At first abba Ammoe said to abba Isaiah, "What do you think of me?" He said to him, "You are an angel, father." Later on he said to him, "and now, what do you think of me?" He replied, "You are like Satan. Even when you say a good word to me, it is like steel."
Abba Moses asked abba Sylvanus,"Can a man lay a new foundation every day?" The old man said, "If he works hard, he can lay a new foundation at every moments."
It was said of abba John the Dwarf that one day he said to his elder brother,"I should like to be free of all care, like the angels who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God." So he took leave of his brother and went away into the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door he heard his brother say, "Who are you?" before he opened it. He said, "I am John, your brother." But he replied, "John has become an angel and henceforth he is no longer among men." Then John besought him, saying, "It is I." However, his brother did not let him in but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, "You are a man and you must once again work in order to eat." Then John made a prostration before him, saying, "Forgive me."
Abba John said, "A monk is toil. The monk toils in all he does. That is what a monk is."