From the Preface:
'We have need of assistance; we need guidance in addition to God's grace', wrote Dorotheus of Gaza in the 6th century. Since the beginning of Christianity people of all conditions, wishing to fulfil their first calling, to find the path of the heart and to climb up the 'ladder of divine ascent' which leads to God, have looked for 'masters' capable of guiding them on the 'narrow way' of salvation. For centuries, men and women in search of advice, consolation, or inspiration, have repeated the formula beloved of the desert fathers. 'Abba, give me a word.' Spiritual paternity, a gift of the Holy Spirit, is the living heart of the Orthodox Church. It is the golden chain of Tradition, reminding us that Christianity is not merely a 'religion of the book,' but a revelation of the mystery of the person.
Father Sophrony, himself a radiant witness of this revelation, distinguishes in his teaching between two kinds of word: that which communicates and that which offers communion. The word which informs and that which inspires. The 'psychological' word, even if on a religious subject, and the 'spiritual' word, bearer of the Holy Spirit, of that continued Pentecost which is nothing else but the Tradition of the undivided Church, the Body of Christ.
A 'spiritual' word, which is a channel of divine grace, is rare. Such a word is not speculative; it is supported by a rigorous dogmatic consciousness. It is thoelogical in the deepest sense, and is not born from books or theoretical knowledge, but from ascetic effort and prayer, from kenosis and experience of God. For one must empty oneself of passions and self-will to be able to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the source of every word of Truth. One must invoke the Name which is above all names, Jesus Christ, and bring down the intellect into the secret place of the heart, in order to enter into the infinite silence where God speaks to us and from where we can truly speak to the heart of another. One must cross the darkness of one's own inner hell in order to be reborn in the uncreated light which shines from the Word made flesh.
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