Two of my favorite quotes from what I have read thus far in, “The Ancient Fathers of the Desert” - compiled and translated by Archimandrite Chrysostomos. =) The first one is especially relevant to me, since I love languages so dearly. In it, he is simply saying he does not understand the “alphabet” of the man. Many might take this as just meaning the Egyptian language; however, could this also mean the spiritual “language” of the man himself? His mind? His fears? His circumstances? We may know Greek, Latin, or have the wealth of this world's knowledge, but must we not also humble ourselves to learn the “alphabet,” the “language,” the “life” of another in order to communion with them? To love them? To truly understand them?
Once Abba Arsenios revealed his thoughts to an Egyptian elder and asked him about them. But a certain other Abba saw him and said to him: “Abba Arsenios, you have had so much education in Greek and Latin, yet you ask this man, so unlettered in worldly knowledge, about your thoughts?”
Abba Arsenios said to him: “Indeed, I know Roman and Greek letters well; but I have not yet learned even the alphabet of this simple man.”
“If our prayer is not in harmony with our deeds, we labor in vain,” Abba Moses often told the young monks.
“How are we to accomplish such harmony?” they asked him one day.
“When we make that which we seek fitting to our prayer,” explained the Saint. “Only then can the soul be reconciled with its Creator and its prayers be acceptable, when it sets aside all of its own evil intentions.”