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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
Life of Antony. (Vita Antoni.): Section 67

Early Church Fathers  Index     

67. Added to this he was tolerant in disposition and humble in spirit. For though he was such a man, he observed the rule of the Church most rigidly, and was willing that all the clergy should be honoured above himself 1113 . For he was not ashamed to bow his head to bishops and presbyters, and if ever a deacon came to him for help he discoursed with him on what was profitable, but gave place to him in prayer, not being ashamed to learn himself. For often he would ask questions, and desired to listen to those who were present, and if any one said anything that was useful he confessed that he was profited. And besides, 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 Antony, 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. For as his soul was free from disturbances, his outward appearance was calm; so from the joy of his soul he possessed a cheerful countenance, and from his bodily movements could be perceived the condition of his soul, as it is written, ‘When the heart is merry the countenance is cheerful, but when it is sorrowful it is cast down 1114 .’ Thus Jacob recognised the counsel Laban had in his heart, and said to his wives, ‘The countenance of your father is not as it was yesterday and the day before 1115 .’ Thus Samuel recognised David, for he had mirthful eyes, and teeth white as milk. Thus Antony was recognised, for he was never disturbed, for his soul was at peace; he was never downcast, for his mind was joyous.


Footnotes

214:1113

This was by no means universal among monks: Athan. argues to Dracontius (cc. 8, 9) against the monastic tendency to think little of the clergy. Here, he propounds the example of Antony for the imitation of the ‘peregrini fratres.’

214:1114

Prov. xv. 13.

214:1115

Gen. xxxi. 5; 1 Sam. xvi. 12, xvii. 32


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