Many of us think St. Antony's life is part of the ancient past, that his style of monasticism no longer exists. That may be true to some extent; modern people are more or less unable to observe the rule of the original monastics, yet the example and counsel of the fathers is not isolated in antiquity, nor is it irrelevant to contemporary men and women. Human nature is the same today as it was then. The saints live today as they have throughout the centuries and for eternity. They remain present to us, not as mummies in a museum, but they are alive in the Communion of Saints... their words are alive and can be understood and interpreted for our lives today. (I may not have expressed that very well, but I needed an introduction for the following...)
Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons. They had a donkey, which died on the way. When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, 'How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?' They said, 'How do you know about that, Father?' And he told them, 'The demons showed me what happened.' So they said, 'That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true.' Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.
Abba Anthony said, 'I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, "Humility."'
The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults; and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, 'You are like a village magnificently decorated on the outside, but destroyed from within by robbers.'
"The monks praised a brother to Antony. Antony went to him and tested him to see if he could endure being insulted. When he saw that he could not bear it, he said to him, 'You are like a house with a highly decorated outside, but burglars have stolen all the furniture by the back door.'" - The Desert Fathers