Hesychasm Encounters Lectio Divina

“Two ancient Christian spiritual practices have emerged in their appropriate cultural contexts throughout the complex history of Christianity. Various cultural contexts in hesychasm and lectio divina enlighten us 1) to be balanced in religious culture and social culture between solitude and communal spiritual practices; 2) to notice the ways people achieve spiritual fulfillment in various cultures; 3) to propose a verbal practice in meditation to those who belong to oral culture and a silent and visual practice to those who belong to a more literate culture; or to practice both if the culture is mixed; and 4) to recognize the meaning of spirituality defined by people of Eastern and Western culture.”

sophrony

“The holistic worldview of   spiritual experience can be learned from Sophrony (1896-1993), a hesychast, who lived in the desert of Athos as a hermit for seven years. He explicitly testifies to his spiritual experience, when he claims that: “I was living in two worlds. One I apprehend through sight, hearing and the rest of my physical faculties. In the other world I was spirit only—all listener, all expectation. I tried hard to see—but saw with other eyes.”

It would not be wrong to say that, when a person is deified, he or she will receive some kind of  divine wisdom with which he or she is able to discern all phenomena (in the past, present and future) in the secular world as well as the spiritual world and the universe. In actual fact, the post-modern search for holistic spiritual experience is available in our ancient Christian contemplative practices of hesychasm and lectio divina. Both practices offer experiential spirituality of interior tranquility.”

From: Moe Moe Nyunt “Hesychasm Encounters Lectio Divina: An Intercultural Analysis of Eastern and Western Christian Contemplative Practices” The Asbury Journal 70/1, 2015:76-94 Asbury Theological Seminary

Text available on-line at: http://place.asburyseminary.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1296&context=asburyjournal

Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), also Elder Sophrony, was best known as the disciple and biographer of St Silouan the Athonite and compiler of St Silouan’s works, and as the founder of the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England. See: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Sophrony_(Sakharov) 

we-shall-see-him

Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov We Shall See Him As He Is: The Spiritual Autobiography of Elder SophronyRosemary Edmonds, Translator. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2006

“”Now at the close of my life I have decided to talk to my brethren of things I would not have ventured to utter earlier, counting it unseemly….” Thus wrote Archimandrite Sophrony, then ninety-two years old, in We Shall See Him as He Is, his spiritual autobiography. In this book Fr. Sophrony, one of the most beloved orthodox Christian elders of our times, revealed to the world his own experience of union with God, and the path to that union. Drawing near to God with intense love and longing accompanied by struggle, self-emptying and searing repentance, Fr. Sophrony was granted to participate in the life of God Himself through His uncreated Energies. Like orthodox saints throughout the centuries, he experienced God’s grace as an ineffable, uncreated Light. It was in this Light that Christ was transfigured on Mount Tabor before His Apostles, and it is in this Light that we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). Born into a Russian orthodox family in Moscow in 1896, Archimandrite Sophrony embarked on a successful career as a painter in Paris. There he delved into Eastern religions for a time, before repenting bitterly of this and returning to the faith of his childhood. After a brief period of theological study in Paris, he left for the ancient orthodox monastic republic of Mount Athos in Greece, where he spent fifteen years in a monastery and a further seven as a hermit “in the desert.” on Mount Athos he became the spiritual son of a simple monk of holy life, Elder Silouan. It was under the guidance of Saint Silouan that Fr. Sophrony experienced divine illumination, knowing God intimately as Personal Absolute-as the one Who revealed Himself to the Prophet Moses as “I AM” and Who became incarnate as man in Jesus Christ. In 1959, Fr. Sophrony founded the Monastic Community of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, which has since become a major orthodox spiritual center for all of Western Europe. Elder Sophrony reposed in 1993, at the age of 97.”

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