Stephan told his son about the life of St. Anthony and how he sold all his belongings and gave the proceedings to the poor. St. Anthony started his ascetic life in a hut by the river shore. Then, he moved to the Eastern Desert where he lived in a cave. He was living the life of prayers. To support himself, he wove baskets from palm-tree branches and gave what was left of money to the needy.
The son followed the story of St. Anthony and how the devils used to wage wars against him but he always overcame them. The son asked, "Was St. Anthony avoiding the people?"
Father replied, “Sometimes he avoided the people but he loved them and prayed for everyone."
"Why didn’t he serve in a church?"
"He never served as a deacon or as a priest but he supported Pope Athanasius by going to Alexandria where many heretics used to come to him for advice. Also many people who read his biography came back to Christ such as St. Augustine who repented after hearing about St. Anthony. Many atheist philosophers believed at his hands or after knowing about him."
"Do I have to be a monk to reach his level of holiness?"
"No, I’ll tell you how a simple tailor from Alexandria reached a level higher than that of St. Anthony."
One day while St. Anthony was praying in his cave; he had a thought if there was any one who reached his level of holiness. Suddenly, he heard a voice telling him, "Anthony! You didn’t reach the level of a tailor in Alexandria."
The saint was astonished. On the next day, he took his staff and left to Alexandria in order to search for that tailor.
When the simple tailor saw the elderly saint his heart rejoiced and he welcomed St. Anthony greatly. He tried to offer him food, but St. Anthony asked him, "What’s your work? Tell me about your spiritual life."
The tailor replied, "I don’t think that I do any goodness."
St Anthony asked, "How do you spend your day?"
"I wake up early in the morning and pray. Before I start, I thank God and praise Him. I look at my sins and I tell myself, "Every one in town is going to heaven because of their good deeds, but for me I’ll not see heaven because of my sins." I repeat the same words before going to bed."
When St. Anthony heard these words he said, "You’re like a person who works with gold and makes tiny beautiful items quietly and peacefully. Because of your simple pure life, you’ll inherit the everlasting life, while me even after leaving the world and living in the desert far from people, I didn’t reach your level of holiness."
"Father, Can I become a saint?" asked the son
"Yes, Jesus called us to be saints."
"What should I do?"
"Remember your weaknesses like that simple tailor. Be filled with hope and gladness with your Savior. Thank God and praise Him, all the day before doing anything.”
Long Love And Tears
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