St Gregory Palamas refers to the All-holy Theotokos as the first monastic, dedicated in the temple of God from her third year of life, who became the Mother of God by divine will and because of her humility, purity and simplicity. This is what the Church teaches, always guided by the Holy Spirit. The position of Panaghia in the Church defines the relationship of all monastics to her Son. In their humility and purity, in their asceticism and obedience, the monastics become bearers of God (theotokoi). This is why monks and nuns, in their struggle, have the Blessed Theotokos as their prototype. This is why they have great reverence for her. This is why Mt. Athos has been named “The Garden of Panaghia.” This is why the whole of Greece is distinguished by its warm and genuine affection for the Theotokos, as indicated by the presence of her innumerable miraculous icons throughout the country.
Like the Theotokos, a monk attains perfection in quietude. The need to be removed from the world becomes, in the final analysis, a gain for the world; monastic seclusion is undertaken on behalf of the world. It is not isolation of difficult persons who cannot live in the world, and who are lazy or fastidious. Rather, true monastic isolation is undertaken freely by those seeking personal perfection through sacrifices and struggles, as a contribution to the suffering world.
From the book Athonite Flowers: Seven Contemporary Essays on the Spiritual Life by Monk Moses of Mount Athos, translated and edited by Father Peter Chamberas, Holy Cross Orthodox Press: Brookline, MA, 2000.