There are a few similar sayings from the desert fathers to the one below, but I think it might be the most expansive. In any case, I think it stands alone just fine—one could consider every post on this blog as commentary on this one saying. It is an epitome of the ascetic life. The part that sits with me the most right now is “in deep humility.” Those three words are profound enough for me.

Abba John the Short said: “I would make up a man out of all the virtues. Rise at dawn every morning, take the beginning of each virtue, and keep God’s commandment in great patience; fear; long-suffering; in the love of God; with a firm purpose of soul and body; in deep humility; in patience; in trouble of heart and earnestness of practice; in long prayer, with sorrow of heart; in purity of tongue, and guard of the eyes; in suffering injury without anger; peaceful, and not rendering evil for evil; not looking out for the faults of others, nor puffing up the self; meekly subject to every creature; renouncing material property and the things of the flesh; in crucifixion, struggle, lowliness of spirit, in good will and spiritual abstinence; in fasting, in penitence, in weeping, in the fight against evil; wise and discreet in the judgement; chaste in mind; receiving good with tranquillity; in working with your own hands; in watching in the night; in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in labours; burying yourself in a tomb as though you were already dead, and every day feeling that death is upon you.”

~ Sayings of the Desert Fathers, 1.8