Bishop Maxim Speaks at XXI International Conference on Orthodox Spirituality - Monastery Bose, Italy
- Created on Saturday, 07 September 2013 06:38
On Saturday, 7 September 2013, the 21st International Ecumenical Conference ended at the Bose Monastery. Hierarchs and monastics belonging to the Orthodox Churches, to the Reform, and to the Catholic Church, after four intense days of meetings and dialogue, ended their work with a prayer for peace in the Bose monastery church, adhering to the appeal of the bishop of Rome, pope Francis.
The representatives of the Churches
The Bose conference wanted to listen to the wisdom of the fathers, to offer a space for reflection on the theme of spiritual maturity through the crises of passage from one age to another of life, believing that the spiritual dimension is essential for authentic human maturity. This is the idea emphasized in the numerous messages of greeting from the heads of the Churches, among them the messages of the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, read by the patriarch’s delegate, bishop Iosif of Patara; of metropolitan Ilarion in the name of the patriarch of Moscow Kirill; and that of cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in the name of pope Francis.
For the Catholic Church, those present at the conference were bishop Mansueto Bianchi of Pistoia, president of the commission “Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue” of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, who read the greeting of bishop Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference; archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio to the United Kingdom; bishop Gabriele Mana of Biella, our local bishop; and father Hyacinthe Destivelle of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who brought the message of its president, cardinal Kurt Koch.
Bishop Konstantin (Ostrovskij) of Zarajsk led the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate, with fatherDimitrij Sizonenko, responsible for inter-Christian dialogue at the Department for external affairs. BishopStefan of Homel’ and Žlobin read the message of metropolitan Filaret of Minsk, patriarchal exarch of Belarus. Present were also archbishop Zosima of Vladikavkaz, father Stefan Domuschi, delegate of the Moscow Theological Academy, archimandrite Serafim(Petrovski), delegate of metropolitan Aleksandr of Alma Ata and Kazakhstan, hieromonks Amvrosij (Vajnahij) and Pimen (Vojat) of the Lavra of the Caves, who brought greetings from metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev.
Bishop Ignatie of Mureş read the message of patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Participating in the work of the conference were metropolitan Dometian of Vidin, who transmitted the personal greetings of patriarch Neofit and bishop Boris of Agatonitsa (Bulgarian Orthodox Church); bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh (Orthodox Church of America); archimandrite Athenagoras (Fasiolo), who brought the greetings of metropolitan Gennadios of Italy; canon Hugh Wybrew, who read the greeting of the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Bishop Maxim of Western America, who read the letter of Irinej, Patriarch of Serbia.
The messages of Karekin II, catholicos of all the Armenians, of archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, ofmetropolitan Elias of Beirut, and of the secretary general of the World Council of Churches Olaf Fikse Tveit were read respectively by fr Zakaria Baghumyan, prof.Spirydon Kontoyannis, fr Porphyrios Giorgi, andMichel Nseir.
There was an important presence of monks and nuns from Orthodox monasteries (Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Mount Sinai, Armenia, France, England, United States), and Catholic and Reformed monasteries (Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary). In particular we may not frJoustinos of the St Catherine Monastery on Sinai, frEvdokimos Karakoulakis of the Koutloumoussiou monastery on Mount Athos, of fr Vasilije Grolimund of Geilnau. Participating in the Conference were also the ambassador of Romania to the Holy See Bogdan Tataru-Cazaban and professors Gelian Prochorov (St Petersburg), Nikitas Aliprandis (Athens), Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Volos).
Message from Irinej, Patriarch of Serbia
XXI International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality
THE AGES OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
Monastery of Bose, 4-7 September 2013 in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches
September 1, 2013
Your Graces the Holy Bishops and the most devout clerics,
Eloquent gentlemen the Professors,
Bellowed children in Lord,
We, participating in spirit in this spiritual feast highlighting such an important theme, “The Ages of Spiritual Life”, do hereby communicate the greetings of the Holy Church in Serbia to all chosen to be present.
The One Who in every time and every hour is worshiped and glorified, Christ our God, Who is not bound by the condition of time, He is able to lead us through the stages and ages of the spiritual life to the pleroma of life and time, the completeness or fullness of time. According to St. Symeon the New Theologian, “Christ is the beginning, the middle, and the end. He Who is in the first is in all, and as He is in the first so He is in the middle and the end as well—Christ is all and in all.” (Chapters 3.1)
With His entrance into both space and time of the world, Christ as the Eschatological Reality (namely, as the Alpha and Omega of history) establishes the last days, that is, the ultimate truth of the world in history and thus frees and heals it. Indeed, if Christ is the Alpha and Omega of history, it follows that the end of history in Christ through the Holy Spirit becomes present already here and now. Moreover, the light of the Eight Day—of the consummation that has already begun—sheds its light on the historical and ephemeral time, and makes each and every thing visible.
For this reason, the subject of your conference is extremely important. Distractions of our epoch—of an unredeemed time—steal our possibility to meet and know God. But the depth of the ages and stages of the spiritual life is so rich that only the Church can encompass it. As a way of sacramental participation in Christ’s life the Fathers of the Church very early developed the idea of mysteriological aging through Christ’s life. For example, the Christological anthropology of St Gregory is about man's passing through Christ's festal-liturgical path: “Travel without fault through every stage and faculty of the Life of Christ.” This tradition, different from the Western imitatio Christi, expanded through Maximus up to the epoch of hesichasm, and is based on the conviction that all human life should go through the stages (methelikioseis) of Christ. Gregory speaks on the sacramental crucifixion of man and his resurrection with Christ.
In this perspective, according to the words of a contemporary Athonite Elder Vasileios, “how near to you or far away people are, depends not on the geographical or chronological distance between you and them, but on your degree of spiritual health; how far you live in the realm of love and sensitivity toward things that are true and enduring, which everyone awaits. And so with the passage of time which brings you to the sunset of your life, you feel within you, waiting to be born, a desire to articulate as an expression of gratitude the words, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.”
Your important conference takes place in a “time difference”: between the First and the Second Comings, and the synchronic of the real-time in Bose seeks its validity from the diachronic moment of the Future.
Leaving a more professional and detailed analysis of the “ages of spiritual life” to the speakers and their lectures, we conclude by conveying to you all who are participating in the Symposium with scholarly contributions, and to those who have put effort into its organization in various ways, our fatherly and patriarchal wishes and blessings.
Your beloved brother in Christ and
fervent supplicant before God,
Patriarch of Serbia