Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | February 27, 2008

Archbishop Ware’s Recent Address

The good Archbishop Kallistos Ware is again visiting in the US and speaking in many venues. Many of us first re-discovered Orthodoxy through his writings and continue to follow his doings when we can. I had the privilege of listening to him last fall at St. Sophia in Washington, D.C. but this year my schedule restricted the experience to listening on line here. The good Archbishop’s sonorous voice and Oxford cadences are such a pleasure, that just as with James Earle Jones, he could mesmerize audiences reading out of the phonebook. Like a goodly Orthodox Gandalf, the Archbishop has shown a way for many of us into the Church for which we will remain indebted.

The linked lecture addresses the Future of Orthodoxy in America, but perhaps applies more generally. He endeavors to explain in a not-so-roundabout way why Sir Steven Runciman apparently once suggested that the last church standing in England would be an Orthodox Church… and goes from there to discuss the future in general. In particular, his close is strong… and echoes his opening. The opening quotes an Orthodox reply to Pope Pius IXth’s First Vatican Council:

“The defender of the faith is the very Body of the Church… it is the people… it’s not only Patriarchs, Bishops, and Theologians, but every one of the baptised, every one marked and signed by the Holy Chrism.”

And then as sands start to run through the glass he suggests the following (my apologies for the poverty of the transcription):

“Our future depends on the vitality of our parishes, the degree to which parish members receive holy communion with fear of God and faith and love, and the power of inner prayer within our communities.”

“If we are to have a future as Orthodox in the West, then I don’t think our future lies in forming ourselves in to an aggressive and triumphalist Orthodoxy, or… appealing to the splendors of Byzantium or Russia. Our future depends in the West on an Orthodoxy that is humble, gentle and generous, a kenotic Orthodoxy, an Orthodoxy marked by a spirit of self-emptying. A kind of Orthodoxy which has a future in the West is surely the Orthodoxy of the Holy Passion Bearer of Kiev and Rus (Boris and Kle), St. Herman of Alaska, St. Seraphim of Sarov , St. Nektarious of Agaenon, St. Silhouan the Athonite, Fr. Paisios, and Rumanian Fr. Cleopa. They should be our inspiration and our guides when I think of our future.”

That was the meat of it, and it almost sounds like a reading list…. hmmmm. And then he closed with another good thought:

“In the words of St. John of Kronstadt: ” The Eucharist is a continual Miracle.” We may add the same about the Church as a eucharistic organism: The Church is a continual miracle. So I ask you this evening, with wonder and gratitude at what God has given us, to open your eyes to the miracle that is the Church, old and venerable, yet always youthful, ever the same and ever new.”

Would encourage you to listen to the whole thing.


  1. Wow….excellent summation and nice job honing in on the key aspect of the message. At first I was a little concerned it was going to be another…”come on, you ethnics, let the Americans come in and play, too!” message but it quickly got to the meaty center you highlight. Great stuff.

  2. Heck… thanks! There are other messages… it’s just these that resonated down in the hollow between my ears while everything else just sort of flew in one ear and out the other. I like that he carefully balanced his concerns by specifically citing saints out of each tradion… those were (I think) Athonites and Russians. Which brings to mind one of Fr. John Beck’s great quotes that “ Orthodoxy that is unbalanced is somehow not quite right”.

  3. Very good summation, as Dixie says. I saw him in Balti. when he was here but didn’t go to St. Sophia’s. A friend from church did and he said it was good.

    The Balt. lecture was good, but not as good as last years at St. Sophia.

    It sounds like we are neighbors.

  4. deb:
    Neighbors… yar! No it’s not National Talk Like a Pirate day… but ye parish photos do fetch me to thinkin’ ’bout a spot nee Nevis and River. Mighty fine that!

    What’s more…. if yore site be smarttened up… ye Archangel Voices Christmas CD…. be matchin’ the very one in me own car CD changer. Ah…. t’were a year ago and more it went in there…. n’er to be seen ag’in. Many a teen done walk the plank in a dry sea to be rid of it… aye! Be thinkin’ t’war mighty fine! mighty fine! Tell’em I’ll slash’em from thar gizzards to thar… harumph… if’n they lays a hand narly bye, I do.

  5. Yup, that is the parish I attend. I assume you attend St. Gregory’s? I visited a few years back and know a couple of people who attend there.

    No, I’m not listening to the Nativity CD’s anymore, I’m just lazy about updating that stuff. I’ve actually listened to several books-on-tape since Nativity, so I’m quite behind. But, I certainly know about driving the kiddies crazy with my musical choices.

    Good to “meet” you. Perhaps we will run into each other someday at some Orthodox function or another.

  6. Pegged me.

    Vespers is a good time to visit other parishes…. unfortunately… we often go out Saturday night… so I’m usually a Matins kind of guy…. and of course nowadays, I’m a server, too… which kind of limits things. Visited your parish a number of times… the last for a Vespers in November I think. Your choir is pretty awesome. We’d love to “borrow” a few voices 🙂

    You’re site has you reading some pretty heavy duty stuff…. By contrast… you can tell my level by looking over at this discussion here:

  7. I think Lossky must be one of those books that every Orthodox convert tries to read and says “huh???” I failed at my attempt last fall. Thanks for the link, I enjoyed seeing that I’m not altogether alone.

    I look forward to the day I can visit other parishes for Vespers. Right now my non-Orthodox husband comes with me fairly regularly as well as one teenage daughter (although I think her attendance has more to do with a dishy young man rather than devotion – but we take what we can get).

    Does WR do Presanctifieds? If not, you are quite welcome to join us. We have several interesting lectures lined up afterwards as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: