Blessed is the life of those who dwell in the desert, winged as they are by divine eros. (The Hymns of Ascent, 1st Antiphon, Plagal of 1st tone)
In the Holy Spirit, * every soul is quickened, * and, through cleansing, is exalted * and made radiant by the Triple Unity in a hidden sacred manner.
“Angels are a light for monastics, and monastics are a light for the world.”
The Apostle Paul, telling the Colossians that their hidden life in Christ will be revealed at his coming, exhorted those Christians to radical and strenuous moral and ascetical effort: “Therefore put to death your members that are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (3:5). While they await the final revelation of glory, Christians quietly labor in the inner pursuit of that “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “You died,” wrote Paul to the Colossians, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:3). Humble, the only force available to mankind for the redemption and transformation of its history. On this earth the treasure of God is veiled and borne about in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).
‘‘St. John the Forerunner was the first monk, and people sought him out, as St. Andrew of Crete testifies: “The Forerunner of grace dwelt in the desert and all Judea and Samaria ran to hear him.”[The Great Canon of Repentance, Song 9, .] He, like many of our prophets before him, preached amendment of life. The central difference between him and the prophets, however, was that St. John would become the first and greatest “Father of Monasticism.” Generations of monastics would take his way of life, his asceticism, his bold dedication to discipleship to Christ as the epitome of the monastic life, and they would follow him. “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt 11:11).
The radical lifestyle of St. John changed the world, especially the Christian world, because many who came after him decided to imitate him and live outside the cities solely for Christ’s sake. Thus, slowly the monastic life was established, and those in the world began to look to it as a shining example of the Christian lifestyle.” By Matushka Constantina Palmer
Abba Arsenius once paid a visit to a certain place where there was a bed of reeds blown about by the wind.
“What is that rustling noise?” he said to the brothers.
“It is the reeds,” they replied.
“Really, if someone sitting quietly heard so much as the song of a bird,” the old man said, “he would no longer have quietness in his heart. How much more the sound of these reeds!”
Abba Evagrius said, “Stop hankering after a whole lot of things lest your mind gets into a turmoil and you lose your quiet way of life.”
Abba Moses said, “The man who avoids other people is like a ripe grape, but the person who mixes a lot with others is like a grape that is sour.”
The great majority of the saints have lived very hidden lives, their inner communion with God so quiet and concealed that only God knew it. Even those saints recognized by the Church in their own generation were often enough recognized for some trait distinct from personal holiness, such as preaching, pastoral ministry, or theological writings. Although all the saints lived in great loyalty to God, the overwhelming majority of them are beyond our ability to name. No matter. The Good Shepherd discerns who they are and calls them by name.