The following is from the Afterword of Father Sophrony’s Saint Silouan the Athonite.
If we cast our thoughts back over the bimillenary history of Christianity we are dazzled by the enormous wealth of Christian culture. Vast libraries full of the grandiose works of the human mind and spirit – innumerable academies, universities, institutes, where hundreds of thousands of young people drink thirstily of the living waters of wisdom. Tens of thousands of splendid churches, the marvellous inspiration of human genius; numberless precious works created by other forms of art, music, painting, sculpture, poetry. And much, much more. But the Staretz [St. Silouan], as it were, ignored all that, concentrating on one thing only – humility and love for enemies. Everything is there.
I remember one occasion in my life when I was carried away by the works of the Holy Fathers and said regretfully to the Staretz, ‘What a pity I have neither the strength nor the time to study theology.’ To which he answered:
‘And you think that important?’ Then, after a moment or two’s silence, he added, ‘In my opinion only one thing is important – humbling oneself, for pride stops us from loving.’