Saint Sophrony the Athonite (+July 11, 1993) is one of the most beloved Orthodox Christian elders of our times. In this audio recording he talks about our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. He speaks in Russian, his native tongue.
Essex Monastery, September 26th, 1990
English translation adapted after the Romanian version of Fr. Rafail Noica, Cuvantari Duhovnicesti I (5).
Oh, how I wish I could make you understand through my words what I think in my heart when I talk about “inspiration from above.” Of course, I mean inspiration from the Holy Spirit; but it depends not only on God. You may say, “What is this strange word?” (cf. John 6:60), but its meaning is this: God doesn’t force anything on man. He reveals to us the image of Christ and then He sets us free — to follow Him or not.
I wrote in the book (We Shall See Him as He Is): “In Christ, the incarnate Logos of the Father, we are given to see the eternal idea of God for man.” When it is given to us from God to see the image of a man conceived by God, then a spiritual thirst arises in us to become like Christ; then God is given a place in us. And in this sense we say that the outpouring of grace upon us depends not only on God, although only He has this “life” (see John 1:4), but in part, on our disposition — to accept or not to accept it. And so, I would like to convey this to you, my dear brothers and sisters, especially those who have come recently: open your minds and hearts so that the Holy Spirit imprints the image of Christ in you, and then our entire monastic life will be something utterly indescribable in human words.
Christ, both in Gethsemane and on Golgotha, lived unceasingly with the thought of the Father, and so we will live; but we will live with Christ, rather than with the Father. They are inseparable, but with us Christ is still in the “work” (cf. John 17:4) – to save us, and we come to the Father only through Him (cf. John 14:6). In practice, our life is built in a Christocentric way. We know the Holy Spirit by what He tells us – He speaks the same things that Christ spoke. And if He speaks otherwise, then He is not the Spirit (cf. 1 John 2:22, 4:1-3; 1 Cor. 12:3), the third Person of the Holy Trinity. In the foreground we have, first of all, the face of Christ.
So, God bless your coming, my young brothers and sisters! I am ready to serve you until my last breath.