Learning from the Saints – By Father Gabriel Alkass

We recently celebrated St. Anthony’s feast. St. Anthony was considered one of the many saints, so it is a good reminder to talk about the saints. We must remember how much they considered us and prayed for us in heaven.

“Others have labored,” it says in the book of John to mean the prophets, “and you have entered into their labors.” So, this is what happened to us, my beloved. The saints labored very hard and loved the heart so much that we have the church we have today. The saints have a great mutual love between God and faithful and sincere people. And that love can only lead to perfection.

St. Anthony was born in 251 AD to a rich family that helped the poor. And when Anthony was 20 years old, both his parents passed away. So, one Sunday, he was attending Holy Liturgy and heard the gospel reading, according to Matthew 19, “If you really want to be perfect, go now and sell everything you own. Give your money to the poor, and your treasure will be transferred into heaven.”

Anthony returned home that day and decided to fulfill that command. In other words, he felt the words were directed from Jesus to him personally. Without hesitation, he contributed his wealth to the poor and needy, and he left the city for a solitary life.

The goal to live that kind of life, the devil sought him in many ways. To feel bored or lazy, Anthony conquered those temptations. When things happen, we need to fight back. Satan does not use the same strategy over and offer.

Then Satan brought many other demons. Wolves, lions, snakes, and scorpions – and St. Anthony laughed at them. “If any of you have authority over me, one of you is enough to defeat me.”

We all need to work hard to gain the virtue of humility. Nothing can bother Satan more than humility. If you show it, Satan cannot see you anymore but the Lord Jesus.

Anthony’s fame spread throughout the middle east, even Emperor Constantine in Rome, who admired St. Anthony and sent him a letter asking for prayers.

So of course, the disciple monks handed the letter to the Saint, and he put the letter aside. He said to them “I wish you have desire to hear or to read the word of God as much as you have for this letter to be opened.”

Finally, let’s talk about the great saint as a spiritual mentor. One of his followers asked a biblical question that the saint couldn’t answer at that time. So, on the second day, he walked 2-3 hours in the desert and asked, “Lord, send me Moses so he may explain this verse to me.”

That’s how the Lord passed the word to the holy fathers and saints, chosen people, and those filled with the Holy Spirit. Not anyone can do this.

Some of the followers then followed St. Anthony that day, and as soon as he opened his voice to the Lord, heaven immediately responded to him.

So, you may say, “Abouna, why are you are speaking about someone from the third century?” But know that God always has saints.

Let’s move on to St. Anthony’s monastery. One day, one of the saint’s monks left to get water. It was a long journey to carry a heavy load. Then, one of the rooms was on fire, and all the monks tried to extinguish the fire they could not control. Suddenly, that saint came with the water, but he refused to use the water.

Then the monks turned to St. Anthony and said, “This is the monastery created in your name. Do you want it to be burned?”

Then Anthony said, “Do you want it to be burned? Let it burn. If not, let it be extinguished immediately.”

It was then that the fire was sucked out and stopped. It was like nothing had happened. And all the monks were shocked.

Learn more in Father Gabriel’s latest sermon video here.

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