Abba Matoes said, “I prefer some light activity that lasts to one that is onerous at first and soon broken off.”
He also said, “To flee from the things of the body is a good thing; for the person who is close to the war against the body is like somebody standing above a very deep pit. Whenever it seems fit to the enemy, he easily throws the person down. But if he is some distance from bodily matters, he is like one far removed from the pit, so that even if the enemy drags him along to throw him down, even while he is dragging and coercing him, God sends him help.”
[Abba Poemen, Apophtegmata Patrum]
Abba Poemen said about Abba John the Short that he besought God, and the passions were taken away from him, he then became without a care. Going to an elder, he announced to him, “I see myself reposing, with no battle to fight.” The elder said to him, “Go and beseech God for the battle to come upon you, for it is by fighting battles that the soul makes progress.” The battle came, and he no longer prayed for it to be taken away; he said, “Lord, give me patience in the battles.”
An elder said, “Reading, watching, and prayer stabilise a wandering mind; hunger, labour and isolation quench burning desire; psalm-singing, long-suffering, and mercy put anger to rest, if these things are activated at the appropriate times and in due proportion. For that which is disproportionate or not in due season is short lasting and harmful rather than beneficial.
Once when they were being entertained by another monk whose name was Sabus (we must not of course give the name of the niggard, we may tell that of this generous man), because it was the Lord’s day, they were all invited by him into the vineyard so that before the hour for food came they might relieve the toil of the journey by a repast of grapes. Said the saint, “Cursed be he who looks for the refreshment of the body before that of the soul. Let us pray, let us sing, let us do our duty to God, and then we will hasten to the vineyard.” When the service was over, he stood on an eminence and blessed the vineyard and let his own sheep go to their pasture. Now those who partook were not less than three thousand. And whereas the whole vineyard had been estimated at a hundred flagons, within thirty days he made it worth three hundred.
[St. Jerome, The Life of S. Hilarion]
A brother asked an elder, “Tell me, Father, how am I to acquire Jesus?” He said, “Toil, humility and unceasing prayer acquire Jesus. All the holy ones were saved by these three activities from beginning to end. Repose, one’s own will and self-justification are impediments in the monk’s salvation; nearly all who are lost are lost through these.”