Talk:Sophrony (Sakharov)

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"Due to great artistic talent, Sergei studied at the Academy of Arts between 1915 and 1917 and then at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture between 1920 and 1921. Sergei used art as a "quasi-mystical" means "to discover eternal beauty", "breaking through present reality...into new horizons of being." Later, this would help him to differentiate between human intellectual light and God's Uncreated Light."

I'm going to preface my comment on a statement from the above quotation by admitting that to some it may appear arcane but that I rather believe it to be corrective to a genuine yet overstated devotion. I encourage the reader to consider my comments as constructive criticism and as a protreptic correction, rather than as an attack against genuine intentions. I didn't want to edit the last sentence myself fearing that such an act might be interpreted as an attack against Fr. Sophronios or against the possbility of the experience of the Uncreated Light.

The last sentence claims that Fr. Sophronios' refined aesthetic taste and sensibility, in later life, allowed him to diferentiate between human intellectual light and Divine Uncreated Light. The deeper thought behind this sentiment seems to be that Fr. Sophronios had cultivated and refined his love of beauty to such a degree that it contributed to putting him on a path where he finally was able to differentiate between Divine Beauty and the false beauty of human convention.

Whereas this deeper thought is theologically sound--but in a qualified sense--the original expression is problematic. No human capacity, skill, or knowledge can teach us anything about the Uncreated Light. Only the vision of that Light gives us capacity to judge and contrast between it and false lights. Moreover, differentiating between good and evil--beauty and ugliness--is a gift of the Holy Spirit: the gift of discernment. Discernment is a heavenly gift freely granted by God to those who have purified their hearts and seek to unite themselves with Him. Claiming that an aesthetic cultivation assisted Fr. Sophronios in judging such matters either a) places the Uncreated Light within grasp of the human mind or b) implies that art can lead us or adds to our capacity to experience the Divine Light. St. Gregory Palamas together with Fr. Sophronios, however, teach that only purification of the heart renders one into a worthy vessel of the Divine Light.

Leonidas Pittos

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