Author Topic: Discussion with Metropolitan Nikolaos of Messogea and Lavreotiki  (Read 1677 times)

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Offline Chtets Ioann

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Translated by Rd. Ioannis Fortomas. May be republished with his permission only.

Who is Metropolitan Nikolaos?

The Metropolitan of Messogea and Lavreotiki, Nikolaos, was born on April 13th 1954 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

He studied physics at the University of Thessaloniki. He continued his studies at Harvard and MIT (USA) where he obtained postgraduate degrees and doctorates. He worked as a researcher and research assistant in the laboratory of angiology of the New England Deaconess Hospital (U.S.). At the same time he was a scientific associate of the United States Company NASA and the company Arthur D. Little.

He taught courses at Harvard bonded M.I.T, the Medical School of University of Crete Medical School of Athens University. He studied theology at the Theological School of the Holy Cross in Boston in the United States and was named honorary student of the Theological School of the University. He was the director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the President of the Synodical Bioethics Committee of the Church of Greece.

He spent two years on Mount Athos, after which he became a monk on March 18, 1989 at the Holy Stomiou Konitsis Monastery, and the next day he was ordained deacon and then priest on September 10th of that year. Later he entered into the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra. Between 1990 and 2004 he served as a parish priest to the Athonite dependency (Metohion) of the Saviour's Ascension (Simonopetra Monastery) in Byrona, a suburb of Athens.

He was elected Metropolitan of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis on April 26th 2004. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on April 30th 2004 by the ever - memorable Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Christodoulos having as his co consecrators another fifteen Hierarchs, in the Cathedral of Athens. He is the second Metropolitan of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis, after the Most Revrened Metropolitan Agathonikos and the hundred and tenth after St. Paul till today.

Discussion "On Pascha" by His Eminance Metropolitan Nikolaos of Messogea and Lavreotiki on Anna Panagotarea's program "Oudis Anamartitos" or "No One is Sinless" of ERT

Panagotarea: We’re used to looking at it like… five minutes after midnight eating magiritsa, and candles, and… I think Greek customs are good but, I think there must be some deeper meaning.

Met. Nikolaos: Of course the Resurrection has the deepest meaning, not just deeper or deep. And at the same time it is a wonderful feast, as far as her celebration goes, her customs, her outward considerations… So for example, the Epitaphios is something very beautiful. The custom with the eggs is something that is a piece of our heart. The candles… the way the light goes out on the night of the Resurrection. The repetitive Christ is Risen… we say “Christ is Risen!” and again “Christ is Risen!” and again “Christ is Risen!” And we can’t get enough of it.

Panagotarea: They never end…

Met. Nikolaos: All of this has importance, they have meaning which we could… lightly accept, we could stay at the outer and outward side of them, we could enjoy the whole festive atmosphere, the lamb…

Panagotarea: Isn’t it wonderful!

Met. Nikolaos: They are exquisite I think! Such a surprise!

I remember when I was in America, where one of my most important exams happened to be on Great Friday and… I couldn’t go! I went to my professor who was a Jew and I said to him, “look, it’s Great Friday, I can’t come!” He said, “but…. didn’t you all have Good Friday last week?” The Catholics had it… I’m talking to you about Greek Pascha! Do you know what Greek Pascha means? He said “what does it mean?”

It means Christmas, it means 4th of July, it means Thanksgiving, it means your namesday, it means your birthday… EVERYTHING together!

And everything lives this: nature, people, the educated, the simple, the faithful, the unfaithful… it’s a feast for everyone, hurt and joyful, and on this day I don’t think I can give an exam… I want something else, you’ll understand and you’ll let me write it on another day! And he understood and he let me write it on the second day of Pascha.

I know the good, the beautiful that exists even today in a society that seems to further itself from these warm customs, as well as from the warmth of the Faith, as its logic advances.

Panagotarea: I’d say by seeing that… what goes on Sunday and Feasts at Church seeing what goes on with the youth, I’d say that people our looking to find the Faith, and I’d say the meaning of the Resurrection is really powerful.

Met. Nikolaos: That’s how it is, but you said “looking to find the Faith…” In the olden days they didn’t look to find the Faith, they had it in them! Today we look for it, and good for us, this is something really beautiful. And also the Resurrection is something really powerful that is offered. The meaning of the Resurrection of course is beyond all this: It is this victory over death by Christ… I’ll say it a bit differently. That which impresses me is the far away idea of the Resurrection. I think the Divinity of Christ has two feet on which our Faith is based, the Faith of each rational person. The one foot is the Nativity of Christ from the Virgin, and the other foot is the Resurrection from the Dead.

There are other amazing people who appeared in the world, lets say the Prophets, the Saints… they came naturally, and with the known natural way they left the world.

Panagotarea: Except for Elijah…

Met. Nikolaos: Elijah though came naturally, it’s just that Enoch and Elijah ascended up… we don’t have an ascension here.

Panagotarea: We also have an Ascension.

Met. Nikolaos: Here… That’s something else, but the Ascension is minor in the face of the image which impresses us. The important thing to which someone is called to believe in, and if he accepts it (it doesn’t fit into his logic) he accepts the Divinity of Christ, it couldn’t happen differently… its the Nativity from the Virgin, and the Resurrection from the Dead. That He dies the way we heard on Great Friday, during these days, for us, (inexplicable for the human way of thinking) and then He comes out of the tomb and...

He gives this l i f e to t h i s world, to the soul of each of us, and to all of us!

So we say therefore that… here we have a specific person, and you’ll give me some time to describe this.

The Church doesn’t hesitate to say that which blows our logic to bits and pieces, and she says “He is God!” Because He came into the World in a manner… full of mystery and humility, but at the same time full of majesty. He’s born of the Virgin… we’ll leave that to the side for now. Specifically in the case of these days, He is Crucified, He dies, His death is confirmed, and He is Resurrected. He appears for forty days “in another form” (Translators Note: To clarify, His Eminence is referring that the Lord’s Body was the same body which He had when He was Crucified etc, but it was in its glorified, spiritual form, as mankind was created prior to the Fall.) as the Evangelist Mark says – something different – He comes through the closed doors. They say... whats this thing!? They live this outer battle, they doubt Him, Thomas… what a beautiful thing!

Panagotarea: Can I say something…

Met. Nikolaos: I just want to continue on a bit… So imagine, and then Christ draws away and leaves… so… what remains? I like this a lot, and I want to say it! A teaching remains that is confirmed in the continuation. He leaves them His last commandments, He tells them: “If you want to be first, you got to be last.” Which one of us would choose this… no one. If you want to be first, to be Lord, you have to be last, to be the servant. He tells them, simple fisherman, poor disciples, unimportant, irrelevant, they couldn’t understand Him… and He tells them: “After I leave, they’ll lead you to the Synagogues, to the court houses, don’t pre meditate what you’ll say. Don’t think if they ask me this question, I’ll answer this etc. “It will be given to you in that day, what to say and what to answer.” Fap! The wisdom from above will come, and it will tell you what to answer.

If you want to create a bran new religion, I think simple logic would follow that I would get my own people, I’d train them, I’d make them go through an intense program, I’d tell them how to mimic by some way…

Panagotarea: That’s what usually happens…

Met. Nikolaos: Ma, it didn’t happen like this here! And imagine what happened! Christ leaves; the Apostle Paul has the vision of Damascus, he takes into him the Faith of the Resurrection. In thirty years, out of the way goes both Peter and Paul, with the first persecution of Nero. So thirty years… we’re talking 1980 till 2010. And then they start to persecute…

Panagotarea: And they persecute, and then horrible heresies come up, in the tens and hundreds…

Met. Nikolaos: After the heresies start, the deceptions. The Christians begin to quarrel amongst themselves, and this thing goes on for 2000 years till today. And it reaches… and we hit it, and we ourselves, us Christians betray it. Me specifically, with my life, with my presence, with an argument…
after we’re done this show, we could go behind the set and we could argue about unbelievable details, if we eat fish the one day, and I don’t know what we do the next.

That’s who we are. In this entire thing, there’s the power of God, proved and confirmed.
God could never have come without dying and rising. It would be impossible if He who came was not born of the Virgin. My logic embraces these two facts, in such a way that they are mandatory in accepting the Divinity of Christ!

Panagotarea: That’s true what you say, but I want to ask you: when His disciple, Thomas, doubts Him himself, he doubts that he has Christ in front of him, and he checks Him, His hands, His side… what should people today think?

Met. Nikolaos: They should also doubt Him! Is there something more beautiful? I was at another show… I don’t remember it could have been here, and I had said, what a beautiful thing it is, the doubting of God! Ma… the Church says, “O the good doubts of Thomas!”

Panagotarea: But it could lead to plani* (Translators Note: There’s no such word in English for the Greek word plani, prelest in Slavonic. The closest thing is deception. But it means a spiritual deception of a deeper field, probably the soul has gone astray and is in danger of being lost, ie: hell).

Met. Nikolaos: Pardon?

Panagotarea: It could lead to plani…

Met. Nikolaos: So, let it be led there, it could also be lead after to return. But it won’t be lead to unwavering and fervent faith if doubt does not take place!

I find no fault with doubt… because the other person with childlike simplicity could admit…
Doubt sometimes falls upon me… I’d like to so much… but I like Thomas! And was it just Thomas? As if the others didn’t doubt? The Gospel says there, “Christ allowed them to not believe those who had seen Him Risen from the dead.” It wasn’t just Thomas, it was the others too! When the woman disciples went they said “Oh come on now…” They couldn’t accept it, they weren’t ready. And the evangelists said it about themselves, those who gave their very own lives.

Panagotarea: But last year when you had said on our show that we can doubt God, we had received endless phone calls from people who were saying that they didn’t understand this.

Met. Nikolaos: What does it means to doubt God?

Panagotarea: No… yes, they don’t understand how we can teach to doubt God.

Met. Nikolaos: No, we don’t teach people to doubt God. I said something before… If someone has a childlike simplicity and it comes out from inside of him, it’s not bad for him to doubt. If though inside of him questions begin to be born. And I have questions; I have questions about death, I have questions about social injustice, how does all this whole…. THING tie in with God. If you were God, would you have… would you accept such a world as this one that exists? Would you accept that God is betrayed daily by the faithful and by the Church?

Panagotarea: But He hasn’t left our will free?

Met. Nikolaos: He’s left our will free, but from above how would you see it? I would have made a proper world, with the minds of the 21st century, the morphological minds. I wouldn’t make a world like this… That’s what I think… That’s what I say inside of me. This is the beautiful doubting of God.

Panagotarea: If it’s like this then…

Met. Nikolaos: The Church says in the beautiful troparia that we’ll hear the day after tomorrow, the Sunday of Thomas: “O the g o o d doubt of Thomas!” This means that it isn’t… I’d say… the meaning of the word doubt is more soft… doubt is, I don’t dismiss it, but I don’t know it yet. I want my heart to open… I don’t go along with the lies of a dead faith, because I’m scared, because I feel insecure. But I say “My God, I don’t understand you, I’m d r o w n I n g, I want to breath!”

I’ll say it… I was at the hard moments of a girl some days ago, that was… leaving this world. And I asked her, “why don’t you tell me” I dared because I have that… presence with her, she herself gave me that strength. She says to me “Fr. Nicholas,” that’s what she calls me, “give me your blessing. I’m s l i p p i n g into the next life!” I said to her “How do you feel the next life?” She says “as r e a l life!” “So…” I said, “what do you do?” She said “I go in, and I get the fragrance of eternity, and then I become well, and I come back.” I said to her, “do you doubt God at all?” “No,” she said “I long after Him.”

This thing was something very sacred to me. I wrote down all the dialogue after because faith was being born in me!

The meaning of doubting therefore, is not the meaning of outright dismissal. But it’s, my God, what I conceive… it’s so s m a l l to except in me, you m u s t be something else. Your not that which I understand. And I’m going to experiment to see, how will my life change so I can see you more clearly, so I can distinguish you more precisely!?

Panagiotarea: Geronda, all those customs which you referred to before, do they help us go to this destination, or do they help us go further away from this destination?

Met. Nikolaos: I’ll tell you! There are… they could drug, they could put our soul to sleep, and they could transfigure the feast into a festivity, to outer things. The celebration, to a mere celebratory event. They could create emotional things only… memories… how nice it was…

Panagiotarea: The good old days…

Met. Nikolaos: How nice it was, that the Epitaphoi (Translators Note: His Eminence is referring to the processions that take place towards the end of the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday which takes places on Great Friday night. In Greece, due to there being multiple Churches within a close radius of each other, these processions usually meet somewhere and continue on together, this is turned into a huge deal, competitions on who has the nicest Epitaphio etc.) would come from here and from there. They told me, we should arrange this year that all the Epitaphoi meet up. And I said, I don’t like this thing. The priests with their cell phones… one Epitaphio is delaying, the other is stuck somewhere, but… you know in the end, a feast is taking place so… eah but God from above who’s watching us must be saying, “well ok, are they playing, what the heck are they doing?”

So under this understanding, when this whole thing is taken away from the rest, I don’t think it helps. It just relaxes people psychologically… it brings some variety into our life.

Imagine though throughout all this, for someone to feel his candle melting. The “Come receive the light..” It touches me every time… everyone getting the Paschal light from one candle.

Panagiotarea: Your helping me now… last year, you went and got the Light (Translators Note: the Holy Light that comes down miraculously on Holy Saturday morning in the Church of the Holy Resurrection, Jerusalem) and it was a big feast, and we saw you coming down from the airplane and all that, but do you know how many said “you know, they go in there with matches in the Temple to get the Light, what do they want this whole ceremony around it?”

Met. Nikolaos: Do they know they go into the Temple with matches?

Panagiotarea: Eah, they imagine they do.

Met. Nikolaos: That’s right, they imagine. I’ll tell you what happened, what happened to me. The Synod sent me, and I went with a hope to see what this thing is.

Panagiotarea: You’ve heard this though…

Met. Nikolaos: I’ll tell you, and you’ll understand what I heard. So I went, and there were many people… police, we’d say Special Forces, it was horrifying. To go a small distance, let’s say 300 meters, it took us 1 hour and a half! In any case, the Patriarch went in, and someone told me…

Panagiotarea: So in the Holy Tomb….

Met. Nikolaos: In the Holy Tomb, there was the usual silence, and this anticipation for the Holy Light. And beside me there was a tall clergyman beside me who said to me, “come on now, Holy Light, what Holy Light, the theological light is what’s important!” This… bothered me! The people were… there were Russians, Romanians, the Patriarch came out… we got the light immediately. Before this he said to me “they must be lighting the oil lamp!” I didn’t say anything, but it bothered me. Going out, separately two couples came to me, one who was from Anthousa , and one who was from Rafina, and they asked me if I watched how the big oil lamp which was above us was lit by the Holy Light. I naturally didn’t notice, but I said to myself, “go figure, the simple people l i v e d this, but a bishop had the doubts of his rational mind!” I don’t have a specific reason to say that the Holy Light doesn’t light by itself, here the other thing happened (the Resurrection) so is this not possible? From the other hand... if it can’t happen? But they told me what happened from above me, and I said may it be blessed!

It’s so beautiful how it comes out, and this hope of everyone is to get it… and how in 2-3 minutes everyone's candles are lit! When we say “Come Receive the Light…” on the Sunday of Pascha it takes us… 10 minutes to light our candles, 600 people. There, under 2 minutes, 5000 people had their candles lit! The fervor of it all... But the thought… then there were airplanes from Romania, from Russia, to take the Holy Light, that Light that came out of the All Holy Tomb!

We reached Athens, 17 flights went on from there! On Mount Athos, military boats were waiting to take the Light to the Monasteries from Ouranoupolis. What a beautiful thing, for us all to take from the same light. And this is the inextinguishable light of the Resurrection! This Light which doesn’t end. Our candles will go out, our eggs will break, our lambs will get eaten… that which remains… and even the feast will end! The joy of the Resurrection… “and your joy, no man shall take away from you!” Such words are so beautiful…

Panagiotarea: You're so right. You’ll allow me to take a break, and we’ll be back in half a minute.

Met. Nikolaos: Of course.

To be Continued...

« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 10:38:54 PM by Chtets Ioann »

Offline SolEX01

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Re: Discussion with Metropolitan Nikolaos of Messogea and Lavreotiki
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2010, 11:34:16 PM »
Where did this interview originally appear and where can one find it?  Thanks.   :)

OK, I see this was from a Greek national radio broadcast; Does a transcript exist, even in Greek?
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 11:35:40 PM by SolEX01 »

Offline Chtets Ioann

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Re: Discussion with Metropolitan Nikolaos of Messogea and Lavreotiki
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2010, 11:39:39 PM »
Panagotarea: Of course the title of the show sounds strange when I have beside me the reverend Metropolitan of Messogea and

Lavreotiki, Fr. Nikolaos, but we use the same title every year. And having him beside me I feel a little… uncomfortable, but I think that…

Met. Nikolaos: It’s not difficult for us to admit that we are sinners, we aren’t sinless. We are sinners. But we can’t be deprived of the joy of the Resurrection!

Panagiotarea: Father Nikolao, the people that come to Church many times are tempted, specifically with the appearance of the priests and deacons, and they say to me sometimes “ma, should I commune from such a person?” And I don’t know what to answer them.

Met. Nikolaos: And I don’t know what to answer! I’d go somewhere where my soul wouldn’t be scandalized, if I had the choice. If I didn’t have a choice, I’d stay where God has placed me, and I’d continue. From there on, I’m not in the position to give you an independent…

Panagiotarea: Because now, you know, now the young kids have problems with fasting, they have problems with confession…

Met. Nikolaos: They don’t have problems with fasting! Here in our day, they have a problem with legalistic fasting. How can I say it to you? So you can understand here…. the young kids go on diets so they can have a nice form! Nothing will happen to us in our day from fasting. Something’s going to happen from our overeating! And we know it, and always all the commercials aren’t for us to eat more, they keep telling us to eat less.

Panagiotarea: What’s legalistic fasting?

Met. Nikolaos: That typical fasting where if you don’t eat this, or if you eat that, and I don’t know what else.

Panagiotarea: Yes, yes… does the Church insist on such things?

Met. Nikolaos: She insists on such things, and she does well to do so! They are the form on which something can be built on, they are the type into which meaning can enter.
I for example rejoice when fasts come, the fasts make me go crazy! Not because I lose some pounds, but because I begin to unglue myself from certain things that make myself, wary… how can I say it? That cause me to function robotically, and not naturally.
I like it a lot, for example it was Great Lent, 50 days being light as a dove. The chance was given to me, and I went to my cell on Mount Athos.  I stayed for three days, I didn’t eat anything… how nice it was! I felt it…

Panagiotarea: Didn’t you get hungry?

Met. Nikolaos: Didn’t get hungry!? I was famished!

Panagiotarea: I don’t know, maybe you’re a Saint from now?

Met. Nikolaos: What did you say? (laughs)

Panagiotarea: Maybe you’ve become a Saint and you don’t need to eat.

Met. Nikolaos: I want to become a Saint, and you want to become a Saint, everyone wants to become a Saint. But the one who doesn’t eat for three days isn’t a Saint. The one who doesn’t sin for three days is a Saint! (laughs)

Eah, I didn’t do that! I went there, I had my thoughts…

Panagiotarea: Tell me, if you think confession is necessary during these days for the faithful to draw near to Communion?

Met. Nikolaos: I’ll answer like this: We don’t do that which is not bad, but… or should I say it a bit differently. Usually there is the frame of mind that, if I don’t do this thing, or can I do this thing, is it a sin? We choose to do that which is good. We are given the opportunity for confession. I went to confession. I want to confess, to have my soul freed, to prepare my soul as best as I could. If I have this chance, why should I lose it!? But you’ll tell me, if (that chance to confess) didn’t come to you?

Panagiotarea: I wouldn’t ask you that, I’d ask you: you trusted your spiritual father, and because young people want to hear this, tell me how does one choose their spiritual father?

Met. Nikolaos: I… look for someone to go get clothes or gifts for these holy days, they look around. Eah, and I look. To find a priest who can inspire me. That I can feel that he is a f a t h e r! Who can give me a bit of enlightenment, who can open the horizon for me! With whom I have the persuasion that he is genuine. I have the ability to do this, and I look…

Panagiotarea: People today Father Nikolao, with all these situations, are pretty suspicious you know, and the first thing that will cross their mind is “Will I trust this person towards what I tell him? How will he judge me?” You know its hard to go open your soul to someone, to tell them your inner self, to admit all to them…

Met. Nikolaos: Of course it’s a hard things…

Panagiotarea: On the other hand you think, “how will this person judge me, what will he say of me, how will I fall in front of his eyes?” And on the other hand, “maybe he’ll use the things I say to him against me?”

Met. Nikolaos: Eah, let’s not go that way if its like that. If I had such questions inside of me, I wouldn’t go. I said the word “Father” that he inspires, that I feel that he fills me with mysticism. I go, and I g i v e  myself, and I then I o p e n myself. He doesn’t have need to hear what I will say to him, nor does God of course not know my sins. I myself have need to open my soul, it’s not a memory game. Confession isn’t a memory game: one, two, three, I forgot this, forgive me! It’s the o p e n i n g of the heart! And I go and say, the legalistic side of it, is the image of God sitting with a note pad with your forty five sins, and if you forget one he doesn’t forgive them, as many as you say, he forgives. Eah, such a thing doesn’t exist. I don’t understand, would that be a Mystery?
But just imagine if I go and say, my God, something is lacking from my relationship with you! Your far away from me, I’m doubting you in the negative sense, as we were saying before. Because I have my egotism, I have my passions, I want somehow to free myself from here, and to open my heart. And I find a priest, who the same priest uses the Holy Spoon to give me Holy Communion, that same priest is a Holy Spoon to grant me remission of sins.

Panagotarea: Although Father Nikolao, you’re a bit different, that’s for sure. We’ve seen these little books from Church that tell us how to make our confession.

Met. Nikolaos:  If you see a little book like that, it’s a mistake. Though, if it helps you in the good sence, so can self examine yourself, to get to know yourself – not say them (your sins), to live them – this would help me if I read a book that said “look, this thing that happens to many people isn’t good.” Ahh I would say, I have this, and I’d understand my sickness. If it comes as recipe book, it isn’t good. But… good cooking doesn’t come with a recipe. You see on many shows on TV, it doesn’t say… he sits and puts as much oil as he wants in, he goes along with feeling and with his eye. But he who doesn’t know will take the recipe book. They come into a recipe view of confession. Eah, it’s very little.

Panagiotarea: You’re taking away a bit of the value to it, as you’re saying it.

Met. Nikolaos: Maybe it’s a good beginning. But this is another thing…  I very much want to open my heart, and I want to take out sins!
It’s like a wart that I want to press so all the puss can come out.

Panagiotarea: And what are you waiting for, are you waiting for the remission, or to not repeat them, or from this man to whom you are confessing, to give you his wise words?

Met. Nikolaos: Nothing from the three! You said: remission, to not repeat them, to give me his wise words. And the three make up a vital part. Nothing… I want to admit them in front of God, and for God to give me His g r a c e as remission…

Panagiotarea: And I’ll answer, “I can sit under the Icons and do that.”

Met. Nikolaos: That’s a holy thing! Here don’t we have some many prayers in which we ask for forgiveness and remission, but it’s another thing to wash with water, and another to wash with soap. If dirt falls on my hand, I’ll throw some water on and it’ll go. If I have oil on my hands, I need soap. If ink falls, then I need time. If I have a tattoo, I need a plastic surgery. There are… little sins that leave easily. Others with time, others with a simple prayer… I’ll tell you the truth: I’d want to entrust my serious illness to a good surgeon.

Panagiotarea: Same with us…

Met. Nikolaos: Isn’t it a beautiful thing! And when someone comes to me to confess, I feel, I say… “My God, why are you bringing me this person!? So I can live the Mystery of God with him! You didn’t bring him so I could say: He’s the sinner, I’m the saint, ah let me hear his sins! And he better not forget one, or I won’t blot them out!

That’s not a good quality confession.

Panagiotarea: That’s not a good quality confession.

Met. Nikolaos: It isn’t… it isn’t…

Panagiotarea: And it’s not in the logic of Orthodoxy.

Met. Nikolaos: Without wanting to say that this… this whole attempt, and we should understand that we are transgressors of the commandments. With huge short comings, let’s not make things look perfect. But I’ll say the following to you: There are passions of the soul that need a bit of abstinence. It’s very nice for a spiritual father, discreetly, with a bit of anesthetic to do this divine surgery on our soul. It’s a great task for him, and for us.

Panagiotarea: Tell me, what can we do, we are in an age where we see many groups, many societies, are coming up with different theories, different eastern religions are moving ahead in our age, different ideas… tell me, what makes a person prefer Orthodoxy, to want to become an Orthodox Christians?

Met. Nikolaos: I don’t know because I was born Orthodox, and I struggle to love what I have! I have of course experiences from many people that come from a very different culture and past, or people that never had an ecclesiastical/religious upbringing, and at a phase and turn of their life these people turned around and took inside of them this thing we described earlier.

Panagiotarea: If I understand it as a tradition, as you told it to me, we were born Christians…

Met. Nikolaos: I understand it as a search… I’ll tell you: there is tradition, tradition can fool us… and we may live out the wrong thing, that which the identity card says “Christian Orthodox” (Translators Note: In Greece every citizen over 18 must carry an identity card. Amongst other things, at the end ones Faith is listed). That which we are talking about is something else. It’s that which comes as… a search. As a thirsting. As a hunt. I live in an environment of people that used to be either former un believers, or either former irrelevants! What a beautiful thing…

Panagiotarea: How did you manage like this?

Met. Nikolaos: How did they manage to come close to me! And I rejoice and say, my God, what a beautiful thing! What a b e a u t i ful thing! The age in which we are living is an amazing age! We say that it’s a horrible age, because it dismisses values, because it’s enforced a technological civilization with chivalry, because…. I don’t know, disaster has taken over, and logically the dismissing of God follows that…

Panagiotarea: And hardness of heart…

Met. Nikolaos: And hardness of heart.

Panagiotarea: And how can you not dismiss God when you see wars going on, and millions of little children being killed for example. And then you say “what type of a God are you, allowing this to happen!?”…. this is whats going on in Iraq now.

Met. Nikolaos: I’m that God which was Crucified for the    World, and God the Father was watching God the Son being Crucified, it’s the same thing. Could there be anything worse!? The war in Iraq is nothing in front of the C r u c i f i x i o n of the God – Man! In such a religion we believe! In such a God we believe! I believe in a God who was Crucified and Resurrected… and this isn’t something little. And

I don’t just believe this. You believe this, and the nation which celebrates now, and this is what we ask for! A fake made up God, doesn’t fit in our picture! We want a God who is heroic!

Panagiotarea: What would you say to a person who would kill us as “unbelievers” to go to heaven… what would you say to such a person?

Met. Nikolaos: But such a person would never come and ask me, don’t ask me such questions! That’s not a good question, I’m sorry. (laughs)

Panagiotarea: I think it’s a very good question.

Met. Nikolaos: Hahaha, some persons going to come to me and say “I have to kill you to go to heaven!” I’d say, so kill me! Ah… that would be it. And he would kill me… and that would be that! (laughs)

Panagiotarea: You don’t have the desire towards these people, to tell them the message that we’ve been talking about today, the message of the Resurrection.

Met. Nikolaos: I have the desire to become pieces, to give my heart everywhere… and for this to be repeated! We sing “Christ is Risen” from the night of the Resurrection at Matins till Vespers on the afternoon of Pascha, 99 times if I’m not mistaken. We can’t get e n o u g h of saying it! Just like when you have your kid, and you love your kid, and you strike him down with kisses like lightening and you can’t get enough... just like when you hear an awesome speech, or your at a wonderful theatrical presentation and the clapping doesn’t stop, this never ending thing, this I have! Also I’d like to very much… I think the Church has this “all the nations” concept, to embrace and to spread her message e v e r y w h e r e! Not prosylitically, but inspiringly…

Panagiotarea: That’s what I said before, that “all the nations…”

Met. Nikolaos: That “all the nations…” But inspiringly… So I say therefore, I should start from my neighbor, from the person who is beside me, from the Priests in the Metropolis in which I find myself, from faithful people…. Slowly-slowly, I’ll go. A Muslim comes with a good disposition and asks me, I’ll talk to him about the sacrifice of Christ, about the other logic, the t o t a l opposite! That if you want to be first, you should choose the place of the last. What’s the best seat in Paradise? Tell me you who know, you who are a child of the Church!

Panagiotarea (laughs): Well, you who are an astrophysict… because I’m just a simple philologist. I’ll ask you therefore if all of this has in our age… we see people clash over ideologies, about faith, about different religions, different openings that we see… how do you interpret it?

Met. Nikolaos: I… there were always tensions in between the religions, there was always a great variety of religions from the past, each one has her own roots and her own background… But I feel that the greatest thing that we have to today is that, we have to give the w i t n n e s s of what we have! The other people to which we are addressing ourselves could… this most beautiful message of the Evangelical truth, which we haven’t lived out with results obviously, well… they could live it out better than us!
So when someone comes, either they are heterodox, or of another religion, or even an atheist, and he’ll tell me his problem , with a lot of humility therefore I’ll listen, I think I should listen to his problem… and you, and we, and all of us, should respect the past even of… the a t h e i s t! Because for them to reach there, well something lead them! And we should give the confession of our own treasure!

From then on, whatever happens, happens. From then on, it’s God’s job!

Panagiotarea: The Church sometimes has a harshness, or rather I’m sorry… her actions do so I can be serious, not the Church, her actions have a harshness to them and they stick on a line that is like
t h i s on everything…

Met. Nikolaos: Example?

Panagiotarea: Not excepting these types of discussions, let’s say… whatever we think isn’t Christian and Orthodox, we dismiss it.

Met. Nikolaos: There’s no such thing, I don’t know understand it, but I’ll give you a little example: If I was born – and you too – a bit to the east, you’d be wearing a burga. If a little to the west, you’d be in St. Peter’s.
Panagiotarea: Therefore, man is not at fault for his choices…

Met. Nikolaos: But that’s not a choice!

Panagiotarea: The conditions with which he’s been raised in… if I was a little to the east I’d have a burga as you said, I’d say He’s (God) One.

Met. Nikolaos: And I’d be a Cardinal! In the best case…  or something else, an Imam!

Panagiotarea: And so…

Met. Nikolaos: And so, I’d like to say that our historic background…

Panagiotarea: Then how do we say that someone has to be saved through Baptism, when one person beside us is walking around in a burga, and the other to the left is a cardinal!?

Met. Nikolaos: You have the impression that you’ll be saved, and the others won’t be?

Panagiotarea: Well you’ll tell me that!

Met. Nikolaos: I answered you with the question I asked you!

Panagiotarea: Because, because…

Met. Nikolaos: I answered you with the question I asked you.

Panagiotarea: Well it was a good question, your certainly correct.

Met. Nikolaos: That God knows His job. But, we have this treasure of the balanced Orthodox tradition…

Panagiotarea: But the others shouldn’t think…

Met. Nikolaos (laughing): Don’t interrupt me! I was going to say it…. From my heart! Ah it’s ok…

Panagiotarea: Just so the other people don’t think that in whatever god you believe in, if you’re a good person, you’ll be saved. That’s all I wanted to say.

Met. Nikolaos: I never said such a thing, I never said that at all, but I said do you have… I never said how they will be saved, but I said do you have the impression that only us two will be saved? Or ten – eleven people from here?

Panagiotarea: The Orthodox only?

Met. Nikolaos: From there on what happens, I don’t know. But I know that this toxic thing which is called Orthodox Church and Tradition, this specific moment which for us is called the Resurrection, this great blessing from the Saints that exists, our Theology which we unfortunately are ignorant of, that has constant presence, that enters into a person and t r a n s f i g u r e s him! He goes into God, and He brings Him down! That blasts our logic into thin air! I told you before about all these upside down things, this is a wonderful chance for me to throw away the clothes that I am wearing as my own personal prison, that which makes me descended and makes me grounded to the earth… for me to be able to transfigure it into a garment of Resurrection!

Hold it!

And I say: What will happen with the others? I’ll give them whatever it is I can from that which I live, but about that which I live… I’ll say two or three words that have to do with the Resurrection that are very beautiful. The one word is “Unsetting.” Come receive ye light from the unsetting light… That it does not set. (Translators Note: His Eminence was on to something wonderful, unfortunately, they cut about 20 – 30 seconds from the video online)

To be Continued…
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 11:46:52 PM by Chtets Ioann »

Offline Chtets Ioann

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Re: Discussion with Metropolitan Nikolaos of Messogea and Lavreotiki
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2010, 11:43:02 PM »
Where did this interview originally appear and where can one find it?  Thanks.   :)

OK, I see this was from a Greek national radio broadcast; Does a transcript exist, even in Greek?

It could have been put on the radio, in fact it probably was. This Bishop is definitely St. John Chrysostom number 2! No transcription exits in Greek. I saw it on youtube here and I stopped translated, stopped, translated etc. It's very very hard, which is why I say if anyone wants to repost it to tell me  :D