Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What place should Christology have in the articulation of a theological anthropology?

I will argue that Christ is perfect man, Who lives perfectly, showing us what it means to be human. Not only does He reveal God to us; he also reveals humanity to us. Thus, Christology should be central to Theological Anthropology, as Christ rebuilds the bridge between humanity and divinity. He not only reveals God’s character and will to us, but also simultaneously reveals what it means to be fully human, in communion with our Creator. In arguing this, I will concentrate on patristic writings such as St Maximus the Confessor, St Athanasius the Great and other writings centred on the fundamental link between Christology and the understanding of man and his salvation. The essay will also highlight how Jesus Christ, through His teaching, acts, and example, found in the Gospels, shows us who we are, and who we aim to be. He does so by being identifiable to us, as flesh, and by going through human pain, suffering and death on the cross. However, the essay will also emphasise how Christ, as our Risen Lord and God, exalts man and directs Him to his  divine capabilities and purpose.

Saint Athanasius, Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria proclaim, that ‘God became man so that men might become gods.’ In other words, the incarnation of the Word - God descending down to humanity, dying on the cross, raising from the dead and granting us life - is essential in understanding that the goal of man is, to have complete unity with our Creator.  From a Patristic point of view, we cannot separate Theological anthropology from Christology. Our faith and life in the Θεάνθρωπος (God-Man) leads to a fuller understanding of who we are. St Maximus the Confessor for example, stresses that all human beings participate in Christ, insofar as they come from, and have been created by Him, in His image. It is only through our participation in Jesus Christ that we are who we are. The Risen Lord frees man from death, slavery and sin; and our human freedom is nothing less than an expression of our participation in His divine life. He has taken on human nature, as both a priest and victim, out of love, re-establishing our relationship with God. ‘The body of Christ was of the same substance as that of all man.. and he died according to the common lot of his equals..’

Within the Gospels and Saint Paul’s epistles we are frequently reminded that, in Christ, we see the first true man - not broken, nor fallen, but without sin. Pontius Pilate, perhaps without realising it, proclaims this truth, when condemning the Lord to death: ‘Behold the Man.’ (John 19:5) Similarly, we see that Jesus is indeed the true image, (Col 1:15) as ‘He reflects the Glory of God.’ (Heb 1:3) This is precisely what we are called to be; by growing in faith, and following His commandments, we ‘are changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another.’ (2 Cor 3:18) Saint Maximus the Confessor clearly believes that Christ, as the archetypal image,  is essential in understanding God’s greatest and most powerful gift to man - freedom. Freedom is of course fundamentally important to our understanding of man within theology. For Maximus, it is only through Christ, the Word, that man possesses ‘η κάτα φἠσιν αυτοεξουσιότης,’ a freedom of nature, in conformity with divine freedom. This divine freedom can only lead to goodness, as it comes from the resemblance of God. Man is inseparable from God because he reflects Christ’s ‘cosmic role.’ We, as human beings, created in the Lord’s image, receive our very free existence from the Word, according to Saint Maximus. Without the Logos, a creature would be in a state of non-being. The Word gives each man a κίνησις, something to move towards, or an aim and direction;  and it is only in this striving to find our Creator, through the true image, that man can succeed.

‘If you wish to know how great man is, do not turn your eyes towards the thrones of the kings or the places of the great man, look towards the throne of God and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Glory.’ St John Chrysostom

If we desire to understand humanity’s holiness, worth and potential, then let us not look to the cares and possessions of this world, but to Christ, Who points us to our divine purpose. All academic fields point to humanity’s evolvement and development. Man, as raw material, is always in the process of becoming; for natural science this is known as natural evolution, and for social science this is our evolving society. We, as human beings, therefore constantly strive to grow, and are set up against certain visions for the future. Christianity, as Metropolitan Anthony argues, also sets man with future visions, and the desire to continuously improve, renew and evolve towards an end. However, the difference (in centring our understanding of man on Christ, rather than other methods) is that Christianity does not do this idealistically or abstractly. We have a real man before us - Jesus Christ. Metropolitan Anthony writes, ‘in Christ we have a vision - concrete, real, historical.. of what we are called to become in our reality, in our historicity and in our becoming.’ Without having the Saviour of mankind at the centre of theological anthropology, our understanding would be, to say the least, limited. One reason for this, would be the fact that as human beings, we often have our sights solely set on material, bodily pursuits. The ‘compassionate and gracious’ (Ps 103:8) Lord, as ‘God and Father of all’ (Eph 4:6) grabs our attention and offers salvation through His instrument - the incarnate Word; a physical person. He takes on a human body in order to make Himself known to us; and for us to unite with Him. Crucially, it is only through the incarnation that man can truly relate to God. This is what Saint Athanasius the Great calls God solving the ‘Divine Dilemma’ of our salvation. It is only through Christ, the incarnate Word of God, that man is saved. This was the solution of the dilemma; the Word of God taking on a human body, as the instrument in order to offer it to death, and in this way conquer death, offering us everlasting life: 

‘The God Word of the all-good Father did not neglect the race of human beings, created by himself, which was going to corruption, but he blotted out the death which had occurred through the offering of his own body, and correcting their carelessness… restoring every aspect of human beings by his own power.’ St Athanasius the Great

Man, created by God for union and eternity, is brought out of his fallen state of death by Christ. According to the Church Fathers, such as John of Damascus, the restoration of the lost image takes place only through Christ. John’s Christology, affirms that Christ is required to take on all limitations of human experience in order to heal what had been damaged by death and sin. The Lord endures a broad range of human experiences and limitations, such as hunger, pain and of course ultimately, death. Through the incarnation of the God-Word (Θεού Λόγου), death itself is trampled upon, and we are granted the resurrection of life, ‘for as by a human being came death, by a human being has come also the resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ (1 Cor 15:21-22) For this reason, it is undoubtedly crucial to place Jesus Christ, as the fulfiller, renewer, and humanity’s source of life, at the centre of theological anthropology. Rowan Williams in fact states that if the dogma of Christ’s life, death, and rising, does not offer us the discovery of who we are, then it will have ‘failed to do its job.’ Each and every man is seen in his fullness of being, through the Word. Theological Anthropology needs a mutual understanding of both God, and of man; Christ alone provides unity between us, bringing us both ‘to friendship and concord.’ Saint Irenaeus, like John and Athanasius, affirms the teaching of the Church’s fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, by stating that the incarnate Word of God passes through all stages of human life, restoring to all, communion with Him.

By looking at the catechesis of the Christian Church, we can perhaps show how vital it is to place christology at the centre of theological anthropology, in three ways: 1) Christ teaches us what it means to be human; 2) He shows us what it means to be human; 3) He makes it possible for us to be human.  Jesus, through His parables and acts, teaches us what it means to be truly human, by His complete unity with God, the Father. His parables convey eternal truths and teachings, crucial for our human lives and relationships. For example, the parable of the Pharisee and Publican, essentially teaches us that we, as human beings, fulfil our purpose and potential not through pride and exaltation, but ascend towards God through humility and repentance. Through His acts, we see that man can only reach the highest point of love through utmost sacrifice and humility. Saint Philaret, in his catechism, gives us an example of such an act; remembering ‘how Jesus Christ on the cross prayed for His enemies, pray likewise for ours; and we thus crucify the affection of anger.’ Here we see the connection between Christ’s act, His teaching, and how they can transform our own acts and mentality, in our struggle to becoming fully human like Him. Jesus, offering us this potential, restores the image of fallen humanity (Luke 19:10), emphasising that a fulfilled human life, is a divine, theocentric life, following God’s commandments of love. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart..’ (Luke 10:27)  Christ’s entire life is a life of humility, self-sacrifice, and kenotic (Phil 2:7) love; so His human life is certainly the ideal, example to all. His temptations, as well as His suffering and death, are a reminder that our struggles, pains and afflictions lead to resurrection and joy. Man is taught to defeat, and rise up against all evil and death, through Christ. Saint Nikolaj Velimirović underlines the fact that the Lord, through His incarnation had to show man four things, in order for man to realise his potential and true purpose, in relation to God. The first is humility, followed by the fatherly love of God towards man, the royal freedom He has granted us, and His power. The Lord, as perfect man, therefore teaches and shows us what it means to be human, in that man is truly bound to God, and can share in Christ’s relationship with the Father. With Him, and in Him, we are God’s children. To be human, in light of Christ, means to be reconciled, forgiven and renewed; as He puts sin upon Himself, placing us back in communion with our Creator.

The salvation of man (yet another important theme within theological anthropology), fully relies on Christology. As previously mentioned, the fathers speak of the ultimate aim of God’s plan as man’s deification; that man ‘might participate in the whole God..by God becoming man’ Salvation and deification supposes a double movement: a divine movement towards man, requiring God to be partakable of by creation, and a human movement towards God. The essence of Maximus’ Christology is that this synergy only takes place through Christ, as ‘The hypostatic union of these two movements’ is in the incarnate Word. Thus, the hypostatic union (the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one hypostasis, as the reality that supports all else) has not only to do with Jesus’ two natures, but to do with how we understand man and his salvation. The perfectly human ‘mode of existence’ is restored and brought to salvation and fullness in Christ alone. Our understanding of Christ, and life in Him, implies and emphasises that man is fundamentally good. Essentially, for Saint Maximus, man’s salvation and deification is natural; not in the sense that we can achieve it on our own, but in the sense that man is created to be united with God, of Whom he is the image. Crucially, for us to have this good, divine inclination as human beings, and to be able to know the transcendent God, means He Himself has descended to us. ‘The meeting of the two movements is fully and hypostatically accomplished in the Incarnate Word.’ It is, then, through the acceptance of this meeting between humanity and divinity that we are able to come to a clearer understanding of theological anthropology; our understanding of man in relation to God.

Metropolitan Anthony, the former head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, interestingly points out that an important part of claiming Christ to be the perfect man, is the fact He identifies Himself with every human being. Jesus Christ, in His acceptance of our human situation, accepts us in our frailties, and in our miseries. He Himself was born, rejected, tired, abandoned and hated - but of course most importantly, died. Although many may romantically cover up His violent and harsh death, the truth is that it was very real, and reflects our own prayer in pain; ‘My God, my God why have thou forsaken me?’ (Matt 27:46) The tragedy of man is Godlessness, but God Himself, through His incarnation and death participates in this. Jesus becomes one of us, in the most horrid, dark sense. This is the measure of His solidarity. He accepts everything that we are, even our Godlessness and death. Only through this bold realisation of Christ’s true humanity, can we understand man in relation to God. Without Christology, and in particular the understanding of Jesus’ humanity, we are unable to explain human pain, suffering and death in light of God. Moreover, we are unable to speak of our ability to rise above mortality and death, living in eternal communion with God, without His divinity. 

Christology should be central to Theological Anthropology, as Christ, the incarnate Word ‘accomplishes the true human destiny..He unites man to God.’ The essay has argued that in Christ, we have anthropophany; the true revelation of man. Only in the person of Jesus, we find unity between humanity and divinity; and the true meaning and purpose of human life. John Zizioulas, the Metropolitan of Pergamon, writes that ‘man exists truly in unbroken relationship with God,’ but as the essay has highlighted, it is Christ Who offers man this relationship and understanding of His Creator. I have expressed the position that God’s will, purpose, and nature are made known through the person of Jesus; with His incarnation, His death and resurrection, as well as His human life, teaching and acts, offering us a clearer understanding of who we are, and who we ought to be as men. 









Bibliography:

Βελιμίροβιτς Ν 2010, Θεός επι γης, Άνθωπος εν ουρανώ, Athens, p.69-70.
Bloom, A  2004, God and Man, London : DLT, p. 81-89.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.19.6, in A New Eusebius 1987, London: SPCK, p.119.
Meyendorff, J 1969, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, Washington: Corpus, p.104-115.
Saint Athanasius, 2011, On the IncarnationNew York: SVS, p.37-39.
Saint Philaret, The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Catholic Eastern Church, p.211.
Twombly, C 2015, Perichoresis and Personhood, Eugene: PTMS, p.97-99.
Williams, R 2007, On Christian TheologyOxford: Blackwell p.82.





Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Hesychasm

Ησυχασμός, from ησυχία (stillness, silence, and rest) is the mystical tradition of prayer, based on Christ's instruction to 'enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.' (Matthew 6:6) Hesychasm has been the process of retiring inwards, closing off all other senses and cares, in order to fervently pray 'in secret,' leading to experiential knowledge of God. This short piece will discuss the origins of the Hesychast movement, its practices, its central role in Byzantine monasticism and spirituality, and its controversy within the Byzantine Empire. Finally, in the concluding paragraph, I will emphasise the inseparability between hesychastic mysticism and the theology of the Church.

Metropolitan Kallistos, in 'Act out of Stillness,' summarises the history and meaning of the hesychastic practice, in three concise points.  Firstly, it refers to the solitary life. Secondly it is the practice of inner prayer, aiming for union with God on the highest level, beyond concepts, or even images and language. This description is seen in Saint Maximus the Confessor's writings (580-662) as well as within the writings of Evagrius Ponticus (345-399) and the later work of Saint Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022). Finally, this quest for union with God is found through the prayer of the heart; the Jesus Prayer. 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,' with the earliest reference to the prayer found in Saint Diadochos of Photiki's work, which is included in the Philokalia.

The basic term appears as early as the 4th century, in Saint John Chrysostom, along with the Cappadocian and Desert fathers. In Egypt, the frequently used term is 'Anchoretism,' from αναχώρησις, meaning to withdraw, depart, or withdraw. Justinian himself treated both the terms 'Hesychasm' and 'Anchoretism' as interchangeable terms. Thus, Hesychasm has strong links with, and connotations of asceticism, hermitage, and of course, monasticism. The term Hesychasm is used often in the well known work of Saint John; 'The Ladder of Divine Ascent.' 

Saint John Climacus speaks of stillness as 'the accurate knowledge and management of one's feelings and perceptions. Stillness of soul is the accurate knowledge of one's thoughts and is an unassailable mind'  For Saint John, it is a state of being all Christians are called to acquire in the presence of God. Those who philosophise about God are full of distractions and thoughts, all centred on the human mind; however for the hesychast, we are truly in God's presence in silence. The former consider theories of God, but the latter know Him personally, and experientially, as Lord and Father. Hesychasm is therefore not a movement exclusive to monastics and hermits, but in a way, should be followed by every Christian, for we are all called to know and love God personally. If we, as Christians are called to not conform to this world (Romans 12:2) then this means we should be able to reject external distractions and noisiness, in solitude and peace.

'The start of stillness is the rejection of all noisiness as something that will trouble the depths of the soul..' St John Climacus

Is Hesychasm then, a rejection and hatred of this world? One key principle of monastic solitude is in fact leaving this world, not out of hatred for it, but rather that we may one day return to it with perfect love and peacefulness. Saint John writes, 'The Solitary runs away from everyone, but does so without hatred, just as another runs towards the crowd, even if without enthusiasm.' 

Hesychasm is therefore an invitation to be at peace with ones self, in prayer, solitude and love. The hesychast does not have to find himself in a desert, or rural area, as one who keeps this prayerful way of life can truly be at peace anywhere. The reason for leading such a life, follows Saint Paul's teaching, that we should be in a state of prayer unceasingly. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

'Let the remembrance of Jesus be present with you every breath. Then you will appreciate the value of stillness.' 

Here, Saint John, referring to the Jesus prayer, highlights the fact that every minute of our lives should be sanctified, in prayer, peacefulness, content, and above all used to glorify Christ.

Though, as I have argued, Hesychasm follows Holy Scripture and its goal is unquestionably holy and inseparable to the teachings of the Christian Church, it has been, and remains controversial. The Hesychast controversy within the Byzantine Empire was centred on a number of factors, surrounding the friction between Saint Gregory of Palamas and Barlaam. It was in a way, an opposition of two cultures; the Latin culture represented by Barlaam, and the Byzantine Greek culture, represented by Gregory Palamas. However, it was not simply a struggle between ecclesiastical movements, but also philosophical ones; Aristotelianism and Platonism. Furthermore, as is the case today within the Orthodox Church, there was clearly an antagonism, between the two ecclesiastical parties of monastics, and more 'secular,' perhaps less 'pious' clergy. Father Andrew Louth, interestingly takes the view that the controversy between Gregory and Barlaam was not so much centred on a friction between the Latin West and Byzantine spirituality, but rather a dispute about how we reach knowledge of God. Barlaam is seen holding the view that we acquire knowledge of God through intellect, while Saint Gregory is concerned with the experience of God through prayer.

Saint Gregory's viewpoint was definitely shared by the Byzantine monastic order. Prayer was, and still is, the essential activity of the monk, in his quest and thirst for God. Evagrius writes, 'Disctractionless prayer is the mind's highest achievement.. the mind ascending toward God.' Rather than intellectual thought, prayer is the mind's 'proper occupation' for Evagrius. For this reason, the Jesus prayer began to, and still does, dominate Eastern monasticism, as the essential element of Byzantine hesychasm. Does this way of life and prayer, with its basis of personal ascetical efforts, contradict the work of God's grace? Meyendroff states that hesychasm is 'based on the synergy of human effort and grace.' It is therefore a two-way relationship; with man struggling against his passions and distractions in contemplative prayer and ascesis, only with the constant help and strength of God's grace. Saint Isaac of Ninevah tells us that 'when the Spirit establishes his dwelling in man, he can no longer stop praying.. for the Spirit never ceases praying in him. Rather than an act centred on the self, it is 'an uninterrupted service of God.' (St John Climacus)

To conclude, this piece has briefly discussed the origins and practices of Hesychasm, along with the controversies surrounding it. Although it could be argued that it has stimulated a somewhat extreme sense of Christian piety and asceticism, we must not disregard the fact that its basis and inspiration has been, and is, man recovering his original destiny in Christ. It is a path of synergy, to true freedom from the slavery of evil, participating in Christ's very kingdom 'within us' (Luke 17:20-21) leading to knowledge and love of God. This is essentially routed in the belief that God became man, for us to unite with Him - affirmed in the doctrines of the Ecumenical councils.  The incarnate Word assumes human nature, as the New Adam (1 Cor 15:22) in order for us to reach the pinnacle of this life, the ladder of divine ascent; the summit of virtue: '..Now at last, after all that has been said, there remains that triad, faith, hope and love, binding and securing the union of all,' (St John Climacus) Fr Vassilios Papavassiliou beautifully writes, 'Mysticism is never separated from dogma and theology. The purpose of both doctrine and mysticism is to know the true God, Who is Love.' 


Sources:
Vassilios Papavassiliou, Thirty Steps to Heaven - the Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life (Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2013)
St John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (New York: Paulist Press, 1982)
Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (Washington: Corpus, 1969)
Kallistos Ware, Act out of Stillness: The influence of Fourteenth-centry Hesychasm on Byzantine and Slav Civilisation (Toronto: Hellenic Canadian Association of Constantinople, 1995)







Monday, 9 November 2015

The Ecological Vision of the Ecumenical Patriarch

The majority of people ignore or overlook the fact that the ecological crisis is deeply rooted in theology. His all-holiness Bartholomew, throughout his Patriarchal ministry, has urged humanity, and in particular the Christian faithful, to protect God's creation. Μετάνοια, or repentance, is not limited to doctrinal or theoretical aspects of the Church's teaching. The mistreatment of nature is a sin, and so we are called to transform our mentalities (with regards to consumerism, pollution and carelessness) in repentance, as it is our Christian obligation to do so. The Patriarch has been the leading religious figure in pressurising the global community to realising this. For Bartholomew, the Church cannot be faithful to her mission without a serious involvement in the protection of God's creation from the damage inflicted on it by human selfishness and greed. 

The Orthodox Church affirms that without a profound spiritual transformation of the human being, there is no hope of saving our natural environment. With greed, self-centredness, overconsumption, and a lack of cooperation, it is clear that our sinful interventions threaten our God-given planet with destruction. In order to truly reach and achieve the spiritual transformation needed, Bartholomew urges all religious communities to cooperate, together with scientists, politicians and ethicists in order to tackle this ecological crisis. His all-holiness writes:

'The solution to the ecological problem is not only a matter of science, technology and politics, but also, and perhaps primarily, a matter of radical change of mind.. a new ethos.' 

Even though we have scientific proof of the damage being done to our planet, we need to make a change of heart, and a shift of mind. The Ecumenical Patriarch states that even though this century has been one of immense scientific progress, it has simultaneously been a period of extreme destruction and damage. Science of course informs us about the world, but it 'cannot reach the depths of our soul and mind,' which is where real change, repentance and love takes place. 



The Orthodox Church's involvement in the protection of the natural environment is a matter of faithfulness to her tradition, and to her very nature. John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon, tells us that two aspects of the Church's teaching and life, testify to this. Firstly, the centrality of the Holy Eucharist for Christian existence, and secondly, the ascetical tradition. The Eucharist reminds us that the human being is the 'priest of creation,' in that we are called to take the world into our hands as a gift, and refer it back to our Giver, with thankfulness - ευχαριστία. As the world is passed on through our human hands, of course changes will take place, but each transformation that takes place must be shared in love, and refer back to the Creator. Such transformations might be science, art, culture and other beneficial fields; but not acts which result in carelessness and destruction of nature. The ascetical tradition of the Church reminds us of the fact we should strive to free ourselves from selfishness. We often mistakingly understand ourselves as the possessors of nature, rather than eucharistic beings, who should offer everything back to God.


Our Christian faith is centred on the holiness of human life, granted to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Following His commandments, in preserving human life and nature, we are called to share this message of protection, respect, dignity and cooperation, and act upon it, following the example of his all-holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew. Fr Thomas Kocherry, an Indian priest, social activist and lawyer, writes:

'As a religious leader, Patriarch Bartholomew gives meaning to Jesus Christ even today. Through his work, Jesus is still alive and risen. Environmental awareness and social justice go together. His all-holiness has taught the world that an institutional Church has relevance...'

With our Patriarch of Constantinople leading world faith groups in raising awareness of climate change, and influencing Pope Francis' recent encyclical on the environment, he is indeed an example to us all in making our own personal efforts in tackling global warming, with repentance and love for God and His creation.


Main Source:
John Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer - The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch Bartholomew (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2009) 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Ecumenical Patriarch in London

Following this summary of Monday nights event, there will be an additional post dedicated to our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, successor of Saint Andrew the Apostle. 

The Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited London this week, in response to an official invitation by His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby. As part of his visit to the United Kingdom, our Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain organised a Gala Dinner in his honour, at the Marriott Hotel in Central London, following a Doxology at the Cathedral of Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Bayswater.

All the clergy, and lay leaders of our Holy Archdiocese were present; with around six-hundred attendees sharing a meal with His All-Holiness, as well as our Archbishop Gregorios, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh, Elisey, and other representatives from both the Coptic and Roman Catholic churches. Furthermore, the High Commissioner of Cyprus, Euripides Evripiades was present, along with the Ambassador of Greece, Konstantinos Bikas, in addition to several other dignitaries and leaders.

Following our Archbishop Gregorios' welcome, Mr Marios Minaides, the Chairman of the Association of Greek Orthodox Communities in Great Britain, spoke of our Patriarch's wonderful efforts to promote the protection of God's creation. Mr Minaides emphasised how we, as Orthodox Christians, can only admire and embrace His All-Holiness' respect for the environment, his promotion of world peace, reconciliation, and religious freedom, and of course his overall contribution to, and love for, Christ's Church.

During the event, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Archbishop of Canterbury stressed the importance of sharing a meal together; uniting one another in friendship and understanding, celebrating the shared belief and trust in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Following on from His All-Holiness' earlier speech at the Cathedral, Welby importantly stated that although there are several differences between the Orthodox Church and the Anglican communion, we must not be concerned with what is unfinished, but trust that God will, in time, complete and fulfil what we ourselves have failed to complete.

The successful, and well-organised evening, consisting of the Doxology in Agia Sophia, and the Gala Dinner in the Marriott, was a way of giving the faithful an opportunity to pray with, greet, and joyfully share a meal with His All-Holiness - the spiritual leader of our Mother Church. As a Biblical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople, our active Archdiocese, through this event, highlighted that its efforts to serve the faithful of Great Britain continue to bear fruit; with all its diverse, inclusive and welcoming communities gathered together in Christ, upholding and celebrating our living Byzantine, Constantinopolitan ecclesiastical tradition, in the United Kingdom.


Please visit Protopresbyter Anastasios Salapatas' post on the event for more photographs (as well as information in Greek) :
http://anastasiosds.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/blog-post_3.html