iconandlight

Iconography and Hand painted icons


Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of our God, and we shall behold the glory of His Transfiguration…

Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος Χριστού_Преображение Господне_Transfiguration of Jesus- Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon.p0210130036.bSynaxarion.
On August 6 is the commemoration of the divine Transfiguration of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
New Martyr Abbacum of Thessalonica (1628)
Repose of Abbess Maria (Ushakova) of Diveyevo (1904)
Repose of Elder Tryphon of Kapsala, Mount Athos (1978)

”O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance shall they walk, and in Thy, Name shall they rejoice all the day long.”

Hymn of Praise
The Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

There, where Israel defeated Sisar
There also condescended, the Heavenly King
Prayer, to go and to nightly vigils,
The glory of His Transfiguration, to manifest,
And the faith of His followers, to confirm
In the eternal victory of Him the Victor.
There, divine light from Himself, He released
Dispels the thick darkness, and illuminated Tabor;
The Light, for a long time, which in Himself contained
From which, to the world, a little at a time dispensed
Abundant rays, now released,
Jubilant rays, sweet rays.
The glow of humanity, to reveal to heaven,
To earth and to men, the Divine Truth.
Let the firmament, its Representative see,
Let the earth recognize God, the Savior.
From the Prolog by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/August6.htm

***

Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex

Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος Χριστού_Преображение Господне_Transfiguration of Jesus- Greek Byzantine Orthodox IconTransfiguration-FullWhat can I do to inherit eternal life”?

And I was given the answer:

“Pray, as Saint Gregory Palamas, who cried for many years, “Lord, Enlighten my darkness,” and he was heard.

“Pray in the words of the Ecclesiastical Ode “Enlighten, O Giver of Light, and me the sinner with Your light inaccessible”, and strengthen your faith, remembering that the Church does not pray for things that cannot be done.”

Then, that Man, in excluding the possibility that such a prayer would remain without the above answer, closed his argument as follows:

” When your soul knew this light, then, when it happened to lose it, you will burn for it, and mimicking the Saint Simeon the New Theologian will seek and will I cry unto them:

Come, O true light!
Come, O eternal life!
Come, O raising of the fallen!
Come, O rising of those who lie down!
Come, O resurrection of the dead!
Come, All-Holy King.
Come, and dwell in us
and live continually, inseparably within me,
and you reign in us
ever and unto the ages of ages.

***

The spiritual homeland of the person whose soul has been purified is within. The sun that shines there is the light of the Trinity. The air breathed by the entering thoughts is the Holy Spirit the Comforter. With the person dwell the angels. Their life, their joy, their cause for celebration is Christ the light of the Father’s light. Such a person rejoices every hour in the contemplation of his soul, and marvels at the beauty that appears, a hundred times brighter than the brightness of the sun … That is the kingdom of God hidden within us, according tο the words of the Lord.» Ιsaac οf Nineveh Ascetic Treatises, 43 (p. 176-7)

***

A Greek-American family man who saw the Uncreated Light
St.Paisios the Athonite

Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος Χριστού_Преображение Господне_Transfiguration of Jesus- Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon.p0210130039.by_e184af91The Geron (=elder) once told me the following story:
“A Greek-American doctor had once visited me. He was Orthodox, but didn’t have too much to do with religion… He didn’t even keep the fast on Fridays…nor did he go to Church very often. He recently had an experience, and wanted to discuss it with someone. One evening, while he was praying in his apartment, the “heavens opened up”. He was flooded by light, and the ceiling disappeared, as did the other forty floors above his apartment. He remained in that flood of light for a very long time – he couldn’t even tell for how long!

I stood amazed! Because I could feel and understand that this incident was “from God”. It was real… He had actually seen the “uncreated light” [*].

What had he done in his lifetime? How did he live, to deserve such divine things?

He was married; he had a wife and children. His wife had said to him: “I’m sick and tired of housework; I want to be able to go out for a walk every now and then.” Well, she wasn’t exactly employed, so she started to go out with her girlfriends and pressured him into accompanying her every night on her outings. After a while, she said: “I want to be able to go out with my girlfriends, alone.” He accepted this, for his children’s sake. Later, she “wanted to go on vacation by herself….”. What could he do? He gave her money and the car.

She then asked him to rent out an apartment, so that she could live on her own; she would also invite her friends over. He would speak to her, he would counsel her, ‘how do our children feel about all this?’. She was adamant. In the end, she extracted a large sum of money from him and deserted him. She felt too confined!

A few years later, he learnt that she had ended up a prostitute in the clubs of Piraeus!

He was distraught! He lamented over her fate! He thought of looking for her. But what would he tell her?..

He knelt down to pray: “My God…help me, tell me what to say… what to do… to save this soul…”. You see, he was hurting for her. He wanted “that soul to be saved”. No male ego, no vindictiveness, no contempt… he truly hurt inside, seeing her wretched state. He ached for her salvation…

That was the moment when God opened up the heavens… and flooded him with His light.

You see?… You see?….. He was in America….. and in what kind of an environment was he living?….. And yet, how many of us live on this Holy Mountain, inside the grace of the Holy Mother, without any sort of progress!

Glory be to God ! Glory be to God! »

* «uncreated light»: It is called uncreated, in other words, it has not been created, it is without a beginning; it is a divine energy, God; it has been experienced, by major spiritual ascetics; it is the desired achievement of ascetic living; it is considered an experience of theosis.
It is a participation of the human in the Divine energy… “…communicants of divine nature…”
Translation by A. N., An excerpt from the book:  “Father Paisios told me”, by Athan. Rakovalis, “Orthodox Hive” Publications, pages 27-29
http://oodegr.co/english/asynithista/empeiries/oikogen1.htm

***

Experiences of Taborite Light of St. Ambrose of Optina

Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος Χριστού_Преображение Господне_Transfiguration of Jesus- Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon.p0210voznesenieIn his youth, the nineteenth-century Russian elder, St. Ambrose of Optina, had a glimpse of this eternal progress of love in heaven, which he recorded in a manuscript published after bin death:

«I am outside the forest, somewhere far away, in another world, quite unknown to me, never seen by me, never imagined by me…. Around me there is bright white Light! Its transcendence u so pure and enticing that I am submerged, along with my perception, into limitless depths and cannot satisfy myself with my admiration for this realm, cannot completely fill myself with its lofty spirituality. Everything is so full of beauty all around. So endearing this life … so endless the way. I am being swept across this limitless, clear space. My sight is directed upwards, does not descend anymore, does not see anything earthly. The whole of the heavenly firmament has transformed itself before me into mu general bright Light, pleasing to the sight…. But I do not see the sun. I can see only its endless shining and bright Light. The whole space in which I glide without hindrance, without end, without fatigue, is filled with white, just as are its light and beautiful benign, transparent as a ray of sun. And through them I am admiring this limitless world. The images of all these beings unknown to me are infinitely diverse and full of beauty…. I also am white and bright as they are. Over me, as over them, there reigns eternal rest. Not a single thought of mine is any longer enticed by anything earthly; not a single beat of my heart is any longer moving with human cares or earthly passion. I am all peace and rapture. But I am still moving in this infinite Light, which surrounds me without change. There is nothing else in the world except for the white, bright Light and these equally radiant numberless beings. But all these beings do not resemble me, nor are similar to each other; they are all endlessly varied, and compellingly attractive. Amidst them, I feel incredibly peaceful. They evoke in me neither fear, nor amazement, nor trepidation. All that we see here does not agitate us, does not amaze us. All of us here are as if we have belonged to each other for a long time, are used to each other and are not strangers at all. We do not ask questions, we do not speak to each other about anything. We all feel and understand that there is nothing novel for us here. All our questions are solved with one glance, which sees everything and everyone. There is no trace of the wars of passions in anyone. All move in different directions, opposite to each other, not feeling any limitation, any inequality, or envy, or sorrow, or sadness. One peace reigns in all the images of entities. One Light is endless for all. Oneness of life is comprehensible to all….»772

In this vision is contained a clear image of the goal of our life…; here is what Christ opened to us.

In his last talk with His disciples before His crucifixion, Christ told them: «In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you мая be also. And whore I go you know, and the way you know».

When Christ said this, His disciple Thomas asked Him, «Lord, we do not know where You are going. And how can we know the way?»

Christ replied, «I am the Way».773He became man so that we could forever dwell in Him, and He in us; so that we could experience throughout eternity the total infusion of His Light, His Uncreated Energy, sharing in His Being.

772 Chetverikov, Elder Ambrose of Opt- ina, pp. 27–28.
hieromonk Damascene (Christensen), Christ the Eternal Tao, 72. The Progression of Eternity
https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/world/christ-the-eternal-tao/4_101#note772_return

***

Blessed elder Theodore of Vyritsa*
A Wondrous Narrative on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior

Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος Χριστού_Преображение Господне_Transfiguration of Jesus- Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon.p0210130041.bNear Yaroslavl [in Russia] there lived a boy by the name of Theodore. When he was six years old, he visited an Eldress named Xenia, who had the gift of foresight; and she said to him:
“Who has come to see me? Theodore,what joy! For forty-five years you will pasture cows and goats. Never use a stick or a staff on them and never speak nasty or angry words, and the animals will obey you. Then you will go to St. Petersburg, to Blessed Xenia, my patron Saint; after which you will go to our holy land, to Vyritsa, to the Elder there.”

Theodore lived with his parents, and such thoughts as these never crossed his mind. However, soon he was left an orphan, and from the age of six he did indeed pasture cattle. He worked as a herdsman for exactly forty-seven years, as the Eldress had foretold to him. He never beat any animal and he never uttered a nasty word; nor did he ever lose a single cow. He had fashioned a horn, which he would blow, and with it he would call the cows. He herded cattle until he was fifty years old. He never received any wages, but ate in the homes of the cattle-owners, who also provided him with clothing. Everyone was fond of him on account of his affability and guilelessness.

He was often very distressed at not being able to go to Church on the great Feasts, because he had to take the cows out to pasture every day. On one occasion, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, he was especially sorrowful and prayed to God: “All the Faithful are praying in Church today, and I am unable to be with them. I am always with the cows and the goats.”

When Theodore had taken the cows out to pasture, he placed an Icon on a tree and prayed there for hours before it. On that day, he prayed with particular ardor.
Suddenly, he saw a flash of extraordinary light above the Icon; the light was brighter than the sun. Then our Savior appeared with Moses, Elias, and the Holy Apostles Peter, James, and John. Theodore had no idea how long the vision lasted.

By the time he came to his senses, it was already afternoon. He realized that he would have to return the animals to their ownerʼs house, because it was milking time, and at that moment the vision disappeared. Theodore got up and wept, beseeching the Lord to reveal to him whether what had happened was a genuine vision or just his imagination. He took his horn, called the cows, and turned towards the herd. He was astounded by what he saw: all the cows were kneeling, and tears flowed from their eyes!

For forty-seven years Theodore worked as a herdsman, and then he retired. He did not have any relatives, nor was he married. He remembered the guidance that he had been given in his childhood and travelled to St. Petersburg. It was then 1949….
* Source: Agios Kuprianos, No. 297 (July-August 2000), p. 323. Translated from the work of Vasily Nikolaevich Mouraviev, Elder Hieroschemamonk Seraphim of Vyritsa, 1865–1949, adapted by Alexander Trofimov [in Russian] (Moscow: St. Alexey Brotherhood, 1996), pp. 131– 132.

At Vespers: Exodus 24:12-18, 33:11-23, 34:4-6, 8; I Kings 19:3-9, 11-13, 15-16.
At the Orthros (Matins): Luke 9:28-36.
At the Divine Liturgy: II Peter 1:10-19; Matthew 17:1-9.
The event of the Transfiguration is recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36.

Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος Χριστού_Преображение Господне_Transfiguration of Jesus- Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon1304066549_city-nonresonant0142Apolytikion of the Feast. 
Grave Mode.

You were transfigured upon the mountain, O Christ our God, showing to Your disciples Your glory as much as they could bear. Do also in us, sinners though we may be, shine Your everlasting light, by the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Giver of light. Glory to You. (3)

Idiomelon 2.
Mode 2.

On Mount Tabor, You were transfigured in glory, O Christ our God, and to Your Apostles You revealed the glory of Your divinity. We pray You, shine on us also, with the light of true knowledge of You, and guide us on the path of Your commandments, for only You are good and love humanity.

Glory
Mode pl. 1.

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of our God, and we shall behold the glory of His Transfiguration, glory as of the only Son from the Father. By light let us receive light, and when we are uplifted by the Spirit, let us sing hymns to the consubstantial Trinity to the ages.

Both now
Mode pl. 1.

Moses, the seer of God, and Elias, the fiery charioteer who races unburnt across the heavens, saw You in the cloud at Your Transfiguration, O Christ; and they bore witness that You are the Author and Fulfiller of the Law and the Prophets. We pray You, O Master, count us worthy, like them, to receive Your illumination, and to sing Your praises to the ages.


Truly the God of Christians is great, and great glory awaits him who takes refuge at His immaculate feet, because He never permits His creature to be lost. Saint Niphon of Constantiane – Saint Sophrony of Essex

Γέννηση του Ιησού Χριστού_ Рождество Христово_ Nativity of Christ-icon%85Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ
Saint Niphon of Constantiane, in Algeria of Africa. (4th century)
Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete (250)
Virgin-Martyrs Victoria and Anatolia, two sisters martyred in Rome for refusing to marry pagans (250)
Saint Paul, Bishop of Neo-Caesarea, a father of the First Ecumenical Council (4th century)
Saint Naum of Ochrid, Enlightener of Bulgaria  disciple of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Wonder-worker (910)
Commemoration of the consecration and re-dedication of the Holy and Great Church of Christ, the Hagia Sophia, by Patriarch Eutychius (562
Repose of Eldress Eudocia Rodionova of Leushino Monastery, Fool-for-Christ (1886)

Commemorated on December 23

The Devil Returns
Saint Niphon of Constantiane, in Algeria of Africa

Νήφων Κωνσταντιανής_St. Niphon, Bishop of Constantiane Alexandria_св.Нифонт Констанцского Александрию_23_dec_niphon_of_constantianaJust as the Lord had warned him, that great temptation came. It was Saturday and Nephon was praying. Every Saturday he would start his prayer in the evening and finish in the morning. He neither slept nor sat down. All night he would pray and do prostrations, imitating Daniel or rather the angels, about whom the prophet says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” He kept this schedule not only on Sundays, but also during all the feast days of the Lord, according to Church tradition. The night before he would recite his own prayer, which he repeated in the morning also. But what a prayer that was! Full to the limit with divine knowledge and wisdom. It locked within it all the eternal theology, the unoriginate generation of the Son, the creation of the heavenly powers, the effable and ineffable, the marvelous, divine dispensation, nature’s grandeur, eternity, the celestial, the terrestrial and the infernal, the visible and invisible, the comprehensible and incomprehensible, the rational and the mystical – as we will confirm further down, if we may convey here some fragment of that prayer.

Well, that Saturday night he began his prayer as always. Suddenly, he heard something like a loud gong that echoed in his ears. He lost it and was asking himself what it could be! At that very second, behold, the devil! He was roaring, threatening and raging against Nephon. He paralyzed his mind and left him shaken, terrified. He tried to pray, but he could not think clearly. Numbness, yawning, laziness and drowsiness took hold of him. And with them, babbling, unbearable depression, and myriad other evils.

Thus he continued to torture him trying hard to cut off completely the pure and sovereign mind. Very depressed due to the satanic gloom, Nephon would cry out: “O sinful Nephon, it seems that your sins have caught up with you now! The temptation which you feared is truly terrible. The infernal dragon confused your mind and now rages against you. Be careful that he does not swallow you up alive!”

And saying this, he made the sign of the cross. But the shameless devil caused him great confusion and struggled to coerce him with these cunning words: “Either you quit praying or we will both sit right here. I’m not budging an inch from your side, no matter what happens!”

“I do not hear you, filthy demon,” Nephon would answer. “Because if the Almighty has ordered you to put me to death, I humbly accept His Command. But if my God has not ordered such a thing, I scorn all your tricks.”

“But, is there a God? There is no God!” the devil hissed at him. And with these satanic words he clouded his mind with thick darkness, again adding: “But is there a God? There is no God!”

The evil one had prepared an infernal plan from before, in order to succeed in confusing the saint and convince him – as if that were possible – that there is no God. Terribly hurt on hearing these frightening words, the servant of God brokenheartedly would cry out. “The fool has said in his heart: ‘There is no God.’ Dissolve, revolting darkness, and do not blaspheme! Get out of my sight, because I believe absolutely that there is a God Who will surrender you to eternal fire because of your ruses!” Infuriated, the malicious devil clouded his mind even more. With the haze of his satanic sorcery he would eliminate every sacred word from his mind. Nephon would begin to recite a psalm, as was his custom, but often, although his mouth was speaking, his mind did not understand anything because it seemed wrapped in fog. This caused him unbearable anxiety and sadness. “Woe to me, the wretched one! I do not know what I am saying.” And again with great effort he would start his prayer from the beginning. This torment, at the time of prayer, lasted four long years. And the devil never ceased to repeat to him daily: “There is no God!”

And with that blasphemous phrase he would sink him into inconsolable grief. His disturbance and affliction were so great that you would see him walking like a desperate man, indifferent about everything.

In the meantime, the devil would continue: “I don’t intend to ask you for anything else, just stop praying morning and evening.” The servant of God, shocked with the devil’s impudence, answered him: “Even if I fall into immorality, and if I kill, and even if I commit any other kind of sin, I am not going away from the feet of my Lord Jesus Christ.”

Προσευχη_prayer_proseyhi_Молитва_2ryVq2nXPac“What are you saying? Does Christ exist? There is no Christ, I alone rule creation. Therefore, why do you deny me?”

“Yes, wretch, Christ exists! And He is both man and God!” Nephon answered “How long will you torment the creature of God, evil one? Did you imagine that you would delude me, black and gloomy one? I know too well that you are dark and in darkness you will be tormented in all eternity. Get away from me, enemy of God and of His saints!” But that sly one would not separate himself at all from his side and would continually repeat that there is no God: “What? You mean to say that there is a God? And where did you see this God that you are talking about? Who showed Him to you? Where does He stay? Where does He live? Show Him to me and I will believe in Him also!”

As we said before, for four years the devil tormented him in this way. No matter what he was doing, whether eating, sleeping, or praying, the devil would place in him that thought, forcing him to believe that there is no God. He would drill his mind incessantly and would confuse his logic with that continuous repetition. It was sad to see the saint fall into sorrowful doubt. At times he would say that there is a God. At times, however, taught by the devil, he imagined that He did not exist. He fell into deep despondency. In spite of all this, he did not neglect his prayer and his studies. So, one day, while he was praying in Church, the devil came again and began to give him the same thought.

And then! Suddenly he saw the face of the Lord Jesus Christ unfolding before his eyes. He sighed then from the bottom of his heart, stretched his hands toward that holy Face, and cried out: “O God my God, attend to me; why have You forsaken me? Assure me that You Are God, because I will be forced to stop what I am doing for Your Holy Name and do what the evil one tells me.”

He was standing and waiting for what he would hear. While he was looking at the Divine figure, he saw it suddenly shine like lightning illuminating his face and filling him with ineffable fragrance. Dazzled by the light and not being able to stand the awful glow, he fell trembling with his face to the ground.

“I believe in one God, the Father All-governing, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, my Creator and Master; and in His Holy and Life-giving Spirit,” he stammered. “My Lord Jesus Christ, do not be angry with me, O Most Merciful One, and do not send away from You the profane one who dared to insult Your Holy Name. You know, Lord, how the enemy bound me, sinking me into baneful unbelief. For this, forgive whatever disrespect I have shown to Your forbearing love of man.” He was still face down on the ground. When he said these words, he raised himself up a little and again saw that most-revered figure. What a luminous vision! The divine Face was full of light and sweetness.

With his soul full of delight, Nephon began to chant, “Lord, have mercy.” He remained dazzled, ecstatic by the heavenly vision. “Truly the God of Christians is great,” he cried out, “and great glory awaits him who takes refuge at His immaculate feet, because He never permits His creature to be lost. Blessed is God, and blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit, Who saved me, even though I was bound in irons ‘in the region and shadow of death.’”

He gave many more thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ and then left the church, returned to his cell, and slept a little. His heart had flooded with spiritual delight. It was a joy to see him, because now he was walking cheerfully, always smiling and optimistic. He was so cheerful towards everyone, that his acquaintances would ask themselves wondering: “He walked dejected and sullen for so many years. Why is he happy with everyone now? Do you suppose he saw some vision?”

***

Thoughts and Deception.
Saint Sophrony Sakharov

Γέννηση του Ιησού Χριστού_ Рождество Христово_ Nativity of Christ2395745Those who want to pray with a cleansed mind (nous) must not concern themselves with the latest news from the newspapers, or read books that are irrelevant to our spiritual life – especially those books that arouse the passions – and they must not strive to learn out of curiosity whatever pertains to the lives of others. All these things bring foreign thoughts to mind, and when a person attempts to elucidate them, they confound his mind even more.

When the soul is taught love by God, then it will feel sorrow for all of Mankind, all of Creation, and will pray that everyone might repent and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. But, should the soul lose this grace, love will abandon it (because without the grace of God, it is impossible to love one’;s enemy) and that is when wicked thoughts will issue from the heart, as the Lord had said (Matthew 15:19, Mark  7:21-22).

Without the humility of Christ, Man’;s nous (mind) will not be cleansed and his soul will never feel reposed in God, but will always be agitated by various thoughts that will hinder his «theory» (sighting) of God.  Ah, the humility according to Christ!  Those who have tried it, rush towards God, insatiably, day and night!

Ah, but what a weakling I am!  I have been writing for just a short while, and yet I have quickly become tired, and my body yearns to rest.  But even the Lord Himself, when He was on earth «in His flesh», was familiar with human frailty.  He, the Merciful One, would also feel weary after His journeys on foot, and He had also slept on board a boat during the tempest; and, after the disciples had roused Him from His sleep, He commanded the sea and the wind to become still, and a great calm followed.  So it is with our soul, whenever we call upon the most Holy Name of the Lord: a great calm follows. 

Allow us, o Lord, to glorify You, until our dying breath …;..

One can fall into deception, either out of inexperience, or out of pride. And if it is out of inexperience, the Lord heals the deceived one very quickly; however, if it is on account of pride, then the soul will be struggling for a very long time, until it has learnt humility and will then be healed by the Lord.

We fall into a deception, when we consider ourselves more prudent and experienced than the others – even our own spiritual father.  This is what I myself had thought -in my inexperience- and this was the reason that I suffered.  And I thank the Lord from my heart, because in this way, He humbled me and admonished me, and did not revoke His mercy from me. Now it occurs to me that without confessing to our spiritual father, it will not be possible to avoid deception, because it was to the spiritual father that God gave the gift of «binding and unbinding».

If you sense light inside you or around you, do not believe in it unless you also have a deep solemnity within you for God and a love for your fellow man. However, do not be afraid; only humble yourself, and that light will disappear.

Should you see a certain vision or dream, do not trust it, for if it was from God, the Lord Himself will inform you about it.  A soul that has not tasted of the Holy Spirit cannot discern where the vision comes from.  The enemy will give the soul a «sweet sensation» combined with vainglory, and it is from this, that deception will have become evident.

The Fathers say that when a vision is a hostile one, the soul feels confusion or fear; but this will happen only to the humble soul that considers itself unworthy of a vision. The vainglorious person however, may not feel either fear or confusion, because he is desirous of visions and regards himself as worthy of them, which is why the enemy can easily deceive him.

Celestial things are recognized through the Holy Spirit and terrestrial things through one’;s physical state. Whosoever attempts to know God through the physical mind is deceived, because God can only be known via the Holy Spirit.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_6234555If you see demons with your mind, then humble yourself and try not to look, and run as fast as you can to your spiritual Geron (Elder), to whom you have surrendered yourself.  Tell him everything, and the Lord will then show His mercy on you and you will be rescued from that deception.  But if you believe that you know more about spiritual matters than your spiritual father and you cease to tell him whatever is happening to you, then, because of this act of pride, inevitably, a certain trial will «befall» you, in order to restore your prudence.

Fight your enemies with humility.

When you see another mind struggling with your mind, then humble yourself and the struggle will cease.

If you happen to see demons, do not be afraid, but humble yourself and the demons will disappear. But if fear does overcome you, you will not avoid suffering some harm.  Be brave.  Remember that the Lord can see you, if you have hinged your hopes on Him.

But, for the soul to acquire respite from the demons, it must humble itself and say: «I am worse than all the others; I am more wretched than every beast and every wild animal»…

Just as people enter a house and leave it, so do thoughts come from demons and they can leave, provided we do not hold on to them.  If your thought says: «steal» and you obey, you are in this way giving the demon power over you. If your thought says: «eat as much as you want, until you are full», and you do eat excessively, then again the demon will hold power over you.  Thus, if the thought of every passion conquers you, you will end up a dwelling-place of demons.  However, if you commence with the appropriate repentance, then the demons will begin to quake and be forced to leave.»

Brother, God Who is goodwill not judge the Christian because he sinned but because he does not live continually in repentance. Saint Niphon Bishop of Constantiane in Algeria
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/12/22/brother-god-who-is-goodwill-not-judge-the-christian-because-he-sinned-but-because-he-does-not-live-continually-in-repentance-saint-niphon-of-constantiane-in-algeria/

The Value of Repentance, Saint Niphon Bishop of Constantiane
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/the-value-of-repentance-saint-niphon-bishop-of-constantiane/

The holy angels are always near us, protectors and helpers in everything! Saint Niphon Bishop of Constantiane
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/the-holy-angels-are-always-near-us-protectors-and-helpers-in-everything-saint-niphon-bishop-of-constantiane/

They live the Holiness of nonexistence, and with their prayers they take the whole world… From the life of Saint Nephon of Constantiane
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/they-live-the-holiness-of-nonexistence-and-with-their-prayers-they-take-the-whole-world-from-the-life-of-saint-nephon-of-constantiane/

Saint Nephon is beloved of God and Angels
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/saint-nephon-is-beloved-of-god-and-angels/

Silence and humility is victory in each temptation. Saint Niphon Bishop of Constantiane
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/03/21/silence-and-humility-is-victory-in-each-temptation-saint-niphon-bishop-of-constantiane/

Troparion of St Niphon, Bishop of Constantiana tone 4

Thou wast chosen by God to be shepherd and herald of His Church,/
and to teach repentance to the fallen./ 
By thy prayers thou didst reveal the demons’ deceits/ 
and thy countenance shone like Moses’./
 O Father Niphon, pray to Christ our God for those who honour thee.

Kontakion of St Niphon of Constantiana tone 2

Thou didst subdue the flesh by fear of God/
and didst soar to the heights of knowledge./ 
Thou didst attain to thy desire, O blessed Niphon./ 
Intercede to Christ our God for all who honour thee.


We should all be artists in our life. Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonit

Γέννηση του Ιησού Χριστού_ Рождество Христово_ Nativity of Christ-iconfresca-nasterea-domnuluiMartyrs Menas the Most Eloquent, Hermogenes, and Eugraphus, of Alexandria (c. 313)
Martyr Gemellus of Paphlagonia (Gemellus of Ancyra), cruelly tortured and crucified (361))
Venerable Thomas Dephourkinos of Mt. Kyminas in Bithynia (Thomas the Righteous) (10th century)
Virgin-martyr Eulalia of Barcelona, the most famous virgin-martyr in Spain, burnt at the stake under Diocletian (304)
Saint Julia of Mérida (Eulalia of Mérida), a martyr together with St Eulalia, in Mérida in Spain under Diocletian (304)
Blessed Jovan Branković, King of Serbia (1503), and his parents Stephen the Blind (1468) and Saint Angelina (Brancovic) (16th century
Saint Ioasaph (Gorlenko) of Belgorod (1754)
Hieromartyr Eugraphus (Pletnev) of Perm, Priest, and his son, Mikhail Pletnev (1918)
Virgin-martyrs Anna Ivashkina and Tatiana Byakirevoy, Confessors (1948)
Virgin-martyr Thecla Makusheva, Confessor (1954)
Venerable New Nun-Confessor Anna Stoliarova, Schema-nun of Sreznevo, Ryazan (1958)
Synaxis of the Archangel Michael at the Adda River in northern Italy, before the Battle of Coronate (689)

Commemorated on December 10

Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonit

Μηνας καλλικελαδος_Мч. Мина Калликелад. Фр. м-ря Дионисиат. 16 в. Фото о. Алексея 1.Fr. Sophrony:
Those who were preparing to become musicians know that art requires the whole person.
When I was a painter, if I slept without dreams, then in the morning I didn’t know what to do because I needed to continue painting even during sleep.

And when I work at night in a dream, I get up in the morning and start with new energy and paint what I need.
So, I said many times that it is good for one to have an artistic personality so that our life is always inspired: we can suffer, maybe we lack all strength, but inspiration, like some kind of river of energy, constantly flows.
And then our life knows no laziness [acedia].
So you should all be artists in your [spiritual] life and keep your inspiration, because there is nothing in all creation greater than Christ and His teaching!
Everything else that humanity is proud of fades in comparison with what Christ gave us.

In this audio recording, Fr. Sophrony Sakharov of Essex inspires us to become artists in our [spiritual] life.
January 23, 1991
Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex, England


The Prophetic Ministry of the Word of God in Saint Sophrony of Essex the Athonite, Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Παρασκευή-Πάσα του Σάρωφ, η δια Χριστόν Σαλή_Blessed Parasceva Ivanovna (Pasha of Sarov)_Блж. Параскева Дивеевская_Параскева, Серафим и Александра204_0190009bHieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope, Wonderworker (117)
Martyr Phocas the Gardener, of Sinope (320)
Saint Peter of Constantinople, tax collector in Africa (6th century)
Martyrs Maurice and the Theban Legion, including the officers Candidus and Exuperius, at Agaunum, Gaul (c. 287)
Venerable 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery, Mount Athos, martyred by the Latins (1284)
Venerable Cosmas, Desert-dweller of Zographou, Mt. Athos (1323)
Blessed Parasceva (“Pasha of Sarov”), Fool-for-Christ, of Diveyevo Monastery (1915)
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who Is Quick to Hear” (14th century)
Repose of Abbot Innocent of Valaam Monastery (1828)
Repose of Archbishop Basil Krivoshein of Brussels and Belgium (1900-22 September 1985)
Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite was born on September 22, 1896

Commemorated on September 22

Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Παρασκευή-Πάσα του Σάρωφ, η δια Χριστόν Σαλή_Blessed Parasceva Ivanovna (Pasha of Sarov)_Блж. Параскева Дивеевская_17690It is not of any value to us how the world is going to regard or call us. However, it is important, and extremely important, how the holy angels in the heavens will regard and call us when, after death, we meet with them. This is of crucial importance and everything else is nothing.

O, may every one of us who cross ourselves with the Sign of the Cross not only find it easy to endure but with satisfaction receive the name “fool” for Christ’s sake! Let us rejoice and be glad if the non-believers call us such, for that means that we are close to Christ and far away from the non-believers. Let us rejoice and be glad and repeat with a powerful echo in the ears of the world: yes, yes, indeed we are fools for Christ’s sake!
O Lord Most-wise, strengthen us by Your power that we not fear the non-believing world neither when they lash us with whips nor when they insult us with words for Your sake.

***

The Prophetic Ministry of the Word of God in Saint Sophrony
Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Christ is the miracle that astounds us. He is the sign of God for all generations until the end of times, for in His Person every impasse has found its solution. During His earthly life, ‘He lived the tragedy of the whole mankind, and yet tragedy found no place in Him.’[1] On the contrary, before His utter humiliation, He granted peace to His disciples.

In the Person of Christ was revealed the inapproachable and eternal God, but also the true man, as God had conceived him before the foundation of the world in the bosom of the Holy Trinity in His wondrous and pre-eternal Council. In His Person all things were fulfilled, for He is ‘the way, the truth and the life’.[2]

By extension, as imitations of Christ, all the Saints can also be said to be the signs of God for their generation, who give a solution ‘not of this world’ to the problems it is confronted with, be they philosophical, psychological or theological. They live in a natural way ‘the tragedy of mankind, and at the same time the peace of Christ’.[3]

‘A man shall approach and the heart is deep.’[4] It is difficult to speak about the Saints, because the man who still lives in the confines of the visible world cannot even imagine the depths of the heart of a holy Christian, the pain of his repentance and love, the infinite expanse that his prayer traverses like lightning, the freedom of his spirit.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e14344924349Saint Sophrony’s earthly life lasted almost one century, but his spiritual life is unfathomable. As he himself writes about his attempt to depict the figure of his own Elder, Saint Silouan: ‘Anyone who has ever given himself over with a pure heart to contemplation of his inner self knows how impossible it is to detect the spiritual processes of the heart, because in its profundity the heart touches upon that state of being where there are no processes. But now in writing this profile I find myself faced with just such a task – portraying the evolution of a great ascetic striver.’[5]

Likewise, we cannot speak about Saint Sophrony without diminishing his greatness. Yet, by the command of the Spirit and against his own desire to live in such a way as not ‘to be seen of men’,[6] he did leave us his writings. And the best way to know the spiritual portrait of this holy man is to read his books. Every paragraph is the fruit of his prayer and the Elder is fully present in his words.

Saint Sophrony received the great blessing to rejoice in the vision of the uncreated Light when he was but an infant, yet from the first years of his youth he also felt very acutely the absurdity and vanity of temporary life. His intellectual erring on the alien paths of transcendental meditation was interrupted by the saving Sinaitic revelation that God brought before his eyes: ‘I AM THAT I AM.’[7] In his repentance he ‘would pray like one demented, weeping copious tears, afflicted to his very bones.’[8] The cry of his prayer reached back ‘to the source of the world’s tragedy’.[9]

Elder Sophrony ‘ardently loved Jesus Christ, God our Creator and Saviour’, and, ‘without fail’, according to his own words, he experienced ‘two states of being that would seem to be diametrically opposed: descent into hell (of repentance and love) and ascent into heaven’.[10]

Until the end of his life, he spoke with infinite gratitude about his Father in God Saint Silouan, whom he called ‘the most important event of his life’,[11] the greatest blessing, and he attributed every gift from on high to his prayers. He considered that the purpose of his life and his greatest task was to minister unto the word of his Elder.[12]

Saint Sophrony lived among us with great simplicity. He was warm and loving, but you could not forget for one instant the Christ-like otherness of his soul. He had a different mind, different feelings, different thoughts. Every contact with him was an opening of life. When he opened his mouth it was as if he snatched the word from God and brought it down to earth. Rather, he was incarnating the word of God in his own life. As he himself confesses: ‘His words, like fire, were imparted to my mind and heart, and I learned to see things from His perspective, because His word became my life.’[13]

Certainly, when we say that the Elder was a man of the word of God, we do not mean that he spoke about the word of God, but that he was a bearer of the quickening power of the personal God. The divine word resounded like a harp in his heart whether he was awake or asleep. In other words, he was the bearer of the word which is born in the heart through prayer and which regenerates man when it visits him, whilst when he imparts it to the others, it informs them with grace.[14] It transforms and renews them, showing unto them the ways of salvation.

We often witnessed miracles in his presence, sometimes amazing ones. However, he would never seek for them, neither would he pay much heed to them. He would pray for the ill, because he had compassion on people and desired their pain to ease, but his prayer had as its main target the heart of his neighbour. He knew that the greatest miracle in all the created world is the union of man’s heart with the Spirit of God. For this reason, he was consumed by the desire to minister this union of the temporary and earthly existence of man with the Light of the eternity of God.

He emphasised the importance of calling upon the Name of the Lord Jesus so that the impasse of human tragedy may be be overcome and that man may be born in the eternal Kingdom. He says about himself: ‘When the pain of the heart reaches the limits of physical endurance, the invocation of the Name of Jesus Christ brings the peace that keeps man alive.’[15] He ‘tormented’ with fiery prayer everything he did or said.

He also gave the greatest importance to the Divine Liturgy, whose celebration enraptured and inspired him. He said that in our times, when it is no longer possible to find favourable conditions for hesychastic life, if we celebrate the Divine Liturgy with attention, fear and the appropriate preparation, it brings the same results at the level of the spirit, the same sanctification as the prayer of the heart. For this reason he was mindful to impart to his monks and to all those who asked for his help, his love for the Divine Sacrament and the knowledge of a deeper approach to it.

Just as Moses desired to see the whole people of God prophesy, so also Saint Sophrony longed to impart to those around him the breath of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration of an artist. He even said that the Christian must be an artist in his spiritual life. As the artists are possessed by the object of their art and strive to find the perfect expression for their inspiration, so the Christian should be possessed by Christ and strive to refine his relationship with Him, running ‘that he may apprehend that for which also he is apprehended.’[16]

For some, the neighbour becomes a hindrance, for others even hell, whilst for our holy Fathers Silouan and Sophrony, the brother was their life. God enlarged their heart to embrace heaven and earth, just as Christ spread His holy hands on the Cross to embrace all people.

As a conclusion, we will quote the words of the Saint:

‘A single saint is an extraordinarily precious phenomenon for all mankind. By the mere fact of their existence – unknown, maybe, to the world but known to God – the saints draw down on the world, on all humanity, a great benediction from God… Thanks to these saints – whom the world does not know of – the course of historical, even of cosmic events, is changed. So then, every saint is a phenomenon of cosmic character, whose significance passes beyond the bounds of earthly history into the sphere of eternity. The saints are the salt of the earth, its raison d’etre. They are the fruit that preserve the earth. But when the earth ceases to produce saints, the strength that safeguards it from catastrophe will fail.’[17]

This is why Elder Sophrony considered as a sign of authentic and holy life the prayer for the whole world, wherein the man of God, enlarged by the grace of the Holy Spirit, brings to God every soul that came into being from the foundation of the world and that will be born until the end of the world.

Another criterion of genuine and holy life for Saint Sophrony, was love and prayer for enemies. This phenomenon demonstrates the presence of the Holy Spirit, without Whose grace such a virtue cannot exist in this world.

Saint Sophrony gives witness that love for enemies is the token of the presence of the Holy Spirit and of the truth of God, which justifies the ephemeral existence of man and leads him into the unfading life that reigns in the bosom of the Holy Trinity, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

[1] Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Περὶ Προσευχῆς (On Prayer) Ἱερὰ Μονὴ Τιμίου Προδρόμου, Ἔσσεξ Ἀγγλίας 1993, p. 90.
[2] Cf. John 14:6.
[3] Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Τὸ μυστήριο τῆς χριστιανικῆς ζωῆς (The Mystery of Christian Life), Ἱερὰ Μονὴ Τιμίου Προδρόμου, Ἔσσεξ Ἀγγλίας 2006, pp. 416-417.
[4] Ps. 63:7 LXX.
[5] Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Saint Silouan the Athonite, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (Tolleshunt Knights, Essex: Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 1991), p. 10.
[6] Matt. 6:5.
[7] Exod. 3:14.
[8] Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), We Shall See Him as He Is, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (Tolleshunt Knights, Essex: Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 2004), p. 33.
[9] Ibid., p. 81.
[10] Ibid., p. 137.
[11] Cf. ibid., p. 105.
[12] He expressed himself in this way in a letter yet unpublished.
[13] Τὸ μυστήριο τῆς χριστιανικῆς ζωῆς (The Mystery of Christian Life), p. 416.
[14] Cf. Eph. 4:29.
[15] Τὸ μυστήριο τῆς χριστιανικῆς ζωῆς (The Mystery of Christian Life), p. 417.
[16] Cf. Phil. 3:12.
[17] Saint Silouan the Athonite, p. 223.

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!

Blessed Parasceva Ivanovna “Pasha of Sarov,” of Diveyevo, pray to God for us! Pray that we labor in the fast with joy, and let God’s light illumine our hearts. Pray that our days are filled with humility, and that we learn to love others in charity, just as God loves us. Pray that we can learn to live out our Christian vocation in all times and places, and in all circumstances. Pray that we can learn to be “Fools for Christ” in our own lives…

Παρασκευή-Πάσα του Σάρωφ, η δια Χριστόν Σαλή_Blessed Parasceva Ivanovna (Pasha of Sarov)_Блж. Параскева Дивеевская_)15631575859_Apolytikion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother;for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ,and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlookthe flesh,for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal.Wherefore, O righteous Parasceva, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

The Troparion, In Tone I:

Having heard the voice of Thine Apostle Paul, saying: * We are foolish for Christ’s sake, * Thy servant Parasceva, O Christ God, * did love the life of the foolish for Thy sake on earth. * Wherefore in venerating her memory * we entreat Thee, O Lord, to save our souls.

For the Vespers Aposticha the Stichera.
In Tone II:
Spec. Mel.: O House of Ophrah.

A temple and abode of the Most Holy Spirit wast thou, * O most wise Parasceva; * wherefore also make us who honor thy holy memory * temples of the same Spirit.

Stichos: The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall hope in Him.
Thy life like the sun shines forth in the hearts of the faithful, * emitting miracles; * wherefore illumine with the never-fading light * us also who honor thine all-honorable memory.

Stichos: The righteous man shall flourish like a palm-tree; like a cedar in Lebanon shall he be multiplied.
Cease not making supplication on behalf of us thy servants, * so near unto thee, * since thou Parasceva, hast enlightened us with thy spiritual life, * that we all may joyfully honor thy honorable memory.

 


In the Divine Liturgy we live Christ. Every Divine Liturgy is a Theophany. The Divine Liturgy is the Greatest Mission of the Church. Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e1434ba1430fa5dSaint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite
Hieromartyr Cindeus the Presbyter, of Pamphylia (283-305)
Martyrs Januarius and Pelagia, of Nicopolis in Armenia (c. 310)
Commemoration of the Miracle (451) of Great-martyr Euphemia the All-praised, of Chalcedon (304)
Blessed Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, Princess of Russia, named Helen in holy baptism (969)
Saint Sabinus, a saint venerated near Poitiers in France, said to have been a disciple of St Germanus of Auxerre, confessor (5th century)
Venerable Nicodemus of Hilandar, Mt. Athos, instructor of St. Gregory Palamas (1320)
New Martyr Nicodemus of Elbasan and Mt. Athos (1722)
New Monk-martyr Nectarius of St. Anne’s Skete, Mt. Athos, at Vryoulla, Ephesus (1820)
Icon of the Mother of God of Rzhevsk (1539)
Translation of the relics of Venerable Benedict of Nursia, writer of the Rule of Saint Benedict (c. 547)
Repose of cave-dweller Anastasia of St. Cornelius of Padan Hermitage, in Olonets (1901)

Commemorated on July 11

Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite (+1993), disciple of St. Silouan the Athonite

Words of Eternal Life

Our greatest missionary work in life takes place in the Divine Liturgy. The Fathers of the Church would always build an Altar of Sacrifice in whatever country or city they traveled to. And this is so, because when the heart is sweetened by the Divine Liturgy, it then seeks God. It then desires to live an Orthodox ecclesiastical life, the heart of which is the Holy Eucharist.

I told the brotherhood that it should always be a priority for it to perform the Divine Liturgy in the Monastery. The prayers of the Divine Liturgy should not be intoned for personal gratification because at that moment the priests are expressing the prayers of all those praying in Church. And for this reason the priests should not be praying with self-centered feelings. We do not celebrate as individuals.

***

“One can celebrate the Liturgy everywhere…, but IF one has the possibility why not celebrate it in a place which is as perfect as possible.  The Liturgy is not like a piece of news that is in the newspapers, which is read and then thrown away by the evening – the Liturgy is an event in eternity.”

***

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_6234555We Orthodox live Christ within the Divine Liturgy, or rather Christ lives within us during the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is a work of God. We say: “Time is a creation of the Lord”. Among other things it means now is the time for God to act. Christ liturgizes, we live with Christ.

The Divine Liturgy is the way we know God and the way God becomes known to us.

Christ celebrated the Divine Liturgy once and this passed into eternity.
His divinized human nature came to the Divine Liturgy. We know Christ specifically in the Divine Liturgy.
The Divine Liturgy we celebrate is the same Divine Liturgy which was done by Christ on Great Thursday in the Mystical Supper.

The 14th through the 16th chapters of the Gospel according to John is one Divine Liturgy. So in the Divine Liturgy we understand Holy Scripture. The early Church lived without a New Testament, but not without the Divine Liturgy. The first records, the written hymns, exist in the Divine Liturgy.

In the Divine Liturgy we live Christ and understand His word.
As Christ cleansed His Disciples with his word and said to them: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3) and He washed the feet of His Disciples with water, during the Sacred Washing, so also in the first section of the Divine Liturgy He cleanses us that we might attend later His Table of love.
The purpose of the Divine Liturgy is to convey Christ to us. The Divine Liturgy teaches us an ethos, the ethos of humility. As Christ sacrificed Himself, so also should we sacrifice ourselves. The type of the Divine Liturgy is the type of impoverishment for us.
In the Divine Liturgy we try to be humbled, because we have the sense that there is the humble God. Every Divine Liturgy is a Theophany.

“The Priesthood is not given to man as a reward for virtues, but as a gift for the edification of the Church. Someone becomes a Priest in order to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and to sanctify the people. Also, the Priesthood has a social significance, since he will deal with the construction of the church and the suffering of the Christians. So he also needs these qualifications, besides the spirituality.”

“The Divine Liturgy occurred one time forever. It has eternality. Every time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, we rise up to its height. If we live some aspects of the Divine Liturgy, then we will understand its greatness, as happened with St. Seraphim of Sarov who saw angels coming to the church during the Small Entrance. We follow the Divine Liturgy, because we do not live it, or until we live it.”

“The Divine Liturgy teaches us to live with the heart. By celebrating the Divine Liturgy we keep the command of Christ: ‘Drink this in remembrance of Me’ (Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). That’s why we say: ‘Remembering this saving command….’ This is not a psychological fact, but spiritual. Thus, every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we are obedient to the word of Christ, and we penetrate the Divine Mystagogy in the Liturgy of Christ.

What God did once, remains now forever. This happens with the Divine Liturgy. One time Christ celebrated it in the Upper Room with the Mystical Supper, and this remains forever. The Christian, depending on the sacrifice he makes and his infiltration of Grace with this ‘spirit’ of the Divine Liturgy, receives Grace from God, and is purified of the passions. The Divine Liturgy in its perfection is the supplication and prayer for the entire world. This is the so-called royal officiation-priesthood. Thus, man reaches the end of the age. He does not wait for the day of the Lord, but this day of the Lord comes to him. So by Grace he becomes timeless.”

***

Paint your icon as a poem, where every word is weighed and considered, in harmony.  The icon shows what kind of person you are.  There are many craftsmen, but few real iconographers.  Make an icon, a beautiful icon, not like a worker, but like an artist.”

***

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e14344924349I was still a young man when the tragedy of historical events far outdid anything that I had read in books. (I refer to the outbreak of the First World War, soon to be followed by the Revolution in Russia.)
My youthful hopes and dreams collapsed. But at the same time a new vision of the world and its meaning opened before me.

Side by side with devastation I contemplated rebirth. I saw that there was no tragedy in God.
Tragedy is to be found solely in the fortunes of the man whose gaze has not gone beyond the confines of this earth.
Christ Himself by no means typifies tragedy. Nor are His all-cosmic sufferings of a tragic nature.

And the Christian who has received the gift of the love of Christ, for all his awareness that it is not yet complete, escapes the nightmare of all-consuming death.
Christ’s love, during the whole time that He abode with us here, was acute suffering. ‘O faithless and perverse generation,’ He cried. ‘How long shall I suffer you?’ (Matt. 17.17).
He wept for Lazarus and his sisters (if. John 11.35). He grieved over the hard­heartedness of the Jews who slew the prophets (if. Matt. 23.37).

In Gethsemane his soul was ‘exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’ and ‘his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (Matt. 26.38; Luke 22.44).
He lived the tragedy of all mankind; but in Himself there was no tragedy.
This is obvious from the words He spoke to His disciples perhaps only a short while before His redemptive prayer for all mankind in the Garden: ‘My peace I give unto you’ (John 14.27).

And a little further on: ‘I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16.32,33).

This is how it is with the Christian: for all his deep compassion, his tears and prayers for the world, there is none of the despair that destroys. Aware of the breath of the Holy Spirit, he is assured of the inevitable victory of Light.
The love of Christ, even in the most acute stress of suffering (which I would call the ‘hell of loving’), because it is eternal is free of passion.
Until we achieve supreme freedom from the passions on this earth suffering and pity may wear out the body but it will only be the body that dies. ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul’ (Matt. 10.28).
Elder Sophrony (1896-1993; Orthodox): from His Life Is Mine, London 1977, p. 37-40

“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!”

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_31712981102071405_nPrayer at Daybreak of Saint Sophrony of Essex, ‘If someone reads this prayer in the morning with contrition and attention, the whole day will be blessed.’
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/prayer-at-daybreak-of-saint-sophrony-of-essex-if-someone-reads-this-prayer-in-the-morning-with-contrition-and-attention-the-whole-day-will-be-blessed/

It was really like Pascha … the Repose of Elder Sophronius of Essex the Athonite —
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/it-was-really-like-pascha-the-repose-of-elder-sophronius-of-essex-the-athonite/

Stand on the edge of the abyss and when you feel that it is beyond your strength, break off and have a cup of tea. Elder Sophrony(Sakharov) of Essex
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/stand-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss-and-when-you-feel-that-it-is-beyond-your-strength-break-off-and-have-a-cup-of-tea/

We are not wonderworkers. We are just priests, trying to help people to be reconciled with God. Saint Sophrony the Athonite of Essex
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2021/04/06/we-are-not-wonderworkers-we-are-just-priests-trying-to-help-people-to-be-reconciled-with-god-saint-sophrony-the-athonite-of-essex/

Troparion Saint of England, Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex:

O pure rose from your Mother Russia, O Father Sophrony, the protector of your British Garden of love and grace, who wisely moves those pure in heart like babes against the darkness, illumining them with fiery stylus of the Spirit, the great theologian and standing first with good deeds, teaching and writing divine and universal translations. As he is a friend of the Lord, let us honor him, as His holy disciple and Saint, that he might protect those who love him as an offering.

Kontakion Saint of England, Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex:

As a queen bee, O Father, you gave birth to the rational bees gathered around you into the honeycomb of Light, O Father, and gathered the honey of incorruption and the pure beeswax fashioned by your God, exalting the isle of Britain, O Venerable Sophrony.

Megalynarion.

O universal Father Silouan, come and teach the Truth to the people, together with Sophrony, and intercede on behalf of all and together with all the Saints of Athos.

in Tone VIII:
Spec. Mel.: ‘The Martyrs of the Lord’.

A holy, precious, divine and luminous lamp * is not to be left hidden under the bushel of life, * rather, the Lover of mankind raiseth him to a high summit * through the gift of miracles; * by his intercessions O Christ, grant unto Thy people great mercy.

In thy body likened unto a buoyant boat * thou wast carried freely across the sea of life * by the gentle breezes of thy peaceful spirit. * Thou, O wise one, having found the pearl of great price, * went and sold all that thou didst have, and bought it. * Fervently protecting it, thou didst find blessedness in its divine virtues.

If an Idiomelon be appointed. Glory …, in Tone VI:

Having preserved that which is in the image of God, and set thy mind as master over the pernicious passions through fasting, thou didst ascend to that which is in the likeness of God, as far as thou wast able; for manfully compelling thy nature, thou didst strive to subdue that which is lower to that which is better, and to enslave the flesh to the spirit. Wherefore, thou wast shown to be the summit of monastics, a citizen of the desert, a trainer of those who run the good race, a most excellent rule of virtue. O venerable father Sophrony, in purity thou now beholdest the Holy Trinity in the heavens, not by reflection as by a mirror, praying directly for those who honor thee with faith and love.

At the Aposticha, these stichera: In Tone I:
Spec. Mel.: Of the heavenly orders.

Thy festival, O God-bearer, * hath arrived brighter than the sun; * illuminating those who in faith have recourse unto thee, * filling them with the sweet fragrance of immortality * and radiating healing unto their souls, O holy Father, * fervent intercessor for our souls.

Through the struggles of abstinence * thou didst obtain victory over the sensual passions of the body, * and here on earth exhibiting a zeal like that of the bodiless ones in heaven, * thou didst subdue the desires of the flesh * making them serve the needs of the spirit, * O wonder-worker, Sophrony; * wherefore now, as a dweller in the heavenly habitations, * do thou ever intercede on behalf of our souls.

In Tone VI:

O most blessed God-bearer Sophrony! * subjugating unto thy spirit all the subtleties of the flesh, * and having strengthened thyself with the pains of fasting, * like gold purified in the forge, * thou dost appear as a most radiant receptacle of the Holy Spirit. * Gathering together a multitude of monastics, * and with thine instructions, as with a ladder ascending into heaven, * thou hast elevated them unto the pinnacle of virtues. * Remember us also, who honor thy sacred memory, * and unceasingly intercede that our souls may be saved. [Twice].


When we choose Christ we are carried beyond time and space, beyond the reach of what is termed ‘tragedy’. Tragedy is to be found solely in the fortunes of the man whose gaze has not gone beyond the confines of this earth. Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite

Σταυρός_Ανάσταση_Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Έσσεξ-St. John The Baptist Monastery-Essex-England-Монастырь святого Иоанна Крестителя (Эссекс-RastignΧριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
ქრისტეაღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტადაღსდგა!

«Rejoice!». «Peace be unto you!»

Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite

The tragedy of our times lies in our almost complete unawareness, or unmindfulness, that there are two kingdoms, the temporal and the eternal. We would build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, rejecting all idea of resurrection or eternity…

I first met with the notion of tragedy, not in life but in literature. The seeds of tragedy, it seemed to me in my youth, are sown when a man finds himself wholly captivated by some ideal. To attain this ideal he is ready to risk any sacrifice, any suffering, even life itself. But if he happens to achieve the object of his striving, it proves to be an impudent chimera: the reality does not correspond to what he had in mind. This sad discovery leads to profound despair, a wounded spirit, a monstrous death.

Different people have different ideals. There is the ambition for power, as with Boris Godounov. In pursuit of his aim he did not stop at bloodshed. Successful, he found that he had not got what he expected. ‘I have reached the height of power but my soul knows no happiness.’ Though the concerns of the spirit prompt a nobler quest, the genius in the realm of science or the arts sooner or later realises his inability to consummate his initial vision. Again, the logical denouement is death.

The fate of the world troubled me profoundly. Human life at whatever stage was unavoidably interlinked with suffering. Even love was full of contradictions and bitter crises. The seal of destruction lay everywhere.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_933925640-2333I was still a young man when the tragedy of historical events far outdid anything that I had read in books. (I refer to the outbreak of the First World War, soon to be followed by the Revolution in Russia.) My youthful hopes and dreams collapsed. But at the same time a new vision of the world and its meaning opened before me. Side by side with devastation I contemplated rebirth. I saw that there was no tragedy in God. Tragedy is to be found solely in the fortunes of the man whose gaze has not gone beyond the confines of this earth. Christ Himself by no means typifies tragedy. Nor are His all-cosmic sufferings of a tragic nature. And the Christian who has received the gift of the love of Christ, for all his awareness that it is not yet complete, escapes the nightmare of all-consuming death.

Christ’s love, during the whole time that He abode with us here, was acute suffering. ‘O faithless and perverse generation,’ He cried. ‘How long shall I suffer you?’ (Matt. 17.17). He wept for Lazarus and his sisters (cf. John 11.35). He grieved over the hard-heartedness of the Jews who slew the prophets (cf. Matt. 23.37). In Gethsemane his soul was ‘exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’ and ‘his sweat was as it were drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (Matt. 26.38; Luke 22.44). He lived the tragedy of all mankind; but in Himself there was no tragedy. This is obvious from the words He spoke to His disciples perhaps only a short while before His redemptive prayer for all mankind in the Garden: ‘My peace I give unto you’ (John 14.27).

And a little further on: ‘I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16.32, 33). This is how it is with the Christian: for all his deep compassion, his tears and prayers for the world, there is none of the despair that destroys. Aware of the breath of the Holy Spirit, he is assured of the inevitable victory of Light. The love of Christ, even in the most acute stress of suffering (which I would call the ‘hell of loving’), because it is eternal is free of passion. Until we achieve supreme freedom from the passions on this earth suffering and pity may wear out the body but it will only be the body that dies. ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul’ (Matt. 10.28).

We may say that even today mankind as a whole has not grown up to Christianity and continues to drag out an almost brutish existence. In refusing to accept Christ as Eternal Man and, more importantly, as True God and our Saviour- whatever the form the refusal takes, and whatever the pretext- we lose the light of life eternal. ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world’ (John 17.24). There, in the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, must our mind dwell. We must hunger and thirst to enter into this wondrous Kingdom. Then we shall overcome in ourselves the sin of refusing the Father’s love as revealed to us through the Son (cf. John 8.24). When we choose Christ we are carried beyond time and space, beyond the reach of what is termed ‘tragedy’…

God reveals Himself, mainly through the heart, as Love and Light. In this light man contemplates the Gospel precepts as the reflection on earth of celestial Eternity, and the Glory of Christ as of the only-begotten of the Father- the glory the disciples saw on Mount Tabor…

Would you like to experience the grace of Christ? Then seek this grace from Him Who can bestow it. If it seems that it is not for you, since you cannot believe, my advice is to set your heart on believing and you will be able to believe. Through faith you arrive at faith. Persist in wishing for faith and it will be granted to you.

From the book: Archimandrite Sophrony, His Life is mine, Chapter 4: The Tragedy of Man. London 1977, p. 37-40.


We are not wonderworkers. We are just priests, trying to help people to be reconciled with God. Saint Sophrony the Athonite of Essex

Σταυρός_Ανάσταση_Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Έσσεξ-St. John The Baptist Monastery-Essex-England-Монастырь святого Иоанна Крестителя (Эссекс-Rastign

Saint Sophrony the Athonite of Essex

′′ These in the float and those in the horse, but we are raised in the name of the Lord our God “. (Ps. 19, 8.)
A story of aunt Thekla comes to our memory when she met Saint Sophronios.
′′ Old Man Sofronios made Saint Siluanos known to us. We thank him. Saint Siluanos highlighted the Old Man Sofronios. We appreciate him. Old Man Sofronios is a sequel to Saint Siluanos. We praise God for both of them “, said Old Man Moses the Athonite.
And we thank and praise God for the torch of saints that he claims to take spiritual life athletes from generations raised by our mid-term, Cypriot place.
After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, England, Old Man Sofronios embraced the Greek Cypriots who went to Essex to his monastery and found love and water.
In a very bright way, as if we are now seeing her in front of us, aunt Thekla told us that where she was at the temple, near Elder Sophronio, a man came angry. The Old Man went to him and held his head with both hands.
And then aunt Thekla saw a black smoke leaving this man’s head. After a while, Old Man Sofronios went to her and said:
′′ What you saw, Mrs. Thekla, not to tell anyone “.
And she with a spontaneity and simplicity, but also joy, who wanted to share it with others, after seeing that troubled man leave calmly, she replied:
′′ But Old Man, why not say it? And Christ did not perform miracles and his disciples went and said it ;”
′′ Yes, but didn’t you see where Christ was crucified ;”
And keep going to us. ′′ That’s what the Old Man told me, but now after his sleep, I’m telling you.”

***

A Miraculous Healing of Fr. Sophrony

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e14344924349

One day, I entered the office of Fr. Sophrony. I used to always seek for an opportunity to have contact with him. I would go two or three, or several times a day to see him. I never asked questions, but I always knew that he would say something to me, and every time he said something, it was an opening of a horizon, of a spiritual horizon. There were many times when just one word made me understand many things from the lives of the prophets and of the holy apostles and of the saints; just one word.

Once, I went to see him in his office which was his confessional as well, and he said to me, “To all who enter this room, I put myself under them, in order to be able to help some of them.” Actually this is the task of the priests. We must never have self-assurance in the ordination the Church gave us and to walk with authority, but we must try and put ourselves under the people we are trying to help, under the people we are trying to serve. If we put ourselves humbly under the people we are serving, they will come to a sense of honour to open their heart and to receive our word.

That was the thing which struck me more than anything in Fr. Sophrony’s life. I remember once someone came for prayers. He was suffering from gradual paralysis of his extreme members, and his family brought him. He was not a man of faith, he didn’t believe at all, his wife hardly believing, but his mother-in-law was very pious. They brought him for Fr. Sophrony to pray for his healing. Many times we witnessed cases that were healed, not every time, but many times, and we became so used to them that we didn’t pay any attention, and Fr. Sophrony didn’t pay attention himself to those things.

So Fr. Sophrony wanted to help this man, and even I went with Fr. Ephrem, to London to his house, and performed an unction with holy oil, and they gave him one or two books to read, trying to revive him, because he was not faithful, however he was seeking healing from a priest.

Afterwards, he somehow became more soft, more accepting, and they brought him for the second time to Fr. Sophrony for prayers. Fr. Sophrony told me the reason why the first time the man was not healed, it was due to a presence of a certain person. So when they brought him the second time Fr. Sophrony read the three customary prayers from the prayer book, and as he barely finished the third prayer he lifted up his epitrachelion with sadness, and he said to him, “We are not wonderworkers. We are just priests, trying to help people to be reconciled with God.” And this man looked at him with a very nice face, pale and shining, and with a smile, and he said to him, “Yes, my body has not been healed, but while you were reading the prayers, my soul was healed, and now I believe.”

Fr. Sophrony, after that incident, became so happy and so rejoicing, more than when he saw cases of physical healing after his prayer, because that was his target. He always said that there is no greater miracle in the whole universe than the union of man’s heart with the spirit of God, and that was the miracle which he was targeting and to which he was ministering.
Reference:
Excerpt from the Q&A section of the “Domestic Theology” presentation given by Archimandrite Zacharias at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, New York, USA, 2014.

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!

Troparion, In Tone VIII:

In thee, O Father, the image of God was preserved unspoiled, * for taking up thy Cross, and following Christ, * thou didst teach by thine own example to despise the flesh as transient, * that we should rather bestow upon the immortal soul particular care; * wherefore, together with the Angels, thy most pure spirit rejoiceth, O venerable Sophrony.

Glory …, Now & Ever …, Theotokion, In Tone VIII:

O Good One, Who for our sake wast born of the Virgin * and, having endured crucifixion, * cast down death by death, and as God revealed the resurrection: * disdain not that which Thou hast fashioned with Thine own hand. * Show forth Thy love for mankind, O Merciful One; * Accept the supplications of the Theotokos who bore Thee, * and save Thy despairing people, O our Savior!