«…ακόλουθον οίμαι σύμπαντας

επί το πνευματικόν συναγείρεσθαι θέατρον…

και δια της κατά Πνεύμα προς αλλήλους ενότητος,

καθάπερ εις μίαν συναρμοσθέντες λύραν,

τον εαυτών χοροστάτην αναμέλπωμεν, λέγοντες…»

Cyril of Alexandria, Pascal Homilies 6

First act

Two prefatorial stories

to set things in specific place and time

Story I

The fact

On 20th May 2009, in the Hall of Ceremonies of AUTH, the Faculty of Theology of AUTH in collaboration with the Department of Dogmatic Theology held a Scientific Meeting on the subject of “The theological dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church”. Both co-chairmen of the official Theological Dialogue between the two Churches, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, participated, as well as John Spiteris (Catholic Bishop of Corfu), Athanasios Vletsis (Professor of the Orthodox Institute of the Maximilian University of Munich), Maximos Vgenopoulos (Ecumencial Patriachate’s Archdeacon), George Martzelos (Professor of the Theological Faculty of AUTH – Director of the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies), Dimitrios Tselengidis (Professor of the Theological Faculty of AUTH), Chrysostomos Sabbatos (Metropolitan of Messenia), Petros Vassiliadis (Head of the Theological Faculty of AUTH) and Chrysostomos Stamoulis (Associate Professor of the Theological Faculty of AUTH). The papers were followed by two beautiful open floor sessions during which the speakers responded to the questions of the numerous audience.

 

 

Personal testimony – and opinion

of the journalist and theologian Charalambos Andreopoulos

Last Wednesday, I happened to attend the proceedings of the Scientific Meeting of the Faculty of Theology of the AUTH. Outside the Hall of Ceremonies I saw around 30 (maximum 40) non-university protesters to sit absolutely peacefully and hold banners and placards thus expressing their opposition to the event. I paused for a while and a very polite lady approached me, wished me “Christ is Risen” and gave me a book (“I Pateriki stasi stous theologikous dialogous, klp.” [“The Patristic stance on the theological dialogues, etc.”], by the theologian Mr Panagiotis Sematis; the book was offered free). In this book there was folded a “Newsletter” of the “Filorthodoxos Enosis Kosmas Flamiatos” (“Philorthodox Union Kosmas Flamiatos”) whose supporters were the protesters. Reading in the preface of the Newsletter that the Faculty of Theology, being the organizer of the Meeting, addressed an invitation to this Union as well, I asked the lady:

– “But, since all of you are invited, why do you prefer staying outside instead of coming inside to attend the proceedings of the Meeting?”

– “They are all heretics and we have nothing to do with them…” she replied and all of the protesters who happened to be around agreed with her.

Respecting – yet of course not accepting – their view, I headed to the amphitheatre. It was around 10.30-11 am. Nevertheless, around 12 pm, a non-university protester entered the university’s amphitheatre holding a placard and started shouting “Pope? Nope!”, “Heretics get out!”, etc. Being strongly disapproved by the attendants of the Meeting, professors and students, the protester turned his back and left. Around 1 pm, I left the Meeting because I had some personal business to take care of; yet I had the feeling that I heard some very interesting, as a qualified theologian and teacher of religions, presentations from both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic side.

The next day I was sorry to read that some quasi-riotous incidents took place during the afternoon session caused by a group of 150 fanatics that entered the university’s amphitheatre, a place (as every other university amphitheatre) that is considered to be a “temple of Democracy” from all of us who have graduated from this institution. After all, this is the reason why this place is protected by the “asylum”. Such a pity…

* Really, those who provoked these quasi-riotous incidents shouldn’t they respect the theologians and the students of Theology for whom this Scientific Meeting was mainly organized? These students wanted to attend the Meeting without problems, tensions etc and they were supposed to have at least this minimum right; or maybe not? Shouldn’t they be respected? I believe that these protesters have every right to refuse the theological dialogue; but they have no right to seek to impose their negative attitude on the others by the use of force. By no means are they justified – neither do they have the right – to influence and determine the content of the academic curricula and the scientific actions, meetings, etc., needed for the scholarly instruction of the students of a University Faculty of Theology. A little respect for the institutions never hurt anyone.

Story II

 

 

The fact

 

The scientific conference entitled “Contemporary Ecclesiastical Problems” that was organized by the Faculty of Theology of AUTH and the Faculty’s undergraduate students’ association, on Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd March 2011, has been completed with great success. In an amphitheatre literally full of students, professors of theology, theologians and teachers of religion, priests and monks, papers were presented negotiating a wide variety of topics. The speakers indicatively referred to issues of worship, translation, pastoral care, history, society, theology, culture and religion. The response of the students, the laity and the clergy was impressive. Many questions were posed by young people who know the work of the Church and are interested in overcoming the problems that have long beset her members. All speakers broached important issues that gave occasion for further thought and discussion. It is worth noting that the last two presentations of the conference were devoted to the subject of religious education in the modern school. The conference ended with the wish for such efforts to be redoubled and for the papers of the speakers to be published soon.

 

Personal testimony – and opinion

of the speaker

I had just finished my lecture with topic “Lest we become afraid the name of eros”, and I sat among the audience in the seats of the amphitheatre. A few minutes had not yet passed and a young girl approached me, introducing herself as a first-year student of the Faculty of Philosophy. “I would like to ask you”, she says, “if the position you articulated on the ontologization of the virginity of Holy Mother of God is yours or if we find it also in the Fathers of the Church”. Despite the inappropriate time, I tried to tell her a few words, and as a matter of fact in order to avoid (unnecessary) noise, I gave her my text, which included some references that could help her understand the problem. We said a few more things about eros, virginity and the divine maternity and then I turned to the front to pay attention to the next presentation that had already begun. However the issue was not yet over, or rather had not yet peaked. Just a few minutes later the girl came back with greater severity of manner. “And the Latins”, she exclaimed, “what do you say about them, with whom the Patriarch and others say prayers in common?”… I was flabbergasted. First of all by the shift in the conversation and secondly for the image I faced. The previously extremely sweet face of the girl and her somewhat reluctant approach had vanished at once. Now in front of me, or actually behind me, I had a face that had grown angry and a young girl, in a frantic state, telling me that she is descended from a long line of priests; she even lives among five priests who have taught her that all the things we advocate are false, papal and aim to “sell out” the Orthodoxy. I tried to whisper something, but in vain. In the end I stayed speechless to look at the mental and physical tension of the girl; along with me some students, as well as the priest next to her. And she stood up ostentatiously, dragged an embarrassed young man who was escorting her, and got out of the “university hell” in splendid glory and honour for the confession of faith that she had apparently adduced as testimony.

Second act

Physis and Agape:

The Application of the Trinitarian Model to

the Dialogue on Ecclesiology of the

Christian Churches of the Ecumene

It is a commonplace that in Orthodox theology any approach to the mystery of the Church is made by means of icons (εικόνες), ex­amples (παραδείγματα) and symbols (σύμβολα), since this mystery defies all rationalist descriptions or definitions.[1] One of the most sig­nificant examples of this approach is that which presents the Church as a type and icon of the Holy Trinity.[2] This is a classic theme in the doctrine of the ancient Fathers of the Church that has exerted a great influence on Eastern Orthodox ecclesiological doctrine to this day.[3]What exactly do we mean by saying that the Church is an icon and type of the Holy Trinity? This is the question that this essay tries to tackle, in an attempt to make a contribution to the contemporary dia­logue on the Ecclesiology of the Christian Churches of the Ecumene.

It must be stressed from the start that the understanding of this particular theme presupposes an acquaintance with the wider theol­ogy of the icon as found in the teaching of the Church. Consequently, it is a prerequisite that the particular be viewed and interpreted in light of the whole. In the limited time at our disposal here it is of course not possible to cover the whole area in question, i.e. to treat definitively the theology of the icon. Nevertheless some basic key elements of this teaching ought to be mentioned here in order to form an initial introductory framework. These are the following:

a) Whenever we speak of icons, or symbols, or types we are obliged to acknowledge the existence of the archetypes to which these refer.

b) In the theology of the Fathers of the ancient Church icons are divided into two groups: natural (φυσικές) and created (τεχνητές).

«Natural icons» of the archetype of God the Father are the Son and the Holy Spirit, since they fully share in the same uncreated nature and together with the Father make up the One Triune God, three per­sons (υποστάσεις) in one Being. A «created icon» of the divine Trinity is man as a creature that has been created by the uncreated God.[4]

On the basis of these initial remarks we can now proceed to investigate in what way the Church is an icon of the Holy Trinity.

St. Cyril of Alexandria points out that the relationship of the type, the Church, with the archetype, the Holy Trinity, is mimetic, since the truth of the Church reflects its likeness to the prototype, the Holy Trinity, by imitation. The honor paid to the Church proceeds from the fact that as an icon of this prototype it occupies its own distin­guished place.[5] In more practical terms the Church is, through Christ, an icon and type of the «unfailing friendship and concord and unity, like that of people of one mind, which the Father has towards the Son and of the Son towards the Father.»[6] Thus the unity of the body of the Church constitutes an iconic representation of the unity of the Holy and consubstantial Trinity. Furthermore, as St. Maximos the Confes­sor remarks in the first chapter of his Mystagogia?[7] the Church is an icon and type of the Holy Trinity for the reason that it has by imita­tion and type the same operation as the Trinity. This is the type of operation that produces, «the same union with God as with the faith­ful.»[8] It follows then, that the union of the members of the Church with each other and with God is achieved on the basis of its proto­type, the union of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

It is obvious in this case, that the clear aim of the early Church «that all may be one»[9] is identical with the aim of the «Christian Churches» of the Ecumene today in their mutual dialogue. It is the fundamental aim of the dialogue of the Churches as it appears to be the case chiefly in the activities of the World Council of Churches but also in the ecumenical activities of the particular Churches in their bilateral relations.[10]

The problem that arises in this case, however, does not seem to be the negation of unity but mainly the difference of approach concern­ing the way forward towards reunion of the divided members of the ancient Church.[11]Since these different lines of approach, with all of the disagreements and deadlocks they bring, are common knowledge, I will attempt through this paper to present a forgotten point of view of the Eastern Orthodox Church on the subject, which is rooted in the theology of the Gospel and of the Fathers of the ancient Christian Church.

The starting point in this attempt should be the prayer of Jesus for his disciples.[12] This refers directly to the unity of the members of the Church one with another and with God according to the prototype of union of God the Father with God the Son. It is here, therefore, that the foundation is laid for the iconic or typological relationship be­tween the unity of the Church and the unity of the Holy Trinity.

In what way, though, are the Persons of the Holy Trinity united? Or better, «how is the Son in the Father?» This is a question that derives from John 14:20, where the beloved disciple presents the in­carnate Logos as placing in the future the examination of this mystery. He says: «In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.»

This particular saying of Christ created enormous problems of in­terpretation in the early Church, which was being attacked by heresy. So according to St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Orthodox tradition in general, in their attempt to debase the Logos of the Father the Arians gave an answer to our question by applying the given facts of anthro­pology to the realm of theology. Accordingly, they maintained that the relation of the Father to the Son is relational and definitely not according to nature (oυ φύσει). This meant that for the Arians the unity of the persons of the Holy Trinity could only be likened to the unity of the members of the Church with God the Father.

Thus, they made very clear their position, that the mode of exist­ence of the Son in the Father could be defined as a relationship of love that is far removed from any relationship according to nature based on oneness of essence. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and, consequently, the manner in which the persons of the Holy Trinity are united is through love. This seemed obvious to the heretics, since in our case too, our existence «in God» and His revelation in us could not refer to any essential unity. These rather denoted a mode of rapprochement or union according to the law of «loving and being loved» (αγαπάν και ανταγαπάσθαι). Conse­quently the Son too, inasmuch as he loves the Father, by whom He is also loved, has absolutely no natural relation to him, but is related to him only agapetically, that is by mutual love.[13]

The danger embedded in such a notion is all too evident, and the Fathers of the Church lost no time in exposing it and fighting it from the outset. In the theology and methodology of the heretics the Son is demoted to the category of a creature and is completely estranged from the Father. His relation to the cause of triadic existence, i.e. to the source of Godhead, according to Dionysius the Areopagite, is definitely moral, volitional and manifestly not natural or essential.[14] The only bond that here relates Father and Son is love, which is merely external and relational (κατά σχέσιν) and not natural (κατά φύσιν). The Trinity borrows the love of human beings in order to construct the communion of the three Persons. Clearly the icon of the relation between Trinity and Church is here reversed. The Church is the pro­totype and the Holy Trinity is the icon of the prototype. This is one of the many forms of theological anthropomorphism, which we meet in the course of Church History.

Contrary to this strange (to say the least) point of view is that of the Fathers of the Church operating within the parameters of Ortho­dox Theology, which is the fruit of experience or vision of God (θεοπτία) and sees the Father-Son relation supremely as natural.[Con-trary to certain misguided Antiochene notions, this natural relation is not linked to any necessity; rather the love of the persons of the Trin­ity is at once an expression and result of its being according to nature. The love of the persons is love according to nature, i.e. love accord­ing to the truth, real love and not some kind of caricature, or result of a distorted imagination.

Certainly, it must be emphasized here that we cannot speak of any precedence of nature (physis) over love or vice versa, a fact that would involve the danger of introducing some sort of time criterion into the pre-eternal Trinity. Points such as these were taken up at various times by Scholasticism (see on the precedence of the person or nature, or the energies, etc.). In Orthodox theology God is by nature light and love and life. Yet his nature is neither love, nor light, nor life.[15] This is so because Orthodox theology makes a clear distinction between the essence and energies of the Godhead.[16] If it was otherwise, and we were to say that the nature of God is love we would be specifying the uncreated nature and, consequently, we would simultaneously reduce it to the level of the creatures. Whatever the creatures may know concerning the uncreated being is a result of their experience of the energies and most surely not of the nature of the Godhead. The Hesychasts of the 14th century, following their predecessors, were absolutely right in stressing that the relationship of God with man is according to energy and not essence.[17]

Despite these clarifications, however, even today the issue remains unresolved. When will we acquire this knowledge? When will be the day when the faithful will know that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son and themselves in the Son and He in them? St. Cyril of Alexandria makes it clear that it is not by a relationship of love alone.[18] Love of course has its place. As for the time it is not the present alone. The union, the actual union of God and man in Ortho­dox theology has an eschatological dimension. The eschata, as is well known, do not belong only to the future but also enter into the present space and time granting a foretaste of what is to come. The progress of the mystery of the Divine Economy is beyond doubt eschatological and at the same time historical, because the eschatology of the Orthodox Church in no way negates history.[19] In this instance the time of knowledge for the faithful is that time when they will be formed anew and will be lifted up into eternal life vanquishing the curse of death. At that time Christ will reveal Himself as the life of the faithful and they will be shown to be with him «in glory.» He will transform the body of humility showing it to conform to his glory. In this way then we will know that the Son is naturally in the Father and certainly not according to «a relationship of mutual love as the her­etics would maintain.»[20]

Consequently our own relationship with the Son («and our being in him») also works «in this same mode.»[21] What is this same mode though? Is a ‘natural’ relationship between the uncreated and the cre­ated, between God and man, possible? Orthodox theology clearly denies such a possibility, since the essential otherness of the created and the uncreated can never be abolished, and since it is on such a basis that the mode of existence of the ecclesiastical community is founded. Nevertheless, in the teaching of the Fathers, the Creator does not deny communion with created beings. From the beginning he makes provision for them to participate in real life which is none other than the unceasing contemplation of the glory of God. As a result, the Old Testament description of the creation of human kind as «very good», refers not just to an external biological perfection but primarily to the beauty (κάλλος) accorded it by its relationship with God through his energies who is thus the source of this beauty.[22]

This relationship which God the Creator initiated makes man a participant of the divine nature. Indeed, as Cyril of Alexandria indi­cates, the Creator placed in created human nature the seal of his nature, the Holy Spirit, that is to say the Spirit of the Son.[23] Despite this, man disregarded the gifts of the Godhead by considering his existence as something autonomous, or potentially so, with regard to God and to his fellow man. According to St. Maximos the Confessor the devil deceived man and thereby led his nature to fragmentation.[24] This is essentially the point of history, which marks the fragmentation of the common nature of man and the breakdown in communion between God and man for which the latter is responsible.

Again this fragmentation does not refer to the biological factor alone but is chiefly located in the sphere of the existential and opera­tional broken-ness of the relationship of created beings with the One who really Is, a relationship shattered by the withdrawal of energies and thus of being.[25]

This action of man, who rejected participation in divine nature and communion with his fellow human beings, was met with an im­mediate and dynamic response from the Creator. In his person he united hypostatically, in a true union, our nature with his. This in­volved self-emptying (κένωσις) to final limits, uttermost love and philanthropy – not simply because the Logos was united with «his own flesh» which he had assumed – but first and foremost because he united the entire human nature to himself. In sanctifying through the union his own flesh the Logos, as second Adam, also sanctifies hu­man nature in its entirety and manifests himself as the first born of the generation of mortals. He is the mediator between God and men being the character and the radiance of the hypostasis of the Father.[26]Being therefore in the essence of the Father and «having that in him» and at the same time «us in him» he makes men «communicants of divine nature» and divine sons by grace.[27] So the whole human race can cry to God as «Abba, Father» (Rom. 8, 15).

It seems therefore that our question raised at the beginning, as to how the persons of the Holy Trinity are united, finds its final answer here shedding light at the same time on how the faithful are united with the Triune God. The relationship of the persons of the Trinity is natural. As a result of this fact the Son, as life according to nature, unites in his hypostasis human nature and makes men communicants and partakers not simply of a relationship of love but of divine na­ture. This is accomplished through our union with Christ granted by the Father in the Holy Spirit.[28] In Orthodox theology any Christomonism, Pneumatomonism or Patromonism is inconceivable. Everything is Triadocentric.[29] Orthodox theology is truly doxological. The glory of God means the glory of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The whole Trinity glorifies and is glorified as the whole Trinity effects the mystery of the Incarnation whose minister is the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. Through the Incarnation, human nature, having become devoid of the glory of God, regains the right to eter­nal life. Human nature glorifies the glory of the Trinity that it beholds and awaits the glorification of its non-glorious condition.[30] Commun­ion and union are achieved in this way. According to the scriptural and patristic tradition this is the way that created and uncreated are united, but this presupposes the union of created persons with each other.[31]

It is evident that the above overturns and gives true expression to the initial hypothesis of the Arian heretics which would have the re­lationship between the persons of the Holy Trinity based solely on love and certainly not on nature (physis) in the prototype of the rela­tionship of created beings with the uncreated Gody Commonness of nature is the governing principle. Love cut off from its nature could be self-deified (eudemonistic), relative or even demonic, whereas a nature with no energies would be non-existent. That which has no energies has no existence says St. Gregory Palamas.[32] However, the nature of the Triune Godhead in Orthodox theology is a nature of love[33] because the energies of the Trinity, which are natural, substan­tial and common to its persons, are energies of love.[34] The manifestation of these energies in the Trinity is absolutely per­sonal.[35] The energies and likewise the essence belong to the persons but are not personal.[36]

So the Incarnation of the Logos as common energy of love of the persons of the Holy Trinity dynamically reveals both the consubstantiality, i.e. the common nature,as well as the distinctive-ness of the persons.

Coming now to the present-day dialogue for the unity of the Churches it must be stressed that the prototype of the Trinity consti­tutes the authentic guide to our approach. It should be emphasized from the start that the point of the discussions, the one aim, has to be the unity of the Church. As in the Trinity we do not talk of the unity of Gods but of the unity of the Godhead, so the same goes for the Church as an icon and type.[37]So the point in question is to seek a common basis on which to found this unity and this basis is none other than Christ himself. In Christ, that is to say, in the Church, the unity of all people is accomplished; all are united one with another and with Christ.

This we would say is an eucharistic union, the product of an eu-charistic ecclesiology. Christ becomes the bond of unity between the separated and divided members of the Church. So the union is sacra­mental and real and not characterized by love alone. On its own, love, it seems, cannot accomplish any kind of union. In any case, it is no accident that the Apostle Paul places the gifts of faith, hope and love in that order. Interpreting this order St. Maximos the Confessor points out that love is the «end» (το τέλος), the «ultimate» (το ακρότατον) of the gifts and the cause of every good thing. Love, therefore, as the «fulfillment» of faith and hope necessarily presup­poses faith and hope. Here, of course, we are talking of love as the expression of ultimate desire (το έσχατον ορεκτόν) and not of some external or emotional love.[38] For this reason the Orthodox Church must communicate with emphasis that the prerequisite for the much-debated intercommunion is not emotional love but chiefly faith, the common faith of the members of the Church. Love must accompany this faith and walk together with this faith. When faith becomes son-like then love shall be complete. No problems of priority are an issue here as has already been indicated. At issue here are the principles, the theological principles, upon which a well-intentioned discussion between the world’s Christians can be based. As a result then, the Orthodox Church does not propose a Lutheran view of love through faith alone or an Augustinian interpretation of love as the completion of faith.[39] The relationship between faith and love is liturgical. The existence of the one presupposes the existence of the other. With the isolation of one the other disappears.[40] We are talking here, of course, of faith and love pleasing to God which makes for real love among human beings.

St. Isaac the Syrian presents this concept in the form of a journey, a journey of life. He writes: «Repentance is the ship and fear the helmsman, and love the port of God … and when we arrive at love, we have arrived at God. At our journey’s end we shall have passed over to the island which exists far from the world where the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are, to whom belong glory and might; and he makes us worthy of his glory and love through our fear of him.»[41] Here again love is the end as indeed it is in the entire scrip­tural and patristic tradition of the East. St. Ignatius the God-bearer beautifully expresses this: «Life’s beginning and end. Its beginning is faith, its end, love. The two form a unity which is God.»[42] Here there is no isolation or separation of one from the other, just a liturgi­cal distinction.[43] Furthermore, according to Cyril, when love walks correctly alongside faith it is apparent from adherence to the dogma of the Gospel and the observance of the divine commandments.[44] This is also the reason that in the Orthodox Church it is the faith, the sowing of the seed or the exercise of the talents (των χαρισμάτων) which expresses the potentialities of the person,[45] and not the plow­ing, that provides the context for the preparation of the Divine Eucharist. Ecclesiology for the Orthodox Church is eucharistic be­cause it is ascetic and it is ascetic because it is eucharistic. Any isolation or overemphasis leads to forms of paganism, idolatry, and delusion.[46] The Eucharist presupposes the daily practice of repen­tance, the journey with the ship of repentance according to St. Isaac the Syrian, and ascetic striving is the way into the Eucharist. Nothing is singled out and isolated, nothing is an end in itself.[47] Moreover, in the Orthodox Church theology is ascetic, that is to say experiential, as it runs through the entire existence of those who pray, through all the facets of temporal reality. According to Philotheos Kokkinos the­ology is practiced «in our whole life» and in this way it is ascetic. The practice of faith leads to purification, brings love to fruition, or reveals the summit of human love; at the same time the degree of love reveals the measure of faith and leads to mystical union. In this way the theology and works of the theologian relate to the magnitude of his love for God and for his fellow human beings.

Consequently, the application of the Trinitarian model to the do­main of the dialogue between the Christian Churches of the Ecumene would seem possible only within a particular context, namely the sacramental context. As the domain in which the energies of the Trinity are revealed, the Church effects, in turn, the simple, impartial and undivided relation of persons. It accomplishes the event of catholic­ity and unity, that is to say it makes possible the co-existence and common-life of the members «according to a simple and undivided grace and power of faith.» And as a type of the Godhead that holds together, gathers together, draws towards itself, it becomes the be­ginning and end of beings. Furthermore, imitating the Godhead, which abolishes «exclusive relationships,» and becoming the cause of «wholeness,» the Church regenerates and recreates through the Spirit the divided and differentiated persons of the Ecumene. In this way all racism and fundamentalism is abolished and unanimity is achieved which leads to the simplicity and identity of communion.[48]

The heart of the Church is undoubtedly the mystery (sacrament) of the divine Eucharist. The unity of all people takes place in the body of Christ, i.e. «in the sense of the unity of the members of a body,» which is gained by all those who have become partakers of the holy flesh of Christ. Those who partake, therefore, become one body with one another and with Christ. Moreover, Christ is the bond of unity as he is in himself God and man.[49] United with Christ the nature of the faithful is maintained whole and undivided. Christ be­comes the cause of the commonality of their nature, since in his body, that is to say in the Church, that which is divided up is gathered to­gether.[50]

The Church, therefore, walks on the path of perfect love, that love which we might call eucharistic,[51] since the nature of the Church is first and foremost eucharistic.[52] It should be noted that this eucharis­tic love, this ecclesiastical love appears to be the result of an empirical asceticism which denies the three ancient evils: ignorance, self-love and tyranny.[53] These evils should be avoided if the dialogue wishes to be called ascetic in order to become at some point eucharistic, remaining at the same time really ascetic.

Finally it should also be noted that repentance must form the basis of an ascetic – eucharistic ecclesiology. Repentance here is not meant as a moralistic phenomenon, but as a mode of being which leads man towards «one mode of reasoning and living» («ένα και λόγον και τρόπον»).[54] One of the leading figures in the dialogue of the Ortho­dox Church with the so-called pre-Chalcedonians, Patriarch Parthenios of Alexandria of blessed memory, wrote in a prologue, referring precisely to the subject of repentance: «It is a sin that ‘hu­man weakness’ leads us into division, but glory be to God that after fifteen centuries we have confessed and admitted it.» He concluded: «Division is always sin and hell, unity is paradise and truth.»[55] And indeed, according to the Orthodox Church the way of confession and repentance is the only way to solve the present day ecumenical prob­lem. «Self-criticism and confession,» according to Fr. George Dragas, «is the crucially important path which leads back to the foundations of Christian integrity, and to is the purification of the Christian con­sciousness from the unconfessed sins of the past. Burying our sins within ourselves in the end means the burial of our own self.»[56]

The challenges of our times for the Christian Church are, it is true, both multi-faceted and an active concern. It is also true that the pain of the Orthodox becomes unbearable when they are unable to com­municate from the same cup with «brothers and sisters» who attend the liturgy of the mystery (sacrament) of the divine Eucharist.

The explosion of unity, which would allow the faithful to glorify and commemorate the name of the Holy Trinity «with one mouth and one heart,» is first and foremost unity of faith: «Having besought for the unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit…,»[57] as in­toned in the liturgy.

This unity will become a reality when those divided from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ are able to confess together in the fullness of faith and love «I (we) believe Lord and confess that thou art truly the Christ… And I (we) believe that this is truly Your own immaculate Body and that this is truly Your own pre­cious Blood… Make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Your immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of sins and life everlast­ing”.[58]

Third act

The time of defeat

or

accepting the challenge-invitation for a meeting

with the proudless God and his Church

“My ego is someone else”, confesses the play-writer of Greek prose-player Nikos Gabriel Pentzikis in his excellent book entitled Pros Ekklisiasmon (Toward church-going).[59] And the poetess Kiki Dimoula adds like an echo: “I am not an atheist. I dream of the neighbour, but I put my trust in the distant one”.[60]

And maybe here, in this poetical alteration-extension of the biblical truth, the meaning of things lies hidden. Maybe here lies the answer, even some kind of answer to the question, put in the affirmative mode in today’s meeting in the very title of this seminar: Orthodox Ecclesiology and the challenges of the Ecumenical movement. And I say this because in the poetic thought is revealed the core of a culture of incarnation, a Church of incarnation, a spiritual theatre of incarnation, where the other one is not like our self, is not as our self, but is our self.[61] This is proclaimed in a different, yet equally brilliant way by the Doxastikon of the Matins of the Holy Saturday; a manifesto, I would say, of the Orthodox theology that, with the dynamic of a lightning of the eschata (έσχατα) transforms the important give to the stranger to the absolutely upturning and extremely ontological, give me this stranger.

And I ask. Are we ready today for such a passage from the place of tolerance to the land of reception? Or in other words, is there any place in the Orthodoxy for the existence of the other, the stranger, the different? I know that the answers are many, and not few have been written and given all these centuries after the schism. Brave was also the effort of the last fifty years. The progress made is great and we are grateful to all those who devoted their life to the vision of unity. Nevertheless, the sin of division has not yet been defeated. And this constitutes the greatest defeat of Orthodoxy. This is the greatest defeat of Christianity. Certainly for some the defeat of the other, as Gregory of Nyssa says, is our own enrichment in good. Many times in the past I referred to this practice and I called it as the practice of being determined by external factors. I exist when the other does not. This leads us to the constant search, many times even pursuit, of the absence of the other and in any case not in our own presence with the other.

But what is to be done? Maybe the time for creative action has come? Maybe the time has come for us to receive our defeat, and defeat power (δύναμη) with weakness (αδυναμία)? Fr. Georges Florovsky, the ecumenical theologian of the 20th century, in a highly significant article entitled I problimatiki tis epanenoseos ton Christianon (The issue of the reunification of Christians) argues that “the true unity can be realised only in the Truth, that is in the fullness and power (δύναμη), and not in the weakness (αδυναμία) and insufficiency (ανεπάρκεια)”.[62] And it is clear that Fr. Georges is right in regards to the truth. This is what I also supported in the second act of this paper. However, I would like us to try, to dare, a reversal of the rest of the sentence. Maybe, eventually, after so many years of insisting on the unity of a truth full of sufficiency and power, should we seek the solution in our self-surrender to the truth of a Christ who is weak and insufficient against authority and authoritarianism (εξουσιαστικότητα), to the truth of a God “proudless (ανυπερήφανος)”,[63] as the great poet Symeon the New Theologian says? Maybe the time has come for us to eventually admit, that our entering into the unity of the experience of faith does not deny, and even more does not abrogate the formulations and the articles of faith, but calls us to their transcendence, that is to a final affirmation of the fact that wants the power of names to be defeated by the significance of the ineffable good?[64] Maybe does such an admission of defeat allow us to keep our mind in Hell and despair not?

Not long ago, the Bishop Athanasius Jevtic formerly of Zahumlje and Hercegovina stressed, during his speech in the fourth amphitheatre of our School, that the limits of Church are the limits of the love of God. An extremely important formulation, as it protects us from the impression, actually the illusion, which identifies the limits of the Church of the limits of our language. This oral refutation, of course, seems to differ from his recent position that identifies the canonical and the charismatic limits of the Church, a fact that also differentiates himself from the basic position of Fr. Georges Florovsky, who upheld the non-identification of the charismatic and the canonical limits of the Church.

However, I feel that the issue does not lend itself to drawing hasty and facile conclusions. In any case we must not forget that the initial and final initiative belongs to the God of history and of the eschata, to that free breath of the Spirit that overcomes our certainties and thus leaves the Church forever open to the miracle. And maybe it is the seeking of such a truth in the darkness that makes John Chrysostom state that the imitation of God invites us to the overcoming of fear and to the loving submission of our prayer for both the Greeks and the heretics.[65] The same truth that allows Fr. Georges Florovsky to accept that “Rome is not devoid of grace”[66] and elder Sophrony of Essex to state “scandalously” that “the fullness of grace may be held only by the one and only Church”, this one that is our home, “but all the rest churches”, and it is clear that here he refers to the Churches of the Reformation, “have grace because of the faith in Christ, yet not in fullness”.[67]

So, it is these darings of the past that today do not allow us to retreat, but rather enjoin upon us to sound the trumpet of a beneficial defeat. The confession of a resurrecting defeat that will dismiss the sin of hardness, will highlight as a final limit the person of every other and by promoting the poetic sensibility of holiness will allow the members of the Ecumenical Church of the Orthodox to live with the pain caused by the disability of a human body and the hope of the physiology of a tree, whose branches did not wither but were pruned by the God of love in the month of February to blossom resurrectingly in Spring.


[1] See N. A. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology 3 [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1997, p. 258 ff.

[2] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 17, 20-21, PG 74, 556 D – 557 A. Cf. Maximos  the Confessor, Mystagogia, PG 91, 664 D.

[3] See G. D. Dragas, Ecclesiasticus. Orthodox Church Perspectives, Models and Icons, Darlington 1984, pp. 18 ff.; P. Vassiliadis, Orthodoxy at the Crossroads [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1992, p. 99; D. Staniloae, God, World and Man. Introduction to Orthodox dogmatic theology [in Greek]. Athens, p. 117 ff.

[4] See D. Tselengidis, The theology of the icon and its anthropological meaning (Doctoral thesis) [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1984. Cf. G. Zografidis, The meaning and the function of the icon in St John of Damascus. Philosophical consideration (Doctoral thesis) [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1992.

[5] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 17,20-21, PG 74,  556 D.

[6] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 17,20-21, PG 74,  556D – 557A.

[7] See  PG 91, 664D – 669C.

[8] Maximos the Confessor, Mystagogia, PG 91, 668BC.

[9] John 17,21.

[10] See K. Raiser, The Future of Ecumenism [in Greek],Thessaloniki 1995, p. 26 ff. For the history of the ecumenical movement see N. Matsoukas, Ecumenical Movement.History-Theology [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1986. Cf. Chr. Yannaras, Truth and Unity of the Church [in Greek], Athens 1977; Vasil Th. Stavridis & E. Varclla, History of the Ecumenical Movement [in Greek], Thessaloniki3 1996. The above works contain the bibliography that is most relevant to the subject under examination.

[11] For a cry of anguish due to the uncertainty that seems to prevail today in the ecumenical movement see K. Raiser’s aforementioned book, The Future of Ecumenism [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1995, p. 21 ff.

[12] John 17,20-21.

[13] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14,20 PG 74, 268 AC: «they imply some kind of relational and not natural union… as in the case of the Son who is loved by the Father and again he loves the Father, in the same manner we too are said to be in him, to have him in ourselves and to be united by reason of essence. The manner of the union in this case is to love and to be loved. In response, they say that in the same way the Son is not in the essence of God the Father, because he is completely distinct by reason of nature, having exactly other characteristics and being in the Father only by virtue of the bond of love.»

[14] For an initial approach to the subject in the framework of contemporary orthodox theology from which arose a specific debate see J. D. Zizioulas, «From Mask to Person: The contribution of the patristic theology to the meaning of the person,» Volume in honor of Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon, [in Greek] Thessaloniki 1967, p. 299; cf. also his, Being as Communion. Studies in Personhood and the Church, New York 1993, p. 41; Chr. Yannaras, The Alphabet of the Faith [in Greek], Athens2 1984, pp. 60,93; N. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology 2 [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1985, p. 96; G. Martzelos, Orthodox dogma and theological discussion [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1993, p. 75 ff.

[15] A characteristic example from Scholasticism of confusion between essence and energies in the Trinity is the work of B. Frangos, Greek philosophy of the person [in Greek], Athens 1986, p. 158: «Christianity, however, reveals the highest Being as a personal Being, which exists in three Personal Hypostaseis, whose essence is love (God is love)!’ On the other hand see Gregory Palamas, To Gavras 30, Works 2, publ. N. Matsoukas, care of P. Christou, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 358: «Thus Basil the great in his writings to Amphilochios says that the Holy Spirit always has love, joy, peace, …and all such things, but what springs out of God is enhypostatic, whereas what are derived from it are its energies.»

[16] See Gregory Palamas, On divine energies 3, Works 2, publ. G. Mantzaridis, directed by P. Christou, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 98: «Essence (ousia) is one thing and coming forth (proodos) is another, for the latter is God’s energy or will, although God is one, active and volitional.»

[17] See Gregory Palamas, On unity and distinction 8, Works 2, ed. G. Mantzaridis, dir. P. Christou, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 75: «The God-bearing Fathers say this in their exegesis: that in one sense God is unknown, namely his essence, and in another, known, namely, all that is about his essence.»

[18] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14,20, PG 74, 269 B: «and as for the manner of union, it is not specified by the law of love, but is introduced in another way.»

[19] See P. Vassiliadis, Orthodoxy at the Crossroads, p. 52 ff.

[20] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14,20, PG 74, 272D – 273 A, where he argues that the Son is in the Father naturally and not in the sense of being loved and offering love. At the same time it should be made clear once again that this natural relationship is in no way constricted by figures of necessity. In the work Scholia on the work on divine names, PG 4,221 A, Maximus the Confessor very clearly indicates that, «God the Father, having been moved timelessly and agapetically, arrived at the distinction of the hypostases.» Cf. G. Martzelos, «The meaning of the Godhead and the meaning of the creation according to the Fathers of the Church,» Orthodoxy- Hellenism 2 [in Greek], publ. by the Holy Monastery of Koutloumoussion, Holy Mountain 1996, pp. 372-373.

[21] Ibid.

[22] For an initial form of distinction between biological and ecclesiastical being see J. Zizioulas, Being as Communion, p. 49 ff. These points are made for the first time in the Greek publication of this work by his Eminence the Bishop of Pergamum. For a critical commentary of these points appearing in the first edition, which appears in part to differ from its English translation, see the work of A. Vletsis, Ontology of the Fall in the theology of St. Maximos the Confessor (Doctoral thesis) [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1994, ρ 79 ft.

[23] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14,20, PG 74, 277 D.

[24] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to John Kouvikoularios, on love, PG 91, 396 D: «the deceiver devil… also partitioned nature in this way and divided it into many opinions and imaginations…»

[25] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the book of lsaias 2, 9, PG 70, 84 AB: «This (Apostasy) was an insult to God and to the human nature.» Cf. Chr. A.Stamoulis, Theotokos and orthodox dogma. Study in the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1996, p. 50.

[26] See Chr. A. Stamoulis, Theotokos and orthodox dogma, op. cit., pp. 175 ff.

[27] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14,20, PG 74, 280 C.

[28] Cyril of Alexandria, ibid., 280 D: «…it is I who conjoined them with God the Father through myself, making them communicants as it were of his incorruptibility. For I am naturally in the Father; inasmuch as I am the fruit of his essence, and genuine offspring, existing in him and derived from him, life from life, but you are in me, and I in you, inasmuch as I became a man and demonstrated that you can be communicants of divine nature having made my Spirit to dwell in you.»

[29] See N. A. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology 3 [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1997, pp. 39,91.

[30] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 13,31-32, PG 74, 153A-156A. Cf. Chr. A. Stamoulis, Theotokos and orthodox dogma, p. 241. Cf. C. Dratsellas, «Questions of the Soteriological Teaching of the Greek Fathers. With special reference to St. Cyril of Alexandria,» Theologia 39 (1968), p. 210. N. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology III, p. 300ff. L. Turrado, Doxa en el evangelio de S. The Greek Orthodox Theological Review: 44/1-4, 1999 Juan segan S. Cirilo de Alexandria (Pontificia Universita, Gregoriana), Romae 1939.

[31] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to John Kouvikoularios, on love, PG 91, 597 C; Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14, 20, PG 74, 281 B. Cf. by the same author, ibid, 557 BC (where he explains the unity which binds the believers among themselves and with God).

[32] See Antirretikos 1, 7, 15, Works 3, publ. by V. Fanourgakis, &. P. Christou, Thessaloniki 1970, p. 50.

[33] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to Konon priest and abbot, PG 91, 613A: «I believe as I received and was taught, that God is love, and that as he is one and never ceases from being one, likewise he makes one those who live according to his love, granting them one heart and soul although they happen to be many.»

[34] See Marcos Eugenicos, For the Seconds, Canon. Gr. 49, f. 88, in Irineos Bulovic, The Mystery of Distinction of Divine Essence and Energy in the Holy Trinity according to St. Marcos of Eugenicos [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1983, p. 86: «As for the energy and the will being natural all the Fathers cry out in unison.» For the use of the term «agapetic energies» see the article of bishop Athanasios Jevtic, «The I am (=Jahwe) as Living and true God as St. Gregory Palamas bears witness,» Proceedings of the Theological Conference Memory of St. Gregory Palamas Arcbishop of Thessaloniki (12-14 November1984) [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1986, p. 132.

[35] See David Disypatos, «Homily against Varlaam and Akindynos to Nicolaos Kavasilas,» Byzantine texts and studies 10, publ. D. Tsamis, Thessaloniki2 1976, p. 100: «Do you see how each of the three operates, having perfectly unified the natural energy?»

[36] See Philotheos Kokkinos, Homily 10, Dogmatic works, ed. by D. Kaimakis, Byzantine Writers of Thessaloniki 3, Thessaloniki 1983, p. 404: «Therefore Maximos the wise tells those who spoke wrongly of the divine energy as being hypostatic and not natural, whence and when did they receive this which they declare?»

[37] Important remarks relevant to this subject are to be found in the work of M. Begzos, The Future of the past. Critical introduction to Orthodox theology [in Greek], Athens 1993, p. 146-147. Cf. K. Raiser, The Future of Ecumenism, p. 26 ff., where the author raises issues of his own from the position of the General Secretary of the W.C.C.

[38] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to John Kouvikoulanos, On Love, PG 91,396 CD. Cf. A. Nygren, Agape and Eros (tr. by Philips S. Watson), London 1982, p. 362 ff.

[39] See Nygren, Agape and Eros, p. 638 ff. Cf. D. Tselengidis, The Soteriology of Luther [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1991, p. 98,104,157,176,183 ff.

[40] See Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 2,6,303, PG 8,965 BC: «For it is love that makes the believers through attachment to faith.» For the different standpoints of Orthodox theologians today vis-a-vis the dialogue and the resulting trends, see characteristically the following texts: Emilianos, Metrop. Silivrias, «The vacuums of the dialogue» [in Greek], Synaxi 57 (1996), p. 20: «Recently we have been hearing repeatedly that agreement of dogma precedes eucharistic communion. Are the other dimensions of the dialogue being deliberately underestimated: that of love or mutual respect? Not that the importance of dogmatic differences should be ignored» K. Ware, bishop of Diocleia, The Orthodox Church [in Greek], Athens 1996, p. 489: ‘The important thing is unity of faith… There can only be one basis for unity or fullness of faith … and until unity of faith has been achieved there can be no intercommunion in the Sacraments.»

[41] The Ascetics, Homily 72, ed. I. Spetsieris, Athens 1895, p. 283.

[42] To Ephesians 14,1,SC 10,Paris 1969, p. 70. Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7,10, 586, PG 8: «the beginning and the end, I say, are faith and love.»

[43] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to John Kouvikoularios, On Love, PG 91,396 B: «The faith is the basis for what come after it, I mean hope and love, which of course truly exist.» Cf. by the same author, Kefalaia on love, 31 PG 90, 968 t: «Just as the memory of fire does not make the body warm, likewise faith without love, does not operate in the soul the enlightenment of knowledge.»

[44] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 14,15, PG 74, 253 BD: «For if one simply says that God loves, he does not necessarily acquire the glory of loving, because the power of virtue is not to be found merely in the naked word, nor is the beauty of true and Godly piety formed by mere words, but by good effects and a readily adhering will. Keeping the divine commandments is what perfectly depicts the love which is offered to the Godhead, and presents virtue as wholly alive and true, not drawing an initial description of it with mere sounds of the tongue… etc.

[45] It is absolutely clear that in Orthodox theology the unity of the members of the Church in no way abolishes the «peculiar description and hypostasis» of persons. It is impossible, for example, that Paul might be called Peter, or Peter Paul, despite the fact of these two being considered as one by virtue of their «union in Christ.» On the contrary we would say that the Church through its unity or because of its unity shows forth its members as persons. In other words, this reveals the Church to be a communion of persons, the very opposite of that which is impersonal, non-existing, nihilist. See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 17, 21, PG 74, 557 C.

[46] See N. A. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology 3 [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1997, p. 267 ff. Cf. A. Papadopoulos, Theological dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics [in Greek], Thessaloniki-Athens 1996, pp. 233-234, where a commentary on the position of Fr. John Romanides concerning the dialogue is offered. Also I. S. Petrou, Theology and social dynamics [in Greek], Thessaloniki 1993, p. 29.

[47] It is interesting to note here that in 1989 in a special encyclical Patriarch Demetrios of Constantinople invited the faithful to show «one eucharistic and ascetic spirit.» See, Orthodoxy and the Ecological Crisis, published by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the World Consecration Center in 1990.1 borrowed this piece of information from the work of Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church [in Greek], Athens 1996, p. 373. John Zizioulas also points out the need of the human hypostasis to engage in asceticism, although he does not give it its proper place alongside the eucharistic Ecclesiology. In other words, this point is not given its due place, since it is chiefly covered in. the space of a single footnote, see Being as Communion, p. 62, ft 66.

[48] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to John Kouvikoularios, on love, PG 91,400 A: «Instead, all the kinds of love are brought in, completing the power of love which brings together what have been severed, recreating mankind by directing it to one reason and manner, and equating and normalizing every inequality and differentiation of gnomic will in all.»

[49] See the highly relevant observations of Cyril of Alexandria on this point in Chr. Stamoulis, Theotokos and orthodox dogma, p. 216 ff.

[50] See Cyril of Alexandria, The Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 17,21, PG 74, 569 AC: «… it was for the purpose of our union with God that the mystery of Christ was constituted. For all of us are sanctified in him, in the manner which has been already explained. So that we may now walk and mix with each other on the basis of this unity with God and one another… For by one body, i.e. that of his own, he blesses those who believe in him, through the mystical (sacramental) communion, and makes them con-corporate with himself and with each other.»

[51] For the term «eucharistic love» see J. Zizioulas, «U eucharistie: quelques aspects bibliques,» Eglises en dialogue 12 (1970), p. 51. Cf. N. Loudovikos, The Eucharistie Ontology, Athens 1992, p. 190 ff. Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogos 2,1,5,3, PG 8, 385C: «Love is truly an heavenly food, a rational banquet.»

[52] For the term «eucharistie nature» of the Church see A. Jevtic, The Ecclesiology of the apostole Paul according to the holy Chrysostom [in Greek], Athens 1984, p. 127.Cf. J. Zizioulas, Being as Communion, p. 61, G. D. Dragas, Ecclesiasticus, p. 22.

[53] See Maximos the Confessor, Letter to John Kouvikoularios, on love, PG 91,397 A.

[54] Ibid., 400 A.

[55] See the Prologue of Chr. Stamoulis, Cyril of Alexandria On the Incarnation of the Monogenes, Alexandrian Authors 2, Thessaloniki 1998, p. 10.

[56] «Church Relations,» Gregory Palamas 722 (1988), p. 242. Cf. the same author’s comments in his Ecclesiasticus, p. 65.

[57] Deisis of St John’s Holy Liturgy.

[58] Prayer of Holy Communion.

[59] Ν. G. Pentzikis, Pros  Ekklisiasmon (Toward church-going), ed. ASE, Thessaloniki 1986, p. 66.

[60] Κ. Dimoula, Eranos skepseon gia tin anegersi titlou yper tis astegou aftis omilias (Collection of thoughts for the construction of a title  for this homeless speech), ed. Ikaros, Athens 2009, p. 35. Cf. Κ. Dimoula, ibid., p. 33: «I am not an atheist, I believe in the other life, the one inside us. Definitely I do not keep a strict fast of the impatience because the snake-time allures me. But I keep a fast of the God unrevealed, as I said, and I love him as a distant, in the same way I love every distant, as the only incarnator of the meaning of the neighbour. I give myself to him exhaustively, and only thus I abound anew, as happens when the exhausted branches and twigs of the trees and plants are pruned. Sometimes the response of the distant gives signs of life”.

[61] Matthew 5,43.

[62] Fr. G. Florovsky, I problimatiki tis epanenoseos ton Christianon (The issue of reunification of Christians), Theologia 81, 4 (2010), p. 124.

[63] Symeon the New Theologian, Eucharist…: «Ούπω έγνων ότι συ υπάρχεις ο ανυπερήφανος Θεός μου και Κύριος. Ούπω γαρ φωνής σου ηξιώθην ακούσω, ίνα γνωρίσω σε, ούπω ης είπων μοι μυστικώς ότι “Εγώ ειμι”».

[64] Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs…: «…ο δε παντός γνωριστικού χαρακτήρος εξώτερος αεί ευρισκόμενος πώς αν δια τινός ονοματικής σημασίας περιληφθείη; Τούτου χάριν επινοεί μεν παντοίων ονομάτων δύναμιν εις την του αφράστου αγαθού σημασίαν ηττάται δε πάσα φραστική λόγου δύναμις και της αληθείας ελάττων ελέγχεται […] επινοούσα φωνάς ενδεικτικάς της αφράστου μακαριότητος […] και ο μέγας Δαβίδ μυρίοις ονόμασι το θείον καλών και ηττάσθαι της αληθείας ομολογών».

[65] John Chrysostom, Commentary on the epistle to Timothy 7, PG 62, 536B: «Μη τοίνυν φοβηθής υπέρ Ελλήνων ευχόμενος∙  και αυτός τούτο βούλεται∙ φοβήθητι το κατεύξασθαι μόνον∙ τούτο γαρ ου βούλεται. Ει δε υπέρ Ελλήνων εύχεσθαι χρη, και υπέρ αιρετικών δήλον ότι∙ υπέρ γαρ απάντων ανθρώπων εύχεσθαι δει, ου διώκειν…». Cf. Archim. Sophrony, O agios Silouanos (Saint Siluan the Athonite), ed. Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex, England 1995, p. 597.

[66] Fr. G. Florovsky, I problimatiki tis epanenoseos ton Christianon (The issue of reunification of Christians), Theologia 81, 4 (2010), p. 129.

[67] Archim. Sophrony, Agonas Theognosias. I allilografia tou gerontos Sophroniou me ton D. Balfour (Race of Theognosy. The correspondence of elder Sophrony with D. Balfour), ed. Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex, England 2004, p. 161-162.