Thus the position of the monastic recluse had developed into a far more socially symbolic and responsible one: on the one hand he was now locked up within a cell deep within the monastery itself in order to concentrate wholly on God; on the other, the local community had access to that cell in order to receive his advice, counselling and accumulated wisdom.
It reminds me of the Kierkegaard quote:
Of this there is no doubt, our age and Protestantism in general may need the monastery again, or wish it were there. The “monastery” is an essential dialectical element in Christianity. We therefore need it out there like a navigation buoy at sea in order to see where we are, even though I myself would not enter it. But if there really is true Christianity in every generation, there must also be individuals who have this need . . .