16-01-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 010
|The Pope speaks with journalists on the flight to Manila|
Vatican City, 15 January 2015 (VIS) – Following the first part of his seventh apostolic trip, on the flight from Colombo to Manila, Pope Francis spent forty minutes answering questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on a number of issues relating not only to his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but also the attacks in Paris, freedom of worship and expression, security on papal trips and his forthcoming encyclical. This latter, he said, is likely to be completed around the end of March and published in June or July.
The following is a summary of some of the Pope's answers.
On suicide and kamikaze attacks
“Behind every suicide attack there is an element of human imbalance; I do not know if this can be considered mental imbalance, but human. There is something that does not function in this person. He is not balanced in terms of the meaning of his life, of his own life and that of others. He gives his life, but he does not do so in the right way. Many people work – missionaries, for example – giving their own lives, but constructively. This, instead, is self-destruction in order to destroy”.
On security during papal trips and terrorist threats
“The best way to respond is with gentleness. To be gentle, humble. … I worry about the safety of the faithful, and have spoken about this with the Vatican security officials. … Am I afraid? I have a fault, a large dose of recklessness … but I know that it is necessary to take security measures, prudent but sure”.
On freedom of worship and expression
“I believe that these are both fundamental human rights. … We are talking about Paris, let''s be clear. Everyone has the right to practice their own religion freely, without offending. … One cannot offend, make war and kill in the name of their religion, that is, in God's name. What is happening shocks us. But let us think about how many wars there have been in the name of religion, throughout history. … We too are sinners in this respect. But we must not kill in the God's name. This is an aberration. … Every person has not only the freedom, the right, but also the duty to say what he or she thinks in aid of the common good … but without offending. It is true that one should not react violently, but if my friend insults my mother he can expect a punch! It is normal, one should not provoke, one should not insult other people's faith. There is a limit, and there are limits to the freedom of expression”.
|Francis praises the heroic strength of the Filipino people in the face of natural disasters|
Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning, local time, the Pope paid a visit to the Presidential Palace, where he signed the Golden Book and then proceeded to the Music Room, where he was received by Benigno Simeon Conjuangco Aquino III, president of the Republic of the Philippines and his family. Forty-five minutes later the Pope addressed the authorities and the diplomatic corps in the Rizal Ceremonial Hall.
“In a particular way, this visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda”, he began. “Together with many people throughout the world, I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others. Those virtues, rooted not least in the hope and solidarity instilled by Christian faith, gave rise to an outpouring of goodness and generosity, especially on the part of so many of the young. In that moment of national crisis, countless people came to the aid of their neighbours in need. At great sacrifice, they gave of their time and resources, creating networks of mutual help and working for the common good.
“This example of solidarity in the work of rebuilding teaches us an important lesson”, he continued. “Like a family, every society draws on its deepest resources in order to face new challenges. Today the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, faces the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions. As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country. Thus will they be able to marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace”.
Essential to the attainment of these national goals, he explained, “is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity. The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities. Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart. The bishops of the Philippines have asked that this year be set aside as the 'Year of the Poor'. I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and inspire concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community”.
A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played “by the family and especially by young people. A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with families and with young people here in Manila. Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others. But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support. We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm. For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision which can help bring about a culture of integrity – one which honours goodness, truthfulness, fidelity and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together.
“Mr President, distinguished authorities, dear friends, as I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia. I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live. It is precisely in the light of the rich cultural and religious heritage of which your country is proud that I leave you with a challenge and a word of prayerful encouragement. May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development. In this way, each person will be able to fulfil his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country. I am confident that the praiseworthy efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between the followers of the different religions will prove fruitful in the pursuit of this noble goal. In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities”.
Following his address, Pope Francis proceeded by car to the Cathedral of Manila.
|Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Cathedral of Manila|
Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father made the five-kilometre journey from the Presidential Palace to the Cathedral of Manila by car, arriving shortly before 11 a.m. The Cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is considered the mother of all the churches of the Philippines. The current structure dates from the 1950s when the status of Minor Basilica was granted by St. John Paul II, but the Cathedral has been rebuilt eight times since its initial construction in 1581. It has been destroyed by a typhoon, a fire, various earthquakes, and bombing during the Second World War. It was rebuilt entirely as a result of private donations from major businesses and from the faithful. Closed since 2012, it reopened in April 2014 with a solemn celebration by Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, attended by senior state figures including the president of the Republic, Benigno Aquino III.
The Pope celebrated Mass with the bishops, priests, religious and seminarians of the Philippines, during which he pronounced the following homily:
“'Do you love me? … Tend my sheep'. Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel are the first words I speak to you, dear brother bishops and priests, men and women religious, and young seminarians. These words remind us of something essential. All pastoral ministry is born of love. All pastoral ministry is born of love! All consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s reconciling love. Like St. Therese, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church.
“I greet all of you with great affection. And I ask you to bring my affection to all your elderly and infirm brothers and sisters, and to all those who cannot join us today. As the Church in the Philippines looks to the fifth centenary of its evangelisation, we feel gratitude for the legacy left by so many bishops, priests and religious of past generations. They laboured not only to preach the Gospel and build up the Church in this country, but also to forge a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good. Today you carry on that work of love. Like them, you are called to build bridges, to pasture Christ’s flock, and to prepare fresh paths for the Gospel in Asia at the dawn of a new age.
“'The love of Christ impels us'. In today’s first reading Saint Paul tells us that the love we are called to proclaim is a reconciling love, flowing from the heart of the crucified Saviour. We are called to be 'ambassadors for Christ'. Ours is a ministry of reconciliation. We proclaim the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. We proclaim the joy of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the promise of God’s grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world. It can inspire the building of a truly just and redeemed social order.
“To be an ambassador for Christ means above all to invite everyone to a renewed personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. Our personal encounter with Him. This invitation must be at the core of your commemoration of the evangelisation of the Philippines. But the Gospel is also a summons to conversion, to an examination of our consciences, as individuals and as a people. As the Bishops of the Philippines have rightly taught, the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ. The Gospel calls individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good. But it also calls Christian communities to create 'circles of integrity', networks of solidarity which can expand to embrace and transform society by their prophetic witness.
“The poor. The poor are at the centre of the Gospel, are at heart of the Gospel, and if we take away the poor from the Gospel we cannot understand the whole message of Jesus Christ. As ambassadors for Christ, we, bishops, priests and religious, ought to be the first to welcome his reconciling grace into our hearts. St. Paul makes clear what this means. It means rejecting worldly perspectives and seeing all things anew in the light of Christ. It means being the first to examine our consciences, to acknowledge our failings and sins, and to embrace the path of constant conversion, every day conversion. How can we proclaim the newness and liberating power of the Cross to others, if we ourselves refuse to allow the word of God to shake our complacency, our fear of change, our petty compromises with the ways of this world, our 'spiritual worldliness'?
“For us, priests and consecrated persons, conversion to the newness of the Gospel entails a daily encounter with the Lord in prayer. The saints teach us that this is the source of all apostolic zeal. For religious, living the newness of the Gospel also means finding ever anew in community life and community apostolates the incentive for an ever closer union with the Lord in perfect charity. For all of us, it means living lives that reflect the poverty of Christ, whose entire life was focused on doing the will of the Father and serving others. The great danger to this, of course, is a certain materialism which can creep into our lives and compromise the witness we offer. Only by becoming poor ourselves, by becoming poor ourselves, by stripping away our complacency, will we be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sisters. We will see things in a new light and thus respond with honesty and integrity to the challenge of proclaiming the radicalism of the Gospel in a society which has grown comfortable with social exclusion, polarisation and scandalous inequality.
“Here I would like to say address a special word to the young priests, religious and seminarians among us. I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers. Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope. Be present to those who, living in the midst of a society burdened by poverty and corruption, are broken in spirit, tempted to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets. Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family. As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.
“Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith. Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary; their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary! This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential. It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message. In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.
“Christ died for all so that, having died in him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for him. Dear brother bishops, priests and religious: I ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to obtain for all of you an outpouring of zeal, so that you may spend yourselves in selfless service to our brothers and sisters. In this way, may the reconciling love of Christ penetrate ever more fully into the fabric of Filipino society and, through you, to the farthest reaches of the world”.
Following the Mass Pope Francis visited a house belonging to the Tulay ny Kabataan Foundation, which provides assistance to street children. He conversed with around three hundred of the children during his twenty-minute visit, during which he was moved by their gifts and displays of affection. He then returned to the apostolic nunciature to dine and to take an hour's rest.
|To families: be aware of your calling as Jesus' missionary disciples|
Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – At 5 p.m. local time the Pope proceeded to the Mall of Asia Arena to meet with families, the third scheduled event in his visit to the Filipino capital. He made the six-kilometre journey in the Popemobile so as to be able to greet the multitude of faithful who lined the streets. The Mall of Asia Arena is an indoor sports stadium, opened in 2012 and able to hold twenty thousand people, and belongs to the SM chain of shopping centres which broadcast the meeting with the Pope live to all its cinemas. The songs, testimonies, readings and floral tributes to the Holy Father were the culminating moments of the event, during which he addressed a discourse to those present.
“Dear families, dear friends in Christ, I am grateful for your presence here this evening and for the witness of your love for Jesus and his Church. I thank Bishop Reyes, chairman of the Bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, for his words of welcome on your behalf. And, in a special way, I thank those who have presented testimonies and have shared their life of faith with us.
“The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams. In the Gospel passage we have just heard, we find Joseph resting not once, but twice. This evening I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you, and to reflect with you on the gift of the family.
“Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us. He speaks to us in the reading we have just heard, in our prayer and witness, and in the quiet of our hearts. Let us reflect on what the Lord is saying to us, especially in this evening’s Gospel. There are three aspects of this passage which I would ask you to consider: resting in the Lord, rising with Jesus and Mary, and being a prophetic voice.
“Resting in the Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us. Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities.
“To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord. You must make time each day for prayer. But you may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us. And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.
“Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family, the Church. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church!
“Next, rising with Jesus and Mary. Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like St. Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act. Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.
“Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God’s plan is entrusted to us. The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm.
“The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.
“Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines need holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as St. John Paul II often said, passes through the family. So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.
“Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace. When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.
“During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them. You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!
“Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church. Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always”.
Following the meeting, the Pope retired to the apostolic nunciature, where he dined privately and spent his second night in the Philippines.
|Conclusion of the meeting of presidents of Doctrinal Commissions|
Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – From 13 to 15 January the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the presidents or representatives of the Doctrinal Commissions of the European Episcopal Conferences at the St. Adalbert Centre in Esztergom, Hungary. It was attended by, among others, Cardinal Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria S.J., secretary of the same dicastery, and representatives of the various doctrinal commissions.
The meeting began with the reading of a letter from Pope Francis addressed to the participants, in which he emphasised that the initiative sought to enhance the role of local Episcopates, and in particular their Doctrinal Commissions, “in their responsibility for the unity and integrity of the faith” and its transmission to the young. With reference his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, the Pope expresses in his letter his hope that the meeting will will contribute to finding a collegial solution to the many doctrinal and pastoral difficulties that exist in present-day Europe, and inspire in the faithful “a new missionary zeal and greater openness to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe risks losing the very 'humanistic spirit' that it loves and defends”.
During the three-day meeting, which was characterised by cordiality and a spirit of affective and effective collegiality, a number of issues were considered in relation to the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel as the primary task of the Church in Europe, questions posed by gender theory, Christian anthropology and religious freedom, and the practical issues linked to the new evangelisation, the sacrament of reconciliation and the functioning of the Doctrinal Commission.
|Other Pontifical Acts|
Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Fr. José Maria Balina as auxiliary of Buenos Aires (area 203, population 2,944,000, Catholics 2,696,000, priests 782, permanent deacons 10, religious 1,951), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1959, and was ordained a priest in 1989. He has served as parish vicar in the parishes of “Inmaculada Concepcion”, “San Pablo Apostol”, and “La Sagrada Eucaristia”, and parish priest of the parishes of “Resurreccion del Senor” and “San Isidro Labrador”. He is a member of the presbyteral council of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires,
- Bishop Nicholas James Samra of Newton of the Greek-Melkites, U.S.A., as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the eparchy of Nuestra Senora del Paraiso en Mexico of the Greek-Melkites.
Rain or shine the people of Tacloban the Holy Mass still continue... (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the grounds of the airport in Tacloban City, Philippines, on Saturday morning. An estimated 500 thousand people braved wind and often driving rain to take part in the liturgy. Putting aside his prepared text for the homily, the Holy Father spoke to the gathered faithful in his native Spanish. Below, please find integral audio and a transcription of the English translation of the Holy Father's remarks, which were translated on-site by one of the ministers in the sanctuary. the Holy Father's homily at Mass in Tacloban City ************************************************* We have a high priest who is capable of sympathising with our weaknesses. Jesus is like us. Jesus lived like us and is the same us in every respect, except sin because he was not a sinner. But to be more like us he assumed our condition and our sin. He made himself into sin. This is what St Paul tells us. And Jesus always goes before us and when we pass an experience, a cross, he passed there before us. And if today we find ourselves here 14 months afterwards, 14 months precisely after the Typhoon Yolanda hit, it is because we have the security of knowing we will not weaken in our faith because Jesus has been here before us. In his Passion he assumed all our pain. Therefore he is capable of understanding us, as we heard in the first reading. I’d like to tell you something close to my heart. When I saw from Rome that catastrophe I had to be here. And on those very days I decided to come here. I am here to be with you – a little bit late, but I’m here. I have come to tell you that Jesus is Lord. And he never lets us down. Father, you might say to me, I was let down because I have lost so many things, my house, my livelihood. It’s true if you say that and I respect those sentiments. But Jesus is there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not let us down. He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all the calamities that we experience. Jesus is Lord. And the Lord from the cross is there for you. In everything the same as us. That is why we have a Lord who cries with us and walks with us in the most difficult moments of life. So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you.
Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart. Many of you have asked the Lord – why lord? And to each of you, to your heart, Christ responds with his heart from the cross. I have no more words for you. Let us look to Christ. He is the lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced. And beside the cross was his Mother. We are like a little child in the moments when we have so much pain and no longer understand anything. All we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say “Mommy” - like a child does when it is afraid. It is perhaps the only words we can say in difficult times – “Mommy”. Let us respect a moment of silence together and look to Christ on the cross. He understands us because he endured everything. Let us look to our Mother and, like a little child, let us hold onto her mantle and with a true heart say – “Mother”. In silence, tell your Mother what you feel in your heart. Let us know that we have a Mother, Mary, and a great Brother, Jesus. We are not alone. We also have many brothers who in this moment of catastrophe came to help. And we too, because of this, we feel more like brothers and sisters because we helped each other. This is what comes from my heart. Forgive me if I have no other words to express myself. Please know that Jesus never lets you down. Know that the tenderness of Mary never lets you down. And holding onto her mantle and with the power that cones from Jesus’ love on the cross, let us move forward and walk together as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Saint January 17 : St. Anthony the Abbot : Patron of Amputees; Butchers; Epilepsy; graveyards; Monks; Pigs; skin diseases;
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....