The Monk of Mount Athos
by Archimandrite Sophrony
Published by St Vladimir’s Press, 1997.
“The Monk of Mount Athos” is based on the life and teachings of St Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938). It is written by one of his closest disciples, Archimandrite Sophrony. The first part of this book explores St Silouan’s youth. It is very relatable, as he had similar distractions and temptations growing up to those of present. It reflects his initial monastic calling, but also the difficult parts of his life where he believes he was protected by God’s grace. St Silouan grew up as a normal peasant in Russia, and was taught the trade of carpentry. He yearned for God and monasticism, however his father told him ‘Finish your military service first. Then you will be free to go’. Within a week of finishing his military service, St Silouan set off for the Russian Monastery of St Panteleimon on Mount Athos. As a novice, St Silouan was gifted with the prayer of the heart and a vision from Christ. Throughout his life, he acquired rare spiritual gifts and experiences of which are described in detail within this book.
The rest of the book is based on the teachings of St Silouan, which are made understandable through examples and experiences from his own life. Although unlearned and uneducated, through the grace of God, his teachings are explained in a simple way that we are able to understand. His descriptions on prayer, mental stillness, the struggle with imagination, and seeing the uncreated light are those clearly of experience and the result of many years of struggle and ascesis.
This book helps us to understand, but also calls us to imitate, those things of God that can only be experienced.
Source: August-September 2014 Lychnos Edition