Saturday, April 25, 2020

Resurrection and Despair.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

A letter written by Saint Sophrony to his sister Maria, after the death of their sister Alexandra(Shura).

Christ is Risen!.                                                                           The old rectory
27th May 1971

Dearest Maria,
Peace be with you from the Lord.

Icon of Saint Sophrony the Athonite.
Romanian style.
[ ... ] Once again with love I have been praying about Shura. In my last letter I said, or wrote, to you that she, poor woman, spent her life in despair. Now I will clarify what I mean. When I speak of despair, I do not have in mind a bitter facial expression, a bad digestion, insomnia and the like. No. The essence of despair is the loss of hope, of expectation to attain to Divine eternity. People do not understand this. Espe­cially people of our civilized, humanist era. But one cannot kill completely in oneself the capacity of the human spirit to receive eternity. Those who have managed it live completely like animals; and those who have not managed, live in a state of hidden inner conflict. Thus our poor Shura spent her life, without understanding herself. But I do not in any way despair for her, because she was at heart an honest person, and on meeting with a new reality she will, I am sure, choose what is true and eternal.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

S’unir à Celui Qui est lumière.
Saint Sophrony l’Athonite.

Saint Sophrony
Bien des fois, j'ai été désespéré par mon incapacité de demeurer constamment dans l'esprit des commandements du Christ. Durant ces heures amères, je pensais : «Le Seigneur a dit qu'Il n'était pas de ce monde (voir Jn 8, 23). Il est descendu du ciel (voir Jn 3, 13). Mais moi, justement, je suis entièrement de ce monde, de cette terre que je foule de mes pieds. Lui, "étant aux cieux", ne s'est pas séparé du Père lorsqu'Il vivait avec nous. Comment donc serait-il possible que je sois là où Il est? Il est saint, alors que moi je ne puis m'arracher du "corps" de l'Adam universel qui, dans sa chute, changea ce monde en enfer, " le plongea dans le mal " (voir 1 jn 5, 19) où, moi aussi, je gis maintenant avec lui.»
Que signifie «ne pas être de ce monde» ? Rien d'autre que «naître d'en haut». Je ne voyais pas de terme à mon malheur. Renoncer à chercher l'union avec Lui, impossible ! Me condamner à être séparé de sa Lumière, ce serait un enfer qui me remplit d'horreur. Malheur à moi qui suis né dans le péché! Qui me sauvera des ténèbres extérieures? Qui transfigurera ma nature de manière qu'elle devienne capable d'être inséparablement unie à Celui qui est Lumière et en qui il n'y a nulles ténèbres?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Towards Resurrection.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

The Resurrection of Lazarus. 
Fresco in the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Monastery of Saint John the Baptist. Lebanon.

I await a word from God, in order to speak to you today also. The days are drawing near, in which we are preparing to celebrate the resurrection of man. I do not say the Resurrection of Christ, because it is something unique. In reality, in a sense, His Resurrection is a unique event, but in general it refers to ourselves, to our personal resurrection.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Fight Against the Passion of the Flesh.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

Saint Sophrony the Athonite.
There are people who resist the passions once or twice during the time of the enemy's attack. Let's say, the passion approached the man one hundred times, and in two cases he resisted and he thinks he is an ascetic monk! And he decides to speak to others about the virtues, whilst he himself gives in ninety eight times! Because, when we speak about "the darkness in which the world lives", we have in mind that the world lives in the passions and does not understand our life. People turn away from Christ and from the true revelation of what man is.
          From the Gospel case, in which the devil approached Christ and said: "If you are the Son of God...", it is obvious that we are all children of God, Who said: "Let us create man in our image and resemblance". And the enemy spoke with Christ immediately about the utmost!
          There are people who strive, resist in their ascetic struggle, and out of the one hundred times of contact with the passion of the flesh, they successfully reject it ninety eight times, whilst once or twice in the one hundred they somehow give in against their will. For the ascetic monk however, these once or twice times are experienced as a nightmare. For this reason he does not think to teach others, because he does not consider himself a victor over the passion.
          But once again I am obliged to remind you: Please say each time, as much as possible, in a conscious way: "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin!".