"And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God" (Exodus 19:16-17).
Mount Sinai has a special beauty all its own, but above all, it is a sacred mountain. It is a place where God spoke with man. The first revelation was at the foothills of the Holy Mountain, where the Prophet Moses heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the flames of the Burning Bush, "Moses, Moses, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place where on thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). In obedience to God, Moses delivered the children of Israel from bondage to Pharaoh, and brought them to Mount Sinai.
The earliest structures of the Monastery were built at the foot of Mount Sinai for the Christian ascetics who lived at the Burning Bush. From early Christian times to the present day, prayer and spiritual devotion have existed at Mount Sinai. This gives a special aura to the Monastery, and accounts for its significance for pilgrims, secondary in importance only to Jerusalem. Over the centuries, the Sinai Monastery has ministered to countless multitudes of visitors and pilgrims seeking spiritual consolation and the increase of faith. Of course, the legacy of Mount Sinai itself does not constitute a spiritual Ark only for the Christian world--it is important also to both Judaism and Islam.
The Monastery’s spiritual tradition is founded on the earliest Christian ideals which look for union with God, without losing the uniqueness of each person. Accordingly, the Orthodox Christian monastic tradition of Sinai is dedicated to the cultivation of freedom of soul and love through simplicity, and honors every person as created in the image of God. Prayer and spiritual struggle are not aimed solely at the purification of the individual, for they invoke the blessing of peoples everywhere. After all, it was in this desert that God revealed His name to mankind.
The Monastery's tradition was recorded by seventh century Abbot Saint John Climacus in his famous Ladder of Divine Ascent. Considered the most important spiritual manual after the Bible itself, his work lists the steps leading to spiritual perfection. The cloud of Sinai saints is so numerous (over 170) that a special feast day has been established in their commemoration. This takes place throughout the Orthodox world each year on the Wednesday after Holy Pascha. Some of the most well known saints are Neilos, Anastasios, Philotheos, Hesychios, and Gregory of Sinai, all of whom left theological writings illumined by their ascetical experiences. Such works show the way to spiritual sanctification not just to monks, but to all those interested in spiritual endeavor. Gregory of Sinai was the great exponent of noetic prayer to Byzantium, and transmitted this tradition to the Slavic peoples.
Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Sinai monks is the preservation of this body of wisdom as a living tradition, in order to hand it on unblemished to those who follow them. This work is carried out while serving the multitudes drawn to the Monastery by its spiritual ideals and example of peace.
More on the religious tradition of the monastery can be found on the Monastery website. Of special interest are tracts such as The Universality of God's Grace and Its Relationship to Man's Freedom, The Attributes of God, and The Meaning and Nature of the Mysteries. Some of the above information was drawn from the site.