I was struck by something early on in the interview:
...I had an opportunity to travel to Greece with other students, and to discover living Orthodoxy there. I saw holy monasteries, and even met a holy monk. I went to the Liturgy. This was before Vatican II. The Greeks were extremely kind and friendly to me as a Catholic. Today that would probably be different, because the Catholics have changed completely towards the Orthodox.
—For the better, or for the worse?
—From the worst to the best. But now the Orthodox keep their distance because they feel invaded.
How much of contemporary Orthodox "resistance" to Roman Catholicism is a reaction to the new tone from Rome since the 1960's? How did getting along worse allow us to get along better?
Also, some favourites:
—Of those who are wavering—do you think they could go in the direction of Orthodoxy, or might they instead give up everything?
—The only way I see it happening is if they turn to their own Orthodoxy, because unless God works an unprecedented miracle that turns everyone to Byzantine Orthodoxy, there is a whole culture at work to prevent it. It is not just a matter of texts, or formulas. But they must turn back to their own Orthodoxy, their own traditions. For all these years, when I wrote my little books, my aim was this: as a monk, to help people have a spiritual life, to rediscover, reintegrate their own spiritual heritage, which is of course the same as ours; because we have the same roots.
I feel that my own path is to prove, even to the Orthodox, that it is possible, even within the Western tradition, to rediscover the common ground, and to live out of this. You can do this—not by yourself, of course, but only with God’s grace. But then I reached a point where I could no longer support being in only spiritual communion with the Orthodox Church so close to my heart. I wanted real, sacramental communion. Therefore, I asked for it.
—I am sure that everything happens according to God’s will and plan, but do you feel that perhaps Orthodox people should provide more encouragement to those people who are searching, wavering? Who are digging deeply but not getting to the roots?
—They should know their own faith better, and be capable of answering questions. They should not criticize everything and everybody.
—As many converts are prone to do.
—Yes, the converts are the most severe judges. But, yes, they should be able to answer essential questions. However, I am speaking of my own experience, in Switzerland. I would suppose that it is different in America, where there are hundreds of different churches, Protestant denominations, and they are all equal, so to say. There are dozens, unfortunately, of Orthodox Churches also.