Father Sophrony Sakharov
“It is essential to read the Gospel, that incomparable book. Then our life will be built up on the basis of the Word of God. And we will begin to think and make decisions in the spirit of the Divine commandments. How beautiful, when one begins to think like the Creator of this world!”
“The earthly life is for us a continual Judgment of God. If we follow Christ’s commandments, then the Grace of the Holy Spirit will come to us; but when we embark on them (even in small ways), God leaves us and we feel that abandonment about which outsiders do not even know. They do not understand what abandonment by God is.”
Another thing he used to tell me at times is that we must not spy on ourselves. He said that there is, of course, the teaching of self-examination in the Patristic Tradition. But probably this, too, is something for the first stages of the spiritual life. He used to say that one must surpass this because it creates other problems. It becomes tiresome for a man to spy on his own self, to see what virtues he has, what passions he has, for then he is mixed up in a vicious cycle of thoughts and most of the thoughts are satanic. Thus, when he spies on his own self and analyzes himself, he may end up in schizophrenia as well, as the Elder characteristically used to say. What he stressed more is that, when man wants to repent and live another life, he must work positively, that is, keep God’s will, God’s commandments. What does God tell me? I must pray. What does God say? I must have love. What does God say? I should do that. To keep God’s will – and then automatically he is also healed internally. That is, he sees that he cannot keep God’s will perfectly and likewise he sees that he cannot do without God either, in which case prayer, searching, begins.
A few extracts from an interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) about Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov).
From Divine Ascent: A Journal of Orthodox Faith, Number 5 (Autumn 1999), 31-44, published by the Monastery of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Manton, CA.
O Holy Spirit, All-powerful God;
Gracious Comforter and Almighty Defender;
Giver of Wisdom, and Light of Revelation;
Who by Thy descent didst bring
the uttermost parts of the world
to the only true knowledge of God:
Do Thou come down even upon us,
who grieve Thee always,
to enlighten and sanctify us,
to heal and comfort us
with Thine abiding comfort.