Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite There is a big distinction between merely believing that God exists, seeing Him in nature or in the Scriptures, and knowing the Lord by the Holy Spirit.St. Silouan the Athonite
Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life,Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, meekness of mind, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

Excerpts from St. Silouan the Athonite

Archimandrite Sophrony's book, St. Silouan the Athonite, provides a very detailed description of the life of St. Silouan, including many brief texts written by St. Silouan. Some of Archimandrite Sophrony's biographical texts provide valuable insights into the spiritual teachings of St. Silouan, especially of the phrase "Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not". The texts at the links in the brief summaries below highlight St. Silouan's spiritual experiences and teachings.

  1. While still a novice at the monastery on Mt. Athos, St. Silouan had a direct experience of the presence of Christ, a unique experience that stimulated his spiritual growth.
  2. However, even after this unique and overwhelming experience, St. Silouan still experienced spiritual struggles and discouragement, until 15 years after the vision of Christ, he received the important lesson, "Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not".
  3. Archimandrite Sophrony explains how this teaching warns against pride, and he also teaches more about what it is to truly know Christ.
  4. Another passage by Archimandrite Sophrony further clarifies the dangers of pride, and explains what the monks teach about spiritual experience and why they find it important to keep the mind "in hell".