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Friday, January 17, 2014

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : FRI. JAN. 17, 2014 - SHARE

2014








2014

POPE FRANCIS MEETS ECUMENICAL DELEGATION FROM FINLAND

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with members of an ecumenical delegation from Finland, led by Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen, urging them to continue working for the goal of full, visible unity among Christians. The group is making its annual pilgrimage to Rome for the feast day of Saint Henry, patron saint of Finland.

Recalling the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which begins on Saturday, ‘Has Christ been divided’, Pope Francis noted that question was put by St Paul to the divided Christian community in Corinth. We must ask ourselves that same question today, he said, in the face of those who no longer see the full, visible unity of the Church as an achievable goal. In this context, he stressed, we must not weaken our ecumenical efforts, but must remain faithful to the prayer that Jesus prayed to his Father ‘that they may be one’.

In Europe especially, the Pope said, relations between Christians are also affected by the fact that we are professing our faith in a culture which is increasingly marginalizing any reference to God or to the transcendent dimension of life. For this reason, he said, our witness must be focused on the heart of our faith, on the announcement of God’s love which is shown through Christ his Son. In doing this, we can find space to grow in communion and unity, promoting a spiritual ecumenism which is born directly from the commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples. Ecumenism, he added is as spiritual process which is achieved through faithful obedience to the Father, by doing the will of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Offering his warmest greetings and blessing to all Christians in Finland, Pope Francis said let us never tire of asking for God’s grace and the light of the Spirit to help us find the truth that will bring reconciliation and communion.


Text from Vatican Radio website 

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : FRI. JAN. 17, 2014

Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot
Lectionary: 309

 

Reading 1                1 SM 8:4-7, 10-22A

All the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah
and said to him, “Now that you are old,
and your sons do not follow your example,
appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”

Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them.
He prayed to the LORD, however, who said in answer:
“Grant the people’s every request.
It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.”

Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full
to those who were asking him for a king.
He told them:
“The rights of the king who will rule you will be as follows:
He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses,
and they will run before his chariot.
He will also appoint from among them his commanders of groups
of a thousand and of a hundred soldiers.
He will set them to do his plowing and his harvesting,
and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
He will use your daughters as ointment makers, as cooks, and as bakers.
He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves,
and give them to his officials.
He will tithe your crops and your vineyards,
and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves.
He will take your male and female servants,
as well as your best oxen and your asses,
and use them to do his work.
He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves.
When this takes place,
you will complain against the king whom you have chosen,
but on that day the LORD will not answer you.”

The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel’s warning and said,
“Not so! There must be a king over us.
We too must be like other nations,
with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare
and fight our battles.”
When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say,
he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him,
“Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them.”

Responsorial Psalm                               PS 89:16-17, 18-19

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
For you are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and to the Holy One of Israel, our King.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel                          MK 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

POPE FRANCIS "OUR HEARTS MUST SIMPLY BE OPEN TO THE WORD OF GOD..."

(Vatican Radio) We must not sell out the gift of being God’s children for a distorted sense of normality. These were the words of Pope Francis at Mass on Friday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta. As Christians, Pope Francis said, we must actively strive against the normality of our everyday lives to remain faithful to God’s choosing. We must not sell out to the temptation of worldliness, of living as if God didn’t exist.

We often forget the Word of God, Pope Francis continued, we forget what the Lord says, and we listen instead to whatever word is more fashionable, more fun. This temptation, the Pope said, is more dangerous than an outright renouncing of faith, because it is more subtle, and less clear. It is true, he recognised, that Christians must be normal people, but they must also bear in mind the Word of God which says to them ‘you are my people, I have chosen you, I am by your side’.

We must resist the temptation of feeling inferior to normality, Pope Francis explained, because this temptation hardens the heart, and when the heart is hardened, the Word of God cannot enter. This was the temptation of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, he added, referring to the daily reading taken from the First Book of Samuel. Neither must we allow our hearts to be softened by worldliness, the Pope said: our hearts must simply be open to the Word of God, open to receiving it, in order not to move away from being chosen by God.

Let us ask, Pope Francis concluded, for the grace to overcome our own selfishness, our own desire to do as we please: let us listen instead to the Word of God, which will lead us on the path of truth.


Text from  Vatican Radio website 


AMAZING HISTORICAL CHRISTIAN SITE FOUND IN CHINA OVER 1200 YEARS OLD

UCAN NEWS REPORT: Nestorian Christian site dates back at least 1,200 years

<p>The carved Nestorian cross can be seen above the niche, indicating that this was an early burial place for Christians </p>
The carved Nestorian cross can be seen above the niche, indicating that this was an early burial place for Christians 
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
A recently discovered site may shed new light on historical research into the Nestorian Church, which is believed to be the earliest Christian movement to spread the Gospel in China.
A niche in a stone wall with a cross carved above it has now been verified by experts as a repository for the ashes and bones of Christians. The experts also confirmed that this is the earliest Nestorian burial place discovered so far in China.
The discovery at the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in central Henan province, was made in 2009. Its verification was announced to the public this week.
Precise dating has yet to be carried out, but it would have been created at some time during China’s Ming and Tang dynasties of 316-907 AD. It has yet to be established if it is older than the well known Nestorian Stele, an inscribed limestone tablet found in Xi’an, Shaanxi, which dates back to 781 AD and is currently considered the most ancient Nestorian artefact.
The discovery was made by Jiao Jianhui, a researcher at the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute. The grottoes contain thousands of Buddhist and Daoist statues and carvings, But Jiao told ucanews.com that “this is the first discovery of a religious relic other than that of Buddhism and Daoism”.
Jiao recalled the moment when he discovered the site by chance. “I felt instantly that it was different from other niches and grottoes,” he said.
“There are many similar niches at the grottoes, carved with Buddha statues as well as inscriptions to say that the deceased are buried there. So it is certain that the Nestorian site was also for burials.” he said.
Originating in the Middle East in the fifth century AD, the Nestorian Christian Church was initially recognized by the Tang Emperor Taizong but suppressed by his successors.
As Jiao pointed out, the discovery of the site puts a different perspective on historians’ beliefs about those early days in China. “Historical records shows Buddhist suppression of the Nestorian Church in the Tang Dynasty,” he said. “But the niche shows some religious tolerance, as the two religions could coexist harmoniously at the Grottoes.”
Now known as the Assyrian Church of the East, the Nestorian Church was regarded by the Catholic Church as schismatic. But in 1994, the two Churches signed a common declaration of doctrine.
SHARED FROM UCAN NEWS 

DOZENS KILLED BY EXTREMISTS IN MYANMAR INCLUDING CHILDREN

ASIA NEWS REPORT; Advocacy group Arakan Project reported the attack citing sources in Du Char Yar Tan village. Hundreds of security forces are patrolling the area to avoid further violence. A rally by a Buddhist extremist leader last month led to the rise in tensions. The Burmese government denies media reports about casualties.


Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A group of Arakanese Buddhists, backed by Burmese security forces, attacked the mostly Rohingya Muslim village of Tan Du Char Yar, Maungdaw Township, in the western state of Rakhine.
News about the attack early Tuesday morning came from advocacy group Arakan Project, which reported the death of more than a dozen Muslims, including women and children.
However, the incident remains murky and the authorities have not officially confirmed any deaths or injuries. In fact, Presidential spokesman and Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut on Friday morning denied the reports of Rohingya killings, saying instead that "Police are investigating the case of the missing policeman".
Local witnesses confirm that tensions have been building in the region since last month, when monks from a Buddhist extremist movement known as 969 toured the area and gave sermons by loudspeaker advocating the expulsion of all Rohingya.
Although they are a small minority in the country, the latter represent 90 per cent of the population in northern Rakhine.
According to early reports by the advocacy group, police went to the village Monday evening to seize mobile phones and check family lists, but the crowd turned on the officers, beating and chasing them off.
The next morning, police returned to the area with soldiers and some Buddhist Arakanese civilians, looking for a police agent reported missing the previous evening, a story the Rohingya strongly deny.
Sources told Arakan Project that Buddhists and the security forces attacked the women and children in the village - the men had fled during the night fearing retaliation - killing at least 18 of them. Some women were also raped.
The fact that some of the victims appeared to have been stabbed with knives, not shot or beaten, "would clearly indicate the massacre was committed by (Buddhist) Rakhine villagers, rather than the police or army," the Arakan Project reported.
In the aftermath of the violence, police arrested more than 50 Rohingya.
Shwe Maung, a Muslim Lower House lawmaker for the ruling USDP, said that tensions are running high, and that reports about the incident contain conflicting information.
"A lot of people are missing. Normally when they are missing family members, Rohingya people think they are dead," he added. "Now the situation is very tense" with hundreds of security forces patrolling the area.
Since June 2012, the western state of Rakhine has been the scene of violent clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims (about 800,000 in Myanmar) that left at least 200 people dead and 250,000 people displaced.
For US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Myanmar government is engaged in de facto "ethnic cleansing" in the area.

For Burmese authorities, the Muslim minority is made up of illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

RIP FATHER JAMES STACK OLDEST PRIEST OF PARAMATTA AUSTRALIA

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
17 Jan 2014

Father James Stack died suddenly just four days short of his 84th birthday
About to celebrate his 84th birthday on 10 January and looking forward to the diamond jubilee of his ordination, Father James Stack had no thoughts of retirement. Instead the Diocese of Parramatta's oldest active parish priest insisted he'd "prefer to die in the saddle."
"And so indeed he did," the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta told the more than 800 gathered at the Holy Family Catholic Church, East Granville this week, for the Funeral Mass of the Irish-born priest.
Fr Jim, as he was affectionately known, died suddenly on 6 January 2014. He suffered a fatal heart attack while swimming at Malabar Beach.

"By happy coincidence, I celebrated Mass and then had dinner with Fr Jim and some others the night before he died," Bishop Anthony said and recalled how the still-serving parish priest appeared in robust health and although his custom was to play golf each Monday with Bishop Emeritus David Cremin, Fr Jim announced his intention for this particular week to go surfing instead.
"Although not I think on a surf board," Bishop Anthony conceded with a gentle smile, and said that for the last of many Irishmen from All Hallows College in Dublin to serve in the Parramatta Diocese, God's choice of the beach was a very 'Australian' place for Fr Jim to make his exit.
In addition to Fr Jim's twin brother, Thomas Stack together with many of Fr Jim's nieces and nephews all of whom had flown to Australia from Ireland, the Funeral Mass was attended by six bishops, 55 priests, many religious and more than 700 friends and parishioners from the parishes across the Parramatta Diocese and the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Fr Jim served as Parish Priest to the Holy Family East Parish, Granville from 1976 until his death 10 days ago. Prior to this, he served at a wide number of different parishes including those of Neutral Bay, Windsor, Concord, Gosford, Berala, Kingsgrove, Ashbury, Lakemba, Westmead, Mascot, Enfield and Blakehurst.
Born in County Kerry near the Dingle Peninsula, Fr Jim was one of 10 children, many of whom went on to serve God in nations across the world. Today Tom, Fr Jim's twin is the last survivor of this large Irish and deeply religious family.
Just as Fr Jim studied for the priesthood, some of his siblings also chose religious vocations. Among these were Fr John Stack who served as a missionary in Japan and England-based Mary Josephine who became a Dominican Sister.
Proud of his Irish heritage and devoted to his family, Fr Jim nevertheless volunteered for the Australian Mission in June 1954 - the same month Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP presided over the Funeral Mass for Irish born Father James Stack
"He told me the coronation of some English lass made transport to Australia hard to come by and he was 'forced' to travel first class," Bishop Anthony said and recounted how he had been a young altar boy at St Michael's Parish, Lane Cove when Fr Jim was briefly appointed curate to fellow Irishman, Monsignor Hughy Maguire.
"I disgraced myself by asking if the Monsignor spoke any English. In my Aussie-boy innocence I presumed he only spoke Latin. I hadn't guessed there was English under the Irish brogue!"
Fr Jim didn't recall Bishop Anthony as the youngster who hadn't understood the rich Irish accent: "So I clearly  didn't make much of an impression with the thurible," Bishop Anthony said.
Fr Jim had very much lived by County Kerry's longstanding Gaelic motto: "Comhar, Cabhair, Cairdeas" which translated means cooperation, help and friendship.
"His six decades of priestly ministry were marked by Comhair or cooperation, with God, our Blessed Mother, with bishops, priests and parishioners and of course with his golfing mates whom he joined 'religiously' every Monday at St Michael's course in North Sydney," Bishop Anthony said.
The late priest was also a model in terms of Cabhair or help, and was devoted to those entrusted to his care and had a passion for home visitation.

In terms of Cairdeas, or friendship, Fr Jim or Stacky as some of his close mates called him, may have been slightly shy and a little reserved but he had a gift for friendship and loved his parishioners and was loved by them, the Bishop said.
Bishop Anthony delivered the homily. Concelebrating the Funeral Mass were Bishop Terry Brady, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Archdiocese of Sydney Bishops Emeritus, the Most Rev David Cremin and Most Rev Geoffrey Robinson; the Parramatta Diocese's Bishops Emeritus the Most Rev Kevin Manning  and Most Rev Bede Heather. Also concelebrating were Fr Martin O'Mahony and 49 priests from throughout the Sydney and Parramatta area.
The MC for the Funeral Mass was Fr Andrew Bass.
Following the Mass at the Holy Family Church in East Granville, Fr Jim was interred at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery, Lidcombe
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY
Photographs by Alfred Boudib 

6 bishops and 55 priests concelebrated the Funeral Mass for Father James Stack

The Funeral Mass for Father James Stack was held at the Holy Family Church East Granville

TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 17 : ST. ANTHONY ABBOT

St. Anthony the Abbot
ABBOT, PATRIARCH OF MONKS
Feast: January 17


Information:
Feast Day:January 17
Born:
251, Herakleopolis Magna, Egypt
Died:356, Mount Colzim, Egypt
Major Shrine:Monastery of Anthony, Egypt; Vienna, Austria
His body was at Saint-Antoine l'Abbaye, Isère, France
Patron of:against pestilence; amputees; animals; basket makers; basket weavers; brushmakers; butchers; cemetery workers; domestic animals; eczema; epilepsy; epileptics; ergotism; erysipelas; gravediggers; graveyards; hermits; hogs; Hospitallers; monks; pigs; relief from pestilence; shingles; skin diseases; skin rashes; swine; swineherds
St. Anthony is generally considered to be the founder and father of organized Christian monasticism, although he himself preferred to live the life of a true hermit, apart from any community, in the deserts of Egypt. Most of the known facts about this famous "Desert Father" are derived from the biography by St. Athanasius (ca. 296-373), the "Father of Orthodoxy."

Now we have been deputed through your affection to write down the triumphs of the blessed man Anthony, and to send by an envoy a history of them to you in writing which will show how it was that he began his discipleship, and what manner of life he led before this took place, and how he was living when he  brought his days to a close, and whether all the words which have been spoken concerning him and have come to our hearing are true; and straightway with joy I have devoted myself to the fulfilment of your command. Now by merely writing a commemorative history of the blessed Anthony I also shall gain great benefit, for I am convinced, O my beloved, that by narrating these histories two things will be effected: we shall increase the renown of the man of God in honour and wonder, and we shall begin to instruct your minds step by step; for the acts of the blessed Anthony form a perfect example for the solitary ascetics....
Now, by race the blessed Anthony was an Egyptian, and he was descended from a noble family, and was, indeed, an owner of slaves. His forefathers were believers, and from his earliest childhood he was brought up in the fear of our Lord; and when he was a child and was being reared among his own kinsfolk, he knew nothing of his father or of what went on among his own people. He was so silent in disposition, and his mind was so humble, that he did not even trouble his parents by asking them questions. He was exceedingly modest, and he was honest beyond measure He was unable to read or write because he could not bear the rough behaviour of the boys in the school; his whole desire was to be even according to what is written about Jacob, "He was a simple man, and a dweller in tents." He clung closely to his parents, and when they came to church he would run before them in the flow of his affection; and he was not like an ordinary child, the course of whose customary attendance is broken by the amusements of childhood. He never neglected the observance of any of the seasons of the Church, and he neither neglected them in his childhood, nor held them lightly in his early manhood. And from the time when he was a child and knew how to distinguish between good and evil, his going to church was not a mere matter of custom, but was the result of discerning understanding. And, moreover, he did not wait for the members of his family to be admonishers unto him, because by his life and acts he became a teacher unto them. For they reamed by the experience of his childhood that he did not live among them like an ordinary simple child, and they accepted the proof of the rectitude of his early manhood; he paid them honour after the manner of a full-grown man, and they regarded him as the master of the house.
Now when the time arrived and they brought their days to an end, and they departed from this world when he was about eighteen or twenty years old, he and one little sister were left behind, and it happened from sheer necessity that he had to rule the house and take care of his sister. And when as yet not six months had passed since the death of his parents, and when, according to his wont, he was continually in the church, it came to pass one day, when he was in the church, that a righteous idea entered his mind, and that he began to meditate within himself how the blessed Apostles forsook everything and followed after our Redeemer; and how the others who succeeded them and walked in their footsteps sold everything which they had possessed and laid the money which they received at the feet of the Apostles, that it might be spent upon the poor; and how great was the blessing of those who had in this wise obeyed the voice of our Redeemer. Now whilst he was meditating these and such-like things, the Lesson was being read, and when the Scriptures were ended the Gospel was read, and he heard the words of our Lord, who said unto the rich man, "If thou wishest to be perfect, go and sell everything which thou hast, and give to the poor, and take thy cross, and come after Me, and there shall be unto thee treasure in heaven." And the blessed Anthony received the word of the Gospel as a sign to himself, and he reflected that this reading had not taken place as a matter of chance, but in order that the righteous idea which had taken up its abode in him might be confirmed. And straightway he went out from the church, and departed and set in order his house and the possessions which he had inherited from his parents. Now he had three hundred fields, a great estate which produced abundant crops, and these he handed over to the people of his village, so that they might trouble neither himself nor his sister; but the remainder of his other possessions which were in the house he sold, and gathered in money not a little, which he distributed among the poor, but he laid by a little which was sufficient for his sister's wants . . .
Now unto his sister he spake words of love, and of truth, and of the fear of God, and he made her mind to be like his own; and he delivered her over to certain chaste nuns who were living there at that time. And when he had made an end of these things, he forthwith became a solitary monk, and he took no care for anything whatsoever except his soul, and he began to train himself in the habits of the strictest abstinence and self denial. Now he dwelt alone in a house which was by the side of the village, for as yet there were no monasteries for ascetics in Egypt, and among the monks there was no man who had any knowledge of the inner desert; and everyone who wished to have a care for his soul used to seek out an habitation of this kind. Saint Anthony did not betake himself to the mountain at a great distance from the village, but only at a sufficient distance therefrom, so that he might be somewhat apart from the habitation of men....
Now Saint Anthony was the storehouse of fasting, and of prayer, and of ascetic labours, and of patient endurance, and of love, and of righteousness, which is the mother of them all, but towards those who were young monks like himself he was not envious, except in one matter only, that is to say, he would not be second to any of them in fair works. And he contrived in every possible manner not to give offence to the wicked man; on the contrary, he wished that those who were yoked together with him might be drawn to his opinion by his solicitude and by his graciousness, and that they might make progress in their career. And he toiled in his labours in such a manner that they were not only not envious of him, but they rejoiced in him and gave thanksgiving for him. Now by reason of these triumphs every man used to call him "Theophilus," which is, being interpreted, "God-loving," and all the righteous gave him this name; and some of them loved him like a brother, and some of them like a son.
And when the Enemy, the hater of the virtues and the lover of evil things saw all this great perfection in the young man, he could not endure it, and he surrounded himself with his slaves, even as he is wont to do, and began to work on Anthony. At the beginning of his temptings of the saint he approached him with flattery, and cast into him anxiety as to his possessions, and solicitude and love for his sister, and for his family; and for his kinsfolk, and the love of money and lusts of various kinds and the thought of the rest of the things of the life of this world, and finally of the hard and laborious life which he lived, and of the weakness of body which would come upon him with the lapse of time; and in short, he stirred up in him the power of the thoughts so that by means of one or other of them he might be flattered, and might be made to possess shortcomings and be caught in the net through his instigation. Now when the Enemy saw that his craftiness in this matter was without profit, and that the more he brought temptation unto Saint Anthony, the more strenuous the saint was in protecting himself against him with the armour of righteousness, he attacked him by means of the vigour of early manhood which is bound up in the nature of our humanity. With the goadings of passion he used to trouble him by night, and in the daytime also he would vex him and pain him with the same to such an extent that even those who saw him knew from his appearance that he was waging war against the Adversary. But the more the Evil One brought unto him filthy and maddening thoughts, the more Saint Anthony took refuge in prayer and in abundant supplication, and amid them all he remained wholly chaste. And the Evil One was working upon him every shameful deed according to his wont, and at length he even appeared unto Saint Anthony in the form of a woman; and other things which resembled this he performed with ease, for such things are a subject for boasting to him....
And it came to pass that in the process of time his fame reached all the monks who were in Egypt, and all the other folk therein who did not lead the life of the ascetic and recluse, and men of distinction, and monks in Egypt began to come unto him in large numbers. The Egyptian monks came that they might copy the manner of his life and deeds, and I the laity came that he might pray over them, and might heal certain of them of their sicknesses. One day, when a multitude of people had come there in a body to see him and they had besought him repeatedly to speak to them, and he had answered them never a word, they lifted the door out of its socket, and threw themselves down on their faces before him, and made supplication unto him and pacified him, and then each man among them stood up, and made known his request unto him. And having gone forth to them even like a man who goeth forth from the depths of the earth, they saw that his appearance was like unto that of an angel of light, and they marvelled why it was that his body had not been weakened by all his confinement, and why it was that his under standing had not become feeble, and why, on the contrary, his appearance, and his bodily stature, and his countenance were then as they had known them always to have been in the times which were past....
Now when he saw that much people were gathered together to him, and that the trouble which men and women caused him increased, he became afraid either lest he should be unduly exalted in his mind by reason of the things which God had wrought by his hand, or lest others should esteem him beyond what was right and more than he deserved, and he determined to go away from that place and to enter the Thebaid. Then he took a little bread and went and sat down by the side of the river, and waited until he should see a boat going to that district to which he was ready to go. And as he was pondering these things in his mind, suddenly a voice from heaven was heard by him, and it called him and said unto him, "Anthony, whither goest thou? Why art thou departing from this place?" Now he was not afraid of the voice which came to him, but like a man who was accustomed to do so he spake with it, and answered and said, "Because, O my Lord, the people will not permit me to enjoy a little silent contemplation; it is for this reason that I am wishing to go up to the Thebaid, and especially do I desire it because the people are seeking at my hands that which is wholly beyond my powers." . . .
It is meet that we should call to remembrance his death, and should relate how it took place, and in what manner he finished his life, for I know that ye will be exceedingly pleased therewith. Now he was accustomed to go out and visit the memorial stones of the brethren in the outer mountain. Now the matter of his death also was not hidden from him, and he went forth to visit them even when he knew that his departure was nigh. And after he had spoken to the brethren according to his wont, he said unto them, "This act which ye have just performed is the end of all acts; and I marvel at this world. Let each look for himself alone; for it is time for me to die." Now he was then about one hundred and five years old....
Now when the brethren heard concerning the matter of his departure, they entreated him that he would remain with them in order that his course might be ended there, but he would not accede to their request for many reasons which he had made known in his silence, but for the following reason especially. The Egyptians were in the habit of taking the dead bodies of righteous men, and especially those of the blessed martyrs, and of embalming them and placing them not in graves, but on biers in their houses, for they thought that by so doing they were doing them honour. And the blessed old man had on very many occasions besought the bishops to preach to the people and to command them to cease from this habit. And he himself used to entreat and exhort the multitudes who came to him, saying, "This work is neither seemly nor right. Moreover, the burial places of the early Fathers, and of the prophets, and of the Apostles are known unto this day, and even the grace of our Lord who rose on the third day." And by these words he shouted forth that it was a transgression of a command for a man not to hide in the ground the bodies of those who were dead, even though they were righteous men. Therefore many hearkened and were persuaded not to do so, and they laid their dead in the ground, and buried them therein, and they thanked God because they had accepted his entreaty, which was seemly. And it was through fear of this thing that he would not grant the entreaty of the brethren and remain with them, but departed to his own place.
And after a few months he became sick, and he cried out to the brethren who were with him (now these were only two in number, and they had been with him from the time when his old age began, which was nearly fifteen years before, and they ministered unto him with the greatest care), and said unto them, even as it is written, "Behold, I go the way of my fathers, for I have felt within myself for some days past that I have been called by my Lord. Observe ye now how carefully ye can maintain this contest, and take good heed that ye lose not the long-suffering which ye have acquired, and that, like men who are just beginning the strife, ye increase it more and more and add to it day by day. Ye are well acquainted with the baneful devils and their craftiness, and ye know well this fact, that if ye please they shall be accounted as nothing by you. Be ye therefore not terrified by them, but always take refuge in Christ. And remember ye everything which ye have heard from me during all this time which ye have been with me, that ye have no intercourse whatsoever with the Arians, the heretics, for ye know how filthy they are in my sight because of their blasphemy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take ye also heed then diligently at all times that ye cleave to the Spirit of Christ and agree therewith, and be ye, moreover, friends and associates of just men that they may receive you into their everlasting habitations as friends and men of whom they have good knowledge. Therefore meditate ye upon these things and keep them in your minds. And if your minds are set upon me, and ye remember me as a father, permit no man to take my body and carry it into Egypt, lest, according to the custom which they have, they embalm me and lay me up in their houses, for it was to avoid this that I came into this desert. And ye know that I have continually made exhortation concerning this thing and begged that it should not be done, and ye well know how much I have blamed those who observed this custom. Dig a grave then, and bury me therein, and hide my body under the earth, and let these my words be observed carefully by you, and tell ye no man where ye lay me; and there I shall be until the resurrection of the dead, when I shall receive again this body without corruption.
"And divide ye my garments into lots, and give one leather tunic to Bishop Athanasius, and the covering of this my bed which he gave unto me when it was new; but now it hath become old. And to Bishop Serapion do ye give the other leather coat; and this covering of my bed which is made of hair ye yourselves shall keep; now therefore, my children, abide in peace, for, behold, Anthony bringeth his journey to an end, and he goeth whither Divine Grace shall bring him." And when he had spoken these words, he straightway stretched out his legs, whereupon the brethren began to cry out to him, and to kiss him; now his face was full of joy unspeakable at the meeting of those who had come for him, and it resembled that of a man when he seeth a friend whom it rejoiceth him to meet. So the blessed man held his peace and died, and was gathered to his fathers....


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/stanthonytheabbot.asp#ixzz1jqpDA9Wp

Thursday, January 16, 2014

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