To many people the monk seems remote and unsociable. It seems that he is concerned with his own soul and that he offers nothing to the Church or to the world. That is not the case. If the Church has been preserved for so many years, this is due to monasticism. The person who enters a monastery and offers everything to Christ enters into the Church. Perhaps someone will ask, ‘Do those who live alone in a cave help the Church?’ The answer is ‘yes’. The cave-dwellers help the Church in a mystical way. A monk who lives in a cave may not cultivate trees and vegetable gardens, he may not write books and do other things that help towards spiritual life and progress, but there he creates and develops and is assimilated to God. Hermits stay in caves so that no one distracts them from the spiritual life. With their fervent and pure life and above all with their prayer they help the Church. I’ll say something that will seem grossly excessive to you. But I want you to believe it. It is about the contribution of a monk’s prayer. Listen to me carefully.
Let us assume that there are seven educated preachers, who live holy lives. Their rhetorical skill is unparalleled. Each has a parish with ten thousand parishioners. Thousands who hear them are moved to repentance and return to Christ. Whole families are saved. Nevertheless, one monk who no one sees and who sits in a cave somewhere has a much greater effect with his humble prayer. One produces a greater effect than seven. That is what I see. I am sure of it. That is how important a monk’s prayer is. He is on his own in his cell, but the reverberations of his prayer reach everyone, even if they are far off. With his prayer, the monk participates in all the problems which people face and works miracles. His contribution, accordingly, is greater than that of the most gifted and worthy preacher.
Excerpt from a book, Wounded by Love, The Life and the wisdom of Saint Porphyrios, page 171.