Saturday, December 25, 2021

“Answer To A Witness”...
Mother Mariam Zacca


Dear Mother Mariam!

Your prayers!


Saint Sophrony with Father Touma(Bitar)
and Mother Mariam (Zacca). Essex. 1990.

Greetings from Austria.  I am a Greek Catholic priest in Salzburg and I simply wished to write to thank you for your powerful testimony about Elder now Saint Sophrony Sakharov. 

Some fourteenth years ago an Athonite monk advised me to read Father Sophrony’s book WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS.  Unfortunately, I waited a long time and only read it in 2019.

 This book has had a tremendous impact on my life.  Thank you for your blog and your witness to Fr. Sophrony in your life.

Your blog has been a great blessing!  Forgive me for writing so spontaneously, but I wish to thank you for sharing this.  In a strange way I feel that Fr. Sophrony has truly become part of my life and life of my wife and our little family. 

May the Lord uphold your monastery and grant His blessing to beautiful Lebanon and all the nations of the world.  I humbly ask for your prayers.


With greetings in the Lord from the city of Salzburg, Austria,

Father John Reves


“The action on man's spirit of the Light of which I write bears witness to its Divine Nature. It is uncreated, unnameable. It is mysterious, imponderable, inviolable.

I do not know how to describe it. By nature it is otherworldly, supranatural. Its coming down on us is no less than the manifestation of God to man, the revelation of heavenly mysteries.

By the gift of this Light at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor was knowledge of God confirmed. From the moment it shone there on the three Apostles it entered into the history of our world, to become the inalienable inheritance of generation after gener­ation of those who believe in Christ-God.

Without this Light the earth would have for ever lacked true knowledge of God. Judging by my own experience I would call it the Light of resurrection. Its coming introduces the spirit into the sphere where there is no death. Without its irradiation it is impossible duly to apprehend the ways of salvation. The world - people - would remain in the darkness of ignorance. Even the most exquisite abstract theological formation does not mean salvation since it merely provides intellectual understanding without lifting one to the realm of Divine Being.

Sometimes this Light can be likened to a mountain-cloud over the heights where you stand. The cloud itself is saturated with light but you cannot see anything but cloud - all the rest of the world has disappeared.

Thus the Divine Light, bringing a new image of spiritual being, screens from our eyes the sight of the material world. This Light is steady, entire. It is full of profound peace. In it the soul contemplates Divine Love and Goodness. In its rich outpouring man ceases to be aware of his surroundings, even of his own body. Furthermore, he sees himself as light. This Light approaches softly, tenderly, so that one does not notice its embrace. Such a condition is like the gentle falling asleep of an ordinarily healthy person; but, of course, it is by no means sleep but fulness of life.

With the departure of this Light, as quiet as its advent, the soul slowly returns to her usual awareness of the everyday world. In the softened heart there is a deep peace.

The spirit continues to dwell at one and the same time on the divine plane and the earthly. The former, however, gradually recedes and a certain sadness invades the soul - a feeling of regret that with return of physical sensibility the inexpressibly benign touch of the Divine Spirit is fading away.

The fragrancy of the vision fades but does not altogether disappear. However, the very fading away begets a gentle longing for God; but prayer flows peacefully and from the whole being. Dwelling with the Lord destroys the passions - there is no more hankering after renown, riches, power or anything else of this world, all of which are connected with the passions, marked with tragedy and of short duration”..!!

(“We Shall See Him As He Is”, Archimandrite Sophrony(Sakharov), Essex 1988)

Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov)

We Shall See Him As He Is.

... And I ask myself.!..

Does anyone dare put down an answer to this affirmative title... “We Shall See Him... As He Is”.!..

Who dares say that.?!...

The Heart of God Is the answer.!!..

Who carries God’s Heart.?!..

God Himself.!!!.

We can’t but say: This book of “We Shall See Him... As He Is”, remains a very different and difficult book that was written by “Saint Sophrony Sakharov”...

And the answer, which is No answer is:

It Is only God who “dares” give an answer.!!!.

This is how and why a human soul gives an answer.!!!.

It is not a “Human Soul” that carries the Breath of “Saintliness”...

It is only:  The Heart of God The Lord, Creator of Humanity and Saintliness that dares says:

Yes.!!. I Am Who I Am.!!!.

I Am Who Is.!!!.



Saturday, December 18, 2021

My soul sings hymns of praise to God.!..
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.


Russian icon of the Nativity of our Lord.

        All that is preposterous and frightful in the outside world, everything that is banal and tedious in daily life, resolves into a contradictory yet grandiose tableau. Both the noble and the ignoble somehow or other find their reflection in each of us. The manifold contrasts - of evil and good, ignorance and light, grief and joy, folly and wisdom, love and hatred, weak­ness and strength, construction and destruction, birth and death - all go to form the all-embracing vision of Being. The innumerable multitude of vexations and insults imposed on us degrade and put us to scorn. The soul despairs before such a spectacle. And suddenly the meaning of Christ's words, 'A MAN IS BORN INTO THE WORLD' becomes clear in their eternal significance, eternal even for God. And for this joy all previous ills and sorrows are remembered no more.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

le Christ est l’issue à TOUTE situation.!!.
Saint Sophrony l’Athonite.


Saint Sophrony l'Athonite.
       La joie et l'inquiétude vont de pair en ce monde. Voici déjà 35 ans que j'ai commencé mon service spirituel. Depuis lors, toute ma vie a basculé. Au début de mon éloignement du monde je me suis occupé presque exclusivement de moi-même. Il me semble que c'est parfaitement juste et naturel. C'est pareil quand on sert dans le monde: il faut étudier soi-même avant d'enseigner. Mais, comme vous le savez, mon service est de nature particulière: il exige que mon cœur se transporte à l'intérieur du pénitent ; et peut -être aussi, à l'inverse, que j'accueille le pénitent dans mon cœur. Il me faut vivre toutes sortes de drames, de maladies, de doutes, de souffrances; les joies sont rares. Je constate qu'au début j'étais plus capable de m'ouvrir rapidement aux autres. Maintenant, ce n'est plus la même chose : dans ma vieillesse, je sens fréquemment un certain épuisement de la force «émotionnelle» de mon cœur. L'accroissement de l'expérience spirituelle ne compense que partiellement cette perte. Ce mouvement d'amour, chaque être humain le perçoit comme un flux de forces vivifiantes; j'ai maintes fois remarqué qu'une compassion sincère à l'égard de quelqu'un qui souffre, qui est au bord du désespoir complet, s'avère à elle seule une force salvatrice. La lourde chape de désespérance disparaît pour un certain temps, l'âme revit et redevient capable de lutter.

Ma vie en Europe s'organise de façon inattendue et dépasse tous mes projets. Où que j'aille, des gens se réunissent autour de moi. Je suis arrivé avec un petit nombre de moines dans un trou perdu de campagne ; nous nous sommes installés, ignorés de tous, dans une maison abandonnée depuis longtemps. Au bout de trois ans les gens nous ont découverts et leur flot ne s'arrête plus. Ils viennent de tous les pays d'Europe, surtout, bien sûr, des plus proches; mais il y en a aussi beaucoup qui viennent de loin. Et voilà, je suis au bout de mes forces. Surtout parce que dans la plupart des cas je dois faire face à des problèmes pratiques insolubles. Les gens sont devenus si compliqués, psychologiquement parlant, que chacun est comme un nœud de contradictions inextricables. L'atmosphère spirituelle s'est appauvrie dans le monde entier et les gens n'ont pas où s'adresser pour demander de l'aide. La multiplication des relations sociales conduit étrangement à la raréfaction des contacts humains. La vie se dépersonnalise. Et dans l'Église, la relation avec le confesseur, si féconde auparavant, s'est appauvrie à mesure que les masses se détournent de l'Église. Perdre la foi en la Résurrection, c'est se condamner soi-même à mort. C'est pour cela que les gens ont l'impression que venir au monde est une absurdité. Indépendamment de tout ordre social, par la nature même de l'homme déchu, le tragique de la condition humaine ne peut être écarté.

Même l'amour entre les gens n'a qu'un temps et n'est pas toujours harmonieux. Une longue entente est rare. Et de nos jours, alors que la vie sociale distille un ennui mortel, alors que les époux peuvent ne pas dépendre matériellement l'un de l'autre, les mariages se défont trop souvent et trop vite. Ce sont les enfants qui en souffrent le plus. Ceci n'est que la partie la plus infime de ce que j'ai l'occasion de rencontrer. Les gens ignorent tellement comment se comporter, comment vivre, que la plupart d'entre eux sont dans un état de désespoir muet. Vous savez qu'il existe une issue à TOUTE situation: c'est le Christ"; mais la volonté des gens est paralysée par les passions terrestres, et cette issue universelle et salutaire (qui cependant est indissociablement liée à la lutte contre soi-­même, c'est-à-dire contre ses passions) est refusée dans la majorité des cas. « Venant d'au-delà des passions terrestres / Cette parole est sans écho» (comme dit Baratynski sur la mort de Pouchkine ).

À côté de tout ce qui arrive dans la vie privée, le monde connaît depuis le début du xx- siècle une période de guerres incessantes, grandes et petites. Partout, lès lendemains sont incertains. On sait que le grand froid tue toute vie aussi sûrement que le feu. Et les guerres ont pris ce double caractère : pour faire la guerre, on combat avec le feu quand c'est possible; quand c'est un peu plus grave, on se sert du froid. Mais c'est la même haine, démultipliée, qui a refroidi l'amour. Mon destin, c'est de prier pour la paix, pour la paix du monde entier. Je sais que la force de la prière peut arrêter les impudents, quoique pas jusqu'au bout. Mais si la prière de l'amour cesse, alors nulle culture, nulle science ne peuvent empêcher l'explosion.

Il ne convient pas à un chrétien de tomber dans le pessimisme. Mais cela veut dire que l'optimisme aussi devient déplacé. Le combat de l'esprit avec la mort continue. C'est notre lot dans la vie. Vous savez par expérience que la création du moindre foyer de vie demande beaucoup d'exploits spirituels et de persévérance. Et si nous ne désespérons pas, la victoire est à nous. Vous avez cette arme, « l'arme invincible de la paix ». Que Dieu vous accorde la force spirituelle pour accomplir dignement cet exploit qui est un privilège si rare à l'heure actuelle. Dans tous les cas: petits et grands, familiaux ou à l'échelle mondiale. Il ne nous est pas toujours possible de voir les résultats escomptés dans les limites de la Terre, mais il y aura des résultats, c'est sûr, dans le développement cosmique de l'existence du monde créé. C'est de là que nous tirons notre énergie intarissable pour la prière : la prière de l'esprit, si le corps s'affaiblit.

Mon conseil fraternel : ne désespérez pas, même dans les situations désespérées. La douleur de l'âme est inévitable, mais c'est de cette douleur que naît la force de la prière. Les soupirs venus des profondeurs atteindront les hauteurs de l'éternité. La Résurrection est un fait de l'existence. La chose la plus précieuse au monde, c'est la personnalité humaine. Si un atome d'hydrogène vit éternellement, comment la personne - ce miracle, cette splendeur - pourrait-elle mourir? La vie est puissante en bas de l'échelle de la création - elle l'est encore plus en haut.





Lettres à des amis proches. Archimandrite Sophrony. Cerf(2013).

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Prayer, intuition and science.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

[ ... ] I sent my Christmas wishes before receiving yours.

Since then, I have been so carried along by the stream of life that I haven't been able to write to you again.

It is natural for us, as Christians, to begin our contacts with those close to us by prayer and a blessing. For me this has become mandatory, and that is why I begin with that in each one of my letters addressed to those who I am sure will accept my blessing.

Now that you are so anxious, I must not delay answering.

But -forgive me - I will tell you openly that you have put me in a difficult spot. I will explain how.

You write: 'In the past my intuition never deceived me, but now I would be glad to know that I was mistaken.' If I tell you that this time your intuition has really gone wrong, or as you put it, deceived you, I am afraid that this will not really make you satisfied and happy. The more so because it is not the first time you were deceived about me and about those here with me.

But if I say nothing of this subject or if I delay writing, you will feel confirmed in your intuition, and the matter will take a completely unacceptable turn. In this connexion, let's first of all say something about this: to many people it has happened, and still does happen, that their dreams often prove somehow prophetic. So they get accustomed to trusting their dreams. And that is extremely dangerous, according to our ascetical understanding. Something similar happens to many people with their intuitions [ ... ]. When it concerns matters of little importance, a mistake is not yet so serious. But if it concerns questions of great importance, every error will re­sult in the uttermost catastrophe. Something like this happens constantly to most people in the world.

No less important is the problem posed by our excessive confidence in the conclusions of our intellect. In my book, I write very briefly on the question of the limits of our logic, that is, our logical thinking, and I say that the deductions of our reason are never absolutely correct. The same goes for the judgments we make about people. That is why the com­mandment was given to those who seek after Truth: 'Judge not'.!..

And what sort of judgment are we looking for, when it comes down to it? Surely one which is absolutely true, if we are `really humans and not 'pre-humans'. It is the same with our quest for knowledge - we aspire with an extreme tension of all our being to nothing less than absolute knowledge of the Truth. For every human being who is normal, that is, truly created in God's image, this is completely natural, and there is no other way to be. In our 'logical thinking', however, there is an inevitable flaw: the insufficiency of the 'sufficient grounds'.

So, usually, on the psychological level people consider the deductions of their reason as right to the point of being 'obviously right'. But if they are capable of self-analysis, they could, by the same logical means, understand that this 'obvi­ousness' misleads us and that we should not rely on it.

To bring forward a verdict, an absolutely true judgment, and so on, it is indispensable for us to be bearers of an all-em­bracing experience and a thorough knowledge. But we all know only 'in part', as St Paul said."? Of course, you, and anyone else will say: 'But then how can we live, that is, act in everyday life?' Yes, it's not straightforward. Our science is too great, and the goals set before it are so majestic, that any other 'science', however proud of itself, is NOTHING com­pared to it. Take for example the journeys in space of our con­temporary 'astronauts' or 'cosmonauts' - they are nothing in comparison with the infinite immensity of the universe.

Yes, undoubtedly, in this world, in one way or another we always suffer. It is natural for us to yearn towards Unoriginate Being and to seek union with the First Origin of all being, but within the confines of earth and the restrictions of our flesh we do not attain perfection. Hence our suffering, We forget the insignificant details of this earthly plane, we give way to everyone; we often lay ourselves open even to dishonour, rather than carve out our own career, whatever it may be. We are powerless, not that we really are so, but because of our love for God and our fellow-humans we step back and give way.

So then, I beg you to draw from these few remarks the appropriate conclusion, which is: in the first place, moderate your confidence in your intuition, and then you will make less errors. It will become considerably easier to love you, and you yourself will be more free in your love for others. Be sure that more than once you have coldly passed by sincere love shown towards you. Knowing your ardent quest for truth and perfection, I allow myself to say - according to the Apostle Paul once again - that I may be in debt in many respects, but not that of love. You will tell me I have altered St Paul's words. Yes, I accept that it's an adaptation, but it is to underline the meaning, as I see it, of his exhortation, which is that we must love others, at the very least as much as they love us. Indeed, M. loves you, but no more than several others do. Besides, she has done much less for you than others who never cease thinking about what more they could undertake to make you happy in one way or another. Don't 'needle' them any more with criticism, however disguised.

The other day I got a letter from M. She writes to me: 'X, now, there is a person who does not wound people, who isn't "prickly" with people.' That is how Staretz Silouan was too. And even though we are not all like these people, let us make an effort at least to be a little 'easier'.

[ ... ] I have often said to people that if they had no inten­tion of radically altering their lifestyle after it happened that they obtained healing through prayer, they would do better to turn to the usual doctors. The doctors receive their salary, and that is the end of the matter as far as they are concerned. Doctors do not take upon themselves more responsibility than they deem necessary, and that depends on the sensitivity of each doctor. [ ... ]

With Christian prayer it is quite different. The one who prays takes upon himself inwardly something of the sufferings of the one he is praying for, and, beyond that, the responsibil­ity for this person before God. I am not saying that with the intention of refusing. to pray for M., but to say that we place even God in an impossible situation. One could speak at length about this subject, but, one way or another, we have brought Him to the Cross, we have killed Him, and now we fabricate a 'theology of the death of God'. Contemporary science has made considerable advances in its mastery over the forces of nature, but what an outcome: the Creator 'of na­ture is at each step further and further ousted from the world and from human consciousness. The more the true miracles of the world are revealed, the less sensitive man is to mira­cles.




Letters to his family. Archimandrite Sophrony(Sakharov). Essex 2015.