I am already old but in my childhood I experienced the feelings of peace and light. Since the Russian Japanese war (1904-1905) till today I’ve seen mankind involved in fratricide wars and there is no light yet at the horizon. On the contrary, the sky was covered by black clouds as never before, ready to cause an apocalyptic storm… And I, when witnessing this terrible situation in my childhood, was ready to get out in the streets and in the markets with a lit lantern, like Diogenes, in search of a man…But seeing Christ, I rejoiced in this wonderful discovery and I could never forget this historical fact of our world. In reality only He, Christ, is a complete man. We all cross our earthly exile with the call to become like Him.
The man begins to exist in reality from the moment when he becomes aware that he is a son of the Eternal Father and utters the Lord’s prayer with this awareness. We haven’t fully realized yet this value of the man and for this reason we avoid the path of our formation, of our growth in the Holy Spirit. Without Christ is impossible to entitle mankind. In this way, Christ, Man and God in the same time, entitles God in front of the world, showing to the people the boundless love of the Father, but He also entitles the man before God, showing to the Heavenly Father the authentic face of man.
But this entitlement is not juridical, as many Christians tend to believe, but of a different nature. After so many years of an almost ceaseless mutual extermination of the men on earth, they all justify themselves continously and it is impossible to expect these people have the courage to look at the height of heaven and to call God their Father.
Nowadays the brutalization of people took terrible proportions. The fall from the authentic Christian faith became a general phenomenon. The word which describes our times is apostasy. I’m afraid that only the multiplication of the misfortunes may lead people to those sufferings which will prove to be of an extreme importance and which will awaken in them the capability to perceive their primordial nature, that one in the image of God. Then peace will reign on earth. But as long as people continue to be as the wild beasts, we should not expect peace on earth. All the attempts, diplomatic or of any other kind, to prevent the disaster of war, are in vain. First it is necessary to take place the spiritual rebirth of man, the humanization of the beasts of this world.
You understand that what I write are only some small hints, some small pieces of the whole image appearing in my mind, especially during the Liturgy, this eternal sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. Of course I’d like to discuss with you for hours about these vital issues, but we haven’t had this opportunity these days.
Archimandrite Sophrony Letters from Russia, The Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, Essex, pages 133-136