Not every saint is cut from the same cloth, and the ways of imitating Christ are many and varied. Reading the lives of the saints can enrich our awareness of the many possibilities open for our own growth in holiness and our own progress in the imitation of Jesus. Even when we cannot undertake the precise pattern of life that a given saint took, there can be much fruit for our own journey. Now, among the saints there are numerous monks and hermits. Very few people seem called to the hermit’s life. Yet, one cannot help but feel inspiration when considering the urgency of the quest for Christ shown by St. Antony of the Desert and his willingness to engage in spiritual warfare.
The earlier essays in this series have featured autobiographies. In this essay we turn to one of the very first Christian biographies ever written, and the writer himself is a saint: Life of Antony by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria in Egypt (c.295–373). As before, our focus will be on how one might approach this book.