No matter how much we may study, it is not possible to come to know God unless we live according to His commandments, for God is not know by science, but by the Holy Spirit. Many philosophers and learned men came to the belief that God exists, but they did not know God. It is one thing to belief that God exists and another to know Him. If someone has come to know God by the Holy Spirit, his soul will burn with love for God day and night, and his soul cannot be bound to any earth(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, VIII.3)
Saint Silouan was born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov in 1866 to Russian Orthodox parents who came from the village of Sovsk in Russia’s Tambov region. At the age of twenty-seven he left his native Russia and came to Mount Athos, where he became a monk at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon and was given the name Silouan, the Russian version of the Biblical name Silvanus.
An ardent ascetic, he received the grace of unceasing prayer and saw Christ in a vision. After long years of spiritual trial, he acquired great humility and inner stillness. He prayed and wept for the whole world as for himself, and he put the highest value on love for enemies. Thomas Merton, a twentieth-century Catholic monk, described Silouan as “the most authentic monk of the twentieth century.” St Silouan died on September 24, 1938. He was glorified by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1987.
Though barely literate, he was sought out by pilgrims for his wise counsel. His writings were edited by his disciple and pupil, Archimandrite Sophrony. Father Sophrony has written the life of the saint along with a record of St. Silouan’s teachings in the book Saint Silouan the Athonite.