Paul the Hermit & A Happy Birthday To ...

Today's feast day belongs to Paul the Hermit (233?-345?), Macarius the Great (300?-390) and Maurus (sixth century).  Busy day, huh?
Let's talk about Paul the Hermit:
Forced into hiding because of his Christian beliefs at an early age, Paul discovered that the desert gave him peace and solitude where he remained until his death.  When Paul was nineteen, St. Anthony sought him out and the two became friends.
St. Jerome wrote (or translated from the Greek) a short biography of Paul.  Some of it is believed to be fable, but nonetheless it is a touching story of friendship:
"Blessed Paul said to Anthony:  "For a long time now, I have known that you dwelled in the regions.  And for a long time God had promised you to me for a companion.  Since my hour of eternal sleep has arrived, and because I have always desired to be dissolved and to be with Christ (see Philippians 1:23), having 'finished the course, ... a crown of justice' (see 2 Timothy 4:7-8) remains for me.  You have been sent by God to bury my miserable body, rather to return earth to earth."

Anthony listened to these words with tears and groans, begging Paul not to leave him behind, but to accept him as a companion on that journey.  Paul answered:  "You ought not seek your own interests but those of another.  It is indeed profitable for you to cast off the burden of the flesh to follow the Lamb, but it is also profitable for the rest of your brethren that they may be the more instructed by your example.  I beg of you, hasten, if is not too much to ask, and bring back the cloak which Athanasius the bishop gave you, to wrap about my wretched body."  Now, blessed Paul made this request, not because he cared at all whether or not his body decayed covered up or naked, since for a long time now he had been wearing garments woven from palm leaves, but because he wanted to spare Anthony the grief of his death."
When Anthony returned with the cloak, he found Paul dead, kneeling with outstretched arms.  Two lions dug the grave and Anthony placed his friend's body in it.  He kept the garment's Paul wore woven from palm leaves and wore them on feast days.
Today is the birthday of a good friend of mine.  We stood together and made music at Mass and sadly at his father's funeral.  I have experienced his tremendous generosity first hand and I will never forget it.  After our ministry ended, he found a new calling and the beautiful stained glass he makes for family and friends is a testament to his generous and caring nature.  He is a man of tremendous faith and I'm lucky to call him friend.
Happy Birthday Esteban!

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