Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fr Sophrony on Contemporary Monasticism

From an anonymous recollection of the Elder Sophrony (Sakharov):
One day, while giving his monastics a "pep talk," he said, "True hesychasm is not possible here in this monastery because of all the people. But in the life you live here, you live the Liturgy and you not only do not lose anything but you even gain." In reference to ministering to the needs of the many pilgrims who visit there he said, "You take upon yourselves their death and give them your life. But in the end God will restore you fourfold."

At another time Fr Sophrony said, "When I was a young monk I once complained about having so much work that there was no time to pray or read." (I believe he said this to St Silouan.) "And I was told, 'The day will come when you will have more time than you need and the burden will be upon another man's shoulders." As he said this he had a very peaceful smile on his face and was patting the igumen [abbot] on the back.

Fr Sophrony was moderate and practical with the asceticism he expected of the community. One day at lunch he mentioned that he was writing a letter to someone in Greece, relating that, "The Apostle says, 'If anyone does not work, let him not eat.' But we say something quite different in our monastery: 'We are always working so hard that we need to eat very well.'"
From Divine Ascent: A Journal of Orthodox Faith, Number 5 (Autumn 1999), 47, published by the Monastery of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Manton, CA.

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