Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Today we give thanks to God for the life of St. Paul the Hermit. When he saw persecution coming upon the Christians during the mid third century, he fled the city in order to be able to persevere. His brother found out and turned him into the authorities, but St. Paul fled further into the desert trusting that God would provide. Originally he had intended to return when the persecution ended, but he ended up loving penance, prayer, and contemplation so much that he dedicated the remaining 90 years of his life (living to the age of 130) to this path of sanctification. His life is a surprising example of fortitude in the face of persecution that resulted in a very different kind of martyrdom. Leaving the world to live for Christ alone in the desert became a widespread phenomenon in Egypt.

The austere life of a hermit contrasts with both the life of Samuel and that of Jesus and his disciples. The excess of food and drink or sacrifice to God is defined by something invisible. It is our obedience to God, our listening to him that commands our practices.

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