Saint Anthony

Temptations - extended text 

  But the devil, who hates and envies what is good, could not endure to see such a resolution in a youth, but endeavoured to carry out against him what he had been wont to effect against others.  First of all he tried to lead him away from the discipline, whispering to him the remembrance of his wealth, care for his sister, claims of kindred, love of money, love of glory, the various pleasures of the table and the other relaxations of life, and at last the difficulty of virtue and the labour of it; he suggested also the infirmity of the body and the length of the time.  In a word he raised in his mind a great dust of debate, wishing to debar him from his settled purpose.  But when the enemy saw himself to be too weak for Anthony's determination, and that he rather was conquered by the other's firmness, overthrown by his great faith and falling through his constant prayers, then at length putting his trust in the weapons which are  “in the navel of his belly” and boasting in them--for they are his first snare for the young--he attacked the young man, disturbing him by night and harassing him by day, so that even the onlookers saw the struggle which was going on between them.  The one would suggest foul thoughts and the other counter them with prayers: the one fire him with lust the other, as one who seemed to blush, fortify his body with faith, prayers, and fasting.  And the devil, unhappy wight, one night even took upon him the shape of a woman and imitated all her acts simply to beguile Anthony.  But he, his mind filled with Christ and the nobility inspired by Him, and considering the spirituality of the soul, quenched the coal of the other's deceit.  Again the enemy suggested the ease of pleasure.  But he like a man filled with rage and grief turned his thoughts to the threatened fire and the gnawing worm, and setting these in array against his adversary, passed through the temptation unscathed.  All this was a source of shame to his foe.  For he, deeming himself like God, was now mocked by a young man; and he who boasted himself against flesh and blood was being put to flight by a man in the flesh.  For the Lord was working with Anthony - the Lord who for our sake took flesh  and gave the body victory over the devil, so that all who truly fight can say, “ not I but the grace of God which was with me.” (Athanasius, Chapter 5)

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