Sophrony (Sergei Symeonovich Sakharov) was born in 1896 in Moscow, Russia. Even in his youth, he exhibited an artistic flair, pursuing a career in painting and studying in Paris. However, the lure of deeper spiritual truths beckoned him, leading him to abandon his artistic pursuits in search of a deeper understanding of God and the human soul.
Sophrony's spiritual journey led him to the revered monastic peninsula of Mount Athos in Greece. Here, under the guidance of Saint Silouan the Athonite, he began his monastic life, receiving the name Sophrony. The teachings of Saint Silouan, particularly the emphasis on humility and the acknowledgment of one's sins, deeply influenced Sophrony's own spiritual outlook.
Post his Athonite period, Saint Sophrony felt a calling to establish a monastic community in the West. This led him to found the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, in 1959. This monastery soon became a spiritual oasis for many seeking Orthodox Christian spiritual guidance in the West.
At Essex, Elder Sophrony provided spiritual direction, emphasizing the importance of humility, repentance, and the Jesus Prayer. He also penned several significant works, including his biography of St. Silouan and his own reflections on Christian mysticism and asceticism.
Elder Sophrony reposed in the Lord in 1993, leaving behind a rich legacy of writings, teachings, and a thriving monastic community in Essex. Recognizing his invaluable contributions to Christian spirituality and his exemplary life, the Orthodox Church canonized him, granting him the title "Saint."
Saint Sophrony the Athonite of Essex remains a beacon of Orthodox spirituality in the modern world. His teachings, emphasizing the transformative power of divine humility and the quest for a personal relationship with Christ, continue to inspire countless believers worldwide.
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This collection of articles on prayer showcases St. Sophrony's deep connection to Christ, whom he viewed as the essence of all things (cf. Col 3.11; Rev 1.8). Born in Russia in 1896, St. Sophrony studied art in Moscow and later in France. Post the October Revolution, he briefly studied theology in France before becoming a monk on Mount Athos, Greece. Ordained as a deacon by St. Nikolai Velimirovich in 1930, he was guided spiritually by St. Silouan. He later became a priest, overseeing multiple monastic communities. Returning to France in 1947, he published Silouan's writings with his introduction. Due to health issues, he settled in England in 1959, offering spiritual guidance, especially to cancer patients.
Amid today's popular spiritual terms and numerous pseudo-spiritual paths, "His Life is Mine" stands out. It focuses on the 'Jesus Prayer' of Orthodox monasticism, emphasizing genuine prayer as an encounter with the personal Being, I AM, rather than mere techniques. Authored by Archimandrite Sophrony, his own journey is compelling: from a celebrated painter in Paris post the Russian Revolution to dedicating twenty-two years on Mount Athos, initially at the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon and later, seven years as a hermit in its 'desert.'
Saint Sophrony began his monastic journey on Mount Athos, with his relationship with Saint Silouan being a pivotal moment in his life. He first lived communally at St. Panteleimon's monastery, then as a hermit in Karoulia's caves. After two decades on Mount Athos, he moved to Paris for medical care and worked as a parish priest. In 1959, he established a monastery in Essex, England, where he was the abbot and spiritual guide. In his later years, he chose a reclusive life once again.