Abba John said, ‘Our Father, Abba Anthony, said he had never put his own personal advantage before the good of a brother.’ 
St. Anthony the Great learned that the Christian vocation, especially for an ascetic like himself, is aimed not for the sake of the selfish betterment at the expense of all others but for the sake of the common good. Love for God is revealed in love for one’s neighbor. True love seeks for the well-being of the beloved while never thinking about what one gets out of it for oneself, though of course, those who love the most will paradoxically gain more for themselves than those who selfishly look after one’s own affairs without such loving concern. The one who give of themselves the most find themselves entirely empty of all preconditions and preconceptions and will be ready to receive whatever blessings come their way.
This is not to deny Anthony had his own personal tastes and desires. It should be clear, upon reading his biography from Athanasius, Anthony sought after and desired solitude. It gave him a sense of peace which allowed him to engage God better. Whenever people would come around him, seeking after him as a holy man filled with wisdom, turning him into something he felt he was not, he would retreat further into the desert. As he did so, he met with and helped more and more people; he helped others learn the basics of ascetic discipline, training them in what is expected if they wanted to be like him in the desert. He welcomed people who came to him with hospitality, putting them and their needs above his own so that his personal discipline did not overrule his engagement with others. He helped hide St. Athanasius from authorities, which is how and why St. Athanasius came to know him and write his spiritual biography. Likewise, when crises confronted the church and he thought there was something he could do, he would act instead of staying put in his ascetic peace. He was known to help those in prisons when Christians were being rounded up, tortured, and killed; he went to Alexandria to speak against Arius when he saw the Arian confusion causing great strife in the church. He never lost sight of the fact that his personal gain was not just for himself, but for others; he came to know himself, his abilities, his gifts, and he used them for the sake of the church and found his holiness itself, and the grace which he received, was maintained as a result.
Anthony knew that we are to be our brother’s keeper, and in doing so, we help ourselves:
For this cause, therefore, he who sins against his neighbour sins against himself, and he who does evil to his neighbour does evil to himself; and he who does good to his neighbour, does good to himself. Otherwise, who is able to do ill to God, or who is there who could hurt Him, or who could refresh Him, or who could ever serve Him, or who could ever bless Him, that He should need his blessing, who is able to honour Him with the honour that is His due, or to exalt Him as He deserves? Therefore, while we are still clothed in this heavy body, let us rouse up God in ourselves by incitement for each other, and deliver ourselves to death for our souls and for each other; if we do this, we shall be manifesting the substance of His compassion for us. Let us not be lovers of ourselves, so as not to become subject to their inconstant power. For he who knows himself, knows all men.
[Image=Pilgrimage Banner of St. Anthony by Sjouker (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
 The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. trans. Benedicta Ward (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1984), 105.
 St. Antony, The Letters of St. Antony the Great. trans. Derwas J. Chitty (Fairacres, Oxford: SLG Press, 1991), 20 [Letter VI].
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