Orthodox River

An Interview with Elder Sophrony

This interview was taken from Pemtousia… and only contains a small portion of the complete interview.

When I read Elder Sophrony, I continue to be amazed at the wisdom and simplicity he has towards life. Enjoy…

E.S. = Like theology. Theology is the content of our prayers. And an example of this theology is the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. The whole anaphora is theology and is expressed through prayer. But then theology comes as a state of being. John the Theologian, from an academic point of view, was not a theologian, he says things simply. His theology, however, is a state of being. Whatever he says becomes dogma for everyone. The fathers around us have great devotion for the Elder and somehow, somehow they understand what he was all about.

A.E.: About whom, Elder?

Elder Sophrony

E.S.: About Silouan…he was one of them. And if I take those to my right, or those to my left, it’s the same. In fact, this past Monday I encouraged my brethren to describe in a better way the path of battling against passionate thoughts. Because one of the sisters has written a book on the upbringing of children and though what she writes is simple, they are things that don’t come into our minds. And perhaps it’s necessary to describe the way of battle, for Silouan speaks of these things, but he does not describe how it happens. When the Lord fought with Satan in the desert, there we have some kind of an interpretation of the battle. But what I’m trying to say is that perhaps people need to learn how they can battle against passionate thoughts? I discuss this topic a bit in my book on the Elder…but what do you think? In the first book, I explain that every passionate thought is tied to the earth, with matter, and always takes a certain form, it’s a certain type. And if our heart or word does not accept this form, the passion stops. But sometimes, in the beginning, hand to hand combat needs to take place. People who don’t understand then ask, “But how does this happen?”

A.E.: You did very well to analyze the way this battle works, for you have written about these things in a contemporary manner.

E.S.: I asked my brethren to try to describe it, but it’s dangerous for one to write, do you understand? It’s not an easy thing. This problem needs to be expressed in some way.

A.E.: This is a very subtle issue, Elder.

E.S.: Silouan would say, of course he was without passion, “If a thought upsets us, we are free to discard this thought and to focus our attention on something else.” He was able to do this; other people, however, are like slaves to passionate thoughts.

A.E.: Many times, a passionate thought makes our life a living hell.

E.S.: Yes, and it turns our whole being upside down…

A.E.: And it’s at a high price that the Fathers lend us their wisdom, Elder. Read it all here