I Know a Man in Christ: Elder Sophrony the Hesychast and Theologian
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos wrote this book about Elder Sophrony as an expression of gratitude for his long association (17 years) with the Elder and "to share with readers the spiritual wealth that I unworthily received". The first part of the book is a spiritual portrait of Elder Sophrony. After a brief survey of his theology, the author examines the Elder's writings in the light of the experience of saints of the Church, particularly St Paul, St Symeon the New Theologian and St Gregory Palamas, thus placing his teaching in a wider context. There is a careful analysis of the Elder's correspondence with David Balfour, which reveals "many subtle details of the spiritual life" but also how "a genuine spiritual father guides those entrusted to him". The second part of the book records what the author learnt and experienced during visits to the Monastery of St John the Baptist in meetings and informal conversations with the Elder and as a concelebrant at the Divine Liturgy. Over the years he carefully recorded the Elder's words and amassed an archive of notes that he publishes here. The subjects covered reflect both Father Sophrony's and the author's personal and pastoral concerns and include prayer (particularly the Jesus Prayer); monasticism and obedience; priesthood and the temptations it brings; giving spiritual guidance; the problems facing those who become Orthodox; and family life. The discussions also shed light on theological issues close to the Elder's heart. The book shows us a "great hesychast and theologian, but also a wise, discerning and prophetic spiritual father" and brings us closer to the man in Christ.