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Today is the feast of one of the great Desert Fathers, a man living an amazingly long life (251-356), whose legacy is greatly revered by those seeking a depth of spirituality. At the same time, Antony’s words are often quite matter-of-fact and “down-to-earth” and occasionally sound even humorous in our day (although most likely unintentionally). Here are three examples.

A brother said to Abba Antony, “Pray for me.” The old man said to him, “I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God.”

Abba Antony said, “I saw the snares that the enemy spread out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Humility.”

Abba Pambo asked Abba Antony, “What ought I to do?” and the old man said to him, “Do not trust your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.”