Between 1932 and 1946, Fr Sophrony exchanged letters with Fr David Balfour, a [[Roman Catholic|Catholic]] who converted to Orthodoxy. These letters revealed Fr Sophrony's knowledge of many [[Holy Fathers|Fathers of the Church]], and they forced Fr Sophrony to articulate his theological thought and to demonstrate the differences between Western and Eastern thought. Many of Fr Sophrony's later thoughts would arise out of the same topics addressed in this correspondence.
In 1938, St Silouan [[September 24]] reposed. Following the saint's instructions, Fr Sophrony left the monastery grounds to reside in the Athonite desert: first at Karoulia, then at a cave near St Paul's Monastery. His residence in this desert lasted World War II's duration, 1939-1945, and it proved to be a time of such intense prayer that Fr Sophrony's health was affected. This taught him the interdependence of all humanity. In 1941, Elder Sophrony was ordained to the [[priest]]hood. He became a [[Geronta|spiritual father]] to many Athonite monks.