They [the Desert Fathers] went into the desert not to seek spiritual beauty or an intellectual light, but to see the Face of God. And they knew that before they could see His Face, they would have to struggle, instead, with His adversary. They would have to cast out the devil subtly lodged in their exterior self. They went into the desert not to study speculative truth, but to wrestle with practical evil; not to perfect their analytical intelligence, but to purify their hearts. They went into solitude not to get something, but in order to give themselves.

Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience by Thomas Merton, William H. Shannon, editor