Words of Life

This book contains extracts from spiritual talks given by Saint Sophrony to his brotherhood and is prefaced by Maxime Egger.

“I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.’ What does this last phrase from the Creed mean? We can only bear the idea of eternal life if this eternity has already entered into our life.


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Father Sophrony, himself a radiant witness of this revelation, distinguishes in his teaching between two kinds of word: that which communicates and that which offers communion. The word which informs and that which inspires. The ‘psychological’ word, even if on a religious subject, and the ‘spiritual’ word, bearer of the Holy Spirit, of that continued Pentecost which is nothing else but the Tradition of the undivided Church, the Body of Christ.

A “spiritual’ word, which is a channel of divine grace, is rare. Such a word is not speculative; it is supported by a rigorous dogmatic consciousness. It is theological in the deepest sense, and is not born from books or theoretical knowledge, but from ascetic effort and prayer, from kenosis and experience of God. For one must empty oneself of passions and self-will to be able to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the source of every word of Truth. One must invoke the Name which is above all names, Jesus Christ, and bring down the intellect into the secret place of the heart, in order to enter into the infinite silence where God speaks to us and from where we can truly speak to the heart of another. One must cross the darkness of one’s own inner hell in order to be reborn in the uncreated light which shines from the Word made flesh.

Saint Sophrony, started his monastic life on Mount Athos. His acquaintance with Saint Silouan became the landmark of his life. He lived as a cenobitic monk at St Panteleimon’s monastery and later as a hermit in the caves of Karoulia. After twenty two years on the Holy Mountain, he travelled to Paris for medical treatment, where he served as a parish priest. In 1959, he founded our monastery in Essex, England, where he served as the abbot and spiritual father. Towards the end of his life he withdrew to live once more as a recluse.

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