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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Metropolitan Kallistos

On Saturday I had the rare privilege of hearing His Excellency, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia speak at a retreat held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral here in Houston.

Metropolitan Kallistos is the author of what is probably the best known book in the West on the Orthodox Church. He has also written a number of other important books and aided in the translations into English of Orthodox writings such as the Philokalia, the Festal Menaion and the Lenten Triodion.

The theme of the retreat was on "The Orthodox Understanding of the Human Person".

Metropolitan Kallistos delivered two lectures and took open questions from those attending the retreat.

His first lecture was entitled "In the image and likeness of God: Offering our Whole Created Personhood - Body, Soul and Spirit - to the Creator". His second lecture was on "Transfiguring the Passions and Exploring the World of Dreams".

The retreat was very well attended with over 350 people who had registered for the event.

Metropolitan Kallistos is a true scholar but also has a very good sense of humor so his talks were anything but dry.

The Metropolitan touched on a number of different subjects throughout his talks and in answering questions. I wish now that I had taken notes while at the retreat. Some of the topics that I remember him discussing in addition to the specific themes of the retreat included: the differences between the Catholic conception of Purgatory and the Orthodox understanding of the mystery that takes place after our physical death, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the depiction of God the Father in iconography and the question of the possibility of ordaining women in the Orthodox Church.

One of the specific points made by the Metropolitan that struck me was his discussion of how Orthodox should answer the question "Are you saved?" from Protestants. His suggested answer was "By the Grace of God I trust that I am being saved."

He also made a comment at one point (while admonishing not to give in to despair or despondency) of something to the effect that people are all too often simply lazy and that people usually have the ability and capacity to accomplish much more than they think.

Another statement that struck me (in response to a question regarding the fate of mass-murderers and other clearly evil persons in the after-life) was that even these persons are made in the image of God. He stated that no matter how disfigured or distorted that image has become we must never fail to recognize that they (no matter how evil) are still made in the image of God even if this is hard for us to accept.



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