SophronyFear of God…has many degrees and forms, of which just now let us consider the one most effective for our salvation: fear of proving unworthy of God made manifest to us in Light that never sets.

This righteous apprehension liberates us from all earthly terrors. Our Fathers, dauntless servants of the Spirit, withdrew into the desert to live among wild beasts and poisonous snakes, in conditions of utmost poverty such as people of our day cannot imagine. And they did this to be free to weep over their remoteness from their beloved God.

…Hermits weep when they contemplate the black abyss within themselves: the roots of the ‘knowledge of evil’ grow deep and are not to be torn up by one’s own strength.

Those who are ignorant of this state of the spirit will never understand. Because this mystery is hidden from casual eyes is does not mean that God is a ‘respecter of persons’ [cf. Acts 10:34] but that grace is entrusted only to those who entrust themselves to Christ-God. And this grace is also the gift of God’s love, without which tears will not flow…

…Inestimable are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Every true gift is none other than a flame of love. But for our hearts to become capable of receiving the love of Christ in its glowing manifestations we must all, every one of us, endure many trials.

…Gifts from on High are commensurate to our ascetic struggle. All who walk the way of Christ’s commandments are regenerated in their very following of Him – some more, some less, depending on the ardour manifested.

Through being crucified together with God the Word-made-flesh, grace descends on the believer, likening him to God made man. This great gift also embraces in itself  life-giving theology through a real dwelling in the Light of love.

Elder Sophrony (1896-1993; Orthodox): We Shall See Him As He Is (Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex, UK, 1988), pp. 19-20.