That saying? – A time is coming when people will go mad and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, “You are mad, you are not like us” – is attributed to St Anthony the Great.
And that was 1,500 years ago!
St Anthony pray to God for us!
One day after a teaching on Jesus saying to the people, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21), St. Anthony sold everything he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, and left the city behind to live in the desert.
To the world, of course, this seems but madness. St Athanasius the Great, who wrote the bio, if you will, of St Anthony recounts that:
The devil … observed Anthony and gnashed his teeth against him. But Anthony was consoled by the Saviour and continued unhurt by his wiles and varied devices. As he was watching in the night the devil sent wild beasts against him. And almost all the hyenas in that desert came forth from their dens and surrounded him; and he was in the midst, while each one threatened to bite. Seeing that it was a trick of the enemy he said to them all: “If ye have received power against me I am ready to be devoured by you; but if ye were sent against me by demons, stay not, but depart, for I am a servant of Christ.” When Anthony said this they fled, driven by that word as with a whip.
Today, January 17th, is the Feast of St Anthony the Great:
Thou didst become like the zealous Elijah in his condition, and followed John the Baptist in his upright ways, becoming a dweller in the wilderness and an establisher of the universe by thy prayer, O Father Anthony. Wherefore, intercede thou with Christ God to save our souls.
More info on St Anthony in the podcast St Anthony and the Flying Spaghetti Madness from September ’09.