What is The Order?
Throughout the Judeo-Christian story, men and women caught up with the infatuation of the Holy have given themselves over to loving God extra through living intentional patterns of prayer, fasting, study, simplicity and community. The call to a Spirit-filled life is heard by every serious Christ follower.
Recently a number of us began to imagine what it would be like to embrace a rule of life rooted in spiritual disciplines and intentional community to answer that call. We called the dream, the Order of St. Anthony.
St Anthony the Great was an Egyptian born in 250 CE and was the first person in the Christian Church to live a distinctly monastic life. While passing a church he heard the story of the rich young ruler who was called to sell all he had and to give it to the poor. Anthony came from a wealthy family and decided to obey this simple command by selling all he had, giving it to the poor, and moving to the desert to commit to a life of prayer and intercession for the world (there is still a monastery in memory of St. Anthony in the Western Desert of Egypt where he lived).
Through his example of life and spirituality many joined him in the desert. St. Athanasios the Great met St. Anthony and when St. Anthony died at the great age of 106 years, Athanasios wrote of his life. In response to this writing a flood of young men and women gave themselves to this more narrow way of living in pursuit of God and prayer for his kingdom to rule on earth. St. Anthony is called the “Father of Monks” to this day.
Richard Foster wrote, “In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before. It can happen again…”*
We want to be that kind of people.
*Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA: 1978) p. 150