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An Approach to the Monastic Legacy of Saint Sophrony
The truly charismatic monk flees any honour as fire, knowing that it will extinguish the flame of love for God burning in his heart and stop the current of the divine will from flowing through him and guiding him. He would rather do everything to remain hidden from the eyes of this world so as not to be seen by men, but to be under the gaze of God’s eyes alone, ‘who seeth in secret and rewardeth openly.’ Neither does he seek consolation or support from this world but puts his only hope in the Lord, ‘which hope he has as an anchor of his soul’, leading him into that which is ‘within the veil.’
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When uncompromised, the life of the monk under obedience is full of prophetic aspects, divine truth and incorruptible consolation. His total crucifixion attracts the eyes of the Lord towards him day and night, as He recognises in His servant a spirit akin to His. Although he has made himself as a ‘beast beside its master’, yet he discovers that God’s presence is always with him. Through the continuous surrendering of his will to his Elder, the monk perpetually dwells in the current of the will of God, whereby he accommodates within himself the gift of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The monk who cultivates a contrite spirit and suffers the changes of the consolation of grace is a supra-cosmic image of the mystery of Pentecost.
These consolations of the Holy Spirit enlighten the mind and strengthen the heart to run the way of Christ’s commandments. Those who adhere to this way of life and have gone through the annihilation of the old man brought about by God’s judgments are able to cry out boldly to the God of their Fathers with the great words of the Psalm: ‘My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken Thou me according to Thy word.’
Father Zacharias studied theology at the Orthodox Theological Institute of Saint Sergius in Paris and at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He has lived all his monastic life in the monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Essex where he serves as a spiritual Father and minister of the word of God to his brethren and the people that come to him.