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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana









A.  School 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. 


Anthony's efforts 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. 


C.  The 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 meditations. 


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 blood. 


D.  The 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. 


St. Athanasius 








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