Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth week in Ordinary Time
Follow Christ along the right way
One day, all the monks came to see Anthony and begged him to speak a word to them. He said to them:.. See, we have made a beginning and are already on the way of virtue. Let us continue our pursuit toward the goal, (Phil 3,14). And let none turn back as Lot's wife did (Gen. 19,26) since the Lord has said: “Anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom of heaven.” To turn back is nothing other than to change one’s mind acquire a taste again for the things of this world. Have no fear when people talk about virtue and do not be astonished by these words. For virtue is not far away: it does not originate apart from us; it is our very own affair and easy to accomplish so long as we want it.
The pagans leave their country and cross the sea to gain an education. But we have no need at all to leave our country either to get to the Kingdom of heaven or to gain virtue. For the Lord has said: “The Kingdom of God is among you,” (Lk 17,21). So virtue has only need of our will since it is within us and originates from us. If only the soul preserves its intellect in conformity with its nature then virtue springs forth. The soul is in its natural state when it remains as it was made; and it was made beautiful and upright. That is why Joshua, son of Nun, exhorted the people, saying: “Turn your hearts to the lord, the God of Israel” (Jos 24,23). And John the Baptist said: “Make straight your paths” (Mt 3,3). For the soul uprightness means to keep one’s mind as it was created. By contrast, when the mind deviates and turns aside from its natural state, then we speak of vice in the soul. So, then, it is not difficult… If we had to go looking for it outside ourselves it would have been really difficult, but since it is within us , let us keep ourselves from impure thoughts and preserve our souls for the Lord as though we had received a deposit so that he may be able to recognize his work, finding our soul just as he made it.