Research Paper: Anthony the Great

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Anthony the Great

Why St. Anthony decided to become an ascetic

Commonly known as epithet 'the great', St. Anthony performed a key task in early Christianity because he was the founder of Christian monastic movement. In actual sense, Anthony was not the first ascetic but rather Paul the first Hermit, and because of his reputation for sanctity and fame, he launched monasticism. Anthony is not the inventor of monasticism as such because ascetics already existed in the region. They existed as a domain of the Greeks or the Hellenic world; for example, Pythagoras was the founding member of a movement made up of members who existed in the ascetic colonies. Some schools of Greek for philosophy also existed in the ascetic communes (Chiffolo and Rayner, 109). In this study, I will elucidate some of the critical events that made Saint Anthony be referred to as an ascetic and the reasons that contributed to his actions in fostering Christianity.

While their ways of life were different, their living conditions were similar-sparse. They all did not live luxuriously and ate diets, which were restrictive (in most cases vegetarian and sometimes restricted to items like water and proverbial bread). Most of their emphasis was on work, meditation and study, and everyone directed efforts to the needs of the society. Many of them were self-reliant, made their own tools; they grew their own food etc. Concisely, they were not associated with any creature comforts in order to concentrate on metaphysical instead of the physical matters (McDannell 57). This philosophy was transmitted to every culture that was exposed to Hellenism. The significance of Levant seems to have been the cult of Judaic, which took up an ascetic lifestyle. The description of the therapeutic done by Philo of Alexandria was scholars of ascetic hermit who existed in the cities of Egypt (Rubenson and Anthony, 54).

Anthony was born and raised in a family with the norm of means, but after he had grown into a full man and inherited the fortune of the family, he got a divine calling from Jesus Christ asking him to sell all the possessions he had and send the proceeds to those who were poor; surprisingly, he accepted the call. He was inspired by the hermitic ascetics of early Christianity, which made him settle alone in the in a cave that was situated in Alexandria. Later he moved to the south and settled in a Roman fort that had been abandoned overlooking the Nile. In the two places that he habited, he used to be fed on the generosity of the villagers. This simply means that they had been exposed to the custom of the ascetic hermit. Legend says that Anthony was attacked by demons in his stay at the Roman fort. Villagers had hermit rescued and nursed until he regained his health after being beaten. In the course of this, they became close to him and highly regarded his wisdom. Immediately he returned to his isolation life where the villagers paid frequent visits to have some of his counsels and wisdom. The villagers only provided food through a small slot on the wall, and he came out one time. The villagers always thought that he would come out a skeleton but surprised them because he was healthy. He made trips to the Christian communities motivate and inspire them. After this, he returned to his fort (Anthony and Derwas, 95).

Many had heard of his sanctity and eventually the supplicants who were visiting from long distances interfered with his course of meditation. Funny enough, St. Anthony had an impatient mind, and these interferences seemed to be nagging distractions to him. He left the Roman fort and headed the direction of east to the desert wilderness. In the desert wilderness, he found a small oasis and settled there. He only made visits to the fort on few occasions. At some point, he made a decision to be martyred and went to the direction of Alexandria. He used to preach in public and pay visits to Christian prisoners (McDannell 38). Eventually, Anthony tried to lure the governor of the city to have him executed, but the governor did not fall for this trap. His mission failed, and he went back to the fort. In the course of a certain vision, Anthony got the inspiration to wear unadorned distinctive tunic and make use of his free time weaving the leaves of palm. These symbols became his identity and had an effect on the tradition of monastic like the one the popular rob of the monk. Even though, Anthony desired to be martyred, he never was. He died at the age 105; he had ordered to be buried secretly and this was highly unexpected (Rubenson and Anthony, 46).

Visitors of Anthony spread his ideas to the other Christians in the environs of Egypt and beyond. It seems that a small community had been attracted by Anthony's lifestyle to the Roman fort, where he had spent many years of his life. During the time when he was about to die, they started to adapt to his lifestyle. After the death of Anthony, they went and occupied the oasis where he lived, and a monastery in his name was established. None of Anthony's effort can be said to have fueled the start of Christian movement of ascetics. His asceticism was individual and highly personal. Others who came after him were inspired and their continued from where he had left. The movement that was established was because of Anthony's inspiration. Among those inspired were St. Pachomius, St. Marcarius and Sr. Serapion. Others such as St. Benedict of Nursia were inspired later. St. Benedict is known for having developed the western Christian monasticism (Athanasius, 35a).

The goals of doing that

The requirement for this social severity was easily noticeable although the subject members would make it be very stern or be absent at times. In most cases, it was during this time when religious and social severity seemed to interconnect. These forms of conjunctures were aspects of causing conflict. The Christian church has witnessed many of such conflicts where many included the issue of sexuality amongst members. This resulted in over enthusiasm on the matter by some medieval clergy. In the era, the perception was that woman was the obstacle between man and grace and resolution for this was renouncing woman in order to get back to grace (Athanasius 46b).

Saint Augustine said the original sin's effect was all men had been conceived in sin causing sexuality to be pronounced as the greatest of all sins and heresies. Nevertheless, it should not get out of your head that the church is currently condemning sexuality and declaring at the worst of sins, some centuries ago they declared the Gnostics to be sinners for simply denying bearing children. One charge of the Orthodox Church against the cult of austere Gnostics was practicing at most the total monasticism. This only existed while the church was in need of members during its infancy. As a member of the leading advocates against sexuality, he was also a member to the Gnostic Manichaens before transforming into Christianity (McDannell 64).

The other theologians who were also protesting were of similar views. Calvin clearly stated that a newborn baby was already polluted and defiled basing reasons from the original sin in sexuality and the body of a woman. According to him, he says this is prior the infant sees the day in the sight of God. The infant is referred to as the foundation of sin to the human race. During the time of Martin Luther King marrying an ex-nun, sex was not among the matters he highly regarded. Given a chance, he might have proceeded with the generation of species by using clay to fashion man. This statement sparked many speculations making the human race have the perception that governance is done by a fabricated god. This idea is part of the component of asceticism in hidden form. The fellows of conception are not surprised by asceticism's unnatural humility. The ascetic humility is prouder than anything of the spirits of the world, which suggests being more powerful than the entire universe. Otherwise, more than the mysticism that imitates to be equals with God. The true meaning of humility is the desire to connect with and be equals with all things without exceeding above them (Rubenson and Anthony, 45).

Specific things that made him do that

In the history of Christianity, Saint Anthony became the first Christian to live a consecrated isolate life. He was a hermit who lived in the desert for long and a virtuous life, which inspired people of his time, and generations that followed even now. The life of Anthony is of great impact on Christianity's history. His life is the founding history of all Christian churches in the entire world. One popular leader of Christianity, St. Athanasius a disciple of his wrote the life history of St. Anthony and they were very… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Anthony the Great.  (2013, April 17).  Retrieved June 16, 2019, from

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"Anthony the Great."  April 17, 2013.  Accessed June 16, 2019.