever, or even for a little while! What St. Anthony’s decision does show is that we must prioritize our spiritual lives over our physical lives. One will end and one will endure forever. Take care of the eternal one and your limited one will also be taken care of.
Remember, do not go against doctor’s orders or intentionally malign your physical health. Purposefully putting your physical health in danger is not holy or good. Our bodies are still gifts and we are to care for them as the gifts they are. This is simply saying that we should live our physical lives in tune with our spiritual lives and not let one become a stumbling block to the other.
3. Even though St. Anthony ate at most once a day, he remained healthy
Because of the radical way he chose to live, St. Anthony was granted this miraculous grace of health despite a lack of physical nutrition. God may not give this grace to everyone, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean he loves any of us any less, it just means that we’re each given different graces according to the calls we are asked to live out.
If St. Anthony’s physical state started deteriorating to the point that it impugned his spiritual life, I’m positive he would’ve changed his routine and practices accordingly. Anything we do must be in pursuit of holiness and in living in full truth and integration of our body and soul.
4. The devil tempted him with boredom, laziness, and salacious thoughts
Who of us hasn’t been tempted with extreme boredom or laziness? Has an impure thought ever crossed your mind? Temptation is not a sin, don’t forget that! But how we respond to temptations is what counts.
St. Anthony cast the devil aside and found ways to overcome the temptations. He used those temptations as stepping stones in his pursuit of holiness rather than allowing them to be stumbling blocks. This is something we can all learn from. We will, without doubt, be tempted in different ways throughout our lives. But if we learn to respond with grace, holiness, and fortitude, these temptations will do no more than propel us closer to God.
5. The devil physically harmed St. Anthony
Even though the devil physically attacked him, St. Anthony was not afraid. He knew that the devil is nothing in comparison to God. Despite the physical warfare, the devil could not truly kill him. St. Anthony displayed a radical dependence on and trust in God.
He is practically the personification of the Psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). May we also learn to live this verse radically!
6. St. Anthony helped refute the teachings of Arius
One of the very few trips St. Anthony ever made after deciding to live in the desert was to go to Alexandria and refute the teachings of Arius. Arius had spread a rumor that he was on his side. St. Athanasius recalled of the event:
“Answering the appeal of both the bishops and all the brethren, Saint Anthony came down from the mountain, and entering Alexandria, he denounced the Arians. He said that their heresy was the worst of all and a forerunner of the Antichrist. He taught the people that the Son of God is not a creature nor has He come into being “from non-existence”, but He is the eternal Word and Wisdom of the substance of the Father. Hence, too, it is impious to say, “There was a time when He was not”, for the Word was always coexistent with the Father. Wherefore, do not have the least thing to do with the most godless Arians: there simply is no fellowship of light and darkness. You must remember that you are God-fearing Christians, but they, by saying that the Son and Word of God the Father is a creature, are in no respect different than the pagans, who worship the created in place of God the Creator. And you may be sure that all creation is incensed against them because they count among created things the Creator and Lord of all, to Whom all things owe their existence.”
7. He is the patron saint of gravediggers
This special patronage of St. Anthony makes him a fun saint to get to know during the fall months. Why is he is the patron saint of gravediggers? It turns out that he lived in tombs for a while. Memento mori, indeed!
Whenever you pass a cemetery or go to a spooky Halloween event that features dirty gravediggers, you can say a prayer to St. Anthony!
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