Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex
All of us today are in vital need of a firm faith in Christ’s eternal victory, that we, too, may become spiritually invincible. A very great deal depends on ourselves – to remember, for instance, that at the baptismal font we received new birth from on High, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Those who are baptised ‘with the Holy Ghost and with fire’ (Luke 3.16) perceive in their prayer that every given moment of our life is enveloped in Divine eternity. At all times and in all places we are held in the invisible Hand of our HeavenlyFather.
The Holy Spirit comes when we are receptive. He does not compel. He approaches so meekly that we may not even notice. If we would know the Holy Spirit we need to examine ourselves in the light of the Gospel teaching, to detect any other presence which may prevent the Holy Spirit from entering into our souls. We must now wait for God to force Himself on us without our consent. God respects and does not constrain man. It is amazing how God humbles Himself before us. He loves us with a tender love, not haughtily, not with condescension. And when we open our hearts to Him we are overwhelmed by the conviction that He is indeed our Father. The soul then worships in love.
If we pray from our heart, with all our attention, the day will be stamped by our prayer and everything that happens will take on a different character. The blessing that we have sought from the High God will beget a gentle peace in our soul which will have a miraculous effect on the way we see and interpret the world. The man of prayer beholds the surrounding scene in another light. Concern is quickened and the intrinsic quality of life enhanced. In time prayer will penetrate our nature until gradually a new man is born of God… . Indeed, we may positively be disliked for independence of spirit. It is essential in these days to be able to protect ourselves from the influence of those with whom we come in contact. Otherwise we risk losing both faith and prayer.
Real prayer, of course, does not come readily. It is no simple matter to preserve inspiration while surrounded by the icy waters of the world that does not pray. Christ cast the Divine Fire on earth, and we pray Him so to fire our hearts that we may not be overcome even by cosmic cold, that no black cloud blot out the bright flame.
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.
Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov (2001) (2nd ed.) His Life is Mine. Chapter
6: Prayer of the Spirit. New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press
Appearance of the Holy Trinity to St. Alexander Svirsky
Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who Art everywhere present and fillest all things, O Treasury of blessings and Bestower of life, come and dwell within us, and cleanse us from all stain, and save our souls, O Good One.
Apolytikion Saint Alexander of Svir in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst settle in the wilderness from thy youth eager to follow Christ’s footsteps, O Alexander. The Angels were amazed when they beheld thee struggling in the flesh and conquering onslaughts of passions. Dwelling on earth thou wast equal to the Angels. Pray to Christ our God to save our souls.
O Holy and God-bearing Father Sophrony, pray to Christ our God that we too may receive the Heavenly Light of Christ’s Eternal Kingdom