The Catholic, Coptic, and some Orthodox churches, celebrate January 17 as the feast day of Anthony the Great, aka St. Anthony of the Desert.
In the late third century, Anthony became one of the first Christian ascetics to seek solitude in the desert, where he wrestled with a great many temptations. Many years later, other men joined him in the Sahara Desert, forming a monastery of sorts, where the men kept spent their time praying and doing manual labor.
Although Jesus spent much of his life crowded by “tax collectors and sinners,” in Mark 1:35 we see Jesus seeking a time of solitude to pray. Perhaps we need to do the same, and find time both to spend with people, ministering to them, and time to be alone with our Maker.
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
In the fourth century AD, a man called Hilary lived in Poitiers, in modern day France. As a young man, he was a highly educated pagan, but later he studied the Bible and became a Christian. His feast day is now celebrated on January 13.
Much of his life was spent writing and debating theological points, particularly Arianism – the belief that Jesus is a created being, less than the father. In fact he is known as the Hammer of the Arians.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The Feast commemorating Theodosius the Cenobiarch is held on January 11 every year. Born in Cappadocia, a portion of modern Turkey, Theodosius left for Jerusalem as a young man to devote his life to God.
He lived as a monk in Jerusalem for many years, until he became too distracted by those who visited him. Then he moved out of the city to a cave, where he ate just enough to survive and spent his time in prayer. Eventually other monks joined him at his cave, and they all had to move to a larger location.
The monks established a monastery near Bethlehem that became known as the Lavra of St. Theodosius. Theodosius became widely known for his compassion. He built an area for passersby to spend the night, an infirmary, and a home for those who were dying. Many poor and hungry were fed and clothed at the Lavra of St. Theodosius.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:9 & 10
The Black Nazarene can be seen at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quaipo, Manila, Philippines.
January 9 is a huge holiday in the Philippines, with schools and businesses closed while 6-8 million Catholics crowd into the Quiapo district of Manila, the capital city to witness the Feast of the Most Holy Black Nazarene.
The Black Nazarene was carved in Mexico as Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno, Our Father, Jesus the Nazarene. While being shipped to the Philippines, it was blackened in a fire. The official Philippine title is Mahal na Itim na Nazareno, but it is far more widely known as the Black Nazarene.
The January 9 procession and mass celebrates the day the Black Nazarene arrived in the Philippines.
Many devotees try to touch the Black Nazarene during the procession, hoping for a miracle.
“Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done. “