I Know a Man In Christ
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
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 Elder’s teachings are presented mostly
in his own words, interspersed with brief
accounts of the author’s impressions
of the blessed life he lived during visits
to the Monastery of St John the Baptist.
We see the Elder in church during
the Divine Liturgy and daily services,
in the refectory, and meeting pilgrims.
The author also describes visits to the Holy Mountain
to see the places where the Elder lived and to meet
monks following the same tradition.
After the chapters arranged chronologically by year,
this part of the book ends with
a collection of undated sayings of the Elder
which were not spoken directly to the author
but were passed on to him by others.
The book shows us a
“great hesychast and theologian,
but also a wise, discerning and prophetic
and brings us closer to the man in Christ.