January 17, 2020

The Perfect Love of Saint Anthony the Great

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

A certain discerning elder asked God to see the reposed Venerable Fathers. And he saw them, except Abba Anthony. He therefore said to the Angel who showed him the Fathers: "Where is Abba Anthony?" The Angel said to him, that Anthony can be found in the place where God is. "Why was Anthony made worthy of such glory above the other Fathers?" "Because he loved God more than them."

Venerable Ammoun of Nitria approached Abba Anthony and said to him: "I labor more in asceticism in proportion to you, therefore how is your name magnified among the people more than mine?" Anthony replied: "Because I love God more in proportion to you." Thus the renowned one was in the habit of saying: "I do not fear God, but I love Him. Perfect love casts out fear."

And Abba Sisoes, who dwelled on the mountain of Anthony the Great, replied to the brother who asked: "Father, have you not attained the measure of Anthony?" with the following: "If I had one of the thoughts of Anthony, I would become entirely as fire."

This is how much Anthony exceeded the other ascetics.