In the Presence of God – Elder Sophrony

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Do not let the things of this world disperse your energy. Concentrate all your attention on, devote all your energy to, a life which coresponds to the spirit of the Gospel commandments.Let us keep control over our mind in the face of the distractions of the exterior world. Without ascetic effort, our mind will never be able to remain constantly in God. It is from now, in this life, that we must learn to dwell in God, just as our spirit will dwell in God after our death.

When I speak of having God in our mind, it does not mean that we see God, but that God sees us. This is the right attitude: we act in the presence of God, knowing tht He is looking at us.

Elder Sophrony in Words of Life

I am particularly struck by the final admonition quoted above – to remember that having God in our mind is not so much the feeble effort of our mind, but the remembrance that all we do, we do in the presence of God. He is so great, and I am so small, but I can remember that He is throughout my day. And remembering that, my day is never the same – it is transformed.

Today I did not do all that I should (already) in the presence of God. Today I failed to love as I should in the presence of God. Today I was weak and frequently useless in the presence of God. But I am in the presence of God. And there all of my failings and weakness will find healing and will not drive me away from Him as I cry, “Have mercy!”

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.


Comments

8 responses to “In the Presence of God – Elder Sophrony”

  1. Ed, sinner Avatar
    Ed, sinner

    This post took me back to my youth. My freshman algebra teacher would begin each day’s lesson with the words, “Let us recall the presence of God.” After a suitable time of recollection, the less-important lesson (algebra) would begin.

  2. C.L. Mareydt Avatar

    totally awesome! that should encompass our life. inside & outside.

  3. Ioannis Freeman Avatar
    Ioannis Freeman

    Ascesis, such as Elder Sophrony offers, attracts and repels me. It repels all of my mind’s meanderings and silly conceits. It also attracts my best efforts, the way that an athlete prepares for the race. That I can share some of these training sessions with others in the company of this website and Elders as Sophrony means that I can always hone ways to hold up under pressure and courage to keep up the pace.

  4. Alyssa Sophia Avatar
    Alyssa Sophia

    Interesting to read this after the day I had at work. Almost came unraveled and reduced to tears as a result of some beyond-frustrating interactions with my boss. Weak does not begin to describe me today. And sadly, I was far from dwelling in God. So I appreciate this post, and send up my cry, “Lord have mercy.”

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    Alyssa,

    I take great comfort in the Scripture from Psalm 139 – probably my favorite:

    7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
    8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
    9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
    10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
    11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
    12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

  6. jacob Avatar

    A disciple of Elder Sophrony’s will be in Dallas this weekend, at a Pre-Lenten Retreat at Holy Trinity GOC, and then for DL at St. Seraphim:

    Pre-Lenten Retreat:

    Saturday, February 9, 2008 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

    Speakers: Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou of the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Malden Essex, England, and Dr. Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.

    Archimandrite Zacharias was a disciple of Elder Sophrony, who [was] the founder the Monastery and disciple, biographer and compiler of the works of St. Silouan the Athonite.

    Archimandrite Zacharias has written The Enlargement of the Heart: “Be ye also enlarged” (2 Corinthians 6:13) in the Theology of Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony, which is available on-line [actually a link to Amazon, not the online text].

  7. fatherstephen Avatar

    I have spent time with Archimandrite Zacharias and highly recommend him to anyone who is able to travel and hear him.

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