of the Lord's Service.
Working on his
spiritual life, Anthony was loved by all. He sincerely subjected
himself to the lessons of spiritual teachers, the lessons of zeal for
holiness and the lessons of self-denial. From one teacher, he learned
courtesy; from another, constancy in prayer. From one, meekness; from
another, kindness. From one, faithfulness in his vigil; from another, his
love for study. From one, patience; from another, his fasting and
austerity. From one, gentleness; from another, his forbearance.
Then, Anthony (1)
returned to his place of solitude, (2) meditated on what he learned, and (3)
eagerly exemplified all of what he learned in his life.
He never imitated
young men of his own age and never allowed young men to surpass him in
spiritual matters. All the villagers, seeing him thus, loved him and
called him "dear to God."
B. How the
devil attacks the soul seeking God.
enraged the devil, who envies and hates young people with such
steadfastness. So the devil used his usual method in the destruction
of souls. Firstly, the devil tried to draw Anthony away from his way
of life by suggesting the memory of the many worldly things he had
abandoned; how nice and convenient to have them back. Secondly, the
devil made Anthony worry about his sister and miss the intimacy of his
relatives and friends. Thirdly, the devil, presented to Anthony the
desire to enjoy food and other pleasures of life. Finally, the devil,
to discourage Anthony, presented the rigours of virtue and the great labours
they entail. . .all of these were aimed at discouraging him in the pursuit
of holiness. But Anthony overcame all with God's help.
Devil's next set of attacks.
Seeing how resolute
Anthony was in his upright purpose, the devil proceeded to employ his next
set of temptations. . ."the navel of the belly." This is the weak
point of the young. Anthony was troubled night and day with filthy
thoughts and carnal feelings. The devil even appeared as a woman at
night. But Anthony overcame all these with fasting, prayers and
Overcome by Anthony,
the devil, who thought he was God, was utterly confused because he was being
mocked by one so young; he, an angel, was being routed by one of flesh and
Devil's third set of weapons.
Angered, the devil
gnashed his teeth and in frenzy deployed his third weapon. . .a personal
appearance. He appeared to Anthony as a black boy and, adopting a
human voice, he spoke thus: "Anthony, I have deceived many, but with
you I am powerless." "Who are you?" Anthony asked. He answered,
"I am the lover of fornication; with this, I entice the young and deceive
those who wish to be chaste. With fornication, I have overthrown many.
But, with you, I am powerless." Anthony dismissed him, saying, " You
are despicable and as weak as a child. I will not mind you. The
Lord is my helper."
At this, the evil
one immediately fled, fearing to approach the man again.