St Antony and the Eremitical Vocation

St Antony’s feast-day baulks larger in the monastic calendar than it does in most others because we look upon him as a monastic prototype. His life-story is fascinating and complex — an instance of multi-layered hagiography, to be approached with an eye for detail and an ear for what is unspoken — but it is as a hermit that he is chiefly remembered: a man who went into the desert to be alone with God.

This is a day when we pray for all hermits and thank God for their strange and beautiful vocation. A strange vocation I call it, because it is very rare and very unsettling (or should be) to those who have not received an eremitical call; beautiful, because to live with and for God alone is a gift to be marvelled at.

Benedict was not very keen on hermits, despite, or perhaps because of, his own experience. I have known two genuine hermits with some degree of familiarity: one was a nun, the other is a priest. Both loved people and got on easily with them. Their vocation was not a turning away from others but an engagement with them at a far, far deeper level than any ordinary activity could have made them. I’d dare to say their prayer was, and is, one of the pillars upholding the world.

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3 thoughts on “St Antony and the Eremitical Vocation”

  1. prayer was, and is, one of the pillars upholding the world. I so agree with this.
    I was awake last night, in jet lag, and thought of all those praying for us, with us, and I felt SO grateful.
    Thank you 🙂

  2. I am just awake too …I know you are there in this silence united with all of us…it is not wonderful and inspiring.Thank you so much to share it with us.
    Clara.Pax et bonum

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