Athanasius of Alexandria

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They die daily in the life that belongs to earth, but they live in the life of the angels, just as they share in the life of the Lord.

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 297 – 373) was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria.

Quotes[edit]

  • The people who walk angelically according to their free will and practice discipline in the life of the angels remove themselves completely from the desires of the flesh, beloved brothers; they die daily in the life that belongs to earth, but they live in the life of the angels, just as they share in the life of the Lord.
    • “The advanced life of virtue,” Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (1995), p. 314

Life of Anthony of Egypt[edit]

Readings in World Christian History (2013), pp. 131-144

  • If he [Anthony] heard of a good man anywhere, like the prudent bee, he went forth and sought him, nor turned back to his own place until he had seen him; and he returned, having got from the good man as it were supplies for his journey in the way of virtue.
    • § 3
  • He had given such heed to what was read that none of the things that were written fell from him to the ground, but he remembered all, and afterwards his memory served him for books.
    • § 3
  • He subjected himself in sincerity to the good men whom he visited, and learned thoroughly where each surpassed him in zeal and discipline. He observed the graciousness of one; the unceasing prayer of another; he took knowledge of another's freedom from anger and another's loving-kindness; he gave heed to one as he watched, to another as he studied; one he admired for his endurance, another for his fasting and sleeping on the ground; the meekness of one and the long-suffering of another he watched with care, while he took note of the piety towards Christ and the mutual love which animated all. Thus filled, he returned to his own place of discipline, and henceforth would strive to unite the qualities of each, and was eager to show in himself the virtues of all.
    • § 4
  • Antony, however, according to his custom, returned alone to his own cell, increased his discipline, and sighed daily as he thought of the mansions in Heaven, having his desire fixed on them, and pondering over the shortness of man's life. And he used to eat and sleep, and go about all other bodily necessities with shame when he thought of the spiritual faculties of the soul. So often, when about to eat with any other hermits, recollecting the spiritual food, he begged to be excused, and departed far off from them, deeming it a matter for shame if he should be seen eating by others.
    • § 45
  • Antony ... used to say that it behooved a man to give all his time to his soul rather than his body, yet to grant a short space to the body through its necessities; but all the more earnestly to give up the whole remainder to the soul and seek its profit, that it might not be dragged down by the pleasures of the body, but, on the contrary, the body might be in subjection to the soul.
    • § 45
  • Others such as these met him in the outer mountain and thought to mock him because he had not learned letters. And Antony said to them, 'What do you say? Which is first, mind or letters? And which is the cause of which— mind of letters or letters of mind.' And when they answered mind is first and the inventor of letters, Antony said, 'Whoever, therefore, has a sound mind has not need of letters.'
    • § 73

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