"Have you ever thought about the community of suffering? Have you considered that one man transmits to another not only the force of example, speech and instruction, not only the superflux of grace and the efficacy of prayer and intercession, but also the power of suffering? Have you ever contemplated a truth of awe-inspiring profundity: that whenever one member offers his suffering to God for others in the community of Christ's Passion, that suffering becomes a life-giving and redeeming force for those for whom it has been offered up, and where nothing else could bring them help at any distance in space and in spite of any barriers intervening.
Not one of us knows to what extent he is living by the power of grace which flows into him through others - by the hidden prayer of the tranquil heart, the atoning sacrifices offered up by persons unknown to him, and the satisfaction made on his behalf by those who is in silence offer themselves for their breathren. It is a community of the deepest and most intimate forces. They are silent, for nothing noisy can produce these substantial effects. But it cannot resist them because their source is God."
-- Romano Guardini, The Church and the Catholic, 1935, p 103.
My recent encounter with this moving passage coincided with the personal encounter of a beautiful soul who is a local hermit - sanctioned and blessed by the diocese. The eremitical life, generally thought of as a sort of past legend, is a profound life that has always existed and always will. "It is a community of the deepest and most intimate forces."