Saint Sophrony of Essex (+July 11, 1993) is one of the most beloved orthodox Christian elders of our times. In this rare audio recording he talks about Christianity and nationalism.

Essex Monastery, December 4th, 1989
Audio source:
English translation adapted after the Romanian version of Fr. Rafail Noica, Cuvantari Duhovnicesti I (2).

Saint Sophrony:
My desire was to establish a monastery in the spirit of Saint Silouan [the Athonite]. But to this day, I hear that my attempt is purely utopian.
People tell me: “It is impossible to overcome nationalism in oneself.”
But then, I think, salvation is impossible.
If I am a nationalist and Christian by faith, then I narrow Christ down to this concept – “nationality.” You see why it is impossible for me to accept this narrowing down and why it is a great consolation for me that, although we are a small group, we are eleven nationalities!

In the prayer of Silouan, who always calls us to pray for all mankind, from beginning to end, there is, of course, no nationalism. All these national divisions were the result of the Fall into sin. Nowhere do we see a Christian preaching of hatred. This means that the Christian faith doesn’t talk about the rejection of other nationalities, but about overcoming this limitation by ascending to the prayer of Gethsemane.


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