Archive for March 20th, 2009

Fr. Sophrony on Personhood

March 20, 2009

england-trip-293The incarnation of the Logos of the Father – Jesus Christ – furnishes a solid foundation for our knowledge of God. Actuated by love for Him, we undergo a profound transformation of our whole being. Christ’s infinite life is transmitted to us. Our spirit finds itself on opposite poles – in both the black depths of hell and the Kingdom of God illumined by the Sun that never sets. The content of our being expands ineffably. In urgent prayer the soul aspires to this wondrous God but it is a long time before we apprehend that He Himself is praying in us. Through this God-given prayer we are united existentially with Christ – at first in His searchless Self-emptying and descent even into hell, and then in His Divinity. ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3).

The Persona-Hypostasis in Divine Being cannot be a limiting principle. And in our creaturehood the hypostasis [person] is the principle that assumes infinity into itself. When his spirit enters into the world of Divine eternity man is struck by the majesty of the vision opening before him. At the same time the universe undergoes a certain alteration in its destinies: ‘A man is born into the world’ (John 16:21) – an event that communicates to all creation a new unfading value. Man as hypostatic spirit belongs to eternal ontology. Those who are saved in Christ – the saints – receive Divine eternity as their imprescriptible possession though they immutably remain created beings.

From We Shall See Him As He Is


There is probably nothing more important in the writings of the Elder Sophrony Sakharov than his work on the “hypostatic principle” the role of personhood in Christ and in humanity. It goes to the very core of his understanding of prayer and the salvation of human beings.

He says nothing new – but brings together understandings from various patristic sources in such a way as to shed brilliant light on the importance of personhood. It stands at the very heart of our faith.