Today is the feast of St Anthony the Great (+356), pioneer of desert monasticism.
ANTHONY the Great, asked to clarify what is meant by a monk, said: “A monk is the one who keeps guard on the eye of the heart [nous]“.
And at this, human wisdom lifts up her hands and says, “We cannot do that”. Of course, it is impossible to bring this effort to success without divine grace. But having grace with us, it is the one easy thing we can succeed in doing, because it is the center of our goal. […]
So “let our hearts be on high”.
“On high”, at the right hand of the Father, where is the brightness of glory, there where the center of love is, Jesus, who awaits us. When will we awake from our numbness, and call upon his goodness with longing, with humility, that he might deign to set us free from the “old man” (Col 3:9)?
YOU were enlightened by the rays of the Spirit when love inspired by God set you aflame and gave wings to your soul to long for the true highest point of love. Then you despised both flesh and blood and, united to this love by great ascetic toil and stillness, you lived far from the world. Therefore, Antony, you were filled, as you had sought, with good things from there, and, like a shining Star, gave light to our souls.
Great Vespers. Translation from Anastasis.