Saturday, July 30, 2022

“Be of good cheer”.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.


Christ with Elijah and Moses, upper part of the Transfiguration, murals in oil paint on gypsum plaster by Saint Sophrony and members of his community.  Monastery of St John the Baptist, east wall, mid 1980s.[44]  Image: ©The Stavropegic Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, Essex.

        The Jewish people looked for the coming of the Messiah who when he was come would tell them ‘all things’ (John 4.25). Come and live among us, that we may know Thee, was the constant cry of the ancient Hebrews. Hence the name ‘Emmanuel being interpreted is, God with us’ (Is. 7.14; Matt. 1.23).

So for us Christians the focal point of the universe and the ultimate meaning of the entire history of the world is the coming of Jesus Christ, Who did not repudiate the archetypes of the Old Testament but vindicated them, unfolding to us their real significance and bringing new dimensions to all things — infinite, eternal dimensions. Christ’s new covenant announces the beginning of a fresh period in the history of mankind. Now the Divine sphere was reflected in the searchless grandeur of the love and humility of God, our Father. With the coming of Christ all was changed: the new revelation affected the destiny of the whole created world.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

La culture de l’Esprit.
Saint Sophrony l’Athonite.

Saint Sophrony l'Athonite.

          Comme vous le savez, j'ai tout le temps essayé de vous expliquer comment la parole de Dieu naît dans le cœur de l'homme. J'aimerais maintenant vous parler de ce processus qui n'est pas simple, mais qui, cependant, est clair et net. De quelle manière peut-on entendre, à la place de notre horrible voix, la voix de notre Dieu dans notre cœur? Voilà notre question.

Plus d'une fois je vous ai dit que, nonobstant toute l'inexprimable majesté de la tâche qui se trouve devant nous, notre vie reste malgré tout très simple dans ses manifestations extérieures.

Lorsque notre intellect est tout entier absorbé en Dieu, quand il n'y a pas en nous d'autre vie que celle de Dieu, nous nous libérons de certaines formes extérieures qui s'appellent habituellement "canons" ou "règles". Une règle, comme l'expérience l'a montré, en tant qu'obligation qui doit être observée pendant des années et des années, et même des dizaines d'années, demeure à la fois une nécessité et une entrave. L'apôtre Paul le dit carrément: "La Loi n'a pas été instituée pour le juste" (cf 1 Timothée 1, 9; Galates 5, 18). Celui qui veut être mû par le Saint-Esprit, ne doit pas et ne peut pas être lié par des règles.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Prayer at day break.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.


Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

O Lord Eternal and Creator of all things,

 Who of Thine inscrutable goodness called me to this life;

 Who bestowed on me the grace of Baptism and the Seal of the Holy Spirit;

 Who imbued me with the desire to seek Thee, the one true God:

 Hear my prayer.

 I have no life, no light, no joy or wisdom, no strength except in Thee, O God.

 Because of my unrighteousness, I dare not raise my eyes to Thee.

 But Thou said to Thy disciples,

 'Whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.'

and 'Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do.'

Wherefore I dare to invoke Thee.

 Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit.

 Teach me to pray aright.

 Bless this day which Thou givest unto me, Thine unworthy servant.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

“Lovest thou me.?!.”
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

The Old Rectory

 20th September 1977




Saint Sophrony the Athonite.
You say that you are getting old. So what can I say? I am 81 ! Incredible, but still a fact. In no way can I understand this strange situation. So many times I have been really seri­ously ill. So ill that those around me never supposed that I would recover and get up. So many times I was in danger in the mountains, in the desert, on journeys, in stormy weather at sea, and also from many tribulations and spiritual wounds, which perhaps no one can escape in our time. And what a wonder! I pray that you too will remain longer among the liv­ing. 'Old age is no joy', they used to say at one time, but still it can be a period of exceptional importance. On the one hand, it can make possible many deep experiences, and on the other, it can be a preparation, full of both fear and exultation, for our departure from here: from temporal things to things im­mutable and eternal.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Liturgical Act.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.


Saint Sophrony the Athonite.
    I have ventured to speak of things that a monk usually keeps a precious secret within himself, for fear lest 'Jesus convey himself away': It was given me to learn of this while I was still living in the Monastery but it became much clearer after I went into the desert. There, in seclusion, I so experienced the presence of the Living God that the world was forgotten.

There is no way adequately to describe this experience of Divine visitations. They do not repeat themselves in the same form - almost every time they bring something new with a different sequence.

The Name of Jesus Christ for the believer is like a high fortress-wall. It is not easy for the enemy to cheat his way through the heavy iron gates if our attention is not distracted by outside concerns. The Jesus prayer gives the soul the strength to resist harmful influences from outside. It does even more. It affords us the possibility to influence the milieu in which we live- to emerge, as it were, from the inner depths of our mind and heart and mix with our brethren in love and peace. Increasing peace and love, commanded by God, induce ardent prayer for the whole world. The spirit of Christ draws us into expanses of love embracing all creation, so that the soul prays urgently:

“O Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, have mercy upon us and upon Thy world”

I remember how invocation of the Name Jesus Christ merged with the presence (invisible) of Him Himself. And from that moment this wondrous Name - and other Names of God - have become channels towards unity with Him. At that time I was already an ordained priest. The celebration of the Divine Liturgy likewise assumed a different character: it was not only an act untainted by any wavering of faith but a sensation felt all through me of the FACT of the presence of God, accomplishing the Mystery. I felt the profound meaning and reality contained in St. Basil the Great's words: 'Thou hast given us the revelation of heavenly mysteries.":

Yes, the Lord, even unto us the least of men, reveals the mystery of the priestly service.

After that, my spirit was given to apprehend in many ways the efficacy of the Liturgical Office but I do not know whether I can find words to express my experience. The Liturgy as a Divine Act involves the whole being. There is no querying, HOW is this possible? For the priest it will be obvious, an ontological fact. 'Take - this is My Body ... Drink - this is My Blood.' And before, I used to take communion, not without faith, not without love, but with a less vivid consciousness of what was happening. Invocation of the Name of Jesus Christ gave me the experience of the blessed - but at the same time fearful- presence of the Eternal God. This does not mean, of course, that a similar sequence is obligatory for everyone.

With the first words of the Liturgy - 'Blessed is the kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' - comes God's gracious response. Not always with equal intensity. The Liturgical Canon demands crucial atten­tion. The most exalted moment occurs with the Epiclesis. The priest and with him all who are present in the church petition God the Father to send down the Holy Spirit. And He comes and fulfils their supplication.

Through the Liturgical Act I learned to contemplate the life of Christ-Man. Before saying to the Aposdes, 'Take, eat: this is my body?" He had prayed in secret to the Father. He did not utter these fearful words as Master but as the Son of man, teaching us not to allow a single impulse within us that might have a trace of 'self-divinisation'. I have put this conception at the root of my life in Christ. I pray to the Father as a created being. I hope for salvation only as a gift of love from on High. I seek the adoption of sons not otherwise than through Christ; and hallowing and enlightenment only through the Holy Spirit. All these Three - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - according to my profound conception are One Life, One Dominion, One Light, One Love. In Each of them there is absolute Fulness of Divinity. They are sepa­rate in me, undivided. They flow together in me without confusion. This is an eternal fact of Divine Being, Whose seal I hunger to receive despite my utter unworthiness. I am not trying to explain the Holy Triunity through logical abstraction. I live this great Mystery reverently, the revelation of which gives me the answer to all my questions.




On Prayer. Archimandrite Sophrony(Sakharov).Essex 1996.