Antony of Egypt vs. Mary of Egypt

Today’s saintly drama revolves around Egypt. As in “Who will emerge victorious in the holy battle for Egyptian domination.” Antony (don’t call me Anthony or even Tony for that matter) of Egypt takes on Mary (you can just call me Mary) of Egypt. These two have a lot in common both being hermits and spending much spiritual energy on resisting temptation. Nonetheless, only one will seize the title “Pharaoh of Lent Madness” and make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen to square off against Basil the Great.

In yesterday’s matchup Anna Cooper bested (upset?) Joseph of Arimathea 60% to 40% which is unfortunate since Joseph already gave away his burial plot.

And if you missed yesterday’s exhilarating edition of Monday Madness click here to see Tim and Scott hold forth on all things Lent Madness. As usual it’s epic and compelling with high production values.

Saint AnthonyAntony of Egypt

Antony was born in about 251 to wealthy Christian parents in Middle Egypt. When he was not yet twenty years old, his parents died and left their large estate and his young sister to his care. Shortly thereafter, Antony was convicted by Jesus’ words to the rich man to sell everything and give the money to the poor. Antony parceled out his land, giving it away to his neighbors, and sold all his family’s belongings. He gave the money to those who were poor around him, keeping a small portion to provide for him and his sister. A short while later, he heard the gospel command to not worry about tomorrow. He promptly gave away what remained of his money, put his sister in a house of virgins, and took up a life of solitude.

Antony moved to an old tomb and survived on only bread and water, never eating or drinking before sunset, and often fasting for days in between. During this time, he wrestled with demons that assaulted him for his wealth and tempted him with lustful thoughts. He was successful in his resistance, being assured in a vision from God that he had won the victory. Encouraged by this vision, Antony moved further out into the desert.

Antony lived alone for over twenty years. Although he was drawn to the life of a hermit and constantly tried to retreat further into the wilderness, he eventually acquired some renown, and pious men sought to imitate him. Eventually, a sort of monastery was formed, a community of disciples attracted to his lifestyle. The monastery of Saint Antony the Great now stands at that site.

In 311, when the emperor Maximinus began persecuting Christians, Antony went to Alexandria hoping to be martyred. He publicly wore his white habit—the sign of a Christian monastic—and visited Christians in prison and labor camps and testified on their behalf before tribunals. He did not, however, try to impugn himself. In 312, when the persecution ebbed, Antony again returned to the desert and, alone in his cell, committed to become what Saint Athanasius called “a daily martyr to his conscience, ever fighting the battles of faith.” In his old age, Antony participated in the Arian controversy alongside his friend and biographer, Bishop Athanasius. This doctrinal debate claimed that Jesus was subordinate and distinct from God. In 355, Antony was invited to Alexandria to debate the Arians, many of whom were convinced by his arguments and changed their thinking. After the debates, he returned to the desert where he died in 356 at the ripe old age of 105.

Collect for Saint Antony of Egypt
O God, by your Holy Spirit you enabled your servant Antony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

David Creech

Mary_of_Egypt_Mary of Egypt

Mary of Egypt is recognized as the patron saint of penitents. This is because of her conversion from life as a sex addict to that of a desert hermit. Her life story or Vita, reportedly first told by Mary to a monk, was later put in writing by Saint Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem (634-638).

Born in the fourth century in an unknown region of Egypt, Mary ran away to the city of Alexandria at the age of twelve. As a young woman in Alexandria, she lived a life her biographer labeled as public prostitution. Reportedly she often refused payment for sexual acts because of her insatiable desire and instead subsisted mostly by begging and handiwork. Around the age of thirty, she traveled to Jerusalem with a group of pilgrims, hoping to find new sexual partners in the crowds. There she pursued gratification of her desires for a short time. Then, her life changed when she tried to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place where Jesus was crucified. But she was unable to pass through the door due to an invisible force.

At this strange occurrence, Mary had an epiphany of sorts and was filled with remorse for her sexual sins. At the sight of an icon of the Virgin Mary, she prayed for forgiveness and renounced her worldly ways. Finding new freedom from her previously insatiable desires, she was able to enter the church. Inside, a voice guided her into the desert. She obeyed, journeying to the monastery of Saint John the Baptist to receive absolution and Holy Communion. Then she crossed the Jordan to live in the desert as a hermit in penitence. She is often depicted in iconography with three loaves of bread, the only food she took into the desert. Once she ate them, she lived off what she could forage in the wilderness.

She lived alone in the desert for forty-seven years, until she met a monk named Zosimus, and told him the story of her life. He agreed to bring her communion on Maundy Thursday of the following year. She appeared to him on the opposite bank of the Jordan River, made the sign of the cross, and walked across the water to receive the body and blood of Christ. She asked him to meet her again one year later, at which time he found her corpse. An inscription told him that she had died shortly after his first visit, though her body was preserved. With the help of a lion, Zosimas dug a grave and buried her. When asked if this was true, Zosimas said, “I’m not lion about any of this!”

Collect for Mary of Egypt
Almighty God, in the early life of Mary, you give us an example of how our incarnate bodies can be sources of both pleasure and destruction. Make us aware of your never-failing love and forgiveness, that we, like her, might love and serve you in body, mind, and spirit. Through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

(Collect written by Nancy Hopkins-Greene.)

Amber Belldene


Antony of Egypt vs. Mary of Egypt

  • Antony of Egypt (51%, 2,981 Votes)
  • Mary of Egypt (49%, 2,818 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,794

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288 Comments to "Antony of Egypt vs. Mary of Egypt"

  1. PhilEsq's Gravatar PhilEsq
    March 11, 2014 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    “convicted” by Jesus’ words? Typo, I’m sure.

    • Samantha's Gravatar Samantha
      March 11, 2014 - 10:52 am | Permalink

      No, it’s a correct use of the word. Here is a good explanation:

    • edie's Gravatar edie
      March 11, 2014 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I think both of them were somewhat fanatical….why have we not ever heard that
      someone other that Jesus walked on water?….. or have I completely missed that
      story? I too am abstaining from voting….

  2. March 11, 2014 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Sex addiction has been debunked as a condition. Perhaps she was seeking union with another – once she found the true love of God in Christ – she did not need human lovers. Interesting juxtaposition – one who denied the body and one who fully engaged the body. I wonder what happened to Anthony’s sister after he gave away everything – you’d think he would have given it to her. Oh well.

    • Daniel's Gravatar Daniel
      March 11, 2014 - 10:35 am | Permalink

      Sexual addiction or sexual compulsion may be overused as an excuse for misbehavior, but it is a very real problem that afflicts a lot of people. Anything that generates a chemical “high” in the brain and distracts the mind and soul from coping with feelings can be abused and can become the focus of addiction. It doesn’t matter whether the object is alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating, or sex – the spiritual experience is the same: the attempt to fill the emptiness in the soul with something material and external.

    • Linda DelaCruz's Gravatar Linda DelaCruz
      March 11, 2014 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      I think that sex addiction is real and one can seek psychiatric help for overcoming it.

    • Elizabeth Conklin's Gravatar Elizabeth Conklin
      March 11, 2014 - 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I share Ann Fontaine’s concern about Antony’s sister. She got a pretty rotten deal, from the look of it. Did she *want* to go to the House of Virgins? I suppose we should be grateful she didn’t try Mary of Egypt’s path!

      • MegAC's Gravatar MegAC
        March 11, 2014 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I was struck by Antony making the choice for his sister. How does taking away someone’s free will reflect saintly behavior?

      • March 11, 2014 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps, in their time, Antony was saving her life.

  3. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    March 11, 2014 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    I am not impressed with Antony’s treatment of his sister. Did she want to be committed to the House of Virgins? I am voting against an unfeeling brother.

    • Barbara Beliveau's Gravatar Barbara Beliveau
      March 11, 2014 - 8:18 am | Permalink

      My thoughts, exactly!

    • Carol Gardner's Gravatar Carol Gardner
      March 11, 2014 - 8:27 am | Permalink


    • Scottie's Gravatar Scottie
      March 11, 2014 - 9:11 am | Permalink

      Ditto! Loser!

    • Kathi's Gravatar Kathi
      March 11, 2014 - 9:42 am | Permalink

      yes this cost him my vote as well

    • Russ's Gravatar Russ
      March 11, 2014 - 10:17 am | Permalink

      Well said!

      • March 11, 2014 - 11:03 am | Permalink

        So glad to hear this hit others the same way. It will cost him my vote, too. And especially as the mother of a son and daughter who I pray would care for one another should we as their parents not be able to. That is one of the most important things I have tried to do with my life — create an environment that encourages loving siblings.

    • Emily's Gravatar Emily
      March 11, 2014 - 11:14 am | Permalink

      Exactly, perhaps his sister could have gone on to do amazing things herself, instead of being relegated to minor character in her brother’s saintly story.

      • Molly's Gravatar Molly
        March 11, 2014 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Maybe she did go on to do amazing things, and they just aren’t recorded. Anything is possible….

    • kew's Gravatar kew
      March 11, 2014 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I was already to vote for him until that, too! I need to do some background reading — or read downthread to see if anyone has addressed this.

    • Beth's Gravatar Beth
      March 11, 2014 - 1:59 pm | Permalink

      I guess he got confused by that whole brother’s keeper thing. No one mentioned sisters.

    • Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
      March 11, 2014 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

      me too. And, also, why was he being assaulted for his wealth when he gave it all away??? Although, that ‘lion’ pun for Mary also cost points. I voted down people already who I’d rate higher than Mary, who I voted for.

    • Barb's Gravatar Barb
      March 11, 2014 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Yep, at least Mary of Egypt made her own decision. Anthony imprisoned his sister. Not getting my vote.

      • kit McLellan's Gravatar kit McLellan
        March 11, 2014 - 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Me too…..Antony was a crazy jackass and treated his sister abominably. Boo.

    • Jonathan's Gravatar Jonathan
      March 11, 2014 - 2:19 pm | Permalink


      One, none us of know the sister’s feelings on the matter, so even if you suspect, it’s hardly fair to simply assume it was against her will.

      Two, at that time in early Christian history, at least as interpreted by the hagiographers and interpreters of hagiographers, the option of Virginity was actually a freeing and amazing option; one most women at the time didn’t have. Of course, this would be countered if in fact Antony’s sister did not want to enter the house; but again, we simply don’t know this.

      Why assume the worst? Stop judging 3rd century people by 21st century cultural mores.

    • Molly's Gravatar Molly
      March 11, 2014 - 3:49 pm | Permalink

      1st of all, saints are not perfect, they are human. And secondly, has anyone yet mentioned the cultural distinctions of the 3rd century and cautioned about judging with a 21st century western lens? For most of western history up to Antony, and thereafter until the mid-20th century, women were financially and physically dependent on their families/spouses. An independent woman of Antony’s time would have been seen as vulnerable in that society. Antony wasn’t being arrogant, it really was his job to make sure his sister was protected and cared for. To leave her on her own would have been considered negligence or abandonment. Antony knew he wouldn’t be around, he knew he was leaving her vulnerable to exploitation. We do not know if this was totally his decision, or she had input, or it was totally up to her. I’d like to think that if there was a discussion, and it would have gone something like, “Hey sis, do you want a husband, or to go to the convent?” If she shared even a portion of her brother’s fervor, I would expect that she would go for the abbey.

      • glenda's Gravatar glenda
        March 11, 2014 - 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Molly, You have shared the thought I was thinking. Thank you.

  4. PhilEsq's Gravatar PhilEsq
    March 11, 2014 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Tough choice, but the “pun”ishment inflicted by Mary’s celebrity blogger tipped the scales in favor of Antony, although one wonders if he gave his sister a choice between the “house of virgins” or a house of non-virgins.

    • Bill Murray's Gravatar Bill Murray
      March 11, 2014 - 8:21 am | Permalink

      I’m still recovering from that pun!

      • Laura's Gravatar Laura
        March 11, 2014 - 10:12 am | Permalink

        you mean that wasn’t a direct quote?!
        terrible as it was, that pun weighed in favor of Mary on my scales….
        brothers will be brothers and bloggers will be bloggers.
        but what did brother’s sainthood do to sister’s faith??…imagine THAT heavenly tableau: “they made you a WHAT?!”

    • March 11, 2014 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Ouch! Really, I didn’t write that quote. I swear on the Bible and all my romance novels that someone at Forward Movement redacted my text! When it comes to the lowest forms of humor, I am way more likely to make Monty Python jokes than puns.

  5. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 11, 2014 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    I have a hard time admiring a brother who put his sister in a house of Virgins. Perhaps she had to be protected but this seems pretty unfeeling to me. This is a tough vote as it is hard to identify with either of them. The lessons to learn from them maybe are to learn to give away more material things and be freed from all addictions.

  6. Cheryl's Gravatar Cheryl
    March 11, 2014 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    I am going with Mary, we all have many faults that we wish to be forgiven of. I can not cast stones.

  7. Carolyn Sharp's Gravatar Carolyn Sharp
    March 11, 2014 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    Neither actually!

    • Ann Shelly's Gravatar Ann Shelly
      March 11, 2014 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      Neither reflect Christ’s living in the world.

      • Stephen Wickman's Gravatar Stephen Wickman
        March 11, 2014 - 9:12 am | Permalink

        I suspect that — of the two — Mary’s story has been twisted more to stress the nasty bits of her addiction and that her penitance is more genuine than Antony’s conviction of his own righteosness. I voted for her.

      • Connie's Gravatar Connie
        March 11, 2014 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

        I agree… Mary’s story seems wildly exaggerated (women are either whores or saints?) and Anthony betrayed the trust of his parents by abandoning his sister. I can’t vote for either.

        • March 11, 2014 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Connie and Stephen, I couldn’t agree more about this. As a feminist, I am highly skeptical of how this story was recorded. I attempted to qualify and question those accounts with what information I had. As I’ve mentioned in reply to other comments, I think someone got a kick of out assigning Mary to me–a person who writes racy romance novels and believes sexuality can be a window into divine love. I do like the interpretations of her story by several commenters below!

    • March 11, 2014 - 8:49 am | Permalink

      I respectfully disagree. I believe hermits and monastic faith expressions help the world through their prayers and public witness against the world’s tendency for, well, worldliness. These individuals and later communities often served as advisers and sources of healing or education. They seek to imitate Christ’s own withdrawal into the desert. Places like Iona and Taize’ and people like Julian of Norwich or Thomas Merton grow out of that tradition and have blessed the world in many ways. Still, that kind of witness isn’t for everyone.

      • Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
        March 11, 2014 - 9:01 am | Permalink

        I agree with Lou. Different people are called to do different things so that the entire mystery of God can be reflected.

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        March 11, 2014 - 10:34 am | Permalink

        I agree with Lou and Jenny. There are indeed different ways to serve God, and to respond to the call to give up all – ALL – your stuff, not even keeping a bit to tide you and your sis over, is to reject an idol/demon many of us struggle with yet today.

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        March 11, 2014 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Very well put and very true.

      • Molly's Gravatar Molly
        March 11, 2014 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Amen. And now I struggle against the demon of judgment that judges other beloved Lent Madness participants for their remarks. That does not help minister or evangelize. Just not used to such jaw-dropping judgmental comments about people of faith.

        • Jonathan's Gravatar Jonathan
          March 11, 2014 - 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Amen. God save the Church from ourselves.

    • Barbara Mays-Stock's Gravatar Barbara Mays-Stock
      March 11, 2014 - 9:10 am | Permalink

      Agree! Had to vote for the lesser of two disappointments today. That almost never happens in lent Madness.

      • Cody's Gravatar Cody
        March 11, 2014 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Antony and Mary as disappointments?!

        Lord, have mercy.

    • Kristenza's Gravatar Kristenza
      March 11, 2014 - 10:15 am | Permalink

      Yes, this one was tough and far removed from our modern sense of social justice, etc. I just keep thinking that anyone who starves themselves obsessively will see “visions.” Then again, Amthony spent his life as a solitary….

  8. RobertC's Gravatar RobertC
    March 11, 2014 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    I bet Antony’s sister was not too happy about having her inheritance given away, then being shut away in a nunnery. Frankly, I don’t find either of these saints very appealing.

    • Sandrita's Gravatar Sandrita
      March 11, 2014 - 10:38 am | Permalink

      In many societies through the ages, a nunnery was the only refuge for a woman. But I agree with you Robert, can’t get excited about either one of these saints.

    • Ellen Lincourt's Gravatar Ellen Lincourt
      March 11, 2014 - 11:32 am | Permalink

      On the upside, women who remained unmarried and celibate had a much better chance of reaching old age. Marriage was very risky both because of death from childbirth and domestic violence.

  9. Krista's Gravatar Krista
    March 11, 2014 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Zosmois might be lying but probably not “lion”. lol

  10. Joy Segal's Gravatar Joy Segal
    March 11, 2014 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Thinking about those who are freed from addictions and those willing to give up worldly possessions. Brave souls, all, whose lives are changed forever through faith and God’s grace. Hard choice again today. Going with Anthony today. But will remember Mary as I meet her in the streets and the pews of my life.

  11. Lane Johnson's Gravatar Lane Johnson
    March 11, 2014 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    I guess these two balance the choices of yesterday- then it was hard to choose because I was drawn to both; today I’m repelled by both.

  12. John Mawhirter's Gravatar John Mawhirter
    March 11, 2014 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    What a tough crowd! My vote is for Antony…leaving a legacy (a monastery) is key. A Christian hermit seems to be a contradiction of terms, but Antony left behind something.

  13. Peter Miscall's Gravatar Peter Miscall
    March 11, 2014 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    “Repelled” is the right word; I can’t vote for either.

    • Sara's Gravatar Sara
      March 11, 2014 - 11:22 am | Permalink

      Good luck to the Sunday school classes, youth groups, families with children on this one!
      Our homeschool has been voting each day, but I think we will just skip it today – altho it could be quite a conversation about mental health issues, addiction, spirituality, what is a vision vs. hallucination . . . . Neither of these saints do anything for me!

  14. Deborah Birge's Gravatar Deborah Birge
    March 11, 2014 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Seriously, both of these Saints leave little to admire…. Antony’s poor nameless sister loses her inheritance and future possibilities because of her brother’s selective piety.

    • Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
      March 11, 2014 - 11:13 am | Permalink

      Another “repelled”
      JUST SAY NO!!!

      I hereby accuse the mad Lent Madness selection committee of providing us with no choice today.

      Don’t waste your click !! Let your non-voice be heard !!

    • Molly's Gravatar Molly
      March 11, 2014 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Seriously? I brought the rocks…would someone care to throw the first stone at Antony and Mary?

  15. Linda Ryan's Gravatar Linda Ryan
    March 11, 2014 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Putting his sister in a house where she would be safe was probably the kindest thing Antony could do for her since it appears there was no other brother with whom he could entrust her and he certainly could not leave her unprotected. He could have used some of the wealth for her dowry but he didn’t. Did he run out of time to arrange her marriage? Was there no one who would marry her? Was the dowry or lack of one a sticking point? I still don’t really care for the idea that he stashed her in a convent, but it was probably the greatest safety and protection he could have given her, since his departure was imminent.

    • Emily's Gravatar Emily
      March 11, 2014 - 9:34 am | Permalink

      Putting his sister in a convent would have ensured her safety — from likely death at a young age from childbirth at best, and from the perils of the street at worst. To suggest he wasn’t giving her a choice, or that it was unfeeling is to place 21st century values into his world. We don’t know the backstory – perhaps she was devout and wished to go, or was special needs. No excuses here for St. Antony – but without further evidence I’m not ready to condemn him. All I am sure of is that going to a convent was a sure way to NOT die young. With respect to Mary, why are women always the prostitutes and full of lust they can’t contain? Feels like a setup to prove a point. Antony gets my vote – I don’t condemn for how he acted with his sister, and I admire his penitence and his monastic legacy.

    • Nanalee Raphael's Gravatar Nanalee Raphael
      March 11, 2014 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I’d like to know about this “House of Virgins”. Were the women there in positions as the Vestal Virgins in the Roman Empire? Could it have been some type of religious community, responsible for …oh, no! It’s starting to sound like Altar Guild…

  16. Dale's Gravatar Dale
    March 11, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    I have second thoughts about a man who goes to a city so he can be a martyr. Isn’t that just another form of suicide? Mary took herself away from her temptations, which is like the verse if your right hand offends…cut it off. Just a thought.

    • Jo Meachem's Gravatar Jo Meachem
      March 11, 2014 - 11:25 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Dale! I was turned off at once by his leaving his sister in that “House of Virgins” (and hoping it wasn’t a cover for a “House of ill repute!), but I was knocked speechless by the (to humble moi) utter arrogance of deliberately setting out to become a Martyr! Really?

  17. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 11, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Shame on you antony! I have 3 brothers , not one of whom would treat me so shabbily

  18. songofjoy's Gravatar songofjoy
    March 11, 2014 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Didn’t know about the House of Virgins thing. When heard of Antony before, learned that he retained enough of the family wealth to care for his sister. Had pictured her leading a “normal” life. How to vote? Antony gave up wealth. Mary gave up sex. Antony served as an example and -apparently – brought others to Christ. Mary gave up sex. My Martha side wishes Mary had used her new life to help others instead of avoiding them. Guess it will have to be Antony.

  19. Chrisin NY's Gravatar Chrisin NY
    March 11, 2014 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    The positive aspect of two less than engaging participants in today’s brackets is that Basil is a shoe in the next round.
    But I agree with all the others who mentioned Antony’s treatment of his sister. Obviously his official biographer (not our Lenten Madness writer) is not in tune with our current beliefs that women are more than chattel. Being as family is so important to me, in good conscience I could not vote for Antony.

  20. March 11, 2014 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Coming from a family with a history of addictive disorders and behavior patterns as well as having worked with and befriended folks in recovery for many years, I voted for Mary. I with many others believe addiction of any kind has a spiritual component – a thirst for true love (perhaps not fully recognized) which people attempt to quench with something that doesn’t last. Also, sexual addiction is indeed debated, but one study doesn’t fully debunk anything. As the article says, the study has to be replicated. Even then, I’m sure sexual addiction will continue to be debated as much as the efficacy of AA in treating alcoholism. I’m no doctor, but from personal experience and training, I believe addictive behavior patterns can present themselves in many forms, including sexual and non-sexual relationships.

    • Anne's Gravatar Anne
      March 11, 2014 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Lou – addictive behaviour manifests in stranger behaviours than sex. And sexual addiction has presented itself all through history, hence the terms “nymphomania” and “satyriasis”….. just sayin’.
      Mary got my vote because she, like St. Paul, was chief among sinners, experienced conversion and repentance and lived out her faith.
      I think Antony was probably acting in his sister’s best interests, and who knows – the convent was perhaps her choice.

  21. cece the sowo's Gravatar cece the sowo
    March 11, 2014 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Not sure I quite agree that one study proves sex addiction is not real.
    In any case,I’d like to hear the story of her life from Mary herself as it might differ significantly from her biographers.

    In defense of Antony’s treatment of his sister, I’d like to know what his options were. Maybe his choice was the best place available.

    None of this brings me closer to a decision about voting, so I await further enlightenment.

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      March 11, 2014 - 10:18 am | Permalink

      Part of me wonders if these two abstemious saints were placed in opposition precisely to promote abstinence (from voting) in the voting public ?

  22. Judy Welshons's Gravatar Judy Welshons
    March 11, 2014 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    What a joyous way to start my day!

  23. Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
    March 11, 2014 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I found Antony to be a very off-putting figure. As someone noted, perhaps he put his sister into a House of Virgins for her own safety, but it also seemed that he was just tidying up loose ends so he could go off and live as SuperChristian. Similarly, the description of him pointedly wearing his white robes and s desperately seeking martyrdom made me wonder whether he was really letting God’s will be done or whether this behavior was another form of obsession. As I think about it, you could almost argue that both Antony and Mary had addictive tendencies and while Mary sought to overcome them through her faith, Antony found another outlet for them

    • Mary Smith's Gravatar Mary Smith
      March 11, 2014 - 9:00 am | Permalink

      Well put, Catherine!

  24. Rayelenn Sparks Casey's Gravatar Rayelenn Sparks Casey
    March 11, 2014 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I’d rather vote for Sophronius. Or even Zosimas. Or possibly the helpful lion ….

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      March 11, 2014 - 10:19 am | Permalink

      oooh…I like that! go Lion!

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        March 11, 2014 - 10:51 am | Permalink

        I like both these saints and could happily vote for either – kind of puzzled by the reaction against them. But I always love the lions – gotta vote with them, and A Lion of Egypt thought Mary was keen so she gets my vote today.

  25. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    March 11, 2014 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    At first reading it is really hard to “like” these two. Why couldn’t Antony share his new faith with his sister and help her to become a strong woman for Christ and then go about his own business. Mary’s story reminds me of Mary Magdalene on further thought…….can we treat her any differently than the other Mary……….Christ saw her potential. Guess I will go with her.

    • Angie's Gravatar Angie
      March 11, 2014 - 11:41 am | Permalink

      While it is true that Mary Magdalene had 7 demons cast out of her, they were never specified. She was not, as is the popular misconception, a prostitute. That comes from the conflation of Mary with the sinful woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and was propagated by a Pope around the 600s (I believe that’s the correct date).

  26. Sr. Zoe Davis's Gravatar Sr. Zoe Davis
    March 11, 2014 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    This is a very hard call –

  27. March 11, 2014 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    As first spoken by Zosimus, “I’m not lion” that I voted for Antony (not Tony or Anthony) of Egypt. So he is the Pharoah of Egyptian hermits for me!

  28. Kristin's Gravatar Kristin
    March 11, 2014 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for Mary because I suspect that she may be the victim of the same bad press that Mary Magdalene experienced. The bible never says that she is a prostitute but “tradition” says she is so that’s her rep. Not to be all Dan Brown or anything but sometimes tradition seems to make some women out to be less appealing. She may have been a prostitute but the other stuff sounds more like something from the Enquirer. Or she might have had some early abuse or mental illness. At least she didn’t shut someone else up in a house of virgins!

  29. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    March 11, 2014 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    When I was reading Antony’s bio, I thought, “Gee, this might be what Mr. Darcy would be like if he never met Elizabeth.” Then I decided I needed a little more coffee. Then we got to the put-his-sister-in-a-house-of-virgins part, and I thought, Hm… Mary impresses me with her amazing turn away from wickedness. She almost got the vote until I thought about Antony’s decision to venture into the world and wrestle with ideas and risk real danger to comfort believers and share his understanding. Mary told her story and withdrew from the world. It’s Antony today. And about locking away his sibling, I’m assuming the house of virgins was the safest place for her as Antony took on the life he felt called to lead. It’s not like he sold her into slavery or married her off to a stranger. Overall, early Egypt does not sound like much fun.

    • Peg's Gravatar Peg
      March 11, 2014 - 11:25 am | Permalink

      I want to add that I respect Mary’s choice of moving out of a world only too happy to exploit her weaknesses to feed their own. And for those who are withdrawing from the voting world of Lent Madness in protest, I guess I have to respect your choices, too. Holy Hermits, SEC, this is a challenging day!

    • Liz's Gravatar Liz
      March 11, 2014 - 8:38 pm | Permalink

      This is almost exactly the same thought process I went through (minus the coffee part). I expect he would have married her off if he’d found a husband he liked for her or if she had desired that. Maybe she was a snooty rich girl who hated her brother’s piety. But if that were the case, couldn’t she have registered her desire to be married off to some other rich dude? So maybe she felt convicted as her brother did, and wanted to live a life of piety in one of the few ways women could at that time. It seems like a lot of time would have passed between being uber-wealthy and owning nothing, so she would have had time to assess the information and lobby her brother. If he was so saintly, surely he would have taken her desires into account? Still, it’s kind of fun to try to imagine a spoiled girl in an extreme case of riches-to-rags story.

  30. Kristine's Gravatar Kristine
    March 11, 2014 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    I have always wondered at people who leave the world to conquer their demons. Isn’t the idea that we serve Christ in the world around us, by showing His love to others thru our actions and words? I cannot connect with either of these saints. I’m going to vote for Mary though, because her actions only affected her. Antony put his sister in a house of virgins? Given the male-dominated society of the time, I have to wonder if she was given a choice.

    • Carol's Gravatar Carol
      March 11, 2014 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Any one who has ever struggled with addiction knows that recovery is a miraculous gift of God. And how can anyone say that Mary’s choice did not have any impact on others. She may have withdrawn from the world but we are still talking about her in 2014. Makes me wonder how many have identified with her confession and have found the courage to do the same. In AA they call that Step 4!

  31. Louis Bower Bannister's Gravatar Louis Bower Bannister
    March 11, 2014 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    While I’m not certain of who I can vote for out of this pair, one thing strikes me in many of the comments above. Everyone seems to have forgotten the common practices and laws of the day–very different from our own. Antony may have behaved in a quite extraordinary manner [shall we say inspired?] in terms of liquidating the family wealth and his identity in society, but he behaved quite normally for the time in terms to depositing his sister to a House of Virgins.

    Does his behavior cause me to be aghast? Yes, by today’s standards, but not when it comes to looking at it from an historical perspective. It actually makes me glad that we are who we are today as a society that has changed dramatically throughout the ages with the expectation of continued change to come.

  32. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    March 11, 2014 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Interesting to see the distaste expressed here. IME God ALWAYS comes to us as Other, and the very person who turns your stomach is the one who carries God’s precious gift for you. YMMV, K thx bye.

    • Jann Briscoe's Gravatar Jann Briscoe
      March 11, 2014 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      So very true! When I have such reactions, have trouble identifying with either, I am forced to look beneath the surface to remember our commonality as children of God AND as sinners in the hands of a loving God!

  33. Mary Smith's Gravatar Mary Smith
    March 11, 2014 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t like Antony. He dissed his sister, and then ran off to try to become a martyr. I don’t think martyrdom counts if you stand up and say “take me, take me!!” I know some people really like desert hermits, but it always seemed to me like ducking our real responsibilities – to bring Christ to others. Just sayin’.

    • Carolyn Sharp's Gravatar Carolyn Sharp
      March 11, 2014 - 9:53 am | Permalink

      Not sure about this, but it could be that being openly Christian in Alexandria in 311 was a bit like being openly gay in Uganda in 2014. It reminds me vaguely of something Biko once wrote about fighting back. If the system is going to kill you, you might as well give them a reason. (Of course, Biko said it better than that!)

    • Mike Grigsby's Gravatar Mike Grigsby
      March 11, 2014 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      I don’t like the way Anthony treated his sister, and I don’t like the way Mary denies her sexuality, a sort of self slut shaming. But I guess that is the point, saints screw up too and God still loves ’em.

  34. March 11, 2014 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    Mary Magdalene was NOT a prostitute regardless of the rap the church has given her. Re: Mary of Egypt – we have such an aversion to the body and sex in the West (puritan ethics) – what is repellent about her otherwise?

    • Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
      March 11, 2014 - 10:18 am | Permalink

      I agree, dear Ann. Even if you do spell your name wrong!! Just kidding. If a man had behaved in that fashion, they’d have shaken his hand and bought him a beer!

  35. March 11, 2014 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Debating the Arians is so yesterday. Going with 50 Shades of Mary.

  36. jackie's Gravatar jackie
    March 11, 2014 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    Antony forced his decision on this sister. Not ok.

    Mary of Egypt.

  37. Kaki's Gravatar Kaki
    March 11, 2014 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    Mary’s story is similar to my own in some ways–looking for love in all the wrong places– so I HAD to vote for her…

  38. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    March 11, 2014 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    We’re reading with 21st century minds two accounts that leave no good choices. Maybe tomorrow will be better (and Thursday will be easy).

  39. Walter Gladwin's Gravatar Walter Gladwin
    March 11, 2014 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Hmm. A repentant sex addict who decided to live out her life in the desert for self- punishment, or a guy who took Jesus’ commandments literally to trust the Lord for this sister and himself? Mary sought a life of self-punishment until her death. Antony was an example of devoted believers like himself who lived lives of humble obedience. No contest.

    • Angie's Gravatar Angie
      March 11, 2014 - 11:49 am | Permalink

      While I have not read the biography of Mary, I have read Antony’s and he lived quite a life of self-punishment by our standards. He often starved himself and if I remember correctly also flogged himself. And there was nothing in today’s bio to say that Mary lived in self-punishment, she simply lived as a hermit off the land in the wilderness.

  40. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    March 11, 2014 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    We’re judging Antony with 21st century mores. It wasn’t that he ‘treated’ his sister as property…in their world…she could marry…or much less desirable options.
    I didn’t like that portion of the bio…but I’d need more info to judge. And if there wasn’t a good man to marry… there were worse things than remaing a protected virgin.

  41. Roy Te Turner's Gravatar Roy Te Turner
    March 11, 2014 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” guess that applies to sisters too. Antony.

  42. Carolyn Fishwick's Gravatar Carolyn Fishwick
    March 11, 2014 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    These two really challenge me and my busy life. What a calling, to spend your entire life in the company of your Creator, supporting in prayer those called be more visibly “productive”. It is not always comfortable, sitting quietly and letting Him show you yourself, as he sees it. In fact, I think I avoid it and try to make up for it by being super-busy doing things for my family, church etc, when what He really wants is for me to just be quiet with Him.

    And I think it is too easy to judge Antony from our modern perspective – he probably did the best he could for his sister; better than marrying her off to someone? Perhaps the young man who went away sad from Jesus’s call to give up everything, was thinking he had to look after his sister. Antony established a way of living a life totally devoted to prayer that has underpinned the spiritual life of the Church ever since – so he gets my vote.

    • Zoe Holland's Gravatar Zoe Holland
      March 11, 2014 - 10:40 am | Permalink

      Thank you for this thoughtful reflection. We all live our faith in different ways, according to our gifts. I am grateful for the dedication to prayer of those monastics, who are “wind beneath the wings” of those of us who desire to “share the suffering of Christ in the world.”

  43. Claudia Horner's Gravatar Claudia Horner
    March 11, 2014 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    The lion did it for me — I’m in with Mary. Plus a guy who puts his sister in a house of virgins? Wow, a lot of issues around women, sexuality, and choices.

  44. Janice Zitzmann's Gravatar Janice Zitzmann
    March 11, 2014 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I agree it is hard to identify with either of these two. It was the lion that swayed me. I vote for Mary.

  45. JoAnn's Gravatar JoAnn
    March 11, 2014 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    Not really feeling it for either of these. Did Antony ask his sister how she felt about having all of her resources given away and then sent to a convent? It’s all fine if he wants to be a martyr but not sure she signed up for it. I’m hesitant about Mary’s “sex addiction” storyline. Perhaps she was without family or resources and turned to prostitution to support herself. Voting for Mary but finding it hard to like either of these bios.

  46. The Rev. Dirk C. Reinken's Gravatar The Rev. Dirk C. Reinken
    March 11, 2014 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I don’t know enough about Antony or the cultural mores of the day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if property laws had something to do with it, and putting his sister with a House of Virgins was a way to assure that she had community and care. It would be interesting to hear the story from her perspective, rather than from ours.

    The helpful challenge I find in today’s match-up with the question of whether we judge saints of the past by today’s standards or by the standards of the age in which they lived. Did holiness shine through then, and does it continue to shine through in a way that inspires. Antony certainly has a legacy that has stood the test of time, as does Mary.

    Personally, I would love to hear Mary’s story from her voice, unfiltered by patriarchy, but that will never happen. Still, I’m struck by the comments of Mary forsaking the body for the Body and the perspective that gives on intimacy, our needs, and intimacy with Christ. I like these contests challenge us to think through what it means to be saints (small s) of God. God, willing, I mean to be one, too!

    • Molly's Gravatar Molly
      March 11, 2014 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for that thoughtful and beautiful reply. I have been getting impatient with those that were less so. Ah, it’s like finding an oasis in the desert…or maybe it’s like finding a hermit in the desert. 😉

  47. Susan Fiore's Gravatar Susan Fiore
    March 11, 2014 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    Mary’s story seems to me to be yet another one of those made-up legends which justified treating women as wicked temptresses — basically sex objects — and still have way too much influence on how women are treated in many churches and their own homes. I have a lot more sympathy for her than for Antony. Nevertheless, Antony’s legacy to monasticism earns my vote, imperfect though he (as we are) may have been.

    • Heath Missner's Gravatar Heath Missner
      March 11, 2014 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

      One can date monasticism right back to Anthony. He was the original hermit, a model for all future monastics, whose prayers, I am convinced, help hold our planet in balance. It was exquisitely painful for Anthony, alone, to exorcise his demons. Rather like the Buddha, under the Bodhi tree, as he attained enlightenment. Anthony’s ‘holiness’ attracted folks out to the desert to be with him. And, what witness, to ‘give it all away’, as did Francis, and, for that matter, as did the Buddha.

  48. Jerry Rankin's Gravatar Jerry Rankin
    March 11, 2014 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    “New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth.” Not withstanding the difficulties of applying modern sensibilities to ancient times, cultures and understandings of faithfulness, both Anthony and Mary encountered God in the realities of their lives and times, and responded faithfully in their context. Voting for Mary today in gratitude for both witnesses, thinking Mary’s journey more heroic.

  49. Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
    March 11, 2014 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    This is effete but my vote for Antony was partially based on his prominence as a subject of painters such as Velazquez.

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 11, 2014 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Not effete at all! Nice post, thanks.

  50. Mike Essig's Gravatar Mike Essig
    March 11, 2014 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    No one likes an 8 vs 9 seed game in the NCAA either. I think it is hard to choose between the two because in our modern lives we don’t have much connection to pious hermatige. It is easy to see it as selfish to ignore our duties to family. I was more impressed with Antony’s giving all of his wealth to the poor since it probably did more good. In the end though I went with Mary, since sometimes it comes down to who you would rather share a beer with.

  51. Kate Norris's Gravatar Kate Norris
    March 11, 2014 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    I would like a lion to dig my grave when I go.

    • Patty DeMaria's Gravatar Patty DeMaria
      March 11, 2014 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Lions not being known for their digging abilities, especially when compared to badgers, anteaters, and jackals, I am intrigued by this appearance in Mary’s already bizarre tale. Can this lion be the model for Lewis’ Aslan? Antony gets my vote today for being the less fictitious of the pair!

  52. Colette Clark's Gravatar Colette Clark
    March 11, 2014 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    Nowhere does it say that Antony did not consult his sister. Perhaps she chose a House of Virgins rather than a dowry and arranged marriage in a time of submission to husbands and early deaths from child birth? I agree, you have to look at the time period rather than judge on our current view points. The bio also says Antony “did not impugn” himself”, which I gather means he was putting himself in danger, but not actively trying to be killed. Not really taken with either, but do judge them by their times, not ours.

  53. Christy's Gravatar Christy
    March 11, 2014 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    I was impressed by Antony, giving everything away, how hard that would be to do, then I got to the part where he included his sister, giving her away as well. So I think I’ve got to go with Mary today.

  54. Nancy Strong's Gravatar Nancy Strong
    March 11, 2014 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Context, context, context! If ininistry has particularities based on context, time and place, so does witness. That being said, this match-up is one of the less attractive I’ve encountered. But given Antony of Egypt’s place in the history of Christian monasticism, I’m going with that.

  55. Nancy of Richmond's Gravatar Nancy of Richmond
    March 11, 2014 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    Antony made me mad when he dumped his sister in order to follow his own passion. What happened to her? Did she feel a call to be a virgin in confinement forever? I doubt it.

  56. Lauren's Gravatar Lauren
    March 11, 2014 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    I think Anthony was more literal than he needed to be. Putting sister in the House of Virgins –really???

  57. Marjory Lange's Gravatar Marjory Lange
    March 11, 2014 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    I have to say, the hagiographers here are showing their own biases (not the current ones, the original ones, let me add). Mary’s ‘sex addiction’ was likely a need to survive, and her willingness to beg and do handiwork more likely indicates she hated prostitution, so that, far from refusing payment, she refused clients. (Hagiographers in that era were all male, remember.)

    Antony’s life reflects a set of values that it’s hard to relate to today, although the part about visiting prisons & labor camps openly as a monastic is pretty cool.

    Since I’d have to flip a coin, and that’s no way to vote, I abstain. But love the hagiographies.

    • Kristin's Gravatar Kristin
      March 11, 2014 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps you could “draw lots” or roll dice. There is definitely precedence for those ways of decision-making in the Bible! :^)

  58. Johnna's Gravatar Johnna
    March 11, 2014 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Mary!

  59. EEM's Gravatar EEM
    March 11, 2014 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    My daughter and u are having good conversations as we do lent Madness. Be sure to zoom in on the picture of Mary. She looks like she is wearing a fur jumpsuit or has serious body hair. Can anyone out there tell us more about this work of art?

    • Adam's Gravatar Adam
      March 11, 2014 - 11:50 am | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia it is a 15th Century French icon.

    • Peg's Gravatar Peg
      March 11, 2014 - 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Well, it might account for why the lion liked her so much.

      • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
        March 11, 2014 - 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Oh chuckling to myself over this one!

  60. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 11, 2014 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for Mary of Egypt. “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.” “Go, and sin no more.” And Mary did just that. What a great example of turning one’s life around! And the lion digging the grave. How cool is that?? Don’t get me started on Antony. Such a selfish, lousy brother, “putting” his poor sister in a House of Virgins. Did she want to go or did he want to be rid of the responsibility of her? Today’s Madness was easy choice!

  61. March 11, 2014 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    Voting for Antony. Impossible to over state the massive contribution of the desert mothers and fathers.

    I wish my brother had put me in a convent. Or do wealth and marriage bring greater joy than a life if prayer? Hmmm… what does the Gospel say?

  62. Adam Lees's Gravatar Adam Lees
    March 11, 2014 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    I was surprised to see such hostility towards both Antony and Mary and a bit crestfallen to realize that both were being judged so harshly through our own lenses (which I would venture to say are no better, purer, or wiser than our saints’ were). Today we get the most human of saints and a glimpse into desert monasticism, which we might recall a certain Jesus having done several times. Are we repulsed at the thought of a House of Virgins? Probably, though I’m sure we’d think less of him if he abandoned her on the streets of Alexandria instead of fulfilling his fraternal duty (using a vote to denounce ancient times is a bit of a log in your eye situation, wouldn’t ya say?). Was seeking martyrdom less-than-holy? Assuredly. Nonetheless, both have testified to the faith and both served as inspirations (and if you don’t like the debating the Arians part, recall that had that side prevailed, every time you have worshiped Jesus would be blasphemous). They each rebuked the two temptations that humans fall to: wealth and carnal pleasure. We rebuke Antony for having not provided wealth for his sister, but realize that we have very much missed the whole point. Upon hearing the Gospel, he gave up all of his wealth – leaving himself with less than nothing. While modernity has given us wonderful examples of philanthropy, I cannot recall one in which the wealthy person gave up every single thing s/he owned. Similarly, Mary – with God’s help – separated from a past life with love-less relationships for one of penitence and true reflection. I voted for Antony, but the key about these saints is that we’re forced to confront our own humanity. Thank God for Lent, eh?

    • Carolyn Sharp's Gravatar Carolyn Sharp
      March 11, 2014 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure that Anthony and Mary are being judged as much as their presentation. Whoever wins I hope to see a more robust presentation for today’s context – I suspect both Anthony and Mary have not been well-served.

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      March 11, 2014 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Adam, I think you’ve done the best job of summing up this match today! Thank you! I too thought in the end Antony brought the greatest good to Christianity and went with him.

      • Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
        March 11, 2014 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Adam, and a few others, for finding the positive in this pairing. I am drawn to trying to write mid rash for both Antony and Mary to help me find the positives. And to look within myself to see where I am like them and do not want to look! or give up?
        The best match to date as I found real material for true reflection. I was taken with both of them and the bread to eat and remember the line we do not live by bread alone . . . .

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 11, 2014 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Great post, Adam, thanks.

  63. Linda M's Gravatar Linda M
    March 11, 2014 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Don’t like either of them much-voted for Antony

  64. Alan C's Gravatar Alan C
    March 11, 2014 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    Reading both these stories reminds me how different a world they lived in 1400-1700 years ago. And yet fundamentally people are the same and struggle with the same demons (among them wealth and sex–not that either one is demonic per se!). I guess I’m voting for Antony because of his influence on the wider life of the Church in launching monasticism and shaping Christian doctrine.

  65. Anne L's Gravatar Anne L
    March 11, 2014 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    Thinking of Mary, I am reminded of all the teenage runaways on the streets today, surviving by any means necessary and finding comfort in self destructive activities. And because of that, I needed to vote for Mary.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Oooh, chills on that one Anne L.! Love this perspective. Thank you!

  66. March 11, 2014 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Finding true intimacy with God (my favorite icon is Christ and the Beloved Disciple) and moving away from addictive behaviors (whatever the historical truth about Mary may be) both resonate strongly with me today as I work my own recovery and as I serve as a board member on behalf of people living with mental illness.

    Plus, puns in the context of religious reflection = a sure winner in my book!

  67. Sandy's Gravatar Sandy
    March 11, 2014 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    How do you choose between two fantastical ascetics? This is like asking me to choose between chocolate cake and chocolate pie. I went with Antony, however, because his story had such a profound affect on the nascent ascetic movement. For those freaking out over the idea that Antony placed his sister in a house of virgins, you might want to consider that such a comment could indicate that she, like her brother, desired to serve God in the ascetic life even as it highlights Antony’s sanctity: unlike other ascetics, he took care of his family before leaving them! (Also, Athanasius’ understanding of the importance of virgins is foreign to most contemporary people, so be careful how you read his comments!) Lest we argue that both Antony and Mary don’t follow Christ, let’s remember Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 7 that the virgin life is the better choice over marriage. People of the 4th and 5th centuries took this quite seriously. Also, scholarship on the early ascetic movement makes it clear that the people in the desert weren’t as far removed from ‘the world’ as we might think. After all, their stories are still around. I love Lent Madness!!!

  68. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    March 11, 2014 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Tis a hard vote yet again … Both devoted their lives to Christ, in some similar ways and some divergent ways. I will not judge them by modern standards. I voted for Mary because she’s the underdog, because what she gave up was, I think, harder, and because she never became a famous person for what she did.

  69. Bonnie Chartier's Gravatar Bonnie Chartier
    March 11, 2014 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    This was an odd day for saint choices…..but from the stories, it seems that Antony did more for others, after all, he “gave away his money” – others benefited from that, and in later years, visited Christians in prisons, engaged in debate…He seemed to be engaged in the world around him, even as he lived out in the desert. I am not certain what qualified Mary for sainthood. Vote for Antony!

  70. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    March 11, 2014 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    I voted for Antony because of his perseverance and his contribution to the defense of the homoousion doctrine during the Arian controversy. Also, he put up with Athanasius who, great theologian that he was, is also said to have been an extreme curmudgeon.
    Amber Belldene, you have revealed yourself to be an Open and Notorious Punster. I’m married to one, and he and three likeminded friends (including the senior warden) should not have been allowed to sit together during Vestry meetings. They did anyway.

  71. Greta's Gravatar Greta
    March 11, 2014 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Knowing that St Antony’s monastery still exists in the midst of everything that has happened since the 4th century, and having visited it, I have to vote for Antony. In my mind I hope that he and his sister discussed the grief of losing both parents, the joy of finding Christ, and the decision of where to live out their lives.

  72. John Dieter's Gravatar John Dieter
    March 11, 2014 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    I perfer more hard facts over mythology – this is why I often vote for more “modern” saints. Regardless, of his treatment of his sister, Antony has a documented plentitude of contributions. I don’t see Mary as having given much except for her purported chastity.

  73. Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
    March 11, 2014 - 10:41 am | Permalink

    I wish the brackets had been shuffled to put Joseph against Antony and Mary against Anna. Those would have been easier choices. But one of the key points of Lent Madness is thoughtful consideration and reflection.

    Putting aside Antony’s giving away the family resources rather than acting as a responsible steward, I am rather glad that he who wanted to be a martyr lived to the age of 105. Serves him right. And Mary — how does living alone in the desert spending your time foraging to survive serve God or others?

    Difficult choice. I’m going to hold my nose and go with Antony.

  74. Daniel's Gravatar Daniel
    March 11, 2014 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    This was a tougher choice for me, but I went for Mary for two reasons. Her life can be understood as the struggle of a person suffering from sexual compulsion and seeking recovery in spiritual discipline. There are a lot of people today who have a similar struggle and her story can be for them another source of experience, strength, and hope. Additionally, I was not familiar with her before this year’s Lent Madness and I like the idea of promoting women who don’t often get as much press and acclaim as men in history.

  75. Corey's Gravatar Corey
    March 11, 2014 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    Not the biggest fan of Antony or Mary, but the lives and writings of many of the desert fathers (especially Lent Madness competitor Moses the Black!) have been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement for me. Though I don’t understand many of his choices, Antony paved the way for generations of others, and for that he gets my vote.

  76. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 11, 2014 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    You’ve got to love lent madness. Look at all this debate. Judging in our 2014 ways. I go back forth. Delaying my coffee making. I bet both Mary and Antony are lovin this morning.

  77. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    March 11, 2014 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    I am always suspect; okay, I am down right skeptical, of hocus-pocus type of miracles such as the one in the story of Mary. I guess I might quickly turn my life around out of simple fear if God zapped me with some kind of force field. While I am sure Mary’s conversion was real, I went with Antony who did not rely on magic to change his life. As for his putting his sister in a “house of virgins,” I wonder if this was a colloquialism for “a convent,” where she probably received an education and very good care. As the late Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story.”

  78. Mariana Bauman's Gravatar Mariana Bauman
    March 11, 2014 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    The mindset of the early Christians was so different than today’s it seems like a great chasm between us. How many of us make the effort to understand enough of their world to bridge that chasm? Christianity has changed greatly since the Desert Fathers & Mothers but do we understand these roots of our faith? Love the educational value of Lent Madness! For Mary of Egypt – try:

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for this link. Wow, I feel like I know Mary now–I have seen that leathery-skinned old woman in many a desert. What humility, what perseverence! Her having written a note to Zosimos in the sand reminds me of our Lord’s own letters in the sand before a different “sinful woman.” I like this woman.

    • Susan B's Gravatar Susan B
      March 11, 2014 - 8:36 pm | Permalink

      thanks for the link about Mary. A really good read. I also did a google image search, and loved the many different images of her that I found.

  79. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 11, 2014 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t particularly like either Antony or Mary …. It was a toss-up as to who to vote for! And no one can survive on only bread and water. That leads to protein malnourishment, otherwise known as Kwashiorkor — those are the African children one sees in pictures with the little round bellies. They are quite sick! Antony basically abandoned his sister even though he was supposed to care for her. On the other hand, the miracles in Mary’s story seem more than a little far-fetched. As I said, this one was difficult to know who to vote for!

  80. Gerrardo Romo+'s Gravatar Gerrardo Romo+
    March 11, 2014 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    In my opinion, it is unfair to judge with actual criteria characters from ancient times, we would understand much better the reasons people do or say what and why. But it’s only my opinion, this is a great exercise, and I am impressed of all this wonderful people participation.

  81. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 11, 2014 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    I’m finding this discussion (and these saints) fascinating. Here’s a link to an article about 4th century asceticism in Egypt. Who knew it was so trendy?!

  82. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    March 11, 2014 - 11:01 am | Permalink

    I’d really like to vote for Anthony’s sister. It sounds like she had no choices but ended up living a saintly life that was forced upon her. If she had her own demon to reject, it might have been the desire to do in her brother who gave away her inheritance and got all the credit for it. On the other hand, Mary walked on water. I tend to think of that as requiring faith but fear that hagiographers (ancient, not modern) simple presumed that she could not swim.

  83. kit's Gravatar kit
    March 11, 2014 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    I voted for Mary despite the truly horrid pun delivered in her name. “I’m not lion” indeed!!

  84. Kevin Matthews's Gravatar Kevin Matthews
    March 11, 2014 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    Part of putting his sister in the house of virgins meant giving the house the equivalent of a dowry for her care, so, in all likelihood, she chose this over being married. Let poor Antony off the hook on this one! He is, in many ways, the founder of the monastic movement that continues to this day. Most people are not called to be monastics, but those who are have contributed amazing things to the ministry of Christ.

    Mary: A story that reminds us that the worst thing a woman can do is to desire sex. Not getting my vote.

    • March 11, 2014 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Kevin, I agree with you on this one! I think the LM organizers got a kick out of assigning Mary to me, a priest and writer of racy romance, because I am outspoken about human sexuality as sacramental, or potentially so. Perhaps its that potential, and when it falls short, that Mary’s story reminds us of. That’s why I likened her to an addict and why I tried to reclaim her for the, I think, wrong label of prostitute.

  85. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 11, 2014 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    I am voting for Mary because of the collect. It seems both of them were trying to fill that “God shaped hole” -one with things and one with sex. Both found that only God can fill it.

  86. March 11, 2014 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Well, these comments are just fascinating! I am 100% sure I did not write that pun about the Lion–TIM SHENK!

    I agree with the comments that Mary’s story is very difficult to make sense of. I attempted to understand it from a feminist perspective. I rejected the label of “prostitute” for the reasons above, and hope you can hear my skepticism about the reports of her life via the male monastics. Who knows what her sins and conversion were really like. However, I do think the “looking for love in all the wrong places” interpretation offered in the comments is a practical one for our time!

  87. March 11, 2014 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    I was all for Antony until I read about his stashing his little sister in a house of virgins. It’s great to make such decisions for oneself, but it doesn’t seem at all fair to her. I voted for Mary, who made choices only for herself.

    • Mark's Gravatar Mark
      March 11, 2014 - 11:26 am | Permalink

      How do you know that his sister did not want this? Perhaps she had become a Christian. Perhaps she did not want to become a wife to someone who would treat her like chattel. Perhaps she supported fully her brother’s vocation.

  88. Marj's Gravatar Marj
    March 11, 2014 - 11:07 am | Permalink

    Ah, the 4th century Christians. So very different from us ? Yup, SEEMS so. Hard to identify with their culture? Right again. Each century, each culture has a unique perspective on sin, salvation, love, redemption etc. lots of food for thought about who we consider our contemporary spiritual role models.

  89. J's Gravatar J
    March 11, 2014 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    Yer kidding,
    I have no interest in either of these fables.

    • Jonathan's Gravatar Jonathan
      March 11, 2014 - 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Your loss.

  90. Margaret Bivins's Gravatar Margaret Bivins
    March 11, 2014 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    I voted for Antony because he was pushing the Arian Heresy. You might think that idea is long dead, but it has never died away. How can Jesus be both God and man? I’ve always had difficulty with the Holy Trinity. Jesus called God his father, and yet he was his father? Hard to understand.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 2:47 pm | Permalink


  91. Nancy Sewell's Gravatar Nancy Sewell
    March 11, 2014 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    I read At some point in his life, he met with his sister again. She, too, had withdrawn from the world, and directed a community of nuns. I did a bit more research not liking the idea that Antony put her “away” – but women were property in those times and he did place her in a safe place. It was definitely a hard vote but in the end I am going with St. Antony

  92. Carrie Monahan's Gravatar Carrie Monahan
    March 11, 2014 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    I am more drawn to those saints who wrestle with and live out their faith in the context of society rather than in the desert. Since Jesus did both I guess, there is something to be said for the monastic. I have to go with Mary who had a real struggle even though the story was a bit wacky. Don’t like the brother who stashes his sister away to satisfy his own guilt.

  93. Deborah Sampson's Gravatar Deborah Sampson
    March 11, 2014 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad these are not the finalists. I studied and rather enjoy the 5th-9th century Irish monastics, but I just can’t warm up to the desert monastics. Antony started a monastic movement, but there is the issue of the sister and the question if any female of the time really had free choice. Then, there is Mary who encountered God and ran off to the desert to enjoy her new faith. They both seem rather self-centered, even more so upon further study. I reluctantly went with Mary as there is no evidence she inflicted her beliefs on others.

    • Jonathan's Gravatar Jonathan
      March 11, 2014 - 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Strange. The asceticism of the Irish monastics seems to me to be as strict as much of what the desert fathers and mothers pursued, not to mention creating the penitentials, “inflicted” their beliefs on others as they traveled through Europe converting and establishing more monasteries, and collected in their interiors great wealth of goods and books (which is why they became such big targets for the Vikings.) Thank God they did though, as they preserved so many of the important texts and learnings of the past. Anyone who thinks the Irish monastics were all warm and fuzzy “Celtic” spiritualists haven’t read enough primary and secondary sources! 🙂

  94. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    March 11, 2014 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    Voting for Antony in honour of a Coptic Christian lecturer who had a significant impact on me. Also wondering if his sister might have chosen the House of Virgins instead of being dumped there. In an age where marriage was really the only option for a young women, entering a house of virgins was a radical choice for someone wanting to devote their life to God. It’s a shame we don’t know more about Antony’s sister.

  95. mary's Gravatar mary
    March 11, 2014 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    Overcoming your addictions and turning to God is a wonderful thing but I’m not quite sure how that makes you a Saint? At least Antony seemed to do something good for people in his debates and was trying to follow what he thought was Christ’s word. We have no way of knowing why he put his sister in the “house of virgins” – might have been the best thing he could do for her – can’t judge him on it! I’m not thrilled with either choice today but I guess my vote will be for Antony.

  96. Anna Frost's Gravatar Anna Frost
    March 11, 2014 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    I agree that an effort should be made to evaluate these two through the lens if their own time, not ours. But even after doing so I find that neither if them hits the mark for for me. Worthless people? Certainly not. Saints? Ditto. No vote from me today. However, I have enjoyed the conversation!

    • March 11, 2014 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

      How interesting, Anna. I think what I love about sainthood in the Anglican tradition is that it so ordinary–We can meet them at school, or in lanes, or at sea, as Hymn 293 says. In that sense, I find both of these lives rather saintly.

  97. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 11, 2014 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    After singing PDQ Bach Knock-Knock Cantata, regarding transporting young gulls across a staid lion for immoral porpoises, I guess I dare not complain about Mary’s body being dug up by a lion.

  98. Anne Wrider's Gravatar Anne Wrider
    March 11, 2014 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    Mary gets my vote. I know Antony was a person of his time, and disposing of his sister would have been acceptable, but he just annoys me. Neither one strikes me as a Golden Halo candidate.

  99. Lindsey McLennan's Gravatar Lindsey McLennan
    March 11, 2014 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    In both of these stories, I see examples of the foolishness of God vs. the wisdom of man. Neither person’s actions make sense to us in our busy 21st century world. I think that’s what makes this pair so difficult for us. Does it make sense for either of them to do what they did? Not on a human scale, for sure. I’m having a hard time voting, but not because it’s an awful match-up. Will let this one simmer for a bit to see what comes to the surface.

  100. Joan Smoke's Gravatar Joan Smoke
    March 11, 2014 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    I’d like to give kudoos to Adam Lees comments. I do believe one of the difficult things we do in interpreting things in the past is to judge them on our own standards. (It’s frequently a problem in dealing with other cultures as well). The hermits lived alone, but not in total isolation — how else would Antony have gained a reputation and following. I find in both an authentic sense of transformation, a true sense of repentance (metanoia). Doesn’t mean they were perfect, and that every thing they did was good — just that they had a very real experience of God through Christ, by the Holy Spirit (just to include the entire Trinity) and lived into that call as they discerned it. I think since Antony under such circumstances made it to 105 and established a still present monastic order he gets my nod.

  101. Pete Hoffman's Gravatar Pete Hoffman
    March 11, 2014 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one for me. Both had experiences that fit well within my understanding of God and His machinations in our world for us. Both were good examples of how one might respond to God’s call, once heard. But I have to go with Antony, only because of the impact of his response on the world around him. He had much, and gave it all up for the good of others. Mary also responded, and became a devoted listener to her maker, but I don’t sense that she “gave” much as a result. she simply repented and became a hermit.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh, but Pete, “simply repented”? When truly done, it ain’t a bit simple!

  102. Justine's Gravatar Justine
    March 11, 2014 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know much about Antony’s time and place and even if I did, how could I begin to understand why he made the choices he did? It seems to me that putting his sister in a “house of virgins” could just as easily have been a kindness as it could have been a slap in the face. Luckily, there is still something to be learned from his life. When I read about Anthony giving up his wealth I thought not of his time and place but of my own. I live in a time when the all world’s wealth is controlled and owned by the few. My place, America is no exception. I was struck by the idea that what if just one of the world’s multi-millionaires gave up his wealth to his neighbors. Or what if every American who looked at their lives from a distance and said “I have more than enough” , was inspired to simply give his excess to his neighbors. What a wonderful “what if”. So I’m voting for Antony for the inspiration from his story.

  103. Jamie Glock's Gravatar Jamie Glock
    March 11, 2014 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I find that our intro bios are good but I cannot vote until I have done additional research on the internet to get a more complete picture of the saints. The Catholic Encyclopedia has been very helpful. – At first neither saint spoke to me, but after reading more I’ve found that Antony will get my vote.

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      March 11, 2014 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

      I too more often than not do extra research, which is very helpful.

  104. David+'s Gravatar David+
    March 11, 2014 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    In this world run amuck by super-consumerism, the witness of Anthony & Mary are most needful at this time. And, it may be true, Anthony did the most loving thing he could do for his sister by placing her in a house of virgins. If the law of Lent Madness allowed, I would vote for both these saints, who followthe words of Our Lord, “go sell..give…follow.”

  105. Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
    March 11, 2014 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

    It appears that Antony’s sister was quite a bit younger than he was. By giving her to the care of the House of Virgins, he was ensuring that she would be raised in a nurturing environment, surrounded by strong, independent women as role models. She still would have been free to choose her own way in life upon reaching maturity. I say he acted in a way that was subversive of patriarchy.

  106. Margaret's Gravatar Margaret
    March 11, 2014 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    How did either of them become saints? What is the criteria for becoming a saint? It seems like neither did any outwardly work (other then giving any his $$), but were both hermits and stayed away from society (for the most part – Antony did go for the year as an outward Christian and also helped with the debate). I do not get it? Anyway, Antony in his effort to ride himself of “worldly” possessions to devote himself to prayer – did take care of his sister based on the what was acceptable practice at the time (Not that I agree with it based on today’s standards).

  107. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 11, 2014 - 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Interesting pairing here. The Celtic saints had an affinity of the desert hermits in Egypt. What Anthony dud was a true following of Jesus. Gospel. By providing for his sister he made sure she was taken care of. I do not know how 4th century Alexandria was but the a House of Virgins was probably safest place to put her under circumstances and tied into his austerity. That house might be like a boarding school today. Mary is interesting since it teaches how the gospel can chNge people. Both followed Christ’s words to a total commitment. Something we can learn of in today’s materialistic world.

  108. Lynn Bonney's Gravatar Lynn Bonney
    March 11, 2014 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to vote for a brother who sought fame through martyrdom at the expense of his sister. My choice is Mary, because we can all use a bit more penitence — not just during Lent.

  109. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 11, 2014 - 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Freeman Gilbert! All through the comments about Antony I was thinking, ” If Antony was less than 20, how old was the sister? Might the house of virgins not have been the safest place for her? And who said she had to STAY there anyway?”
    I voted for Antony because he was the first (that we know of) of the hermit monastics and I learned about him through Education for Ministry.
    And aren’t there paintings of him fighting off lustful demons? Not too different from Mary.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      March 11, 2014 - 1:17 pm | Permalink

      I should have said regarding Antony’s sister, “Might not the house of virgins have been….” Forgive the bad grammar.

  110. Tarheel's Gravatar Tarheel
    March 11, 2014 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Frankly, I question the sanity of the three principles involved in the choice today , except for the lion who was probably cowardly. Antony, Mary and the sister, let’s see that makes three and would qualify as a group for some therapy by modern standards.

    Holding my nose and voting for Antony.

  111. ted's Gravatar ted
    March 11, 2014 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    There is no evidence Antony did his sister any injustice whatever. We can know those who have recorded his story believed he did not leave his charge unprotected, but anyone who infers he dishonored her or his parents by leaving all and following the call of Christ is wrongly accusing this holy and selfless man. Excuse me, it seems some are projecting. By the way, what ever happened to St. Peter’s wife?

  112. Jack's Gravatar Jack
    March 11, 2014 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Was her conversion and water walking of greater impact than Antony’s defense of the poor and wronged? I’m just sayin’.

  113. David+'s Gravatar David+
    March 11, 2014 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Interesting how the Collect for today, Tuesday in the 1st Week of Lent, calls us into the way of Christ as lived by both Anthony & Mary:
    Grant to your people, Lord, grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only true God; through Jesus Christ your Son… (HWHM, pg 37)

  114. Kew's Gravatar Kew
    March 11, 2014 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    After long thought, I’m voting for Mary because of her collect, which pairs the delightful and the destructive powers of the fleshly body.

  115. Alice's Gravatar Alice
    March 11, 2014 - 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately I don’t care for either of these candidates. I think I will abstain today and just look forward to tomorrow

  116. Becki Dean's Gravatar Becki Dean
    March 11, 2014 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t crazy about either of them. In the end I voted for Antony but what he did or did not do for his sister weighs heavily. If it’s true then how selfish.

  117. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    March 11, 2014 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that of the two, Antony is the only one who took any action to spread the Gospel – attempting to martyr himself and ” visited Christians in prison and labor camps and testified on their behalf before tribunals.” And “In his old age, Antony participated in the Arian controversy….was invited to Alexandria to debate the Arians, many of whom were convinced by his arguments and changed their thinking”. This took a lot of faith and courage. While I can applaude Mary for changing her ways of the flesh, somehow it seems she was inwardly focused and her life didn’t touch the lives of others. Antony gets my vote today.

  118. CJ's Gravatar CJ
    March 11, 2014 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really care for either today. But the way Antony treated his sister ensured that Iwould not be voting for him. It’s Mary by default!

  119. Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
    March 11, 2014 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Mary, but I would like to add my voice to those speaking up for Antony.
    Those people who are bashing him over his sister seem to assume that she had no
    say in anything that happened. But it is quite possible that Antony did consult her
    and pray with her over giving away the family wealth and entering a House of Virgins.
    Perhaps, inspired by her brother’s example, she too found new life in Christ and agreed
    to everything.
    None of us would want to be condemned on mere assumption and we shouldn’t do that
    to Antony.

  120. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 11, 2014 - 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for the patron saint of pigs:

  121. dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
    March 11, 2014 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

    What we know of Antony is largely through his biography written by Athanasius of Alexandria. It’s available on-line. His sister is mentioned in paragraphs 2, 3, 5, and 54.

    What Athanasius says is that after his parents’ death he was left with the care of his sister (who was then 18-20 years old), after selling the property he retained some for his sister’s care, the sister was was placed in a convent to be brought up (and it’s my understanding this is the first historical mention of Christian women living together in community), as a monk he was tempted by the devil by his rememberance of his former life including the care of his sister, and as an old man he left his solitude and beheld “his sister grown old in virginity, and that she herself also was the leader of other virgins.”

    Antony was a great leader in the formation of religious communities for both men and women in the subsequent 1700 years of Christianity. It’s not a life for me (nor is Mary’s for that matter) but his influence on the Christian Church is signficant.

    • dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
      March 11, 2014 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Woops. It was Antony’s age that was 18-20. Anthanasius doesn’t say how old the sister was.

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        March 12, 2014 - 11:06 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Dr. Primrose, for the link!

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 12, 2014 - 11:12 am | Permalink

      “…she herself also was the leader of other virgins”.
      It’s unlikely Antony’s sister would rise to a leadership position in the House of
      Virgins if she had entered it unwillingly.

  122. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 11, 2014 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

    not inspired by either today. Do SEC need to add an abstain button for next year?

  123. Mica Van Fossen's Gravatar Mica Van Fossen
    March 11, 2014 - 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I will say that in the 3 years I have participated in Lent Madness, I have not felt this repugnance to any other saints, let alone 2 at the same time !

  124. Ann Willis Scott's Gravatar Ann Willis Scott
    March 11, 2014 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Ok, I’ll vote for Mary, if I can ever find a Vote button that works. Since I have always had a problem with “The Trinity,” that would be a no-brainer, anyway. It probably stems from growing up in a church where the rector was always glad to have a seminarian available to preach on Trinity Sunday…

  125. MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
    March 11, 2014 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

    This is tough, tough, tough. On the one hand, I am glad that Christianity in Egypt is being spotlighted. How many Americans, especially, have no clue that there is an ancient vital Christian community in countries like Egypt and Syria!

    On the other hand, while I desperately wanted to be a nun in my post-“Sound of Music” childhood, the older I get, the less I “get” it. Yes, Jesus went off to be alone in the wilderness. Repeatedly. But he always came back to the world and to the messy business of being among people.

    On the other hand (my third hand, of course), while both lived lives of monasticism, much has been made of Antony’s giving away his wealth and his founding of monasteries. Point for Antony? Not for me. He seems through my imperfect lens (yet the only one I have) to have been quite self-centered. “I have to go RIGHT NOW into the desert.” (Couldn’t he have waited until perhaps arranging a marriage for this sister of his?) “I’m going to go INTO JERUSALEM because I’M GOING TO BE A MARTYR!”

    On the other hand (my fourth hand), I am still struck by this idea of Mary-as-reformed-addict. I am familiar with “the rooms” of addiction, and to be able to let God turn your supreme weakness around is a blessed, blessed thing.

    My vote is for Mary and her humility. Oh, yeah, and the lion.

  126. Carol Barker's Gravatar Carol Barker
    March 11, 2014 - 3:41 pm | Permalink

    St. Theresa of Avila tried to get to the Moors to be martyred, too. But then she was only about seven years old at the time. Sorry, trying to get martyred as an adult turns me off. And just maybe Antony’s sister wanted to go to the House of Virgins, but maybe she didn’t. My vote goes to Mary.

  127. Gail's Gravatar Gail
    March 11, 2014 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry the account of Antony omitted the story of his visits with elderly Paul the Hermit who asked Antony to bury him when the time came. By then Antony was over 100 years old himself, and so A PAIR OF LIONS came out of the desert and helped Antony dig the grave. Ravens brought Paul half a loaf of bread each day except when Antony was visiting and then they brought a whole loaf.I think it’s St Jerome who records these stories of spiritual friendship.

  128. Rodney Dudley's Gravatar Rodney Dudley
    March 11, 2014 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Antony did not do any particular good when he gave his wealth away. It sounds like he was afraid of the responsibility of his wealth and for his sister. It doesn’t matter if she stayed with virgins or non-virgins, she was abandoned first by her parents who died, and then by her brother. Mary could have been a girl like that–abandoned by her family and looking for love in all the wrong places. I don’t think either of these people are saintly, but my sympathy lies with Mary.

  129. Kitty's Gravatar Kitty
    March 11, 2014 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Difficult choice today. While I was cautious about Antony following his sending his sister off to the House of Virgins (I have no way of knowing if this was his way of getting his sister out of the way so he could go off & be a hermit, or if she asked to go for her own spiritual calling), I was rather horrified about his active desire to try to become a martyr–that seems to me to be less an act of piety & more an act of self-righteousness. On the other hand, he did inspire a community & advise people (though it seems that it may have been unwilling at times).

    Then we have Mary–on the one hand, I rather suspect that at least some of her backstory was sensationalised, & there is no reference to her actively trying to help people; on the other, she overcame a difficult situation (sexual addiction is a term tossed around & typically self-diagnosed today, but sexual compulsion can a legitimate symptom of a number of mental illnesses & conditions, such as Manic Depression), and it is possible that living as a hermit was a way for her to cope with whatever struggle she had in order to live her new found Faith as best as she could.

    In the end, I voted for Mary–she doesn’t appear to have tried to curry favour with others like Antony, and also (on a more personal, selfish note) she’s an example of a woman saint who was not a virgin, & had in fact openly felt sexual desire, & I rather think the more of those I learn of, the better.

    Celibacy & virginity are all well & good, but looking down on those who are not called to such a life & demonising sexuality–a powerful, integral part of life which has great potential for being a spiritual experience & doing a lot of good work–is not excusable.

  130. Phyllis Pugh's Gravatar Phyllis Pugh
    March 11, 2014 - 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I have to confess (perfect time of the year) that, through my 21st century eyes, I can’t find it in my heart to vote for either of them. As many said, we don’t know what Antony’s sister thought of where she was sent. To me, it fee;s as if Antony did not want to have the burden of raising a girl, so he sent her off. Mary, well, yes, she give up something, but she just hid herself from it. Besides, my brain keeps saying that she may have had a problem, but there’s also the whole patriarchal aspect of a woman cannot have sex for enjoyment (yes, it was out of wedlock, but it was out of wedlock for both parties). I think I’m going to take a day off for this one.

  131. Irene Cowley's Gravatar Irene Cowley
    March 11, 2014 - 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I read all your comments earlier and now am at a computer and can respond. (can’t type a response on my iPod – too many misspellings, etc!) So here it is (actually posted on the FB page first!):
    Listen, folks, consider the options open to Antony about his sister. He could have ‘sold’ her off as a second or third wife of some old geezer! That’s what happened to poor girls in those days. AND while we may think of being sent to live with virgins as a type of prison, in actuality, such a community may have offered much more freedom and self-determination to the ladies who lived therein than the alternatives.
    Now, that being said, I still have to decide which of these two lives most ‘speaks’ to me today. . . .

  132. michelle waterloo's Gravatar michelle waterloo
    March 11, 2014 - 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Mary.

  133. Tom Stickland's Gravatar Tom Stickland
    March 11, 2014 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Seeing that Mary was buried by “a lion” anchored my suspicion that Mary might have made the lists just to keep us thinking, and perhaps “honest” in our choosing> Who knows?

    Anyway, the Aryan controversy, and its resolution, the Council of Nicea, and all that “stuff”- pretty imortant in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.If Antony was a key player, or just an accessory after the fact – Way To Go, Antony!

  134. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    March 11, 2014 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting because I never give up the right to do so. BUT these two were the strangest ones you’ve come up with since Hector was a pup! Geez Louise!

  135. March 11, 2014 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I think it was fine for Antony to give away all his worldly possessions. However, some percentage of what he gave away belonged to his sister. His disregard of her rights and her voice seems to be the kind of treatment of the poor Jesus was trying to change. Mary recognized her sinfulness and sought to repent. That is a life worth emulating. She gets my vote.

    • Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
      March 11, 2014 - 9:57 pm | Permalink

      The biography clearly states that he provided money for his sister’s upbringing, so that’s not really fair. And it does seem obvious from the biography that she was much, much younger. Entrusting her to the care of strong and independent women living in community was a beautiful act of love on his part.

  136. March 11, 2014 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I think both of these characters are victims of the bloggers’ choices of words, even if some of those choices were tampered with by the SEC. This and a few comments from earlier days make me wonder how much we are voting for the saints and how much for the bloggers’ writing styles . . . . My mother always advises us to write our own obituaries — sounds like pretty good advice!

  137. Molly's Gravatar Molly
    March 11, 2014 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I admit, I have had my fair share of replies, but I have one last comment.
    I love that this is a match-up is so challenging.
    I can understand if neither saint excites you. I believe that when that happens it is an opportunity for me to widen my perspective of what it means to be a saint or witness, and to open to seeing more of God throughout human history. I’d like to speak to two groups in this beloved Lent Madness community.
    To my hard-working friends who vote on the side of “practical” or “justice-oriented” saints: Is it possible that these hermits must have meant something to a number of faithful Christians throughout time in their real lives, and that is why they are remembered by the church. And if that’s true, then why do they remember them, what is compelling or helpful? Also, Jesus calls us to love one another as he loves us. I believe that some people may need longer to receive that love than others, or may have been given gifts by God to articulate that love to others in a way other than the way God has called you to be a witness. The body can’t be all hands and feet you know!

    To those who cannot swallow the fantastic stories, you have my sympathy and my polite disagreement. I concede that superstition has run rampant in all cultures, historically. I will even concede that it is possible, and maybe even probable that not all “works” attributed to saints are the real deal. I love science and reason, but I have a couple of reasons why I am open to the miraculous and what doesn’t make sense to us given what we know about science. The scientists I know (and I live in between Duke University and UNC, so these have credentials) understand that what they know and take as absolute truth today may be reversed or expanded in a surprising way tomorrow. I certainly never could have imagined dark matter and dark energy as a child! And, if God created the universe, all energy and matter, is it not possible that God can affect the elements in a way that is otherwise impossible? Also, I have recently met three people now who are all sane and intelligent, and yet they all have recounted a similar miraculous story to me in the past year. All three (who do not know each other, I am the only link) have reported to me a story in which they were in some sort of spiritual crossroads or low point. At a particular time and place (for two it was in a church) they felt hands on their back, hands that felt completely solid, real, and good. In all instances, there was no one standing behind them, and in one instance the person was completely alone in a sanctuary. So, I’m keeping my options open and on the “Is anything to wonderful for the LORD” side of the equation.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 10:36 pm | Permalink

      Love it! Well said!

  138. Molly's Gravatar Molly
    March 11, 2014 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Antony’s icon is holding some parchment that reads “I NO LONGER FEAR GOD, BUT LOVE HIM” Can I get that on a t-shirt?

  139. Patricia Nakamura's Gravatar Patricia Nakamura
    March 11, 2014 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Antony’s sister wanted to be stuffed into a community of virgins. That sounds quite high-handed of Antony.

    Mary gets my vote!

  140. Paul Kelley's Gravatar Paul Kelley
    March 11, 2014 - 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Two amazing stories of amazing saints which causes me to wonder whether they would be willing to accept into heaven folk like myself of a very unremarkable character. As a Catholic myself I feel a bit like a trespasser on this superb website which I enjoy so much and am grateful for allowing me to join in this Lenten program.

    • Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
      March 11, 2014 - 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Paul, you’re not a tresspasser! You are most welcome, especially if you vote my way lol

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 11, 2014 - 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Welcome, brother.
      And thanks be to God, he is willing to accept into heaven the unremarkable and the
      strange, and every sort of person!

  141. Christine CO's Gravatar Christine CO
    March 11, 2014 - 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree with those who are upset with Antony for forcing his sister into a House of Virgins. However, at that time, a young woman had no free will. She was the property of the senior man of the family, in this case her brother. So sad….

    Antony gave up large amounts of money to become a hermit, and Mary gave up large amounts of sex to become a hermit. Which one gave up the most?

    While we’re discussing use of language; I didn’t read all 227 comments, but I have a question about the use of “he did not, however, try to impugn himself” in Antony’s biography. I had to look up impugn, a word I’ve heard before, but didn’t remember the meaning. It’s a transitive verb meaning to assail, resist, oppose, or attack as false. Given this definition, it seems to me that it would be hard for someone to “impugn *himself*.”

    And I must admit, the use of the lion/lying pun did slightly sway me towards Mary. A lion helped dig her grave? We need that on a tee-shirt!


    • Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
      March 11, 2014 - 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Please now. She was almost certainly a very, very young girl. He gave her care over to a community of strong, independent women that could nurture her in a way probably no other group or institution of that era could.

  142. Pamm's Gravatar Pamm
    March 11, 2014 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I think we have to remember the context of the time. Antony would have been expected to provide for his sister. We also have to be aware that these are the author’s words, not his own. In any case, they are both Saints, having been moved by the Word to do things many could not. I am moved especially though by Antony’s gifts to the poor. My vote is for him.

  143. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    March 11, 2014 - 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Had to vote for Mary because she was not lion. It made me laugh out loud and that is a good thing.

  144. Jim Begley's Gravatar Jim Begley
    March 11, 2014 - 7:38 pm | Permalink

    So, I get it …it’s April fools day! No, I guess not. Just normal saint stuff here, giving up sister, convicted by Jesus, and living in a tomb on bread and water or going on a pilgrimage to chase men all over the Holy Land, a little walk on the water, and apparently choking to death on the Eucharist.
    This life in the Egyptian desert presented an interesting formula for becoming a saint.
    I think I have to go with Mary, after she succumbed to the invisible force at the Holy Sepulchre she took life and love into her own hands.

  145. Hope and Skye's Gravatar Hope and Skye
    March 11, 2014 - 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Skye voted today. She went with Antony because he gave away everything to live a life without much of anything to eat and drink in the desert. Admittedly, mom skipped some of the biographical information about Mary when she was reading it out loud to Skye and her sister….

  146. sharon's Gravatar sharon
    March 11, 2014 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

    They both seem fanatical and lacking. However, he did leave a lasting legacy so, got to throw him my vote. Loving my first year of lent madness!

  147. linda's Gravatar linda
    March 11, 2014 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

    eenie, meenie, miney, mo…..i will write in FRED ROGERS.

  148. Karen Tucker's Gravatar Karen Tucker
    March 11, 2014 - 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Once again I have been torn in my vote. There are good and discouraging points for both Antony and Mary. For a while I was leaning toward Mary as her journey seems to be the roughest and most self sacrificing to me. Plus the whole lion bit is really a big plus. If , as Mike Essig said, I was choosing based on the person I would rather have a beer with it would definitely be Mary. However, after reading reading reading, it seems that Antony was the one that contributed the most in the stepping stones of the church. One of my most very favorite persons is a monk and a wonderful mentor to me and many others. So in honor of Br. Cuthbert and for his founding of the monastic movement my vote must go to St. Antony.

  149. Merrilee's Gravatar Merrilee
    March 11, 2014 - 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Can’t vote for either.

  150. Marjorie Menaul's Gravatar Marjorie Menaul
    March 11, 2014 - 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious – are there any male saints who are remembered as reformed sex addicts? I know some had been promiscuous, but addicted? Can anyone name one?
    I’m afraid I sense something prurient in the story of a female saint which is told in a way that seems almost to gloat at being able to go on and on about her sexual excesses. I’m in sympathy with Mary, but not with the way her story is told.

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      March 12, 2014 - 2:03 am | Permalink

      …and God said “Nope!”. I loved that part. Dude WANTS to be a martyr (who wants that?!), and is denied. Dude wants to be a hermit, and people keep following him into the desert. It is almost Pythonesque, I voted for Mary but I wouldn’t be sorry to see Anthony advance either.

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        March 12, 2014 - 2:16 am | Permalink

        Sorry — the above comment was in reply to Jo Meacham regarding Antony’s arrogance in attempting martyrdom.

        Marjorie, Augustine of Hippo springs to mind as a male saint who famously…um…got around. But I agree with your point that sexuality (too much or not enough) seem to be a particular focus when it comes to female figures. Whatever gets the manuscripts copied and preserved, I guess!

  151. Rosemary Beales's Gravatar Rosemary Beales
    March 11, 2014 - 9:11 pm | Permalink

    On behalf of my fourth graders, I am casting their vote for Antony — though he won their favor by only one vote. Note to self: Read the LM profiles BEFORE reading them aloud to the class, and you will not find the words “sex addict” staring you in the face. Long pause while I translate in my head. Sensing that I was pausing because there was something I didn’t want them to hear (correct), they protested, “Come on! We can take it! We’re old! . . . Nine and ten!” Personally, I love the saints that are less than perfect “the whole of their good lives through,” but I have to cast the vote of my constituents 🙂

  152. Sylvia's Gravatar Sylvia
    March 11, 2014 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Mary’s story sounds like a whole lot of prurient projection. It’s more likely she was abused at home and ran away only to be recruited into prostitution. I imagine her being dragged off to Jerusalem by her pimp for bigger profits and deciding that she’d rather starve to death in the desert and be with her God than be a slave any longer. Alas this is still the choice faced by countless women and girls today.

    • Amy C.'s Gravatar Amy C.
      March 11, 2014 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Sylvia—Your retelling makes the most sense of all I have read, and touches us here in our time.

      • Sylvia's Gravatar Sylvia
        March 11, 2014 - 11:54 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Amy. 🙂

        • March 12, 2014 - 12:15 am | Permalink

          Sylvia and Amy, your comments make me concerned that my deep skepticism about this account isn’t coming through clearly enough in what I wrote. This is my first year as a Lent Madness blogger, and we were instructed not to editorialize in our brief posts.

          I found all the accounts of Mary’s life I read highly objectionable, based on what I know about the distortion of women’s history. Specifically, I found it puzzling that she claimed to have sex because of an unsatisfiable desire, not for money, but she was still labeled a prostitute. This reflects for me the shadow side of Christian attitudes about sex and the widespread fear of female sexuality.

          Perhaps Mary was forced into prostitution, as Sylvia suggests, and as we know many human beings still are. Or, perhaps she was driven by a consuming desire that she found only God could satisfy. More sex-positive strands of our tradition acknowledge that sexual desire and divine longing are closely intertwined and that intersection is something I’m interested in, as a romance novelist. Perhaps I deserve the label prurient, but I happen to think sexuality deserves some positive attention in the Christian tradition.

          To that end, I suppose I chose to imagine an interpretation where she wasn’t a victim, but an agent seeking, and eventually finding.

          • Sylvia's Gravatar Sylvia
            March 13, 2014 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

            Thank you for elabortion on a more positive interpretation of Mary’s story. Perhaps she can be likened to the woman at the well, with a big dollop of hagiographic exaggeration on top. Still, I have always thought that this notion of “prostitutes” “liking it” so much that the money is almost superfluous is simply a way to deny the reality of sexual slavery and human trafficking. Indeed the money does seem to be irrelevant, to others, since any woman who has any amount of sex might be called a whore regardless of the circumstances. It seems to be more of a code for “piece of meat” than a job description.

    • March 11, 2014 - 11:57 pm | Permalink

      Debbie, thanks for sharing your sense of humor!

      • March 11, 2014 - 11:58 pm | Permalink

        Eek. This comment belongs to the one below. Not sure how that happened.

  153. Debbie C's Gravatar Debbie C
    March 11, 2014 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I know there are lots of reasons to take this seriously, but I have been driving children endlessly, grocery shopping, checking on homework. As a mother of three, the idea of moving from sex addict to hermit was just so appealing. I have to vote for Mary, because I could not stop laughing. Clearly she is still performing miracles, because there was no way I was going to laugh amidst the bills, laundry, and kids tonight!

  154. March 11, 2014 - 10:08 pm | Permalink

    We teach our SS kids and families to share highs and lows everyday as a way to stay in touch. What’s the best thing that happened today and what’s the worst? It’s a relative thing, there has to be an answer or you miss the point of communicating. We have been faced with tough choices throughout the ‘games’. I hope those throwing in the towel on voting today will reconsider and keep the spirit.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, not voting is just sad.

    • linda's Gravatar linda
      March 12, 2014 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      where’s the “like” button for the above comment?

  155. Laura Amundson's Gravatar Laura Amundson
    March 11, 2014 - 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Did Anthony’s sister WANT to be placed in a house of virgins? Sounds pretty dull to me. Give me the woman who’s lived a life!

    • Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
      March 11, 2014 - 10:27 pm | Permalink

      She was a little girl. She grew up in a feminist commune. Don’t know how dull that would have been.

  156. March 11, 2014 - 11:28 pm | Permalink

    The anti-ascetic cultural bias here is rather disturbing. I voted for Mary, but would happily have voted for Antony too. It wasn’t as hard a choice as some, but certainly didn’t tempt me to abstain from voting.

  157. Conn Santana's Gravatar Conn Santana
    March 11, 2014 - 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Unlike several others I was aware of both these Saints. Mary is believed to have been a courtesan and possibly an actress. Her story is so steeped in legend it is difficult to credit. On the other hand, Anthony is considered the father of Christian monasticism, his life is well documented. Finally, I have to say I love the stories of the desert hermits…wasn’t John the Baptist’ lifestyle a bit…bizarre? My vote is for Anthony and I’ll reserve judgment in regard to his sister.

  158. Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
    March 11, 2014 - 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Typo in name on above comment.

  159. March 12, 2014 - 12:13 am | Permalink

    Sexually aggressive girls are almost always victims of abuse. Given the culture of the time and region, a violated girl was seen as at fault. Tired of so many women of the Bible identified as repentent prostitutes. We need to revise our modern understanding of a woman’s role in the world. Dynamic research of women in culture at Killing Me Softly parts 1-4 on YouTube or Google. I vote for Mary. Time to rewrite ancient mythology on the character of womankind.

  160. March 12, 2014 - 12:51 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Mariana for the wonderful link to the Orthodox discussion of Mary.
    I came into the contest predisposed to vote for Mary, because few realize there were women, as well as men, who went off to live in the desert. But I found the virgin/whore trope in her story really distasteful. On the other hand, that was written by her male hagiographers, so fairly predictable to find it there.

    I really liked the part of her story at that link where she baptized herself (like Thecla!) and gave communion to herself. Her death shortly after receiving communion again years later reminded me of Imelda, patron of first communicants, whose story was told to me as a child and I found it very sweet and remain attached to it despite looking side-eyed at some of the elements of the story as an adult.

    There weren’t many ways for women to live autonomously, and she found one.

    So, I voted for Mary after all.

    A couple responses to the discussion:
    – on Antony and martyrdom: as others have pointed out, it was very common among Christians during the persecutions to want to be martyred. Some of the texts that have survived from that era are bishops who are having to tell their people not to do that! So Antony doesn’t lose any points on that one for me at all.

    – “putting” his sister into the House of Virgins: it was the verb that put me right off, and I tried to get over that. There are stories of whole families (like Basil’s!) who shared a radical devotion to Christ, and it is plausible to me that Antony’s sister shared that. And as many have pointed out, life in a convent or house of virgins was likely the most self-directed life available to most ordinary women.

    – on the general “what did they do for other people” trend, that sounds a bit Pelagian to me! We don’t earn our way into heaven or sainthood by our works.

    I think Mary’s life as a hermit, even more than Antony’s, showed a whole-hearted, whole-bodied, whole-everything, relationship with God. To me, that is the aspect of their lives that can make them role models for us today: especially during Lent, when we are called to turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel, to go into the Lenten desert for 40 days to fast and pray.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 12, 2014 - 8:23 am | Permalink

      Pelagian! That’s the word I was searching for! Haven’t pulled that one up since seminary 20-some years ago. Thanks for summing up what bothered me so much yesterday in the Joseph/Anna conversations. Whoever does the most stuff wins?? {{shudder}}

  161. Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
    March 12, 2014 - 1:10 am | Permalink

    This pairing is pretty damn problematic.

    Voted for Mary, because the slut-shaming tone of her story probably isn’t her fault.

  162. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 12, 2014 - 1:57 am | Permalink

    So, here we all are: in an online Community—and we don’t get the aesthic movement so popular in past centuries. Thus it’s no surprise many of us cannot relate to the two saints-of-the-day. Poor old Mary runs off to the desert to do pennance for her life of sin—she admited her sin, confessed her sin and sought forgiveness. Poor old Antony, disburses the family forture, after providing his little sister with a group home, and makes a heritage in the desert. He also makes a stand in opposition to the arian heresay.
    Each of these three, poor old saints loved and honored God.
    So, we, non-hermits though we be, choose one saint today. Don’t worry if none of them is your ‘cup of tea’! They didn’t even Have Tea! Be brave! Vote! After all, you can’t go wrong with a saint!
    I’m voting for…Antony, the father of monasticism. (Yes, I’m supporting hermitages while addressing a massive, but unseen, online community of Christians. Madness, I know.)

    • March 12, 2014 - 9:29 am | Permalink

      Don’t worry if none of them is your ‘cup of tea’! They didn’t even Have Tea!

      Love it!

  163. Natalie's Gravatar Natalie
    March 12, 2014 - 3:19 am | Permalink

    Mary of Egypt all the way. She is my Confirmation Saint. I wonder what appealed to me so much as a child? She has stood by me all my life, so I will stand by her.

  164. Natalie's Gravatar Natalie
    March 12, 2014 - 3:25 am | Permalink

    And I hope Antony’s parents haunted him for selling everything and putting his sister in a home!

  165. Jane Cox's Gravatar Jane Cox
    March 12, 2014 - 3:59 am | Permalink

    Boos to Antony for deciding his sister would benefit from poverty and group living. This makes me appreciate my big brother even more.

  166. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    March 12, 2014 - 6:43 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Antony cuz I just can’t vote for a woman who was held up as a prostitute (how many men get held up as examples of pimps & johns?) & then of her choices swinging to the other extreme. Of course, Antony wasn’t all so stable either. But I have to stand w/ Antony this time.

    • Irene's Gravatar Irene
      March 12, 2014 - 6:51 am | Permalink

      I felt the same way. Plus Antony gave away everything he owned to the poor which deserves serious props.

  167. Davis's Gravatar Davis
    March 12, 2014 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid I’m just more attracted to hermits as cookies than as people, and that seems to be true of many of us. It’s so hard to get our minds to enter a Christian culture in which such things as hermits and houses of virgins seem to have been widely accepted and even rather common. Which again proves the point of Lent Madness.

  168. Betty Jo Harris's Gravatar Betty Jo Harris
    March 12, 2014 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Daniel. One if the early responses. I am in total agreement. With your addiction comments. Trying to fill that hole inside our hearts with a substance or behavior is a disease until we figure out what caused that hole in the first place. Mary got my vote. I may never understand what causes my loved ones behavior but I see Mary of Egypt clearly. Once she overcame her compulsion. She lived a saintly life. I can only pray for such things to happen among any of us

  169. March 12, 2014 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    How on earth does one enter the voting. I have read with interest the stories of the candidates but have never discovered the voting mechanism

Comments are closed.