Interview with Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Orthodox theologian and patrologist – Part 3


Interview with Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Orthodox theologian and patrologist – Part 3Father Ivan Karageorgiev recently interviewed Bishop Kallistos (Ware) on his speritual journey.
The interview was published in French in the periodical Unité des chrétiens (n°190, avril 2018).

Please find here an English translation of that interview.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3:

I have spent a good deal of my life on the translation of the Philokalia (literally, the love of beauty) into English. With other collaborators, we have been able to edit four volumes.The fifth, and last, is being printed. It is a vast anthology of Greek Christian writers from the fourth to the fifteenth century. Among them, there is only one Western author: Saint John Cassian. The leitmotiv of the collection is prayer, and more specifically the so-called “Jesus Prayer”: a short invocation of His name, in its commonly accepted form: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me”. Personally, I prefer to use the version “have mercy on us”. One can also use the version “have mercy on me, a sinner”, but it gives a particularly penitential accent on prayer, while its essence is the presence of the holy name of Jesus Christ, like a sacramental sign, clothed with power. This prayer can be said in two ways: a fixed way, when we devote some of our time to it, specifically dedicated to prayer, and a free way, when we say it one or more times, while going about our daily tasks. Of course, the Jesus Prayer is not a magic talisman. It must be said with love and faith. There are of course many other forms of prayer and I am not saying that the Jesus Prayer is the only way of praying or that it is the best. I can simply say that it helped me a lot in my spiritual journey, as it has been helping others. As such, it might be useful to you.

One of the most important problems in the ecumenical dialogue is the reception. We address each other in our respective dialogues often in very positive terms. We become true friends. Perhaps we do not address enough the Church as a whole. We must admit that the documents of the various ecumenical dialogues are read by a handful of people. Most of the faithful do not know about our steps forward. And currently, the real challenge is to transfer ecumenical discussions from the high theological level of the international groups to the parish level. We must better take into consideration the specific context of our local communities. We must continue and deepen these steps, as they are essential for the success of the dialogue.

In my ecumenical work, two key ideas inspired me a lot. The first one comes from the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who died in 1972. He was a pioneer for the reconciliation of Christians. He left us this thought: “Unity will be a miracle, but a miracle in History”. Unity will be a miracle! Even if our Christian communities manage meet in a visible way before the second Parousia, it will be a miracle of God, and not just a result of human effort. It will be the work of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, Athenagoras talked about “a miracle in History”. So we have our role to play and we cannot remain simply passive by saying, “let the Holy Spirit act”. God asks for our cooperation, as Saint Augustine wrote: “God, who created us without us, did not want to save us without us”. We can apply this saying to the unity of Christians. It will undoubtedly be a divine work, but it will not be done without us. We must remove the obstacles that prevent the free and liberating action of the Holy Spirit. So there is a kind of balance, unequal but necessary, between the reception of the divine initiative and our own sacrificial answer. Thus there will be no unity of Christians without sacrifice.

The second thought that accompanied my ecumenical commitment is that of Father Sergei Bulgakov, who died in 1944. He said: “Unity is a reality that we have now and that we are still looking for”. In our work for the unity of Christians, let us always keep in view this dynamic tension of the “already and not yet”. Unity is a reality we are entering right now by continuing to work for it, while keeping hope for the future. Let us therefore be serenely optimistic when we consider the dialogue, by getting ever closer to God, the Other in whom others become our brothers and sisters.


Source de la photographie : Wikipedia

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Emma Cazabonne was born and raised in France. She taught English before entering the Cistercian Order. She translated and published articles relevant to her interest in Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She moved to the United States in 2001, converted to Orthodoxy in 2008, and married. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. She continued to publish articles, a Cistercian texts anthology, then finally launched her career in literary translation, while teaching French. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here