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Breaking Barriers

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Breaking Barriers - St Shenouda Monastery Pimonakhos Articles

In everyone’s spiritual life there comes a point where we can either excel or stay the same, both of which have a corresponding result. Sadly, many of us choose to stay where we are, claiming it to be too difficult to move forward; often putting ourselves in a state of spiritual apathy and lukewarmness, while the person who chooses to excel will be so close to God that just at the thought of a request God has already granted it.

However, what is the defining action that allows you to transition from your current point of spirituality to a position which is greater and more personal with God? Whilst there may be many, one that stands out is breaking out of your “comfort zone”.

St Anthony was a prime example of this breaking of comfort zones. As is often told St Antony was the first monk, but what is never mentioned is what this title entailed. Monasticism and solitude is often considered strange in our days, imagine how unusual the concept would have been 1700 years ago when it had never been done before. St Antony took the plunge and broke all levels of criticism and comfort discovering a whole new world of spirituality.

When St Antony was still a young man, he continually went to church, never making excuses for his mistakes and always doing the “small things” correctly and consistently. St Antony, like no one else before him; gave up great wealth and human comfort in order to be wealthy in spirit and comforted by Christ himself. He broke out of his family’s comfort zone when gave his sister away to a house of virgins. He broke out of his domestic and luxurious comfort zone when he; left his home, sold all his possessions and lived among the saintly men on the outskirts of the village. He broke out of his comfort zone when he went to live alone in a tomb. He broke out of his intellectual comfort zone when he left the tomb and moved to the outer entrails of the desert, doing what no one before him had ever done and journeyed into the spiritual unknown. And finally he left his spiritual comfort zone when he moved into the inner heart of the desert, forsaking all possession family and company of men and trusting in the mercy and protection of God above all things.

It was at this point in St Antony’s life that he achieved perfection and truly earned the title “The great saint abba Antony, the father of monks and the bright shining star of the desert” giving the most precious thing he could to God…his heart which God took and placed in His most valued treasure box kept right next to His very own Heart.

Whilst St Antony died a great saint, it is very clear that he did not start out this way; he did not begin his spiritual life in the inner desert, but rather finished it there. What he did do however, was “the small things correctly and consistently”, and I encourage you to follow St Antony’s lead and do all the little things correctly first, because even the greatest of avalanches is begun by a single snow flake, likewise even the greatest of saints are born from achieving the simplest of tasks. Like St Antony we should all break out of our comfort zones in the world and find our true comfort in Christ, truly trusting Him with our life.