These are the words that Moses spoke beyond Jordan to the whole of Israel:
Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart. You shall repeat them to your children and say them over to them whether at rest in your house or walking abroad, at your lying down or at your rising; you shall fasten them on your hand as a sign and on your forehead as a circlet; you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
When the Lord has brought you into the land which he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give you, with great and prosperous cities not of your building, houses full of good things not furnished by you, wells you did not dig, vineyards and olives you did not plant, when you have eaten these and had your fill, then take care you do not forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must fear the Lord your God, you must serve him, by his name you must swear.
Do not follow other gods, gods of the peoples round you, for the Lord your God who dwells among you is a jealous God; his anger could blaze out against you and wipe you from the face of the earth. Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you tested him at Massah. Keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees and laws that he has laid down for you, and do what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord so that you may prosper and take possession of the rich land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, driving out your enemies before you; this was the promise of the Lord.
In times to come, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the decrees and laws and customs that the Lord our God has laid down for you?” you shall tell your son, “Once we were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt by his mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord worked great and terrible signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his House. And he brought us out from there to lead us into the land he swore to our fathers he would give to us. And the Lord commanded us to observe all these laws and to fear the Lord our God, so as to be happy for ever and to live, as he has granted us to do until now. For us right living will mean this: to keep and observe all these commandments before the Lord our God as he has directed us.”
The law of the Lord is perfect: it revives the soul. The rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple. The command of the Lord is clear, it gives light to the eyes.
He who loves his neighbour has satisfied every claim of the law: the whole law is summed up in love. The command of the Lord is clear, it gives light to the eyes.
From the Life of Saint Anthony by Saint Athanasius, bishop
Saint Antony receives his vocation
When Antony was about eighteen or twenty years old, his parents died, leaving him with an only sister. He cared for her as she was very young, and also looked after their home.
Not six months after his parents’ death, as he was on his way to church for his usual visit, he began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Saviour, and also of those mentioned in the book of Acts who had sold their possessions and brought the apostles the money for distribution to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. This was all in his mind when, entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor – you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.
It seemed to Antony that it was God who had brought the saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away to the villagers all the property he had inherited, about 200 acres of very beautiful and fertile land, so that it would cause no distraction to his sister and himself. He sold all his other possessions as well, giving to the poor the considerable sum of money he collected. However, to care for his sister he retained a few things.
The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel: Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Without a moment’s hesitation he went out and gave the poor all that he had left. He placed his sister in the care of some well-known and trustworthy virgins and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent. Then he gave himself up to the ascetic life, not far from his own home. He kept a careful watch over himself and practised great austerity. He did manual work because he had heard the words: If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. He spent some of his earnings on bread and the rest he gave to the poor.
Having learned that we should always be praying, even when we are by ourselves, he prayed without ceasing. Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books.
Seeing the kind of life he lived, the villagers and all the good men he knew called him the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother.
If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.
None of you can be my disciple unless he give up all his possessions; then come, follow me.
Let us pray.
Lord God, you bestowed on Saint Antony
the grace of serving you in the wilderness.
Grant that through his intercession
we may deny ourselves and love you above all things.
[We make our prayer] through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,