Following the conference on “Tears. The Healing of the Person”, hosted by “Providența” Centre, the second conference given by the well-known archimandrite Zacharias Zaharou in Iași, organised by the Exarchate sector of the Iasi Archiepiscopate, together with Doxologia Publishing House, took place this evening in “Mihai Eminescu” Aula Magna of “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași. Judging by the size of the audience, we can rightfully infer that the topic – “The three stages of spiritual life, with reference to Saint Silouan and Father Sophrony Sacharov’s teachings” rose much interest among the inhabitants of Iasi.
“Spiritual experience cannot be confined within the narrow borders of human logic”
In his preliminary remarks, Archimandrite Nichifor Horia, the moderator of the meeting, pointed out that “In general, when he spoke about the spiritual life, Father Sophrony avoided formulating schemes or designing systems, as he knew personally that spiritual experiences cannot be confined within the narrow borders of human logic. Everybody has his or her own path towards God, according to his or her own aspiration towards perfection. However, sometimes, Father Sophrony too resorted to certain images and models in order to better illustrate his ideas about certain spiritual topics. Thus, after noticing the recurrence of some phenomena in people’s lives along the centuries, he divided spiritual life into three stages. The first stage is the visitation by the Holy Spirit, when man enters a covenant with God. The second stage is a long and painful strife, after the Lord withdrew His grace from us. The last stage consists in regaining the grace of salvation, for good. The Staretz would often say that this three-staged spiritual journey was prefigured in the Old Testament in the life of the people of Israel. First, God granted the Jews His grace when He helped them pass through the Red Sea, after exiting Egypt. Then the Lord withdrew His grace, and they went through 40 years of trails and suffering in the desert. Eventually, God’s grace returned, and they inherited the Promised Land”.
Mr. Cătălin Jeckel, the director of Doxologia Publishing House, gave a brief presentation of the volume “Remember Thy First Love” authored by Father Zacharias Zaharou and published this year by Doxologia. The book is an incursion in Father Sophrony’s theology about the three stages of spiritual life, rich in quotes from Father Sophrony’s writings and examples from his oral teachings.
In the second part of the conference, the guest took questions from the audience.