Friday, January 18, 2013

Thurs, Jan 17, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Respect, Hebrew 3:7-14, Psalms 95:6-11, Mark 1:40-45, St Anthony Abbot, Monastery of St Anthony Abbot, Catholic Catechism Chapter 2:3-I Christ - The Unique Word of Sacred Scripture

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Respect, Hebrew 3:7-14, Psalms 95:6-11, Mark 1:40-45, St Anthony Abbot, Monastery of St Anthony Abbot, Catholic Catechism Chapter 2:3-I Christ - The Unique Word of Sacred Scripture

Good Day Bloggers!  Happy New Year, Bonne Annee!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


January 02, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
 "Dear children, with much love and patience I strive to make your hearts like unto mine. I strive, by my example, to teach you humility, wisdom and love because I need you; I cannot do without you my children. According to God's will I am choosing you, by His strength I am strengthening you. Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. I will give them to my Son and in return, He will give you the gift of Divine peace. You will carry it to all those whom you meet, you will witness God's love with your life and you will give the gift of my Son through yourselves. Through reconciliation, fasting and prayer, I will lead you. Immeasurable is my love. Do not be afraid. My children, pray for the shepherds. May your lips be shut to every judgment, because do not forget that my Son has chosen them and only He has the right to judge. Thank you."

December 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
Our Lady came with little Jesus in her arms and she did not give a message, but little Jesus began to speak and said : “I am your peace, live my commandments.” With a sign of the cross, Our Lady and little Jesus blessed us together.

December 2, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
Dear children, with motherly love and motherly patience anew I call you to live according to my Son, to spread His peace and His love, so that, as my apostles, you may accept God's truth with all your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then you will be able to faithfully serve my Son, and show His love to others with your life. According to the love of my Son and my love, as a mother, I strive to bring all of my strayed children into my motherly embrace and to show them the way of faith. My children, help me in my motherly battle and pray with me that sinners may become aware of their sins and repent sincerely. Pray also for those whom my Son has chosen and consecrated in His name. Thank you." 


Today's Word:  respect   re·spect  [ri-spekt]

Origin: 1300–50;  (noun) Middle English  (< Old French ) < Latin respectus  action of looking back, consideration, regard, equivalent to respec-,  variant stem of respicere  to look back ( re- re- + specere  to look) + -tus  suffix of v. action; (v.) < Latin respectus  past participle of respicere

1. a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in  ): to differ in some respect.
2. relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route.
3.  esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
5. the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect
6. respects, a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship: Give my respects to your parents.
7. favor or partiality.
8. Archaic. a consideration.
verb (used with object) 
9. to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat.
10. to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights.
11. to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person's privacy.
12. to relate or have reference to.

13. in respect of, in reference to; in regard to; concerning.
14. in respect that, Archaic. because of; since.
15. pay one's respects,

a. to visit in order to welcome, greet, etc.: We paid our respects to the new neighbors.
b. to express one's sympathy, especially to survivors following a death: We paid our respects to the family.
16. with respect to, referring to; concerning: with respect to your latest request.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 95:6-11

6 Come, let us bow low and do reverence; kneel before Yahweh who made us!
7 For he is our God, and we the people of his sheepfold, the flock of his hand. If only you would listen to him today!
8 Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as at the time of Massah in the desert,
9 when your ancestors challenged me, put me to the test, and saw what I could do!
10 For forty years that generation sickened me, and I said, 'Always fickle hearts; they cannot grasp my ways.'
11 Then in my anger I swore they would never enter my place of rest


Today's Epistle -   Hebrews 3:7-14

7 That is why, as the Holy Spirit says: If only you would listen to him today!
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at the rebellion, as at the time of testing in the desert,
9 when your ancestors challenged me, and put me to the test, and saw what I could do
10 for forty years. That was why that generation sickened me and I said, 'Always fickle hearts, that cannot grasp my ways!'
11 And then in my anger I swore that they would never enter my place of rest.
12 Take care, brothers, that none of you ever has a wicked heart, so unbelieving as to turn away from the living God.
13 Every day, as long as this today lasts, keep encouraging one another so that none of you is hardened by the lure of sin,
14 because we have been granted a share with Christ only if we keep the grasp of our first confidence firm to the end


Today's Gospel Reading -   Mark 1:40-45

A man suffering from a virulent skin-disease came to him and pleaded on his knees saying, 'If you are willing, you can cleanse me.' Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said to him, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' And at once the skin-disease left him and he was cleansed. And at once Jesus sternly sent him away and said to him, 'Mind you tell no one anything, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your cleansing prescribed by Moses as evidence to them.' The man went away, but then started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but stayed outside in deserted places. Even so, people from all around kept coming to him.


• Accepting and curing the leper, Jesus reveals a new face of God. A leper came near Jesus. He was an excluded, an impure person. He should be far away. Anybody who touched him, would also become impure! But that leper had great courage. He transgresses the norms of religion in order to be able to get near Jesus. And he calls out: If you want, you can heal me. You need not touch me! It suffices that you want, and I will be healed!. This phrase reveals two evils: a) the evil of leprosy which made him impure; b) the evil of solitude to which he was condemned by society and by religion . It also reveals the great faith of the man in the power of Jesus. And Jesus profoundly moved, cures both evils. In the first place, in order to cure solitude, he touches the leper. It is as if he said: “For me, you are not an excluded one. I accept you as a brother!” And then he cures the leper saying: I want it! Be cured! The leper, in order to enter into contact with Jesus, had transgressed the norms of the Law. Jesus also, in order to be able to help that excluded person and therefore, reveal a new face of God, transgresses the norms of his religion and touches the leper. At that time, whoever touched a leper became impure according to the religious authority and by the law of that time.

• He integrated anew the excluded person in the fraternal living together. Jesus, not only cures, but also wants the cured person to be able to live with the others. He once again inserts the person in society to live with others. At that time for a leper to be accepted again in the community, it was necessary to get a certificate from the priest that he had been cured. It is like today. A sick person leaves the hospital with a document signed by the doctor of the department where he had been hospitalized. Jesus obliges the person to look for that document, in such a way that he will be able to live normally with others. He obliges the authority to recognize that this man has been cured.

• The leper announces the good that Jesus has done to him and Jesus becomes an excluded person. Jesus forbids the leper to speak about the cure. The Gospel of Mark informs that this prohibition does not serve. The leper, walking away, began to diffuse the fact, to the point that Jesus could no longer enter publicly into a city, but remained outside, in a deserted place (Mk 1, 45). Why? Because Jesus had touched the leper. Because of this, according to the opinion of the religion of that time, now he himself was impure and should live far away from all others. He could no longer enter the city. And Mark says that people did not care about these official norms, in fact, people came to him from everywhere (Mk 1, 45). Total subversion!

• Summarizing. In the year 70, when Mark wrote, as well as today, the time in which we live, it was and continues to be important to have before our eyes models of how to live and how to proclaim the Good News of God and of how to evaluate our mission. In verses 16 to 45 of the first chapter of his Gospel, Mark describes the mission of the community and presents eight criteria in order that the communities of his time could evaluate their mission.

The following is the outline:
Text                Activity of Jesus                                     Objective of the mission
Mark 1,16-2     Jesus calls his first disciples                        To form the community
Mark 1,21-22   The people were admired at his teaching    To create a critical conscience
Mark 1,23-28   Jesus expels a devil                                   To overcome the force of evil
Mark 1,29-31   He cures Peter’s mother-in-law                 To give life back so as to serve
Mark 1,32-34   He cures the sick and the possessed          To accept the marginalized
Mark 1,35        Jesus rises early to pray                             To remain united with the Father
Mark 1,36-39   Jesus continues the announcement             Not to stop at the results
Mark 1,40-45   He cures a leper                                       To integrate anew the excluded

Personal questions
• To proclaim the Good News means to give witness of the concrete experience of Jesus that one has. What does the leper announce? He tells others the good that Jesus has done to him. Only this! And this witness leads others to accept the Good News of God which Jesus brings to us. Which is the witness that you give?

• To take the Good News to the people, it is not necessary to be afraid to transgress the religious norms which are contrary to God’s project and which make communication, dialogue and the living out of love difficult. Even if this causes difficulty for the people, as it caused difficulty for Jesus. Do I have this courage?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St  Anthony the Abbot

Feast DayJanuary 17
Patron Saint Skin diseases, basket makers, brushmakers, gravediggers

Anthony the Great or Antony the Great (ca. 251–356), also known as Saint Anthony, or 'Anthony of Egypt', Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Anthony of Thebes, Abba Antonius (Ἀββᾶς Ἀντώνιος), and Father of All Monks, was a Christian saint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers. He is celebrated in many churches on his feast days: 30 January in the Old-Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church; 17 January in the New-Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Coptic Catholic Church.

The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of monasticism, particularly in Western Europe through Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first known ascetic going into the wilderness (about A.D. 270–271), a geographical move that seems to have contributed to his renown.[4] Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Libyan Desert inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.

Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism, erysipelas, and shingles, were historically referred to as "St. Anthony's fire."

Early life

Most of what is known about Saint Anthony comes from the Life of Anthony. Written in Greek around 360 by Athanasius of Alexandria, it depicts Anthony as an illiterate and holy man who through his existence in a primordial landscape has an absolute connection to the divine truth, which always is in harmony with that of Athanasius as the biographer.[4] Sometime before 374, it was translated into Latin by Evagrius of Antioch. The Latin translation helped the Life become one of the best known works of literature in the Christian world, a status it would hold through the Middle Ages. In addition to the Life, several surviving homilies and epistles of varying authenticity provide some additional autobiographical detail.

Anthony was born in Coma (or Koma) near Herakleopolis Magna in Lower Egypt in 251 to wealthy landowner parents. When he was about 18 years old, his parents died and left him with the care of his unmarried sister. Shortly thereafter, he decided to follow the words of Jesus, who had said: "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.",[Mt 19:21] which is part of the Evangelical counsels. Taking these words quite literally, Anthony gave away some of the family estate to his neighbors, sold the remaining property, donated the funds thus raised to the poor, placed his sister with a group of Christian virgins,[5] a sort of proto-monastery of nuns, and himself became the disciple of a local hermit.[3]

The appellation "Father of Monasticism" might be considered misleading, as Christian monasticism was already being practiced in the deserts of Egypt. Ascetics commonly retired to isolated locations on the outskirts of cities. By the 2nd century there were also famous Christian ascetics, such as Saint Thecla.

The Therapeutae, pagan ascetic hermits and loosely organized cenobitic communities described by the Hellenized Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria in the first century, were long established in the harsh environments by Lake Mareotis close to Alexandria, and in other less-accessible regions. Philo noted that "this class of persons may be met with in many places, for both Greece and barbarian countries want to enjoy whatever is perfectly good."[6] There are various legends associating him with pigs: one is that for a time he worked as a swineherd.[7]


Saint Anthony decided to follow this tradition and headed out into the alkaline Nitrian Desert region (which became the location of the noted monasteries of Nitria, Kellia and Scetis), about 95 km (59 mi) west of Alexandria, on the edge of the Western Desert. Here he remained for some 13 years.[3]

Anthony is notable for being one of the first ascetics to attempt living in the desert proper, completely cut off from civilization. His anchoretic lifestyle was remarkably harsher than that of his predecessors. Yet the title of Father of monasticism is merited as he was the inspiration for the coming of hundreds of men and women into the depths of the desert, who were then loosely organized into small communities, especially by his disciple, Macarius.

According to Athanasius, the devil fought St. Anthony by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer, providing a theme for Christian art. After that, he moved to a tomb, where he resided and closed the door on himself, depending on some local villagers who brought him food. When the devil perceived his ascetic life and his intense worship, he was envious and beat him mercilessly, leaving him unconscious. When his friends from the local village came to visit him and found him in this condition, they carried him to a church.

After he recovered, he made a second effort and went back into the desert to a farther mountain by the Nile called Pispir, now Der el Memun, opposite Crocodilopolis. There he lived strictly enclosed in an old abandoned Roman fort for some twenty years.[3] According to Athanasius, the devil again resumed his war against Saint Anthony, only this time the phantoms were in the form of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes and scorpions. They appeared as if they were about to attack him or cut him into pieces. But the saint would laugh at them scornfully and say, "If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me." At his saying this, they disappeared as though in smoke. This is attributed as a victory granted by God. While in the fort he only communicated with the outside world by a crevice through which food would be passed and he would say a few words. Saint Anthony would prepare a quantity of bread that would sustain him for six months. He did not allow anyone to enter his cell; whoever came to him stood outside and listened to his advice.

The former main altar of the hermitage church in Warfhuizen in the Netherlands with a mural of Anthony the Abbot and a reliquary with some of his relics. Since then they have been moved to a new golden shrine on a side-altar especially made for them.
Then one day he emerged from the fort with the help of villagers to break down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away, or to have gone insane in his solitary confinement. 

Instead, he emerged healthy, serene and enlightened. Everyone was amazed that he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow.

Anthony went to the Fayyum and confirmed the brethren there in the Christian faith, then returned to his old Roman fort. In 311, Anthony wished to become a martyr and went to Alexandria. He visited those who were imprisoned for the sake of Christ and comforted them. 

When the Governor saw that he was confessing his Christianity publicly, not caring what might happen to him, he ordered him not to show up in the city. However, the Saint did not heed his threats. He faced him and argued with him in order that he might arouse his anger so that he might be tortured and martyred, but it did not happen.

Father of monks

He left Alexandria to return to the old Roman fort upon the end of the persecutions. Here, many came to visit him and to hear his teachings. He saw that these visits kept him away from his worship. As a result, he went further into the Eastern Desert of Egypt. He travelled to the inner wilderness for three days, until he found a spring of water and some palm trees, and then he chose to settle there. Disciples soon started to come to him to seek spiritual teaching. A trickle became a flood, and soon they numbered in the hundreds. On this spot now stands the monastery of Saint Anthony the Great.

There, he anticipated the rule of Benedict of Nursia who lived about 200 years later; "pray and work", by engaging himself and his disciple or disciples in manual labor. Anthony himself cultivated a garden and wove mats of rushes. He and his disciples were regularly sought out for words of enlightenment. These statements were later collected into the book of Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Anthony himself is said to have spoken to those of a spiritual disposition personally, leaving the task of addressing the more worldly visitors to Macarius. On occasions, he would go to the monastery on the outskirts of the desert by the Nile to visit the brethren, then return to his inner monastery.

The backstory of one of the surviving epistles, directed to Constantine I, recounts how the fame of Saint Anthony spread abroad and reached Emperor Constantine. The Emperor wrote to him offering him praise and asking him to pray for him. The brethren were pleased with the Emperor's letter, but Anthony did not pay any attention to it, and he said to them, "The books of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, commands us every day, but we do not heed what they tell us, and we turn our backs on them." Under the persistence of the brethren who told him, "Emperor Constantine loves the church," he accepted to write him a letter blessing him, and praying for the peace and safety of the empire and the church.

Painting of Saint Anthony, a part of The Visitation with Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony Abbot by Piero di Cosimo, ca. 1480.
According to Athanasius, Saint Anthony heard a voice telling him, "Go out and see." He went out and saw an angel who wore a girdle with a cross, one resembling the holy Eskiem (Tonsure or Schema), and on his head was a head cover (Kolansowa). He was sitting while braiding palm leaves, then he stood up to pray, and again he sat to weave. A voice came to him saying, "Anthony, do this and you will rest." Henceforth, he started to wear this tunic that he saw, and began to weave palm leaves, and never was bored again. 

Saint Anthony prophesied about the persecution that was about to happen to the church and the control of the heretics over it, the church victory and its return to its former glory, and the end of the age. When Saint Macarius visited Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony clothed him with the monk's garb, and foretold him what would be of him. 

When the day drew near of the departure of Saint Paul the First Hermit in the desert, Saint Anthony went to him and buried him, after clothing him in a tunic which was a present from St Athanasius the Apostolic, the 20th Patriarch of Alexandria.  In 338, he was summoned by Athanasius of Alexandria to help refute the teachings of Arius.[3]

Final days

When Saint Anthony felt that the day of his departure had approached, he commanded his disciples to give his staff to Saint Macarius, and to give one sheepskin cloak to Saint Athanasius and the other sheepskin cloak to Saint Serapion, his disciple. He further instructed his disciples to bury his body in an unmarked, secret grave.

He probably spoke only his native language, Coptic, but his sayings were spread in a Greek translation. He himself left no writings. His biography was written by Saint Athanasius and titled Life of Saint Anthony the Great. Many stories are also told about him in various collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Though Anthony himself did not organize or create a monastery, a community grew around him based on his example of living an ascetic and isolated life. Athanasius' biography helped propagate Anthony's ideals. Athanasius writes, "For monks, the life of Anthony is a sufficient example of asceticism."[3]


Michelangelo (1487-9). The Torment of Saint Anthony. Oil and tempera on panel. One of many artistic depictions of Saint Anthony's trials in the desert, this painting was copied by the young Michelangelo after an engraving by Martin Schongauer
Famously, Anthony is said to have faced a series of supernatural temptations during his pilgrimage to the desert. The first to report on the temptation was his contemporary Athanasius of Alexandria. However, some modern scholars have argued that the demons and temptations that Anthony is reported to have faced may have been related to Athanasius by some of the simpler pilgrims who had visited him, who may have been conveying what they had been told in a manner more dramatic than it had been conveyed to them.[citation needed]

It is possible these events, like the paintings, are full of rich metaphor or in the case of the animals of the desert, perhaps a vision or dream. Some of the stories included in Saint Anthony's biography are perpetuated now mostly in paintings, where they give an opportunity for artists to depict their more lurid or bizarre interpretations. Many artists, including Martin Schongauer, Hieronymus Bosch, Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dalí, have depicted these incidents from the life of Anthony; in prose, the tale was retold and embellished by Gustave Flaubert in The Temptation of Saint Anthony.
Emphasis on these stories, however, did not really begin until the Middle Ages, when the psychology of the individual became of greater interest.[3] Below are some of these controversial tales.

The satyr and the centaur

Saint Anthony was on a journey in the desert to find his predecessor, Saint Paul of Thebes. Saint Anthony had been under the impression that he was the first person to ever dwell in the desert; however, due to a vision, Saint Anthony was called into the desert to find his predecessor, Saint Paul. On his way there he ran into two demons in the forms of a centaur and a satyr. Many works of art depict Saint Anthony meeting with this centaur and satyr. Western theology considers these demons to have been temptations. At any rate, he was stopped by these demons and asked, "Who are you?" To that the satyr replied, "I am a corpse, one of those whom the heathen calls satyrs, and by them were snared into idolatry." The satyr then tried to terrify the saint while the centaur acknowledged the overthrow of the gods. In the end, the centaur tried to show Saint Anthony the way to his destination while the satyr ended up asking for Saint Anthony's blessing.[8]

Silver and gold

Another time Saint Anthony was traveling in the desert he found a plate of silver coins in his path. He pondered for a moment as to why a plate of silver coins would be out in the desert where no one else travels. Then he realized the devil must have laid it out there to tempt him. To that he said, "Ha! Devil, thou weenest to tempt me and deceive me, but it shall not be in thy power." Once he said this, the plate of silver vanished. Saint Anthony continued walking along and saw a pile of gold in his way which the devil had laid there to deceive him. Saint Anthony cast the pile of gold into a fire, and it vanished just like the silver coins did. After these events, Saint Anthony had a vision where the whole world was full of snares and traps. He cried to the Lord, "Oh good Lord, who may escape from these snares?" A voice said back to him, "humility shall escape them without more. "

Demons in the cave

One time Saint Anthony tried hiding in a cave to escape the demons that plagued him. There were so many little demons in the cave though that Saint Anthony's servant had to carry him out because they had beaten him to death. When the hermits were gathered to Saint Anthony's corpse to mourn his death, Saint Anthony was revived. He demanded that his servants take him back to that cave where the demons had beaten him. When he got there he called out to the demons, and they came back as wild beasts to rip him to shreds. All of a sudden a bright light flashed, and the demons ran away. Saint Anthony knew that the light must have come from God, and he asked God where was he before when the demons attacked him. God replied, "I was here but I would see and abide to see thy battle, and because thou hast manly fought and well maintained thy battle, I shall make thy name to be spread through all the world."[9]


Pilgrimage banners from the shrine in Warfhuizen
Anthony was secretly buried on the mountain-top where he had chosen to live. His remains were reportedly discovered in 361, and transferred to Alexandria. Some time later, they were taken from Alexandria to Constantinople, so that they might escape the destruction being perpetrated by invading Saracens.

Later, in the eleventh century, the Byzantine emperor gave them to the French Count Jocelin. Jocelin had them transferred to La-Motte-Saint-Didier, which was then renamed Saint-Antoine-en-Dauphiné.[3] There, Anthony is credited with assisting in a number of miraculous healings, primarily from ergotism, which became known as "St. Anthony's Fire". He was credited by two local noblemen of assisting them in recovery from the disease. They then founded the Hospital Brothers of St. Anthony in honour of him, who specialized in nursing the victims of skin diseases.[3]

Veneration of Anthony in the East is more restrained. There are comparatively few icons and paintings of him. He is regarded as the "first master of the desert and the pinnacle of holy monks", however, and there are monastic communities of the Maronite, Chaldean, and Orthodox churches which state that they follow his monastic rule.[3] During the Middle Ages, Anthony, along with Quirinus of Neuss, Cornelius and Hubertus, was venerated as one of the Four Holy Marshals (Vier Marschälle Gottes) in the Rhineland.[10]

Coptic literature

Examples of purely Coptic literature are the works of Saint Anthony and Saint Pachomius, who only spoke Coptic, and the sermons and preachings of Saint Shenouda the Archmandrite, who chose to only write in Coptic. Saint Shenouda was a popular leader who only spoke to the Egyptians in Egyptian language (Coptic), the language of the repressed, not in Greek, the language of the rulers.  The earliest original writings in Coptic language were the letters by Saint Anthony. During the 3rd and 4th centuries many ecclesiastics and monks wrote in Coptic.[11]


  1. ^ Jack Tresidder, ed. (2005). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-4767-5.
  2. ^ Cornwell, Hilarie; James Cornwell (2009). Saints, Signs, and Symbols (3rd ed.). Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing. ISBN 0-8192-2345-X.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Michael Walsh, ed. (1991). Butler's Lives of the Saints (Concise, Revised. & Updated, 1st HarperCollins ed.). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-069299-5.
  4. ^ a b Endsjø, Dag Øistein (2008). Primordial landscapes, Incorruptible Bodies. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 1-4331-0181-5.
  5. ^ Athanasius (1998). Life of Antony. 3. Carolinne White, trans. London: Penguin Books. p. 10. ISBN 0-8146-2377-8.
  6. ^ Philo. De Vita Contemplativa [English: The Contemplative Life].
  7. ^ Sax, Boria. "How Saint Anthony Brought Fire to the World". Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  8. ^ Bacchus, Francis. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Saint Paul the Hermit". Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  9. ^ "The Golden Legend: The Life of Anthony of Egypt". Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  10. ^ "Quirinus von Rom [English: Quirinus of Rome]" (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  11. ^ "Coptic Literature". Retrieved 2013-01-04.


Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane



Today's Snippet I:   Monastery of Saint Anthony

The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery standing in an oasis in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, in the southern part of the Suez Governorate. Hidden deep in the Red Sea mountains, it is located 334 km (208 mi) southeast of Cairo. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, together with Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, which also lays claim to that title. The Monastery of Saint Anthony was established by the followers of Saint Anthony, who is considered to be the first monk. The Monastery of St. Anthony is one of the most prominent monasteries in Egypt and has strongly influenced the formation of several Coptic institutions, and has promoted monasticism in general. Several patriarchs have been pulled from the monastery, and several hundred pilgrims visit it each day.

Life of Saint Anthony

Saint Anthony is a Christian saint who was born to a wealthy family in Lower Egypt around 251 C.E. Most of what is known about him comes from the biographical work of St. Athanasius, Vita Antoni. This biography depicts Anthony as an illiterate and holy man who through his existence in a primordial landscape has received an absolute connection to the divine truth. At the age of 34, Anthony gave away or donated to charity all of his property and worldly possessions; he ventured into the Eastern Desert to seek a life of humility, solitude, and spiritual reflection. He made his abode in a small cave where he devoutly practiced an ascetic life. Although St. Anthony was not the first monk, he attracted many followers and disciples, and is one of the fathers of modern Christian monasticism.



A few years after the death of Saint Anthony, his followers settled around the place where the hermit lived. The Monastery of Saint Anthony was built between 361 and 363 A.D. during the reign of Julian the Apostate. In the original settlement, his followers established only the most essential buildings. Isolation was stressed. They lived in solitary cells surrounding a communal worship center where they performed the Divine Liturgy. They took their daily meals in a basic refectory. As time passed, the focus on ascetics diminished, and St. Anthony’s followers began to develop closer relationships with one and other in order to foster safety, convenience, and mutual fellowship. The life of an Antonian monk thus slowly evolved from one of solitary asceticism to one that allowed for a communal way of living.

The Monastery as a Refuge for Others (400–800)

In the sixth and seventh centuries, many monks from the monasteries of Scetes fled to the Monastery of Saint Anthony in order to escape frequent attack by the Bedouins and Berbers. During this time, the monastery experienced a constantly shifting and sometimes mutual occupation by the Coptic monks from Scetes and by the Melkite monks from the east. In 615, St. John the Merciful, the Melkite Patriarch, sent St. Anastasius, the head of the Monastery of St. Anthony at that time, large sums of money and asked him to take some Melkite monks who were persecuted by the Persians. These Melkite monks then continued to oversee the monastery until the late 8th century.

In 790, Coptic monks from the Monastery of St. Macarius in the Desert of Scetis disguised themselves as Bedouins in an attempt to steal the earthly remains of St. John the Short, who had lived and died in the Monastery of St. Anthony in the 5th century. The Ethiopian Synaxarium describes how they deceived the Melkite monks to accomplish this task:
“it was not possible for them to fulfill their mission for the moment, for the body of the saint was guarded by the Melkite Chalcedonians who dwelt in the sanctuary. Then the judge from among the Arabs said to the Melkite bishop who sat in the sanctuary: ‘make all your men get out of the church, for I wish to enter the church myself and stay here this night.’ The bishop did as the judge commanded, and the Coptic Monks made ready their beasts outside the town and entered by night and took the body and returned to the desert of Scetis.”

Peace and Persecution (800–1300)

Although the monastery of St. Anthony enjoyed relative peace and security in its remote area, there were short periods of intense persecution. The monastery itself was plundered a number of times by the Bedouins of the Eastern Desert, who partly destroyed it in the 11th century. There was also a rebellion by the Kurds and the Turks during this time. When their leader Nasir ad-Daula was defeated, the remains of his army invaded and pillaged the Monastery of St. Anthony as well as the nearby Monastery of St. Paul. The monastery was restored in the 12th century, and it flourished throughout the next few centuries. A fortress-like structure was also built around the monastery for protection from invaders. Abu Salih the Armenian describes the unparalleled excellence of the monastery in the beginning of the 13th century:
“This monastery possesses many endowments and possessions at Misr. It is surrounded by a fortified wall. It contains many monks. Within the wall there is a large garden, containing fruitful palm trees, and apple trees, and pear trees, and pomegranates, and other trees besides beds of vegetables, and three springs of perpetually flowing water, with which the garden is irrigated and which the monks drink. One feddan and a sixth in the garden form a vineyard, which supplies all that is needed, and it is said that the number of the palms which the garden contains amounts to a thousand trees, and there stands in it a large well-built qasr… There is nothing like it among the other monasteries inhabited by Egyptian monks.”

Early European Visitors (1300–1800)

During the later crusades, European priests and diplomats began to tour Egypt as a part of their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Ludolph of Suchem, a parish priest in the diocese of Paderborn, mentions his visits to the “many cells and hermitages of holy fathers,” many of which live under St. Anthony. In his “Description of the Holy Land”, he describes the miraculous fountain of St. Anthony: “In this desert there is a place beneath an exceeding tall and narrow rock, wherein St. Anthony used to dwell, and from out of the rock there flows a stream for half a stone’s throw, until it is lost in the sand… this place is visited by many for devotions and pleasure, and also by the grace of God and in honor of St. Anthony many sicknesses are healed and driven away by the fountain.”

In 1395, during the Crusade of Nicopolis, Ogier VIII d'Anglure journeyed to Egypt with several French pilgrims. He compared the Monastery of St. Anthony to the Monastery of Saint Catherine, stating that it was even more beautiful and noted the holiness and charitable of the Jacobite monks. By the early 15th century, the monastery had become an established pilgrimage destination and it was commonplace for pilgrims to inscribe their name, coat-of-arms, and date of arrival on the walls of the monastery.

In the late 15th century, the monastery was devastated by the same Bedouins the monastery employed, and all of the monks were killed. It then followed that Syrian monks began to occupy the monastery, and helped in the rebuilding of the monastery at the beginning of the 16th century. After the restoration of the monastery, Ethiopian and Egyptian monks co-inhabited the monastery for some time. However, the monastery slowly fell completely into ruin and the few monks that lived there greatly relied on the support from the nearby village of Bush. From then until the 19th century, there are various accounts of travelers who stopped by the monastery, but the monastery is only briefly mentioned in passing. It is known that Franciscan missionaries sometimes used the monastery as a base to prepare missionaries in the 17th century. However, the monastery was in such disarray that it lacked even a door, and travelers had to enter through a pulley system of rope and basket.

Modern History (1900-present)

Before the dawn of the 20th century, the only way to get to the monastery was by way of the monthly camel caravans which brought in food and other necessities from the nearby village of Bush. A journey along the desert path that extended from Kuraymat, a city along the Nile in between Beni Suef and Helwan, to the monastery used to take three to four days.The monastery received very few visitors, but those who did come were often distinguished in status, such as Georges Cogordan, the French ambassador to Egypt in 1901, and Johann Georg, Duke of Saxony.

The monastery became much more accessible after the opening of the Suez-Ras Gharib Road in 1946, and can now be reached from Cairo in just five to six hours. During the first decade after construction, the number of foreigner visitors greatly increased, with about 370 visitors between 1953 and 1958. Since then, the monastery has become a more popular destination for Egyptians, offering Egyptian Christians religious retreats as well as family excursions. Now on holiday weekends there are typically more than a thousand visitors.

Modern Monastery

The modern monastery is a self-contained village with gardens, a mill, a bakery and five churches. 

The walls are adorned with paintings of knights in bright colors and hermits in more subdued colors. 

The wall paintings have been worn over the centuries by soot, candle grease, oil and dust. 

In a collaborative effort between the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the American Research Center in Egypt, restoration has been undertaken on the paintings. 

The oldest paintings in the monastery date to the 7th and 8th centuries, while the newest date to the 13th.


The Medieval Church of St. Anthony

This church dates back to the 12th century and has a central sanctuary with a very small apse, two lateral sanctuaries, and a small choir. The nave has two bays with two large domes and a wide arch between them. Most of the church's walls and domes are covered with frescos. There is a small sanctuary dedicated to the four beasts of the Apocalypse in the southwestern corner, and their representations are depicted on the walls. The soffit of the arch above the door is decorated with a scene of Christ in mandorla flanked by busts of the twelve apostles. This is the oldest painting in the church, and dates from the 7th century. A figure of a decorated cross is in the apse. The body of St. Justus the monk is kept in a passage along the outer southern wall that connects to the adjoining Church of the Apostles.

The Church of the Apostles

This church, dedicated to the saints Peter and Paul, was renovated in 1772 A.D. by the Copt Lutfallah Shaker. The church has twelve domes. Nine of the domes roof the nave and the other three are over the sanctuaries, which are characterized by inlaid wooden screens. In 2005, the monks' cells dating to the 4th century – the oldest ever found – were discovered beneath the Church of the Apostles.

The Church of St. Mark the Ascetic

This church was renovated in 1766 by Hasaballah al-Bayadi and also has twelve domes. It was built in the 15th century on the spot of Saint Mark the Ascetic's cell.

The Church of the Virgin Mary and The Church of St. Michael

These two churches are north of the Church of St. Anthony and their structures resemble towers. The western building houses storage rooms and the refectory on the ground floor. The Church of the Virgin Mary is on the upper floor and has an inlaid screen extending over the whole breadth of the church. The eastern building is the tower of the monastery, and the Church of St Michael the Archangel is on the third floor of the tower.

The Library

The library was originally intended to be a church by Pope Cyril IV, but because of its deviation from the eastern direction it was never consecrated and thus became the library. It contains a rich collection of printed books and the largest collection of Coptic manuscripts in Egypt, which amount to some 1,863 volumes.The library contained many more volumes in the past. The present collection has been significantly reduced by the Bedouins who plundered the monastery and used many of the manuscripts as cooking fuel.

The Cave of St. Anthony

The cave where Saint Anthony lived as a hermit is a 2km hike from the monastery and is 680 meters above the Red Sea level. It is a small natural hole in the rocks adjacent to the southern part of Mount Galala. Visitors can ascend the winding trail of stairs from the monastery to the cavern in about one hour. The hermitage of St. Anthony is an extremely small space about 7 meters from the narrow opening of the cave.


In 2002, the Egyptian government began what was to be an 8-year, $14.5 million project to restore the monastery Workers renovated the main surrounding wall of the monastery, the two main churches, the monks' living quarters, and a defensive tower. A modern sewage system was also added. Archeologists from the American Research Center in Egypt restored paintings inside the Saint Anthony's Church.

During the renovations, archeologists uncovered the ruins of the original monks' working quarters from the 4th century. The remains are now covered by a glass floor and are viewable by visitors. The restored monastery is now open to the public. The renovations were unveiled shortly after a violent attack on Christians in Egypt and have been touted by the government as evidence of peaceful Muslim-Christian coexistence.

The Monks

Coptic leaders, the patriarch, the metropolitans, and the bishops have always been recruited from among the desert monks. In the 1960s, Anba Shenudah initiated the Sunday School movement, which inspired educated young men to forsake the worldly pleasures and to instead join their desert fathers. Since the movement began, the total number of monks had more than tripled within the first 25 years, and many of these young ascetics have also been promoted to the episcopacy. At the Monastery of Saint Anthony, the number of monks jumped from 24 monks in 1960 to 69 in 1986. Today, there are about 120 monks and priests currently living in the community.

In the past, the overwhelming majority of the monks in residence were 50 years of age or older, and through the tradition of the other desert fathers, their piety was linked to a quality of anti-intellectualism. St. Macarius the Great was a camel herder; St. Macarius of Alexandria was a small shopkeeper; St. Apollo was a goat herder, and St. Paphnutius and St. Pambo were illiterate. This trend has reversed since the revival of monasticism in Egypt in the 1960s. Today, monks are well-educated young men with extensive academic and professional backgrounds in the scientific fields such as engineering, medicine, pharmacy, and architecture.

Popes from the Monastery of St. Anthony

  • Pope Mark VII
  • Pope John XVIII
  • Pope Mark VIII

Current Abbot

The current abbot of the monastery is His Grace Bishop Yustus (Justus).


Significance for Coptic Christians

The monastic movement in Egypt experienced an unprecedented renaissance days under the Patriarchate of Anba Kirillus VI (1959–1971), and has significantly contributed to a revival in the spiritual vitality of the Coptic church. The construction of a desert road leading to the monastery has lifted the monastery out of geographic isolation and brought it within reach of the masses. It has now become a popular pilgrimage site that can be reached within a few hours by bus or car from a major city. Over a million people, including both Egyptian Christians and foreigners, visit each year. Contrary to the exclusive ascetic functions of monasteries in the past, the monastery now also serves as a center for Coptic Christians where they can organize and attend spiritual retreats, youth programs, and religious conferences. Today, the monastery is accessible from Cairo, Suez or Hurghada.


  • Ed., Bolman, Elizabeth. 2002. Monastic visions : wall paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea. Cairo, Egypt: American Research Center in Egypt.
  • Meinardus, Otto Friedrich August. 1989. Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Deserts. Cairo, Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press.
  • Evetts, B.T.A. (Trans.) Abu Salih the Armenian. 2002. The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighboring Countries. Gorgias Press.
  • Dalrymple, William. 1998. From the holy mountain : A journey among the Christians of the middle east. New York: H. Holt.
  • Dunn, Marilyn. 2000. The emergence of monasticism : From the desert fathers to the early Middle Ages. Oxford, UK; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Gabra, Gawdat, Hany N. Takla, Saint Mark Foundation., and Saint Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society. 2008. Christianity and monasticism in upper Egypt.
  • McClellan, Michael W., and Otto Friedrich August Meinardus. 1998. Monasticism in Egypt : Images and words of the desert fathers. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press.
  • St. Athanasius of Alexandria, 356–362. VITA S. ANTONI (Life of St. Anthony) from the Medieval Sourcebook [Electronic Source]
  • Al-Syriany, Samuel; Habib, Badii. 1990. Guide to Ancient Coptic Churches & Monasteries in Upper Egypt. Cairo, Egypt: Institute of Coptic Studies, Department of Coptic Architecture.
  • Gabra, Gawdat. 2002. Coptic Monasteries: Egypt's Monastic Art and Architecture. Cairo ; Egypt : American University in Cairo Press.


Catechism of the Catholic Church

Part One: Profession of Faith, Chapter 2:3-I

Article 3

I. Christ - The Unique Word of Sacred Scripture

101 In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men."DV 13
102 Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:Heb 1:1-3
You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 103, 4, 1: PL 37, 1378; cf. Ps 104; Jn 1:1
103 For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body.DV 21
104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God".Th 2:13; cf. DV 24 "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."DV 21