Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The Crossroads Initiative and St. Anthony, Abbot  

I recently received an email inviting me to view the Crossroads Initiative Web site. It is a Web site produced by Marcellino D'Ambrosio in order to provide solid, Catholic resources. It is quite a nice site, and I would recommend taking a look at it. In the Web site he pulls together resources in order to make them available for purchase.

I am familiar with Marcellino D'Ambrosio from EWTN and Catholic Answers. These are great recommendations in of themselves, but I will add my own. I especially appreciate his presentation of the early Church Fathers. It is through my understanding of many of these early believers that I began my journey into the Catholic Church.

One such figure is St. Athanasius who is somewhat of a hero of mine. I certainly admire his faith that motivated him to defend Christ's fully humanity and full divinity against the overwhelming forces supporting Arianism early in the Church's history. In addition, St. Athanasius wrote a biography of St. Anthony of the desert whose feast was celebrated yesterday, January 17th. In this biography, he recounts how St. Anthony sensed God's call for him to leave the life he knew for a life fully dedicated to God. The Crossroads Initiative reminded me of this saint's call by including an excerpt from the Roman Office of readings about St. Anthony:
When Anthony was about eighteen or twenty years old, his parents died, leaving him with an only sister. He cared for her as she was very young, and also looked after their home.

Not six months after his parents' death, as he was on his way to church for his usual visit, he began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Savior, and also of those mentioned in the book of Acts who had sold their possessions and brought the apostles the money for distribution to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. This was all in his mind when, entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord's words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor - you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.

It seemed to Anthony that it was God who had brought the saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away to the villagers all the property he had inherited, about 200 acres of very beautiful and fertile land, so that it would cause no distraction to his sister and himself. He sold all his other possessions as well, giving to the poor the considerable sum of money he collected. However, to care for his sister he retained a few things.

The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel: "Do not be anxious about tomorrow." Without a moment's hesitation he went out and gave the poor all that he had left. He placed his sister in the care of some well-known and trustworthy virgins and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent. Then he gave himself up to the ascetic life, not far from his own home. He kept a careful watch over himself and practised great austerity. He did manual work because he had heard the words: If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. He spent some of his earnings on bread and the rest he gave to the poor.
It reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi's call to a life of poverty in which he had the Gospels opened three times in a row and the first passage found to be read. Each passage confirmed that he should sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow Christ.

How often do we hear these types of stories and think that these are so simplistic. Or we think to ourselves that it certainly is not for me because God does not act that way in my life. My own experience is that He more often than not works in such straightforward, clear ways. The key is that we have to be open to Him revealing Himself and His Will in such beautifully, simple ways. St. Anthony and St. Francis were humble enought to accept God in a plain way. Perhaps the next time we are faced with such a decision, we should ask God to plainly show us the way, pray for a humble heart, and watch God answer our prayers with a straightforward reply.

Posted by David at 12:05 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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