Genesis 46-48; Psalms 19; Proverbs 3:28·32; Matthew 12:1·21
Hebrews 11:17-23, 27-31 Mark 8:11-21
'Saint Anthony, the Father of monks, was born in Egypt in251 of pious parents who departed this life while he was yet young. On hearing the words of the Gospel: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor" (Matt. 19:21), he immediately put it into action. Distributing to the poor all he had, and fleeing from all the turmoil of the world, he departed to the desert. The manifold temptations he endured continually for the space of twenty years are incredible. His ascetical struggles by day and by night, whereby he mortified the uprisings of the passions and attained to the height of dispassion, surpass the bounds of nature; and the report of his deeds of virtue drew such a multitude to follow him, that the desert was transformed into a city, while he became, so to speak, the governor, lawgiver, and master-trainer of all the citizens of this newly-formed city. But the cities of the world also enjoyed the fruit of his virtue. When the Christians were being persecuted and put to death under Maximinus in 312, he hastened to their aid and consolation. When the Church was troubled by the Arians, he went with zeal to Alexandria in 335 and struggled against them in behalf of Orthodoxy. During this time, by the grace of his words, he also turned many unbelievers to Christ. 'He began his ascetical life outside his village of Coma in Upper Egypt, studying the ways of the ascetics and holy men there, and perfecting himself in the virtues of each until he surpassed them all. Desiring to increase his labours, he departed into the desert, and finding an abandoned fortress in the mountain, he made his dwelling in it, training himself in extreme fasting, unceasing prayer, and fierce conflicts with the demons. Here he remained, as mentioned above, about twenty years. Saint Athanasius the Great, who knew him personally and wrote his life, says that he came forth from the fortress "initiated in the mysteries and filled with the Spirit of God." Afterwards, because of the press of the faithful, who deprived him of his solitude, he was enlightened by God to journey with certain Bedouins, until he came to a mountain in the desert near the Red Sea, where he passed the remaining part of his life. Saint Athanasius says of him that "his countenance had a great and wonderful grace. This gift also he had from the Saviour. For if he were present in a great company of monks, and any one who did not know him previously wished to see him, immediately coming forward he passed by the rest, and hurried to Anthony, as though attracted by his appearance. Yet neither in height nor breadth was he conspicuous above others, but in the serenity of his manner and the purity of his soul." 'So passing his life, and becoming an example of virtue and a rule for monastics, he reposed on January 17 in the year 356, having lived together some 105 years.' (Great Horologion) Speaking of the demonic temptations and struggles with the passions that beset those who seek their salvation, St Anthony said: "All these trials are to your advantage. Do away with temptation and no one will be saved."
Genesis 43-45; Psalms 18; Proverbs 3:23·27; Matthew 11
The story of St Peter's imprisonment and miraculous release by an Angel of God is told in Acts ch. 12. The chains which fell from his hands were collected by Christians and passed down through the generations as precious relics, finally coming to Constantinople and being placed in the Church of St Peter, where they worked many miracles and healings. There is nothing superstitious about the veneration of clothing and other objects belonging to the Saints; the Acts of the Apostles describes how handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched the Apostle Paul would heal the sick (ch. 19), and that even the shadow of the Apostle Peter healed those on whom it fell (ch. 5). In the twentieth century, a shirt worn by St Nektarios on his death-bed healed a paralyzed man. The sanctity of those united to God extends not only to their bodies but at times to their garments.
Genesis 41, 42; Psalms 17:33·51; Proverbs 3:17·22; Matthew 10:24·42
The gentle and motherly St. Ita was descended from the high kings of Tara. From her youth she loved God ardently and shone with the radiance of a soul that loves virtue. Because of her purity of heart she was able to hear the voice of God and communicate it to others. Despite her father's opposition she embraced the monastic life in her youth. In obedience to the revelation of an angel she went to the people of Ui Conaill in the southwestern part of Ireland. While she was there, the foundation of a convent was laid. It soon grew into a monastic school for the education of boys, quickly becoming known for its high level of learning and moral purity. The most famous of her many students was St. Brendan of Clonfert (May 16). She went to the other world in great holiness to dwell forever with the risen Lord in the year 570. —from the 2003 Saint Herman Calendar