In the last two blog posts I presented Father Georges Florovsky’s essay “The Lost Scriptural Mind,” which forms the first chapter to Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View.* Before proceeding to the rest of the book, I want to briefly note some points for ongoing reflection and possible discussion in this post. (I am aware that I am rather theologically out of touch, and seem to have difficulty remembering the details of historical topics I once did know something about, and am sort of thinking aloud here, so if others want to pitch in, please feel free…)

Florovsky’s Context and Ours
Reading this essay, and noting that it was published in The Christian Century in 1951, I could not help but be struck by the context in which Father Florovsky was writing. As Daniel Greeson noted in a comment here,

What is interesting to think about is the intellectual milieu in which Florovsky was moving in at the time. He would have recently moved to NYC and been moving around in the same hallways as Niebuhr and Tillich. Demythologizing would have been at its height if I am not mistaken? Publishing this in the Christian Century at that time, mighty interesting.

Add to this his involvement in the ecumenical movement and the founding of the World Council of Churches,** and we see an Orthodox theologian who was in touch with the modern western theological world. This was in keeping with his oft-quoted statement:

Orthodoxy is summoned to witness. Now more than ever the Christian West stands before divergent prospects, a living question addressed also to the Orthodox world… The ‘old polemical theology’ has long ago lost its inner connection with any reality. Such theology was an academic discipline, and was always elaborated according to the same western ‘textbooks.’ A historiosophical exegesis of the western religious tragedy must become the new ‘polemical theology.’ But this tragedy must be reendured and relived, precisely as one’s own, and its potential catharsis must be demonstrated in the fullness of the experience of the Church and patristic tradition. In this newly sought Orthodox synthesis, the centuries-old experience of the Catholic West must be studied and diagnosed by Orthodox theology with greater care and sympathy than has been the case up to now… The Orthodox theologian must also offer his own testimony to this world—a testimony arising from the inner memory of the Church—and resolve the question with his historical findings.

Reading this essay, I was struck by how Florovsky was responding to a fundamentally Protestant context that was dominated by liberalism and neo-orthodoxy, with what he saw as their respective temptations to Nestorianism and Monophysitism. And, as Dan notes in his comment, “the resonances feel different to me now.” While I agree, I am not sure how to accurately categorize current theological contexts, not only because I am out of touch, but also because they have become more diverse – and the context in which I find myself is rather different from that of many readers of this blog. However, I would tend to see liberal Protestantism as having morphed, together with some other influences, into various theologies of liberation, as well as having re-emerged, together with other influences, in some emphases on spirituality. And I wonder if its major temptation today is not to a form of monism? (As for neo-orthodoxy, I’m not really sure what’s become of it. I’m tempted to say that the “monophysite” temptation is now represented by the resurgence of Calvinism, but I’m also aware that the two cannot be identified).

However, messy as this may be, when I look around me at Christians in South Africa, I do see something that seems to line up with Father Florovsky’s two alternatives. On the one hand, there is an emphasis on “inclusiveness,” a wariness of dogma and of drawing barriers, and the desire for a “human redeemer.” And, on the other hand, there are various forms of fundamentalism and/or Calvinism (and, to give them their due, it is the Calvinists who seem to be the most intellectually serious) with their anthropological pessimism that reduce humanity to “complete passivity.”

A Renewal in Ecclesiology?
This is something that Father Florovsky only touches on in this essay, but he seemed to put some hope in a rediscovery of the Church among western Christians. Again, this reflects the context of his involvement in the WCC, and also the renewal in ecclesiology among both Protestants and Catholics in the first half of the twentieth century. Yet I am inclined to think that the results of this renewal have been rather disappointing and am not sure what is really left of it. Certainly, the trend in the WCC to becoming a parachurch movement rather than seeking the visible unity of its various members, together with the various roadblocks that bilateral ecumenical dialogues have faced, makes his optimism about it seem a little naïve. However, that does not detract from his conviction that:

“In a time such as this” one has to preach “the whole Christ,” Christ and the church – totus Christus, caput et corpus, to use the famous phrase of St. Augustine. Possibly this preaching is still unusual, but it seems to be the only way to preach the Word of God efficiently in a period of gloom and despair like ours. (16)

Does Dogma Matter?
Shining through this chapter is Father Florovsky’s conviction that it is nothing less than the historical faith of the Church that can save his – and our – era. Yet, as noted above, one of the key features of one strand of contemporary Christianity is precisely its aversion to dogma, which it perceives as oppressive and excluding. This is a topic that I have considered writing on before, but I have hesitated for I suspect that the reasons for this are complex and wide-reaching. Nevertheless, it is a question that accompanies me as I read this work, for I am convinced that one of the key challenges in “bearing witness” is to enable our contemporaries to see the truly life-giving nature of Christian dogma. And I hope that Father Florovsky’s works will help us to see that better.


* This post is part of a series in which I hope to blog my way through the Collected Works of Father Georges Florovsky, of which this book forms the first volume. Like the other volumes, it is out of print and only available at exorbitant prices on Amazon. However, there are PDFs floating around on the Internet, which I would encourage interested readers to track down.

** See here and here for more background on Father Florovsky’s role in the ecumenical movement.

I’m stealing this from John Sanidopoulos because something reminded me of this quote and I googled for it and found it on his blog and thought that those who don’t know it might appreciate it. It sort of reminds me, in a rather different way, of a quote from Saint Augustine that I posted recently: if we tell people that the things that they know are not true, we will just put them off and destroy our own credibility in the process. Of course learning to do this properly is by no means easy…

Elder Sophronius Sakharov relates the following story:

I remember a conversation [Staretz Silouan] had with a certain Archimandrite who was engaged in missionary work. This Archimandrite thought highly of the Staretz and many a time went to see him during his visits to the Holy Mountain. The Staretz asked him what sort of sermons he preached to people. The Archimandrite, who was still young and inexperienced gesticulated with his hands and swayed his whole body, and replied excitedly, I tell them, “Your faith is all wrong, perverted. There is nothing right, and if you dont repent, there will be no salvation for you.”

The Staretz heard him out, then asked, “Tell me, Father Archimandrite, do they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the true God?”

“Yes, that they do believe.”

“And do they revere the Mother of God?”

“Yes, but they are not taught properly about her.”

“And what of the Saints?”

“Yes, they honour them but since they have fallen away from the Church, what saints can they have?”

“Do they celebrate the Divine Office in their churches? Do they read the Gospels?”

“Yes, they do have churches and services but if you were to compare their services with ours how cold and lifeless theirs are!”

“Father Archimandrite, people feel in their souls when they are doing the proper thing, believing in Jesus Christ, revering the Mother of God and the Saints, whom they call upon in prayer, so if you condemn their faith they will not listen to you . . . But if you were to confirm that they were doing well to believe in God and honour the Mother of God and the Saints; that they are right to go to church, and say their prayers at home, read the Divine word, and so on; and then gently point out their mistakes and show them what they ought to amend, then they would listen to you, and the Lord would rejoice over them. And this way by God’s mercy we shall all find salvation . . . God is love, and therefore the preaching of His word must always proceed from love. Then both preacher and listener will profit. But if you do nothing but condemn, the soul of the people will not heed you, and no good will come of it.”

* This excerpt was taken from the book Saint Silouan the Athonite by Archimandrite Sophronius Sakharov.


I really have been quite strict about waiting until I actually earn some money before buying books – and I am going to have to invest in some basic texts when I am able to do so. But I have recently discovered the second hand bookshop at the Anglican Cathedral and, while I restrained myself from many things, decided that I would later regret letting these books get away. Quite apart from their contents, some of them will be fun to restore. (The totally anonymous one is Select Sermons of S. Leo the Great on the Incarnation).

But it was only when I got home that I noticed the following inscription in Father Lev Gillet’s Jesus. A Dialogue with the Saviour (published under his pseudonym of “a Monk of the Eastern Church”):

The prior of Chevetogne at the time was Father Thomas Becquet (I had to look that up) and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time was Michael Ramsey. I’ve no idea how it got to Cape Town, but it obviously did.

This morning I was planning to go to Liturgy in Utrecht. I’d been to the church there once before, knew how to find it and the time of the service and so, in retrospect rather foolishly, didn’t think to look up their website before I left. And that resulted in me standing outside a locked and deserted church, where, for whatever reason, there was obviously no Liturgy. Having come all the way, it seemed rather a waste to just go home again and so I decided to try the Protestants. I was partly motivated by wanting to see inside the historic Dom Church, and partly because I have been conscious in recent months of how ignorant I am of Dutch Protestantism and had been thinking that it would good to attend a Protestant service sometime.

This ignorance is more specifically an ignorance of the Dutch Reformed Churches than of Protestantism generally. I once studied with Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and other mainline Protestants, to say nothing of having once been an Anglican. But because of various linguistic, geographical and political factors in my South African upbringing, I never had much contact with the Dutch Reformed Churches. And, given their role in propagating and upholding apartheid, I never had any motivation to seek contact with them, despite the real admiration I had for the prophetic leaders they produced such as Beyers Naude and Nico Smit. The only N.G. Kerk service that I can remember attending, although there may have been others, was in my final year of high school on the day of the vow, which was then a quasi-religious public holiday that commemorated the victory of the Boer armies over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838. I had just completed a history research project on religious influence on Afrikaner nationalism and was curious to see what an N.G. day of the vow service was like. Whether because this was the Natal south coast rather than the heartland of the old Transvaal republics, or whether because by this stage (1983) the bonds of ideology were beginning to weaken, the service did not contain anything particularly remarkable. But it did reinforce my image of the N.G. Kerk – of a staid service, dominees (ministers) who wore white ties, the centrality of the pulpit in the church, and a communion service only once every three months.

Now I did know that contemporary Dutch protestants would be considerably different from the image I had of the N.G. Kerk. (And I’m also somewhat aware that the N.G. Kerk itself is in search of its own identity). But going into the Dom Church this morning I had no idea what to expect and felt about as clueless as western Christians who encounter an Orthodox Liturgy for the first time. I was late and entered during the homily and slipped into a seat in what I thought was a sort of annex near the pulpit. But I was really totally disorientated, for the pulpit, which I had assumed to be the central focus of the church, turned out to be at the back of the church. The seating was based on the elliptical model of two monastic choirs between the two poles of ambo and altar. The ambo, with a candle burning next to it, was just in front of the pulpit, and like it was facing East towards the altar. Moreover, the dominee was not wearing a white tie, but was clad in a black cassock and a green stole and, at a glance, could easily have been mistaken for an Orthodox priest. And after the homily, the action shifted towards the front of the church, to the altar, and the basic structure of the Eucharist that followed was fundamentally the same as an Anglican or Catholic Liturgy.

It was clearly a carefully prepared liturgy, people were welcoming, and there was a reverent spirit, far more so than one would find in some Catholic parishes. During the liturgy of the Eucharist everyone stood in a large circle, or rather oval, which they stayed in until after receiving communion which was passed around. When I heard that this was what one did I planned to leave before they went into the circle, as my experience elsewhere has been that it is often difficult not to receive communion in situations like that. But the circle started at the beginning of the eucharistic prayer and I was rather curious to see how it would proceed. And it was actually loose enough to make it easy to step back and not receive communion and nobody had a problem with that. The anaphora was probably not quite adequate according to Orthodox or Catholic standards, but I have known Catholics to use worse ones. In fact, if I were to be critical of their liturgy, it would not be because it is Protestant, but rather because of a certain vagueness of language that too-easily facilitates a transition from revealed religion to human religiosity – but that is a topic that is by no means confined to Protestants and which I intend writing on soon.

And so it was quite a disorientating experience. I have no idea how typical it is of Dutch Protestants, or what Calvin would think of it. And I found myself wondering whether this is part of the fruit of the ecumenical movement – that processes like BEM have actually led to Protestants discovering deeper sacramental roots and engaging in serious change. And then I can understand a little of their hurt that Catholics and Orthodox will still not recognise their sacraments. But it also made me realise that the issues dividing Christians are not as simple as they once were, and that the new divisions are often much more subtle and more difficult to name.

Father Alexander Schmemann continues the seventh chapter of The Eucharist Sacrament of the Kingdom: Sacrament of the Kingdom,by focusing on the shifts that occurred in the shift in understand of the concept of unity. While the creed was introduced into the eucharistic liturgy at a relatively late stage (the beginning of the sixth century), its purpose was to set the limits of the eucharistic community in order to guard the faith from heresy.

…the inclusion of the symbol of faith in the order of the liturgy, which became universal relatively quickly, was nothing more than the confirmation of the originally obvious, organic and inalienable link between the unity of faith and the Church and her self-fulfilment in the eucharist. And this link constituted the heartbeat of the experience and life of the early Church. (141)

Father Schmemann argues that this link between the unity of faith and the Church, which is what precludes communion with those outside the Church, while still assented to, has become more a formality than something that lives in the consciousness of believers, for scholastic theology has separated this discipline from its living roots which is the primordial experience of the Eucharist as the sacrament of unity. In contemporary understanding the Eucharist has become an individualised “means of personal sanctification” to meet the “spiritual needs” of the believer, and this is sanctioned by and reflects the theological fragmentation that – influenced by the West – has isolated


I wrote this a couple of days ago and have been hesitating about posting it as I’m not sure that I express things adequately, and I don’t want to offend people. But I can’t help thinking that there are things that need to be said… and if I don’t post it now it will be too old.

Since posting on this topic before, which was really an attempt to draw attention to a dialogue Deacon Stephen was trying to get underway at Thandanani, I have been wondering how and whether I should say anything more, and I suppose that this post is really an attempt to get my thoughts together. The Thandanani discussion has been pretty much limited to Deacon Stephen and me and we seem to more or less agree with each other, which is very nice but doesn’t really take things further. I’ve also followed some recent Eirenikon discussions, and participated a bit, but realised that I was quite uncomfortable with that in a way that I couldn’t properly articulate. What was presented was worthwhile, but I could not help but feel that there was an underlying dynamic with the discussion that I was not comfortable with. More recently I have been struck by an interview with Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon which Father Milovan Katanic posted and by a post on Orthodox hostility to Catholicism by Father Gregory Jensen.

Now, as I said, I’m not sure that I should be getting involved in such discussions – apart from the fact that I’m even less than a neophyte, I probably have other things that I should be attending to. But because of the space that I have been in in the last couple of years, I have become aware that there is much that is left unspoken in the ways in which Orthodox and Catholics relate to one another, and that it is perhaps especially this unspoken layer that needs to be brought to light.


‘We are not born Christians, we become Christians’ (Tertullian). This ‘becoming’ is the space in which Christian asceticism reveals its meaning. The word asceticism is suspect today, if not completely absurd and incomprehensible for many people, including – and this is particularly significant – quite a few Christians. Derived from the Greek verb askein (to train or practise), the term asceticism indicates a form of methodical training, a repeated exercise, an effort directed towards the acquisition of a specific ability or area of competence. We might think of an athlete, an artist, or a soldier – each trains by repeating over and over the same movements or gestures in order to reach a high level of performance. Asceticism, therefore, is first of all a human necessity, because our growth and ‘humanization’ includes a dimension of interior growth that should correspond to our physical development. We need to know how to say ‘no’ if we want to be able to say ‘yes’: ‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways,’ writes St Paul (1 Corinthians 13.11). In Christian life, which is rebirth to a new life in Christ and the adaptation of our own life to God’s life, we need to learn ‘unnatural’ capacities such as prayer and love for our enemies – and this is impossible without practice and constant effort. Unfortunately, the current cultural myth of spontaneity and permanent adolescence, which sees effort and authenticity as opposed to one another, is a serious obstacle to human maturation and makes it difficult for us to understand why asceticism is essential to spiritual growth. …

Asceticism is at the service of the Christian revelation that attests that our true freedom is revealed when we are open to the gift of God and capable of giving ourselves for love of God and our neighbour. Our ascetic discipline has the effect of liberating us from philautia (self-love, egocentrism) and transforming us from individuals into people capable of communion, love, and the free gift of ourselves. Again, the words of a desert father reveal that the early Christian tradition recognized its own errors: ‘Many have prostrated themselves without the slightest discernment, and have left without gaining anything at all. Our mouths smell bad because of our fasting, we know the Scriptures by heart, we recite all of the Psalms, but we do not have what God seeks – love and humility.’ We need to be intelligent and discerning in our asceticism if we want to please God, and if we want to become more, and not less, human. An intelligent asceticism can help us in our task of making our life a masterpiece, a work of art. Perhaps it is not by chance that the verb askein, in ancient Greek literature, is also used to designate the work of the artist. This, then, is the goal of asceticism: to situate the life of the Christian in the domain of beauty, which in Christianity is another name for holiness.

Enzo Bianchi,  Words of Spirituality, (SPCK, 2002) 3-5.

I had been intending to simply review this book, but it is not such an easy book to review, comprising forty five shortish reflections. However, it is not a compilation of isolated reflections, but rather an intertwined whole in which different themes on the spiritual life evoke and complement one another in a sort of spiral movement. I think that the best that I can do is to continue to provide some extracts from the book which may entice readers to seek it out as it really is a book that can only be read – and re-read – rather than summarised.

However, it may be good to say something to introduce the author and his community as he (and they) do not seem to be that well-known in the English speaking world. And – rather ironically – they often seem to be better known among Orthodox than among Catholics.

Brother Enzo Bianchi is the founder and prior of the monastic community of Bose in northern Italy and a respected Christian voice in Italy. (He’s also an excellent chef, but that’s another story). Founded in the years immediately after the Second Vatican Council, they are one of the more successful examples of monastic renewal in the Catholic Church. Strictly speaking they are not a Catholic community for their members come from different Churches, but they are after all in Italy and so most of them are Catholic. I spent three months with them last year and my reaction was that this is post-conciliar Catholicism at (or near) its best. They will not appeal to those people who are scandalised by religious who don’t wear habits all the time or want a return to Tridentine liturgy and ultramontanist theology. But neither are they willing to sacrifice the Gospel to the spirit of the age. They are very clearly rooted in the biblical and patristic tradition, and have invested much in forming people in this. They have a publishing house which both translates works from other languages and publishes books by the brothers and sisters and other Italian authors.

The brothers and sisters of Bose are known in some quarters for their commitment to ecumenism, and particularly for their contacts with the Orthodox Church. An important part of this is the conference on Orthodox spirituality that is held every year in September and they also have contacts with Protestant and Anglican groups. Their approach to ecumenism is clearly one of seeking to reach back to a common tradition and they see the monastic tradition as having a particular role in this regard. Thus they are not into imitating Orthodox liturgy or customs – their liturgy is clearly western and post-conciliar – but are rather interested in discerning the common roots. And this has resulted in a serious concentration on Scripture and the Fathers.

It is a great shame that more of their books are not translated into English. As far as I am aware, the only other book by Brother Enzo that has appeared in English is Praying the Word: An Introduction to Lectio Divina (Cistercian Studies Series). For anyone with Italian translation skills, it would be a worthwhile project to make more of them available.

I haven’t done much blog reading recently and last week as I was looking at Phil Sumpter’s Narrative and Ontology and regretting that I will probably never have time to catch up on his posts on Brevard Childs, one of his links caught my eye. (He has this blogroll which actually tells you what people are writing on which is very useful – I’m not sure if WordPress can do that but I must investigate when I get down to some blog housekeeping…) I saw a post entitled The Arrogant Papal Brow by Father Milovan Katanic of Again and Again and, thinking that the pope might actually have gone and done something significant, went and clicked on it. I got really infuriated when I read it as there was nothing new, but it seems that there has been a whole lot of talk in the blogosphere about an imminent reunion of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. This is, quite frankly, just scaremongering and I was reminded of the Patriarch of Constantinople’s encyclical for the Sunday of Othodoxy this year where he wrote:

In their polemical argumentation, these critics of the restoration of unity among Christians do not even hesitate to distort reality in order to deceive and arouse the faithful. … They disseminate false rumors that union between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches is imminent, while they know well that the differences discussed in these theological dialogues remain numerous and require lengthy debate; moreover, union is not decided by theological commissions but by Church Synods. They assert that the Pope will supposedly subjugate the Orthodox, because the latter submit to dialogue with the Roman Catholics!

I thought of posting on this then, but was concerned that I’d just end up ranting. I also realised that these Orthodox reactions – which whenever there is contact between Orthodox and Catholic hierarchs scream that the Orthodox Church is about to capitulate to papal arrogance, the pan-ecumenical heresy etc. etc. – are in a sense simply a mirror image of some of the reactions which I have experienced among Catholics. All too often they also see such contacts as indicating that we are on the verge of unity, that the differences between the Churches have actually been sorted out, or are simply unimportant, and that all we need to do is say a few prayers and be polite to one another and that life can go on as it was.

When faced with either of these extremes who seem to think that unity is imminent – the one horrified at the prospect and the other delighted at it – I have tended to wonder: am I living on another planet? If people have such a minimal grasp on reality, then where can one start to talk? And are people interested in really listening? I do believe that unity is important and that dialogue is important. But then it must start from reality as it is and should enable one to really listen to the issues involved. And the issues are not simply the pope and the filioque, which may or may not be resolved in the official dialogues; they also go much deeper and touch on the lives of ordinary believers.

I was therefore pleased when Deacon Stephen wrote a very sensible post on the subject. He is by no means rejecting dialogue but argues that the resolution of the issues separating Orthodox and Catholics will require considerably more than polite contact between the hierarchs of both Churches.

Unity is a lot more than Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops visiting and being polite to each other. I’m all in favour of them doing that, and even doing the same thing with Anglican and Zionist bishops, but it doesn’t mean that reunion is imminent.

Some think that it is only a few minor theological issues that can be sorted out quickly. But it’s not just papal primacy and the Filioque that keep us apart, but a millennium of history. We differ in soteriology (Anselm’s theory of the atonement, which swept the west, never got much traction in Orthodoxy), ecclesiology (the Orthodox temple versus the Roman monolith and the Protestant heap of stones) and missiology (Roman missiologists believe that Orthodox missiology is derived from Origen).

All these have led to a different culture and ethos, and this is just as much theology as the kind of theology that is written in books. And so before there can be any reunion, these things must be faced and examined.

There was some reaction to his post which had the potential to become a rather interesting discussion, but instead of doing that there he has proposed continuing the discussion at the Thandanani forum. (“Thandanani is a Zulu word meaning “love one another” and is a space for Christians from different backgrounds to learn more about each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect). If there are readers who are genuinely concerned with dialogue and unity, or with understanding the issues involved between Orthodox and Catholics, I would encourage them to continue this discussion there.


As an aside, in case there are readers who don’t follow his blogs, Deacon Stephen (Steve Hayes – I never quite know what to do with this title thing!) is one of the soundest Orthodox bloggers that I’m aware of and he has had some excellent posts – Spiritual but not religious was particularly good – on Khanya recently which I thought of recommending but never got to. Of course, the fact that he’s a South African is also a recommendation!

Maxime Egger continues this biographical introduction to Father Boris Bobrinskoy’s The Compassion of the Father by turning to Father Boris’ theological vision, where he detects the paradoxes of light-darkness and descent-ascent that run through several themes.

Central to Father Boris’ theology is the theme of the vision of God which is summed up in the words: “To see heaven open.”

The opening of the heavens by Christ is fundamental and irrevocable because it is of an ontological order; through it we are already in the mystery of the Trinity and in the Church. However, who of us can boast about the vision of God. As for the apostles, it can only be provisional because our eyes are still covered with scales, darkened by our passions. ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overtake it,’ St John said” (Jn 1:5). (32)

However, darkness has not only a negative, but also a positive connotation.

When I speak of darkness, I often think of Christ carried in the tomb and descending to Hades, and of these Gospel words: ‘Except a grain of wheat fall in the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it die, it brings forth much fruit’ (Jn 12:24). This is a deep spiritual reality that appears very well in icons, particularly those of the Nativity and of the Resurrection: before being illumined, the darkness must become the place of germination of the Light, in silence, in expectation, like some type of secret becoming. Our entire being, all our intelligence, must penetrate into the inner darkness to meet Christ and be changed there; must carry out the turning of conversion, the baptismal rebirth, and reemerge thus into the Light. The entire old man must die, must surrender to the Lord, in order to be reborn and live again. No being can reach the Light without passing through such darkness. (32-33)


As I indicated before, The Compassion of the Father by Father Boris Bobrinskoy is a book that resonated deeply with me. That may say as much about me as it does about the book, but I think that it is worth blogging about, for I suspect that it could also be helpful to others and there are in any case things that I need to return to. The book consists of a collection of essays that have been arranged around three themes. The first is that of facing evil and suffering, the second that of the Liturgy of the heart, and the third is that of the knowledge of God. This is no cheap Gospel that is presented but a challenging and authentic interpretation of what it means to be a Christian today.

The book starts with a biographical essay by Maxime Egger that introduces one to the author and to themes that recur in the rest of the book, and which contains quotes from an extensive interview and from his writings, especially his homilies. Egger makes the point that while Father Boris has written and spoken much, much of his writing has been in response to requests and his published works have been largely collections of articles or theology courses. While we may certainly regret that he did not write more books, this does indicate the pastoral nature of his life’s work.


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