8 December 2011
Theology Final Paper
Throughout my experiences in Narratives of Christian Faith, many themes have come across. However, the three I feel are most prominent are resisting temptation, the silence of God, and the discernment of spirits. These themes can be seen in the works of Antony, Ignatius, Silence, and Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality.
Resisting temptation can be seen in The Life of Antony. Antony realized that there is more to life than material possessions. Even in solitude, the passing on of knowledge, worship, and faith played important roles in his life. Antony explains, “He was alone in the inner mountain devoting himself to prayers and the discipline…“[monks] came to him to guard themselves from lewd thoughts and pleasures of flesh, to flee vanity, and to pray constantly.” The main schoolings that Antony teaches the monks who come and seek refuge are protection from the demon. “How I hope that when a demon comes, he will not overthrow me. We must not entertain these thoughts at all, nor grieve those who are perishing. Instead, let us take course and let us always rejoice. Should they find us frightened and distressed, immediately they attack like robbers. For if they see that we are fearful and terrified, they increase even more. However, should they discover us rejoicing the lord, thinking about good things to come and that a demon has no strength against a Christian, then seeing the soul safeguarded by such thoughts, they are put to shame and turned away.”
Antony taught the monks to resist temptation and demons, and instead have faith in the Lord.
In Antony’s first encounter with the demon, “He attempted to lead him away from the discipline, suggesting memories of his possessions, the guardianship of his sister, the bonds of kinship, love of money and of glory…the enemy saw his own weakness in the face of Antony’s resolve…but in thinking about the Christ and considering the excellence won through him Antony extinguished his opponent’s deception.” Thinking of happy and prosperous thoughts made the demon weaker, while thoughts that undermined Antony’s life made him weaker. However, Antony ultimately defeated the demon by thinking about Jesus Christ. In another encounter with the demon, it took the form of a human. While the demon was powerful and threatening, Antony firmly stuck to his principles of faith in the Lord. “You are much to be despised…the Lord is my helper and I shall look upon my enemies…’ Hearing these words, the black one immediately fled.” After defeating the devil twice, Antony did not become arrogant; instead he was reserved and was always on the look out for more attacks. While teaching others the ways of the Monk, he shared the knowledge of how to defeat the demon and resist temptations. Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality has many themes that express continuity with our readings. One theme that is prominent in this reading is dealing with temptation. Christina of Markyate learned how to deal with frequent attacks from devils, which tried to poison her mind with thoughts that drove her away from her faith. In Christina of Markyate’s second vision, “she had a vision by which she was consoled…she saw herself standing before a meadow full of bulls with threatening horns… the bulls were devils and wicked men. She was inspired with a deeper desire for holiness, and had less fear of the threats of her persecutors…Her concealment and her peaceful existence irritated the devil: her reading and singing of the psalms by day and night were torment to him.” The continuity exists in the same way that Antony dealt with the devil, which was thinking about God and the Christian faith. By comparing Christina to Antony, we recognize a parallel in how both characters battle the devil. Christina does so by singing the psalms, which further Christian worship by “offering an immediately appealing message of comfort and also the sacrament of...