'Father Sophrony was a contemporary of ours......"
- Europaica 130
Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia: 'Father Sophrony was a
contemporary of ours, yet he could partake of the spiritual
experience of the ancient fathers'
Greeting to the participants of the International Scholarly
Conference "The Elder Sophrony: A Theologian of the Uncreated Light",
Athens, 19-21 October 2007
We cordially greet all church hierarchs, clergy, theologians, and all
who have come to Athens to talk about the contribution made by
Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), of the blessed memory, to the
development of the modern Orthodox theological thought.
One will not exaggerate the reality to say that Elder Sophronius'
life and work are truly catholic in their scale. He was born Russian
yet he managed to combine in his person also the detailed knowledge
of the Hellenic language and culture and the Western European
learning. So he was equally close to the Russians, the Greeks, and
the Western Europeans who all sought for his advice and counsel. He
combined sound learning and simplicity, openness for everything
around him and in-depth vision of the divine mysteries.
Father Sophrony's unlimited tenderness had become possible due to his
deep humility, openness, love for his God and his neighbor, which was
opening to him every human heart. The crux of his philosophy of life
was the person of God and the person of human being. This philosophy
was not merely theoretic but rather experientially based upon his
relationships with God and his ability to penetrate the depths of the
human soul. Elder Sophrony was not a theoretic theologian but rather
an ascetic who in his own life followed the example of the ancient
hermits and received divine illuminations, of which we know from the
biographies of the great ascetics of the past.
All these make Father Sophrony's person and teaching so relevant for
today. He was a contemporary of ours, yet he could partake of the
spiritual experience of the ancient fathers. This as well as many
other aspects of his spiritual heritage will be touched during this
conference. We hope that the discussion will help to better
understand the Orthodox spiritual way as highlighted be Father
Sophrony for both those who just begin their journey and those who
have long chosen this path as the only true and straight way to God.
God's blessing be upon all participants of this meeting!