From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers
The Conflict of the Heart
Abba Antony said, “The person who dwells in the desert and practices contemplative quiet is freed from three conflicts: those of hearing and speech and sight. He has only a single conflict: that of the heart.”
Fish Headed For the Sea
Abba Antony said, “Just as fish die if they stay too long on dry land, monks who loiter outside their cells or spend their time with those living in the world lose the intensity of contemplative quiet. Therefore, like the fish headed for the sea, we must hasten to our cells lest in loitering outside we forget our interior watchfulness.”
Illuminations Received in Solitude
Since Abba Bishoy was always pushing forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13), he was not content with his former practices but insisted on finding other ones: to his former practice of fasting for one week he added another; fasting for two weeks, at the beginning of the third he would partake of a little bread with salt as his food. Even more remarkable is the fact that no one knew about his way of life equal to the angels except God alone, who sees what is hidden and has the unknown right before his eyes. And so his love for contemplative solitude became inexhaustible, but what he held dear seemed to be to offer prayers in solitude to God alone and to converse with him and be reconciled with the Supreme Judge and draw near to him through illuminations received in solitude.