Monday, April 26, 2010

Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) on Harmony Among People

Icon of the blessed elder Sophrony (Sakharov) and St. Silouan the Athonite


I have recently begun re-reading a classic work of Orthodox spirituality:  St. Silouan the Athonite, which is a summary of this great saint's life and teaching, written by his spiritual son Elder Sophrony Sakharov.  St. Silouan was a very holy monk and elder who lived most of his life on Mt. Athos.  Elder Sophrony was his scribe, and thankfully, he wrote down a good deal of his spiritual father's teachings.  Many of these teachings are collected into the 500-page work that I am now attempting to read.  It is not easy reading...much of it can really only be read a few pages at a time in order to be adequately (note I did not say "fully"!) understood.  Since my time for blogging these days (other than my Bible study notes, which I have to do anyway) is very limited, I am going to try and slip in a few brief quotes from Elder Sophrony's book.  Although the words are Elder Sophrony's, the real source of the quotes is St. Silouan (a fact that the Elder readily acknowledges).  I hope you enjoy these nuggets of wisdom.




"So we see that even as a young man, Simeon realised that an essential condition for harmony amongst people is that each should recognize his own shortcomings."  (p. 19)

4 comments:

charlene said...

Father James,
The trick, I think, is to recognize one's own shortcomings, and yet not allow the enormity of them to weigh us down. If we do (allow ourselves to be weighed down), we will hold ourselves away from that we want the most: to know the love of God. Being human, I sin again and again and again, and will never deserve God's love. But I need to rember God wants me to run TO Him, and not AWAY from Him when I sin. I think sometimes we wrongly equate being humble with having the right to judge ourselves unworthy of being in God's presence, thus compounding the effect of those sins. Does this make any sense to you Father, or am I making my thoughts as clear as mud?
charlene

Fr. James Early said...

Charlene, I agree 100% with your first four sentences. Regarding your fifth sentence, I would say that part of humility IS realizing that we are unworthy to be in God's presence (in the same way that the prodigal son told his father "I am no longer worthy to be your son." But humility is much more than this. We ARE unworthy to be in God's presence, but He lovingly and graciously allows us to come to Him anyway. That is the beginning of humility.

charlene said...

Father James,
What you said made much more sense than what I said.
Thank you for being there to help us to grow.

Fr. James Early said...

Charlene, I'm glad what I said made some sense. I wrote it in a hurry - Christine was calling me to come give her a bath!