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  Insights into the early Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers Back to the List of Slideshows
The entrance to
Abba Antony's cave
in the Egyptian desert

"In caves and holes in the ground" (Hebrews 11:38)
slide 5 of 15

The author explains to us that the monastic Fathers and Mothers of the Desert each lived alone in a simple hut or room called “the cell.” He tells us that “the cell” is the “starting point” and the “ending point” of the spiritual progress of the monastics. He writes:
In the cell, you simply stay with yourself; you sit with your emotions; and you shut the door to any intrusion.
And he quotes:
A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word. The old man said to him: “Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”
Rev. Dr. Chryssavgis explains that:
The cell symbolizes the work of the soul. Like the desert, it too is not merely a place; it is a profound way of the spirit.The stability that is here called for is not physical but spiritual. The whole mystery of the desert is encapsulated in this one concept of the cell.The cell becomes the place where we encounter God, the place where God is.If the cell indicates the space and the place where we are able to encounter God, then patience intimates the framework or the time within which such an encounter will occur.
Abba Arsenius said to someone who was tempted by the demons: “Go, eat, drink, do no work; only do not leave your cell.” For he knew that patience in the cell keeps a monk in the right way.
“Evil thoughts and demons disappear through patience,” claimed Abba Poemen. Patience is something you pray for fervently. Once gained, however, it can even heal the sick!
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