A Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: Anthony of Egypt #2

“Several brothers went to Abba Antonios to relate to him certain visions which they beheld and to ascertain from him whether the visions were true or of demonic origin. They had along with them a small donkey which died on the way. Just as they reached Abba Antonios, he, expecting them, said: “How did the little donkey die on the road?”

“How did you know this, Abba?” they said to him.

“The demons revealed it to me.”

“And they answered him: “It is for this reason that we came to see you, for fear of being deceived, since we see visions and many times they come true.”

“Thus, with the foregoing example of the donkey, the elder made it known to them that their visions came forth from the demons.”

This one is challenging, is it not? The brothers are to be applauded, surely,  for wanting to know the source of their visions.  They are confused because so often the visions come true. Yet Abba Anthony of Egypt teaches them that even though the visions come true, they are from the demons.  One is inclined to think that demons are incapable of telling the truth but I don’t think that is the point.  I think the reason Abba Anthony says these words is because the visions are distracting the brothers from contemplation on God.  Anthony lived in a remote location and it would take days for the brothers to get there.  I think the Abba is telling them to ignore visions and concentrate on prayer.

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