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Inspiring and Illuminating the Virtuous Life

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  1. Introduction
  2. Gregory the Great's list of the duties for the clergy
  3. Antony and Moses' life
  4. Athanasius' portrayal of Antony
  5. The focus on the importance of prayer
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

In the fourth century Anno Domini, Christianity flourished. The Edict of Milan, established under Roman Emperor Constantine I in 313, guaranteed protection and returned previously confiscated property to the Christian Church. For the first time in history, the liturgy, worship of biblical texts through mass or Divine Service, could be practiced publicly. Jerome, utilizing the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, translated the Bible into Latin. This Vulgate Bible standardized religious texts, further uniting the Christian Church and allowing the word of God to spread. However, the majority of Romans could not afford to own a Bible, nor could they find hours everyday for Devotional Readings. Church leaders sought to guide the masses through inspirational stories of people who lived virtuous lives. Using this technique, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, and Gregory the Great inspired readers while elucidating Christian ideals of asceticism, humbleness, and commitment.

[...] When visited in the mountain, Antony would tell monks: have faith in the Lord and love him; to guard themselves from lewd thoughts and pleasures of the flesh, and as it is written in Proverbs, not to be deceived by the feeding of the belly; to flee vanity, and to pray constantly; to sing holy songs before sleep and after, and to take to heart the saints, so that the soul, ever mindful of the commandments, might be educated by their ardor? (Athanasius, The Life of Antony, p. [...]


[...] Gregory of Nyssa focused on sacrifice, along with continual morning and evening prayer (Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses, p. 101). Moses lived ?beyond nature? for forty days multiple times in order to receive divine tablets (Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses, p. 47). He erected temples following God's teachings. There, he set up altars so that others would have a place to pray and give sacrifice to God. Athanasius also focused on the importance of prayer, stating that Antony constantly prayed in private so that he could fully understand the scripture and prove his zealousness to God. [...]

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