This book is an account of the virtuous asceticism and admirable way of life of the holy and blessed wilderness fathers. They are meant to inspire and instruct those who want to imitate their heavenly lives, so that they may make progress on the way that leads to the kingdom of heaven. The holy fathers who were the initiators and masters of the blessed monastic way of life, being entirely on fire with divine and heavenly love and counting as nothing at all that men hold to be beautiful and estimable, trained themselves here below to do nothing whatever out of vainglory. They hid themselves away, and by their supreme humility in keeping most of their good works hidden, they made progress on the way that leads to God.
Moreover, no-one has been able to describe their virtuous lives for us in detail, for those who have taken the greatest pains in this matter have only committed to writing a few fragments of their more admirable deeds and words. They did not do this to gain praise from men, but only to stir up future generations to emulate them. And now, let us delight in the lives of the fathers which are sweeter than honeycomb (Ps. 19:10), and let us live according to the vocation the Lord has given us and so gain His kingdom. Amen.