Sacramental Life

Fr. Steve Tscichlis

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on the Sacramental Life
Understanding the Sacraments

An Interview with Metropolitan KALLISTOS Ware
By Fr. Steve Tsichlis
Transcribed by pragerfan

Listen to the audio.

Ancient Faith Radio welcomes you to this special edition of the Illumined Heart with Kevin Allen. Today, Kevin's guest host on the program is Father Steve Tsichlis, Senior Pastor of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, CA, and Father Steve's special guest for this exclusive Illumined Heart interview is His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. Their topic will be: Understanding the Sacraments.

St. Paul's recently hosted His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos to Southern California for a two- day packed house seminar to the general public titled, "Drawing Closer to the Saviour: The Sacramental Life." CDs of this seminar are available for purchase by calling St. Paul's church office at 949-733-2366. That's 949-733-2366.

Metropolitan Kallistos is probably the best known Orthodox teacher and scholar in the world today. His books, The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way have become standards of introduction to the life and faith of the Christian East. He has also served as a translator of Liturgical texts, as well as translating the Philokalia, the classic collection of Orthodox writing on spirituality, asceticism, and the Jesus Prayer. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press has also published the first volume of Metropolitan Kallistos' collected works, The Inner Kingdom. And now, for this special edition of the Illumined Heart, Understanding the Sacraments, here's Father Steve Tsichlis with His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence thank you for joining me on the Illumined Heart. Your Eminence when we speak of mystery, when we speak of the mysteries of the church, and very specifically the sacrament of baptism, which at this point in the history of our church is given as a gift mostly to infants. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how and [in] what way the sacrament of baptism works in the life of an infant, even before that infant has a conscious faith in or perhaps even an awareness of God's presence.

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
That is an interesting question. In the ancient church there is reason to believe that the practice of infant baptism existed from New Testament times, though the evidence is not absolutely decisive. It is true, however, that until the fourth or fifth century, most Christians were not baptized in infancy but as adults and we may well ask the question that you've posed, if the infant doesn't understand what is happening why should it be baptized?

My answer is, that none of us is saved alone. We are saved as members of a community, of a living family. Salvation is communal, not solitary. We are members one of another, living in each other's lives, and so, when a child is born we wish to bring him and [sic] her at once into this community of faith, into the shared life of the church. We believe that it is best for a child to grow up inside the church, not outside, that he or she should be part of the family from the beginning, rather than looking in from the outside until a certain moment of adulthood. So, we believe that at baptism, though the child does not know what is happening, yet the faith of the community and in particular the faith of the Godparents avails for the child. As she or he grows up, they will need to make a conscious commitment; they will need to make this faith their own. But at the beginning, the faith of others supports and surrounds the child, so that the child does not grow up isolated outside the family, but surrounded by the faith of the other members of the family.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
So, Your Eminence, a question that many Christians ask today is whether or not salvation is even possible without the sacrament of baptism. What do you say sir?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
In the New Testament there are certainly passages which suggest that you cannot be saved without baptism, which state that unless a person is born again through water and the Spirit, they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

I would not want to stop there. God decides in His absolute freedom who will be saved and who will not be saved. We humans cannot set limits to that Divine freedom. So God can certainly save people without baptism. But we may apply here a phrase used in Roman Catholic theology: God is not bound to the sacraments, but we are bound to them. So far as we are concerned, we need to be baptized. We cannot say baptism is optional; it is essential. But God is not bound to work only through the sacraments. He can save whom He will in the way that He wishes. This is a deep mystery which we do not understand, and so we have no right to say those who have not been baptized will go to hell. God may have plans for them that we do not know about. What we do know is, and this is clearly stated in the first epistle to Timothy, is this: God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So the offerance [sic] of salvation is made to all without any exception whatever. No one is predestined to go to hell. All have the possibility to be saved. God's invitation is universal. But how people are saved — that is known to God, not to us.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, could you address just briefly the connection between the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of chrismation, or what Roman Catholics call confirmation, because of course they do confirmation much later than baptism, and yet we remain in the ancient pattern of doing baptism and chrismation together as different mysteries but in the same context. Can you speak a little bit about that?

Metropolitan Kallistos:
Until the 17th century the Orthodox Church did not have a single clear list of what are sacraments or mysteries. Different fathers give different numbers for the sacraments. Saint John of Damascus for example speaks of two sacraments, in particular, baptism and eucharist. Other fathers speak of seven; others speak of more than seven. Things like monastic profession and the funeral rites are also seen as sacraments.

Now since the 17th century under Roman Catholic influence, we have stuck to a list of seven and in that list, we regard baptism and chrismation as two sacraments. In fact, it might be more helpful to regard them as a single undivided mystery, and in the normal practice of baptism, chrismation is an integral part of the service. There is no separation, no break between the two. So, I find it more helpful to regard immersion in the water in which we put on Christ, in which we share in His death and resurrection, and then chrismation, in which we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, as two aspects, two dimensions of one single mystery. There are occasions when chrismation is celebrated separately from baptism; for example when we receive converts from other churches, according to the practice of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we do not re-baptize them; we accept their baptism if it has been done in the name of the Trinity and with water, and we receive them only by chrismation.

But this is exceptional. In the ancient church as you've said, there was an integral unity. Baptism, chrismation, that is to say confirmation, and first communion were joined together. We continue in principle with that. When I perform baptism, if it is after the Divine Liturgy, I keep the sacrament from the Liturgy and use that to give communion to the child. If the baptism is performed separately at another time then the child has to be brought at the earliest possible occasion to receive holy communion. But in principle, the mystery of Christian initiation is a single drama, and baptism, confirmation (or chrismation) first communion go together.

That is the way it was originally in the West as well as the East. This is not distinctive to the Orthodox East. But there was a gradual development then in the West which led to a separation.The Roman Catholics postponed first communion until the child was able to know what it was doing, and they postponed confirmation though often children were allowed to have first communion before confirmation. The Anglicans made it yet stricter and said quite clearly in the 16th century that no one was to be given communion unless they had been confirmed. We keep the ancient unity and we say that if infants can be baptized without knowing yet what is happening, if this can be done by virtue of the unity of faith within the church, then the infant can also receive Holy Communion.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, this past weekend here at St. Paul's you also addressed the sacrament of confession. Why is confession necessary?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
People often ask, why should I go to church, confess my sins in front of the priest? Can I not confess my sins in my evening prayers? Will not God forgive me as soon as I confess my sins with sincerity? Does the forgiveness depend only on the sacrament of confession? The answer is, yes, it is an excellent thing that we should confess our sins in our daily prayers. As soon as we fall into sin and become aware of what we have done, immediately we should repent and ask God's forgiveness. And if we repent with sincerity of heart, God will indeed forgive us. Why then go to confession? We need confession in order deepen our awareness of our sin, in order to deepen the sincerity of our repentance and our acceptance of Divine forgiveness. In confession there are three persons involved: me, the penitent; the priest; and God. What does each of them do?

I confess my sins, yes, sins that I can indeed confess in private in my prayers at home. But when I confess my sins before the priest, in the context of an act of prayer, of a sacramental mystery, standing before the holy icons, before the Cross and the Gospel book, then perhaps speaking aloud about my sins in front of another person can bring home to me the reality of what I have done. There is great power in the uttered word. Confessing my sins in this context makes me suddenly conscious of what I have done in a new way. So the outward setting of confession enables me to come to a deeper self-understanding and to a deeper sense of compunction. Then there is also what the priest does in confession. He offers advice. Perhaps the advice if we read it in a book would seem not so striking but in confession words that on the printed page might seem rather obvious acquire a much more vivid meaning when they are spoken by the priest to me personally, when both of us are praying together and waiting on the Holy Spirit. So we should take seriously the priest's counsel. It may be that these seemingly obvious words are exactly the words of fire and light that I need to hear.

But the priest also represents the community. Confession was originally a public event. As the Christian community grew it gave scandal to have confession in public so it became a private occasion between the priest and the penitent. And as we know, the Orthodox church like the Roman Catholic church, insists on the seal of the confessional, the secrecy of the confessional. The priest should never reveal what he hears in confession to anyone else; that would be a very grave sin if he does.

So confession became a private event and yet there are no strictly private sins. All sins are sins not just against God, but against the community, against my sisters and brothers in Christ. My secret sins, even if they don't know anything about them, are nonetheless in a hidden way making it more difficult for others to follow their Christian path. So I need to be forgiven by the community and the priest is there to represent the community and to forgive me in the name of the community.The priest is also there in the first place as intercessor. During confession the priest prays for the penitent and when in confession I begin to think, what on earth can I say to this person? Hearing their problems, sometimes I feel baffled. I pray for them. And even if my advice is not very powerful, yet, I can pray.

But much more important than what I do, much more important than what the priest does, is what God does. Confession, like all the sacramental mysteries of the church, has an objective power: Christ forgives me. Yes, He can forgive me on other occasions and in other ways. But in this particular way in confession, His forgiveness is extended to me with special force and power. When the priest lays his epitrachelion on my head and puts his hand on the epitrachelion, it is the hand of Christ placed on my head to heal me. It is Christ who forgives me. So there is within the sacrament of confession objective power and grace. I need to have faith for that grace to become fruitful in my life, but God is acting in the sacrament.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, the sacrament of the Eucharist — the Divine Liturgy — is the heart and core of our worship as Orthodox Christians. What are some of the differences in our understanding of the Eucharist as Orthodox Christians from the many other Christian confessions that exist, and why are Christians of other confessions not able to receive Communion when they attend the celebration of the Eucharist in our church, the Orthodox church?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
There are two questions there...So let's take the first of them. In the Orthodox Church, we believe that the bread and wine, through the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become the true body and blood of Christ. So we believe that the Eucharist is not simply a commemorative meal in which we recall the Last Supper. We believe Christ is objectively and immediately present in the consecrated elements. So here there is a clear difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism, not just a recollection. In the Divine Liturgy, recollection becomes reality. So, we receive the true body and blood of Christ. But this is mystery. We do not understand how, but we do regard the reception of the consecrated elements as the supreme moment of our personal encounter with the Saviour.

Now many Anglicans [and] Episcopalians, though not all, would likewise say that the Sacrament is the true body and blood of Christ. So on this point some Anglicans differ from us but others agree with us. The Romans Catholics firmly believe that the Sacrament is Christ's body and blood. They use to describe the change in the elements the word "trans-substantiation." In the past from the 17th century onwards Orthodox often used that same word. I prefer to avoid it because it is not a word used by the early fathers; it is a word bound up with a particular philosophical system — Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy — which we Orthodox on the whole do not employ.

But I do not see a difference here fundamentally between ourselves and the Roman Catholics. We both believe in the real presence. We Orthodox perhaps put greater emphasis on the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the consecration, but in the last 30 years, Roman Catholics have also begun to stress much more the work of the Spirit in effecting the consecration. So I would not think that is a primary difference here between us and the Roman Catholics.

If the Roman Catholics share with us essentially the same faith in the Eucharist, and if many Anglicans do as well, why can we not have Communion together? That is your second question.I long for the day when all Christians can receive Communion together. It causes me deep sorrow that I cannot offer the Holy Communion to non-Orthodox. At the same time I believe that the Orthodox discipline here rests on important theological principles. When we come to Holy Communion, this is not simply an isolated act — me personally coming to my Saviour — I come to Communion as a member of the Church — as a member of the family of believers, not alone but with others. And when I come to Communion, I am summing up and expressing the totality of my whole Christian faith, of my entire church membership.

It is a painful reality but nonetheless a fact, that at this moment Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Protestants, we are divided; we belong to separated ecclesial bodies. We are seeking unity but we still have a long way to go. So long as we are separated as ecclesial communities, it is not realistic for us to have Communion together. Communion expresses our total unity in faith, our solidarity as members of one ecclesial family. If our faith is different and if we belong to separated ecclesial families, it is somehow untruthful for us to have Communion together. The reception of Communion should not be seen as a means towards an end, not as a means towards greater unity. It should be seen as the expression of the unity that we possess. It is a gift from God, and until that unity is fully expressed, we have to accept that we cannot receive Communion together. It would not be truthful. It would not be realistic to the facts of our separated church membership.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, we believe of course that the Eucharist is objectively as you said the presence of Christ. Can the Eucharist work effectively within the soul of a person who is not also as Saint Paul says, "working out his salvation with fear and trembling?" What's the connection between the grace given to us in the Sacraments and our personal effort or synergia in practicing the faith?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
You have rightly said that the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is an objective presence. It does not depend on the faith of the priest, the faith of the people, or the faith of the individual communicant. Christ is present even if our faith is weak. If someone receives Communion without sincerity, not believing that it is the body and blood of Christ, nevertheless they do indeed receive the body and blood of Christ. But, if they lack faith they will not receive the grace of Communion, the effects of it, the fruits of the Sacrament. They will receive the body and blood of Christ but if they lack faith they will receive the Sacrament not for the healing of soul and body, not for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life; they will receive the Sacrament to their own condemnation. And this is what Saint Paul says very clearly that if you come to the Sacrament not discerning the Lord's body, you will receive it to your own damnation. Those are his words, not mine. But, I accept what he says. So if we come unbelieving, we do indeed receive the Sacrament but without faith the fruits of the Sacrament will not be shown and will not be apparent in our life.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, you have written a great deal about Saint Symeon the New Theologian, about personal experience of the Holy Spirit, and of course that was one of Saint Symeon's emphases. Can you talk a little bit more about the sacramental life and our experience of Christ — our experience of the Holy Spirit in the sacramental life?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
Yes. Saint Symeon the New Theologian, like earlier fathers such as Saint Mark the Monk, places a great deal of emphasis upon the sacrament of baptism. In baptism, we receive into the innermost chamber of our heart Christ and the Holy Spirit. What greater gift could there be than that? To be Christ-bearers, Spirit bearers? So fathers like Saint Symeon the New Theologian would say we cannot possibly add to the grace of baptism. In baptism, the fullness of Divine life is given to us. But, what we have to do is to discover that grace. It is hidden within us when we are baptized in infancy, hidden within us in an unconscious way through the fulfillment of the commandments, through living the Christian life, through receiving the Eucharist with faith, we are gradually to discover the meaning of the grace of baptism and to experience this indwellingpresence of Christ and the Spirit in a conscious and perceptible way. So the Christian life is a journey if you like from baptismal grace, present within us unconsciously — secretly, mystikos — mystically - is the word that the fathers use. A journey from unconscious grace to the experience of grace consciously, actively, with full perception and assurance. So, all of us are called actively to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit within us that was given to us in baptism. The Christian life can be summed up in the phrase, "Become what you are."

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, there are many Pentecostals around the world who would say that speaking in tongues is an extremely important phenomenon and of course Saint Paul speaks of this phenomenon in his letters to the Corinthians, but how do we see speaking in tongues? How do we see that gift of the Holy Spirit? Once when I was doing a church tour in Seattle a gentleman stood up and said to me that unless you speak in tongues you are not saved and cannot be saved. How would we respond to that?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
I would respond by saying clearly to that gentleman you are wrong, and you have no sound foundation for that assertion in Holy Scripture. Saint Paul speaks of the gift of tongues but he never says that it is essential. He never says you cannot be saved without speaking in tongues. That is not in Holy Scripture. It is the opinion of individual humans who in my view have misunderstood the meaning of Scripture — human error, not the word of God. Paul speaks of the gift of speaking with tongues but he doesn't regard it as the most important of the different gifts of the Spirit. He seems to place it on a rather low level. He says if you speak with tongues and there's no one there to interpret, you benefit and edify yourself but the community is not edified, so you need someone to interpret the tongues. So he saw speaking with tongues as important but not all-important — not the greatest of spiritual gifts and not essential to salvation.

Since Saint Paul's time, the gift of speaking in tongues has become very rare. It disappeared fairly soon from the church by the end of the first century. And I do not think that is simply because the church fell away from its early fervor. God, it seems, gave this gift in the first days of Christianity but it was not His will that it should continue in a prominent way in the church in later times. Though through church history there are certainly cases of speaking in tongues and we might even find such cases in the lives of our Orthodox saints. So the fact that some Orthodox in the last two generations have undergone this experience with speaking with tongues does not disturb me; it is perfectly possible that it is a genuine gift of grace in these cases. We Orthodox do not say it is impossible that anyone should speak with tongues in our own day; we only say it is very rare.

We also say, as Saint John tells us in his epistles, test the spirits to see whether they are from God. Speaking with tongues in my belief can be a genuine gift of the Spirit, but sometimes there are cases where people seem to be speaking with tongues and it is in fact demonic. They are inspired by an evil spirit, not the Spirit of God. So we must test the spirits.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence you've spoken and written extensively about the Jesus prayer.1 How does a spiritual discipline of practice like the Jesus prayer relate to the idea of experiencing the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in a very conscious and perceptible way?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
The Jesus prayer can be used in two main ways. It can be used as part of our daily special prayer time when we are seeking to pray and not to do anything else. I might call that the "fixed" use. And then the Jesus prayer can be used during the day as we go about our characteristic activities in all the passing moments that might otherwise be wasted. As we are doing familiar tasks, as weare walking from place to place, as we are waiting for the bus, or if we drive a car which I don't, when we're stuck in a traffic jam. The first thing when we wake up in the morning, the last thing before we go to sleep, if we can't sleep at night, we can say the Jesus prayer in a "free" way.

Now the fixed use of the Jesus prayer helps to produce within us a contemplative attitude. It helps to create silence within us. The Jesus prayer is a prayer in words, but because the words are very simple and constantly repeated, in and through the words of the Jesus prayer we reach out into the living silence of God. Sometimes yes, in our prayer, we can simply wait on God and not say anything. Those are very precious moments, but if we try to do this regularly we may find that in practice we are simply subject to endless wandering thoughts. We can't by a simple act of will turn off the internal television set. So the Jesus prayer gives us in our prayer time a specific way of praying, a practical method which can help to gather us in prayer, can help us to overcome wandering thoughts, can help us to attain through words an attitude of silence, of waiting on God, of listening to Him. So that would be the way I understand the place of the Jesus prayer in our set prayer times, the "fixed" use.

But I at once would add: the Jesus prayer is not compulsory. We are not to say it is the only way of praying; we are not to say even it is the best way of praying. All I wish to say for the Jesus prayer is it has helped very many people. It has helped me. It may help you too; but it is not compulsory.

As to the "free" use, it would seem that its aim to help us to find Christ everywhere. Father Alexander Schmemann says in his excellent book For the Life of the World the Christian is the one who wherever he looks sees everywhere Christ and rejoices in Him. So the free use of the Jesus prayer helps us to see Christ everywhere. It helps us to bring Christ into the different moments of our daily life so that our awareness of God's presence with us is not just limited to our set prayer time, but flows over into the day so that as we go about our familiar tasks while performing those tasks with full attentiveness we can also become aware that Christ is with us wherever we are and whatever we do. So the Jesus prayer bridges the gap between prayer time and work time. It helps us to turn our work into prayer. Paul says "pray without ceasing" not just morning and evening, not just seven times a day, but without ceasing, continually. How are we to do that? Perhaps the first step is to use very frequent prayers, to have throughout the day moments of prayer. The prayer may not be continuous but it will become more and more frequent, and that is the first step to fulfilling Saint Paul's injunction. So the Jesus prayer helps to make the whole world a sacrament of God's presence. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we feel that Christ is with us. And many people feel called to use the Jesus prayer in this free way, even though that perhaps they may not use the Jesus prayer in their set prayer times in the fixed way. That's perfectly alright. Each should follow the path of prayer to which each feels personally called with the guidance of course of their spiritual father or spiritual mother.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
You know Your Eminence that sense of Christ's presence in the world, that sense of the world as sacrament, does that have ecological implications for how we should be living, and what would you say those would be?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
It certainly has ecological implications. We are to feel constantly day by day that the world round us, the environment, the material things we use, the other persons in the world, but also the animals, the trees, the grass, the air, water — all of this is a gift from God. It is not our absolute possession to use as we think fit. We are responsible before God for the way we use material things, as well as for the way we behave towards our fellow humans. So, a sense of the presence of God everywhere in the world — which the Jesus Prayer can help to induce — is indeed fundamental to the whole question of the ecological crisis. Only through prayer can we recover a right relation with material things round us. Only through prayer can we rediscover the world as sacrament. And this is something that we need to do urgently. The technical experts assure us that perhaps it is already too late; already we have done irreparable damage to this cosmic temple in which God has given to us to dwell.

But, perhaps it is not too late. Let us set to work now. And a vital first step is to make a distinction between what I need and what I want. Between the fundamental needs that I have in order to be a healthy, active person in the world, and on the other side all my desires, all the things after which I lust — all the desires for luxuries and different pleasures which are not essential for my well-being as a balanced, creative human being. So let us start by distinguishing what I need from what I want.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence we're about to enter the season of Lent. And as you know, we enter into a period of prayer and fasting. But fasting can sometimes be confusing for many many Orthodox Christians. Can you say a few words about the discipline of fasting and how that's to be understood in our church?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
Yes. We are close now to what the Liturgical books of the church refer to as the Spring time of Lent. In the services in this coming week, the week before Lent, we shall say the Spring time of the fast has come; the flower of repentance has begun to open. So Lent is not just a time for somber self-discipline. It's a time to rejoice before God and to experience a renewal within ourselves. Repentance is not self-flagellation. It is an opening flower. Now many people when they think of the Lenten fast, think yes of abstinence in food and drink. And this is indeed an essential part of Lent. There should be a real element of sacrifice in Lent. We shouldn't make things too easy for ourselves. We should be willing out of love for Christ to give up things which we mind doing without in order that we may value them at their true worth. When I fasted in Lent and when I celebrated the Paschal midnight service - the Divine Liturgy - and it's time to break my fast, I think very often how very good it will be to have a hard-boiled egg and a little bit of cheese. Food which might seem commonplace, but when you've fasted for seven weeks it is felt as a real blessing from God, this very simple food. So fasting enhances our sense of wonder before God's gifts. Fasting then is essentially part of Lent along with prostrations and other physical disciplines.

But, that's not the whole of Lent. Fasting should go with prayer. Jesus speaks of the two together. And if we only fast without praying that will simply make us irritable. There is someone who, however strictly we fast, fasts very much more strictly than us, because he never eats at all, and that person is the Devil. And a fast without prayer, a fast without love, is the fast of the Devil. So, fasting must go with prayer. We must give more time in Lent to our daily prayers, and more attentiveness. And we must make the effort to participate in the special Lenten services that are offered in our parishes, such as the Liturgy of the pre-sanctified gifts and the Akathistos hymn. But there's also a third element in the Lenten fast of which the early Christian writers speak, and that is what in Greek is called elaimosini, often translated alms-giving. But it doesn't just mean giving money. It means all forms of practical compassion towards others round us. Not just giving money though that's important, but giving time, not just giving what we have but giving what we are. To find time to visit persons in hospital, house-bound, people who would love to see us, and we haven't had time to go and see them. In Lent I try to catch up writing letters, not business letters but personal letters to people who perhaps would welcome a word from me, who want to be in touch. So the third element in Lent is acts of compassion. As Saint John Chrysostom says, give bread and receive paradise.So there is a triad here: fasting, prayer, acts of compassion.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, thank you for being with us this evening. Is there anything you'd like to say to close this evening?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
I would like to end with some words of a great Russian saint of the early 20th century, Saint John of Kronstadt: Prayer, he said, is a state of continual gratitude. Let us always keep before us the element of thanksgiving, of joy, in our prayer. Yes, there has to be heartfelt repentance, we are to feel genuine sorrow for our sins. Yes, we must pray for others, grieve over their sorrows and their difficulties; make their burdens our own when we pray. But above all, prayer means offering the world and ourselves with it and each other, offering the world back to God with thanksgiving. The beginning of our prayers, the set use [sic] we say, Glory to You O God, Glory to You. The beginning of the Liturgy we say "Blessed is the Kingdom." We rejoice before God in the first words of the Liturgy because of the beauty of the Kingdom of the Holy Trinity. So let us keep this element of joy in our prayer. Not empty optimism, not bland cheerfulness, but joy which often goes hand-in-hand with sorrow. Through the Cross joy has come to all the world we say in Sunday matins and so the Cross goes with joy, but the Cross goes with the Resurrection and all our sorrow can and should be transfigured by joy.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:
Your Eminence, thank you for being with us. Thank you so much.

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
God bless.

1 The Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."