Jan. 30 is the Feast of St. Anthony. May the blessings of this holy saint be with all of us.
Most of what is known about the life of Anthony comes from the Life of Anthony, written in Greek around 360 by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. Sometime before 374, it was translated into Latin by Evagrius of Antioch. The Latin translation helped to spread the concept of monasticism, particularly in Western Europe.
His Early Life
This righteous man was born in the year 251 A.D. in the city of Qimn El-Arouse, Egypt to wealthy landowner Christian parents who loved the church and the poor. They raised him up in fear of the Lord. When he was twenty years old, his parents departed, and he had to take care of his little sister.
Once, he entered the church and heard the words of the Lord Christ in the Gospel, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21) He returned to his house, decided to fulfill this commandment and considered it directed to him personally. He gave his wealth to the poor and needy, reserving a little however for his sister's sake. And again as he went into the church, hearing the Lord say in the Gospel, “be not anxious for the morrow,” he could stay no longer, but went out and gave those things also to the poor. Having committed his sister to known and faithful virgins to be brought up, he henceforth devoted himself outside his house to discipline, taking heed to himself and training himself with patience.
At that time, monasticism had not yet been established. All those who wanted to live a solitary life went and lived on the outskirts of the city. This was what St. Anthony did as he dwelt alone, worshipping and living an ascetic life.
+ St. Anthony said, ‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world, and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Humility.”’
+ “Reject pride, and consider everyone more righteous than yourself.”
+ When St. Anthony entered to the internal desert, the demons watched him dauntingly, saying, “O You young of age and mind, how did you dare to enter our territory, as we have never seen a human before you.” And they all started to fight him. He said to them, “O strong ones, what do you want from me, the weak; And who am I so that you all gather to fight me. Don’t you know that I am ashes and dust, and unable to fight the smallest in you.” And he lay on the ground, shouting to God, “O God, help me, and strengthen my weakness. Have mercy on me, as I sought after you. Do not leave me; and do not let those who think that I am something overcome me. O God, You know that I am unable to fight the smallest of these.” When the demons heard this prayer full of life and humility they fled away, and did not dare to approach to him.
On January 21st which is the 13th of the Coptic month of Tuba, the church commemorates the martyrdom of the virgin St. Demiana. This pure and fighting virgin was the daughter of Mark, who was the governor of El-Borollus, El-Zaafran and the valley of Saisaban. She was the only child of her parents. When she was one year old, her father took her to the church that was in the monastery of El-Maima. He offered gifts there so that God might bless this daughter and keep her safe Him. When she was fifteen years old, her father wanted to get her married. She refused and told him that she had vowed herself a bride for the Lord Christ.
When she found that her father was pleased of her decision, she asked him to build her an isolated palace, so that she could worship God with her virgin friends, and right away he did what she asked. He built the palace where she and the forty virgins lived in. They spent their time by reading the Holy Bible and praying fervently to God. Shortly after, Emperor Diocletian sent for Mark her father and ordered him to worship the idols, but he refused at first. However, after some persuasion, Mark obeyed him and worshipped the idols, forsaking the creator of the universe.