St. Anthony the Great
'Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God.'
'Just as fish die if they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cells or pass their time with men of the world lose the intensity of inner peace. So like a fish going towards the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.'
'He who wishes to live in solitude in the desert is delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech, and
sight; there is only one conflict for him and that is with fornication.'
"Which is better, bodily asceticism or interior vigilance?" The old man replied, "Man is like a tree, bodily asceticism is the foliage, interior vigilance is the fruit. According to that which is written, "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire" (Matt 3:10) it is clear that all our care should be directed towards the fruit, that is to say, gaurd of the spirit, but it needs protection and the embellishment of the foliage, which is bodily asceticism."
At one time Abba Agathon had two disciples each leading the anchoretic life according to his own measure. One day he asked the first, "How do you live in your cell?", He replied "I fast until the evening, then I eat two hard biscuits." He said to him "Your way of life is good, not overburdened with too much asceticism." Then he asked the other one, "And you, how do you live?" He replied, "I fast for two days, then I eat two hard biscuits." The old man replied "You work very hard by enduring two conflicts: it is a labor for someone to eat everyday without greed; there are others who wishing to fast for two days, are greedy afterwards; but you, after you fast for two days, are not greedy."