LENTEN FIRE: February 18

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers 

A wandering horse

Abba Isaiah said, “Lately I see myself as a wandering horse that has no master; whoever finds it sits on it and, when he leaves it, someone else takes it and sits on it.”

The enemy who envies the faithful

One day Antony had a conversation with some people who had come to see him about the makeup of the soul and what sort of place it would have hereafter.  That night, someone called to him from above, saying, “Antony, get up!  Come outside and look!”  So he went outside (for he knew those he should obey) and looked up, and saw someone huge, incorporeal, and fearsome, standing and reaching to the clouds, while some beings were ascending as though they had wings.  And he saw that giant stretch out his hands: some of those ascending were stopped by him while others flew on by and, having passed, finally flew on without any problem.  Because of this, the giant was gnashing his teeth at those who escaped him and was rejoicing at those who were falling back.  Suddenly a voice came to Antony: “Understand what you seeing!”  When his mind was opened, Antony understood that this was the pathway for souls and that the giant standing there was the Enemy, who envies the faithful.  He was seizing those who were accountable to him and preventing them from passing by, but those who were not obedient to him he was unable to seize; instead, they passed by and ascended.

When Antony saw this again, he remembered and fought still more each day to advance to what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:13)  He did not readily speak about these things, but while he persevered in his prayers, marveling privately at these events, those with him asked him about them and pressed him for an answer, forcing him to speak to them, like a father unable to hide things from his children.

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