Today is the Memorial of St. Anthony of the desert who established the first Christian monastery located in Egypt. Anthony strove to get away in the wilderness to get closer to God. Additionally, he fought against the Arian heresy that denied the divinity of Christ. He was part of the church that tradition says was founded by St. Mark and is known as Coptic Christian.
Coptic Christians are vanishing from Egypt. Churches are attacked. Christians are imprisoned and killed. Egypt has what are called “blasphemy laws” aimed against anyone who is not Muslim, this means especially Christians who make up about 5 % of the population. Mobs will storm schools run by Franciscan sisters; three nuns were paraded as “prisoners of war,” etc. This is the kind of thing you don’t see or hear on the nightly news.
Anthony lived for 20 years in an abandoned fort and spoke to no one but God. But, when fellow Christians were persecuted, he didn’t remain silent. He spoke up and even offered himself as a martyr. We must keep these and other persecuted Christians in our prayers, indeed, all who are victims of religious persecution. It is our duty to pray for them.
St. Anthony, pray for us.