Theophan the Recluse

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St. Theophan the Recluse, also known as "Theophan Zatvornik" or "Theophanes the Recluse" (Russian: Феофан Затворник), (1815–1894) is a well-known saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. He was born George Vasilievich Govorov, in the village of Chernavsk. His father was a Russian Orthodox priest. He was educated in the seminaries at Livny, Orel and Kiev. In 1841 he was ordained, became a monk, and adopted the name Theophan. He later became the Bishop of Tambov.

He is especially well-known today through the many books he wrote concerning the spiritual life, especially on the subjects of the Christian life and the training of youth in the faith. He also played an important role in translating the Philokalia from Church Slavonic into Russian. The Philokalia is a classic of orthodox spirituality, composed of the collected works of a number of church fathers which were edited and placed in a four volume set in the 17th and 18th centuries. A persistent theme is developing an interior life of continuous prayer, learning to "pray without ceasing" as St. Paul teaches in his first letter to the Thessalonians.


Books in English translation

  • The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned To It
  • The Path to Salvation: a Manual of Spiritual Transformation [1]
  • Turning the Heart to God(Partial translation of The Path to Salvation
  • Kindling the Divine Spark: Teachings on How to Preserve Spiritual Zeal

Famous Sayings

  • "God abandons no one. For Him all are children. None are stepchildren. And the hard occasions and situations - all is sent for our benefit."
  • "Attention to that which transpires in the heart and proceeds from it - this is the chief activity of the proper Christian life."
  • "You must watch after yourself."
  • "Descend with your attention into the heart, stand there before the Lord and admit nothing sinful to enter there. In this is the entire activity of inner warfare."
  • "Mercilessness to oneself, readiness to perform any favor to others and the surrender of oneself entirely to the Lord with a prayerful abiding in Him - these are the creators of the spiritual life."
  • "You must kill egoism. If you don't kill it yourself, then the Lord, hammer-blow after hammer-blow, shall send various misfortunes, so as to crush this stone."
  • "Self-pleasing and self-pity testify that in the heart abides the ego, and not the Lord."
  • "Vain fussing about is not made up of many tasks, but of the manner in which they are carried out. When one is being carried out and hundreds jostle in your head. You must chase all those out, and carry out the one task, and do it with your hands at that, while with your mind abide in your place."
  • "A Christian without zeal is a poor Christian."
  • "Divine determination depends on the life of a man, and not his life upon the determination."

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