Saint Sophrony of Essex

Feast Day: July 11th


The Life of Saint Sophrony: In 1959, accompanied by his disciples, he left for England, where he founded the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist…

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Prayers

Akathist Hymn

Apolytikion: 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 honour him, as His Holy Disciple and Saint, that he might protect those who love him as an offering.

Kontakion: 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.

Prayer: O Holy and God-bearing Saint Father Sophrony, Pray to Christ our God that we too may receive the Heavenly Light of Christ’s Eternal Kingdom!

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Elder Sophrony gave this Prayer to his Spiritual children: Prayer at Daybreak, to be said each day on rising from sleep:

Eternal King without beginning, You Who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: Bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your Blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your Glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure Spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and Prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.

Yes, Lord, in Your immense Mercy, lead me by Your Holy Spirit into every good work and word, and grant me to walk all my life long in Your sight without stumbling, according to Your righteousness that You have revealed to us, that I may not add to my transgressions. O Lord, great in mercy, spare me who am perishing in wickedness; do not hide Your face from me. And when my perverted will would lead me down other paths, do not forsake me, my Saviour, but force me back to Your Holy Path.

O You Who are good, to Whom all hearts are open, You know my poverty and my foolishness, my blindness and my uselessness, but the sufferings of my Soul are also before You. Wherefore I beseech You: hear me in my affliction and fill me with Your strength from above. Raise me up who am paralyzed with sin, and deliver me who am enslaved to the passions. Heal me from every hidden wound. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasing in Your sight and hurtful to my brother.

I beseech You: establish me in the path of Your Commandments and to my last breath do not let me stray from the Light of Your Ordinances, so that Your Commandments may become the sole law of my being in this life and in all Eternity.

O God, my God, I plead with You for many and great things: do not disregard me. Do not cast me away from Your presence because of my presumption and boldness, but by the power of Your Love lead me in the path of Your Will. Grant me to love You as You have Commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength: with my whole being.

For You alone are the Holy Protection and All-Powerful defender of my life, and to You I ascribe Glory and offer my Prayer.

Grant me to know Your Truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, so that I may prepare my Soul to come before You.

Be with me then, O Lord, on my great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your Salvation. Cleanse me from manifest and secret sins, from all iniquity hidden in me; and give me a right answer before Your dread judgment-seat.

Amen.

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Prayer written by Saint Sophrony: O Christ our God, desire of our hearts, diffuse the Light of Thy Truth over us, that in Thy Light, unworthy as we are, we may behold Thy Glory, as of the Only-begotten of the Father, and so be fashioned after Thy Searchless Image, in the likeness of which Thou didst create man.

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Prayer by Saint Sophrony: Lord, I thank you, that through this man, You are showing me how far my heart is from You, and I cannot keep my peace.


“O Lord teach me by the power of Your Holy Spirit the way in which I should walk.”

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“The most important thing in the Spiritual life is to strive to receive the Grace of the Holy Spirit. It changes our lives (above all inwardly, not outwardly). We will live in the same house, in the same circumstances, and with the same people, but our life will already be different. But this is possible only under certain conditions: if we find the time to Pray fervently, with tears in our eyes. From the morning to ask for God’s Blessing, that a Prayerful attitude may define our entire day.”

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“When the Grace of God comes to us, then we already here live in the dimension of Eternity.”

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Saint Sophrony was an Iconographer, below are some of his Icons.

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Saint Sophrony met Saint Silouan on Mount Athos, and became his Spiritual Child.

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These are some Icons Saint Sophrony Painted of his beloved Spiritual Father Saint Silouan.

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At his Monastery in Essex, Saint Sophrony and his Monastic Brothers Painted a series of Icons of Saint Silouan’s life.


“It is not a matter of giving birth to beings for historical reality, but of giving birth to persons for the reality that transcends history, that they may enter Paradise.”

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“We do not think about how to change the world with our own powers. We strive to receive strength from God in order to act at all times with love.”

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“When someone is completely obedient to his Elder, his heart opens up and he inherits the Elder’s ‘riches’ in a very short time… This means that, if the disciple receives a Grace from God during Prayer, his mind immediately turns to his Elder and he says that this happened by the Prayers of the Elder. This is Spiritual obedience and love for the Elder. Through this process, obedience to the Elder deadens the passions. This is the only way to deaden and transform the passions.”

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“Don’t forget these words: God has given you time to build your Eternal Salvation. Do not waste it!”

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“The aim is not simply that the infant should partake of the Most Pure Mysteries, but that it should live in an atmosphere of prayer at home. The atmosphere of the home should be one of Prayer. The parents ought to inspire the children with their love for Christ and the All-Holy Virgin.”

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“When Staretz Silouan died I felt like an orphan for one week. Afterwards I felt differently.”

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“Sufferings bear so much fruit that if we were a little wiser we would not want to ‘come down from the cross’.”

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Icons, Photos & Videos

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Below is an Icon of Saint Sophrony together with Saint Porphyrios.

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Do not surrender your mind to the enemy!
Saint Sophrony speaks about the Repose of Saint Silouan the Athonite.

Quotes by Saint Sophrony

It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is given over to the Will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass.

Each one of us must have a mother’s heart for others.

To acquire Prayer is to acquire eternity.

Once someone receives God’s Grace the war, the battle, begins. He receives great Grace and his body must also be transformed. The carnal mentality draws the Soul downwards, but at the same time God’s Grace draws it upwards. This is a difficult moment. Someone can be led astray from the right or from the left. The psychological pain is great, and it can strike him at the weakest point of his body, his heart or his brain. Then obedience to a discerning Elder is necessary. Our own will must disappear from within us.

Grant me to know Your Truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may offer You true repentance.

The One, Only and True Church is the Orthodox Church.

Whoever gives up his cross cannot be worthy of the Lord and become His disciple. The depths of the Divine Being are revealed to the Christian when he is crucified for Our Saviour. The Cross is the foundation of authentic Theology.

You may be certain that as long as someone is in hell, Christ will remain there with him.

We must have the determination to overcome temptations comparable to the sorrows of the first Christians. All the witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection were Martyred. We should be ready to endure any hardship.

All of us, at every moment of our lives, are in absolute need of Divine Grace, which is given to man through pain and effort. When we Pray in the morning, Pray in the evening, and Pray every moment – then we have the right to say: ‘Lord, do not leave me; help me.’

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!

When we begin to lead the Christian life, all our labour, all our struggle is directed towards accepting even our enemies with love. In this consists the Christian’s Martyric Witness.

The aim of marriage is for the couple to collaborate with God, so that they will give birth to sons and daughters of God. Prayer is needed when choosing. In order for them to make a good choice, much Prayer is needed that the suitable person may be given for this purpose.

Constructive leisure activities are essential for those who live in the world. It is preferable for children to get out of the house rather than to stay at home and watch television.

A Saint’s word opens the hearer’s nous, and with this word he can preach a whole sermon.

God’s revelation is not visions, but the advent of Divine Grace, which comes in stages.

The upbringing of children begins from the day of the wedding. The couple ought to live with Prayer and the fear of God. When a mother Prays when she is pregnant, the embryo feels the energy of the Prayer. When a child is conceived the parents ought not to be angry. When it is born, they ought to Pray; they should also Pray when they have the child in their arms. Whatever the mother does, she should do it with Prayer. She should make the Sign of the Cross over the child when it is asleep, and Pray when she breastfeeds it or gives it food.

Christ said something once and this word remains for ever. We realise this from the Saints as well. They heard a word once and they kept it for the whole of their lives.

There are no writings by female Saints. This is not because there are fewer Holy women than men. There are more Holy women, but female Saints lead a hidden life; they are able to keep their life secret. The All-Holy Virgin received great Grace from God. We do not have revelations that come from the All-Holy Virgin, but we know that she had great Grace; the Church and all who Pray to her are aware of it.

Orthodox Priests share in Christ’s self-emptying, in the Martyric Priesthood of Christ, Who was Crucified and went down to Hades.

When someone marries, he does so in order that his wife may be his helper for Salvation. He must show love, and they must struggle for their Salvation.

Just by keeping the word of one’s Spiritual Father one receives Grace from God.

What do the words “Keep your mind in hell, and despair not” mean? They mean nothing to us, but Staretz Silouan understood them as a great consolation, because he was going through the period of Godforsakenness. That is why he said: “I received the weapon of my Salvation.” It was like a triumph. Hell means the withdrawal of God’s Grace. This is God’s chastening. For Staretz Silouan the way out was “Do not despair.”

God arranges sufferings and trials for the proud man so that he might be saved. To someone who is physically strong He gives an illness to stop him indulging himself. Afflictions crush the heart, and this crushing produces Prayer.

There should be open discussions within the home. Also, the atmosphere of Prayer ought to prevail, not just an atmosphere of words.

When we accept the Spiritual Father as a gift from God, or when gratitude and thankfulness to God for the Spiritual Father arise in Prayer, then we love him in the Spirit.

Man is a microcosm. He repents, he becomes Holy, he receives the whole world, and thus a small creation takes place.

Children are gifts from God… When people marry and God gives children, they should Glorify God. If God does not give children, they should be calm and not worry.

There are many degrees of humility. The first is the recognition of sinfulness. Secondly, man compares himself with the perfect law and sees that he is worse than everyone else. Thirdly, he accepts charismas as gifts from God. Fourthly, he sees the humility of Christ.

We should not oppose the evil one with words, because opposition increases evil. As Abba Dorotheos says, the good swimmer passes under the wave.

Five minutes of Prayer when the whole body is in pain are more precious than a whole night of Praying with bodily ease.

Each one has a particular way of life that is unlike any other. All, however, lead to God and end with Him, just as the spokes of a wheel are connected with the hub.

Nothing, either Spiritual or material, belongs to us but to God. It becomes ours when we offer it to God. Through the Prayer that we say before the meal, we offer up the material good things to God, and then they become ours, because God gives them back to us so that we can live.

It is good for children to have contact and meetings with lots of young people. Because in this way they will realise that relations with the opposite sex are not confined to the carnal level, as happens in marriage.

Not all the saints received the same grace from God, but all filled the vessel that they offered to God.

The passion of worldly sorrow is a great passion that preoccupies people today. Unfortunately we retain sorrow within us and we caress it until it kills us. One must fight against the passion of sorrow and cure it.

We should Pray God to give inspiration. God enlightens everyone, especially mothers, and gives them inspiration. This is the only way we can bring up children.

The Fathers did not ask for many words. They received one Spiritual word, left for the desert, and lived for many years with that word. They attempted to put it into practice and they were nourished by it. We say, and we want to hear, lots of words, but we do nothing to put them into practice. When someone talks a lot, he becomes Spiritually weak.

Someone who has obedience and love can adapt himself to any situation.

If the mother Prays during the child’s conception, pregnancy and birth, she gives it Spiritual birth as well as physical birth – she gives birth to a Spiritual being.

When someone cannot rebut his thoughts, he should at least tell them to his Elder. Even then he will benefit.

When someone reaches a certain Spiritual state and has Grace from God, he begins to be taught by God. Then everything instructs him. God sent Saint Antony the Great to the shoemaker to learn self-accusation, even though Saint Antony had Grace and was superior to the shoemaker, which is why we commemorate Saint Antony and not the shoemaker. Also, someone who is Spiritual is taught by the whole of nature.

When someone who has hidden, unconfessed sins hears a Spiritual word, he feels pain somewhere in his body. Divine Grace also reveals his state to him in this way, and if he wishes, he can escape from this Spiritual misfortune.

When we speak about Asceticism in the Orthodox Church we do not simply mean bodily Ascetic practices, although these too are essential, but the Soul’s resurrection from the passions, love towards God and the quickening of the Soul by the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual virginity even cures lost bodily virginity. Abba Zosimas, who had both bodily and spiritual virginity, bowed down before Saint Mary of Egypt, who was a prostitute from an early age. The spiritual virginity that Saint Mary of Egypt acquired cured her completely.

The parents of Monks realise the benefit of their child’s dedication to God at the hour of their death.

When someone lives in repentance, he finds the solution to many problems.

Freedom plays a major role in bringing up children.

We ought not to make vows to God. However, if we make them, we must fulfil them.

When someone receives a Spiritual gift, he usually attracts other people’s envy. Then he feels the need to hide it. So, without realising it, he becomes a fool for Christ’s sake.

The therapeutic method is to leave aside the brother who has wronged us and to begin a conversation with God. We say: “My God, it’s my fault. I am unworthy to be loved by people…” Then repentance and weeping begin, and this cures the negative psychological phenomenon and makes it Spiritual. We see this in the life of Christ. The Apostle Peter was preventing Christ from going to the Cross, but Christ had steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, to Golgotha. His crucifiers were howling, but He had His nous turned towards God’s Will and was Praying to His Father. He did not engage in a dialogue with people but with God. In this way we become healthy and are cured. This is a kind of ‘struggle’ with God.

If mindfulness of death purifies man, how much more does death itself – that is to say, the coming of death, when it is accompanied by repentance.

At the Second Coming the just will say: “When, Lord, did we do this, when did we do that?” They will not know what good they have done, because they passed through all the dryness of this present life with patience and faith. They put their trust in the words of Holy Scripture.

We ought to be joyful all the time. Our life should always be a daily surprise. Not a day passes without God giving us a new sense of Eternal Life.

The aim in bringing up children is that they may acquire personal love for Christ and the All-Holy Virgin. We ought not to advise them simply to become good people. Also, we have to help them to stay in the Orthodox Church, not merely to avoid sin. The fact that they stay within Orthodoxy is a great thing, and may be the cause of Salvation, even if they have made some mistakes in their lives. Children ought to be inspired by love for Christ and the All-Holy Virgin.

Within the Church it is possible to live the Mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ.

Today I would like to speak in more detail. Sin is every thought that doesn’t correspond to the spirit of the Evangelical Commandments. And we have to get away from it. But how can we get away? When the work of a certain thought manifests in us, then we cry out: “Lord, heal my mind! Lord, heal my heart! Lord, heal me whole! You see how painful is when the thought, which doesn’t even make sense, torments me like a slave. I pray You, protect me! You know that I have no other desire than to live according to Your Commandments. Your Commandment is the highest law of my whole being: both temporary and eternal. You inspired me to love Your Commandments. You gave me Your Light, in order to see the beauty of the Divine Life. And now, save me from the power of passionate lust!” This is how we can begin the conversation with God, against the passions. Sometimes it can be a monologue, other times it takes the form of a dialogue. An example of one of the rarest dialogues in the life of the Universal Church is found in Saint Silouan [the Athonite]: When he was overwhelmed by the attacks of the enemies, with all the power of his Soul, wanting to Pray with a clear mind, he said to Christ: “You see that I wish to Pray to You, but the enemies won’t let me.” The Lord answered: “The proud always suffer like this.” And then – dialogue: “Lord, teach me how to humble myself!” And the answer, gentle, but truly tragic, and more than tragic: “Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not!” And this refers to the knowledge of how we can spend our day or night without sin. Every human passion, because it belongs to the created world, has its form, image and energy. The high mind guides us, helped by the Grace, in the unseen war with the enemy, and thus, through such a Prayer – monologue or dialogue – we get out of the conversation with the enemy and we enter into conversation with God Himself. It is this transition from conversation with the enemy to conversation with God which is important! And if we keep talking to God, then, of course, God becomes the content of our lives. And He Himself, through Himself, is the Eternal Life, which never diminishes. And no matter what passion we struggle with, whether it be with bodily passion, either with the love of money, or with the love of power, or with the love of comfort, and so on – no matter, the principle remains essentially the same: Do not surrender your mind to the enemy!