Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Life of Anthony

Today is the memorial of St. Anthony of Egypt. I thought I'd point to Athanasius's Life of Anthony, which was in its day one of the most influential works on spirituality ever written, and is still a classic.

My favorite story about Saint Anthony, though, comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers. Some of the elders once visited Saint Anthony the Great, and along with them came the abbot Joseph. Saint Anthony, having seen in his lifetime many men of very different qualities, decided to determine what manner of men had come to him. He proposed to them a passage of Scripture, asking for its meaning. One by one they gave their opinions; and to each of them, he said, "You have not found it." At last the question came to abbot Joseph.

"What is the meaning of this passage?" Saint Anthony said to abbot Joseph.

"I do not know," said abbot Joseph to Saint Anthony.

Then Saint Anthony turned to the elders and said, "Truly I say to you, the abbot Joseph has learned the only way in which Scripture can be interpreted. For when he does not know, he acknowledges his own ignorance."

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