Metropolitan Kallistos – Memory Eternal

Dear brothers and sisters,

By now, many of you will have heard the news of the repose of Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia in the early hours of the morning.

It feels like we have a lost a landmark that has been there for so long, and that we took for granted, despite his venerable age and deteriorating health: a spiritual equivalent to the White-Cliffs of Dover or the Tower of London… an enduring part of our Orthodox consciousness as believing-people in this corner of God’s world. But, all flesh is grass…

We cannot even begin to describe the debt that the Orthodox Church owes him, especially for the fine translations of the Festal Menaion and Lenten Triodion (undertaken with Mother Mary) that have served English speaking parishes and faithful so well over the decades.

Just over fifty years on from the publication of the Festal Menaion, it is so easy to forget what an ’English language desert’ it was for English speaking people coming to Orthodoxy, with only a handful of translated liturgical texts having been printed.

Fr Luke has described the elation people felt when they were able to have the festal and Lenten texts in English, with those living far from the few Orthodox churches then existing being able to buy these books to celebrate and pray at home.

As such a very English figure, Metropolitan Kallistos’s life and labours demonstrated that Orthodoxy was not the preserve of ethnic enclaves, and this is where his text translations where so vital, in opening the prayer and rich liturgical wealth of Orthodoxy to English speaking people.

Like Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, he showed Orthodoxy to the English-speaking world, but he did so as an insider – as the most English of Englishmen – and though serving and lecturing in Oxford may not have brought contact with the broadest spectrum of society, his writings (especially ‘The Orthodox Church’ and  ‘The Orthodox Way’) and the liturgical translations made him a household name in Orthodoxy: a name known by all who have explored Orthodox Christianity.  

Perhaps his impact could have been greater had his patriarchate made greater use of such an inspiring and talented bishop, but such was his life as an English hierarch in an ethnic ecclesiastical setting that clearly prefers to advance ethnic mediocrity and fund-raisers to men of wisdom, prayer and elevated spiritual-life.

Many clergy now serving the Church, and many members of the laity were inspired by Metropolitan Kallistos, following his journey and making their own spiritual home in the Orthodox Church where, with a deft lightness of touch he managed to transcend jurisdictional divides and avoid conflict, making him a loved and revered pan-Orthodox figure in an increasingly fractious Orthodox world.   

May the Lord grant him a place in the heavenly mansions and may his memory be eternal.  

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

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