Wednesday of the First week in Ordinary Time
"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place"
Nothing renders the soul so pure and joyful, nor illumines and distances it from evil thoughts, so much as keeping vigil. For this reason our fathers all persevered in this work of keeping vigil and adopted the rule of remaining awake through the night throughout the course of their life of asceticism. In particular, they did this because they had heard our Savior call us to it urgently in various places through his living Word: “Be vigilant at all times and pray” (Lk 21,36); “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test” (Mt 26,41); and again, “Pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5,17).
Nor was he satisfied with having warned us by his words. He also set us an example in his own person by favoring the practice of prayer above everything else. That is why he frequently went off alone to pray, and not arbitrarily but choosing night as his time and the desert as his place that we too, avoiding the crowds and the bustle, might become able to pray in solitude.
That is why our fathers received this high teaching concerning prayer as though it came from Christ himself. And they chose to watch in prayer following the command of the apostle Paul so that, above all, they might be able to remain close to God without interruption through continual prayer... Nothing external touches them nor moves the purity of their mind, which would trouble those vigils that fill them with joy and are the light of their souls.