Theological dialogues on calendar pages: interviews given by His Eminence Metropolitan Father Irineu to Prof. V. Gogonea interlocutor (reporter)

Publishing House Mitropolia Olteniei, Craiova, 2019, ISBN 978-606-731-042-9

Made at moments of celebration, in which His Eminence Metropolitan PhD IRINEU gives answers to the questions of his interlocutor, so that they define the spiritual value of the subjects included in their interrogative form. At the same time, the interviews refer to the time, place and time when they were conducted. Thus, the work marked by „fragment type” answers was improved at the intervention of His Holiness, to be of spiritual benefit to a wide audience, to capture certain theological aspects, developed and analyzed in turn in other specialized works, these being published along the time.

„Living in the midst of the current problems posed by secularized society, we are all called, young and old, priests and believers to share in the spiritual tradition of our Orthodox Church. In the Church, any differences related to human passions, weaknesses, whatever they may be, are overcome in the mystery of the spiritual experience offered to us by the Orthodox faith, which unites heaven and earth. As such, as members of the Church, we are all members of the Body of Jesus Christ, and each of us, without distinction, has our personal place and role in this divine-human body, according to the gift that God has given us. It is up to us to realize in time what is the divine gift of us and those around us and what are our personal duties and role that God expects us to fulfill in His Church, One, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Once we have entrusted ourselves with this we will be able to serve God responsibly, saying from the bottom of our souls: „Here I am, Lord!! Speak, Lord… Here I am, Your servant listens!”.

In this volume of theological dialogues on calendar pages, made through the interlocutor – Professor Vasile Gogonea, we have tried to bring as close as possible to our readers the authentic Christian-Orthodox experience as can be seen today. Thus, we will analyze the contemporary Christian as a rational being endowed with freedom. Man’s freedom can respond to God’s call or evade dialogue with him by refusing to relate to anything related to the sanctifying work of his Creator.

By his refusal, man draws the consequences of sin not only upon himself, but also upon all creation which is deviated from its advance toward God. This imbalance leads to the submission of the creation of the interests of man alienated from the divine will. By altering the true meaning of his dignity as king of creation, man forgets that he must lead the world on the path to its fulfillment as the Church of God. Of course, in this context, creation is also the natural support of man. It has a duty to preserve it and to decipher its meanings pertaining to the One Reason which is God, using it as a means or lever in regard to its advancement to God. According to this reason, the world can be understood as a Church in a state of potential until its fulfillment in the Kingdom of heaven. This potential for creation can, of course, be activated by the participation of men in God’s gifts. God becomes transparent to man in His immeasurable mercy and omnipotence in communicating to the created world His uncreated gifts and energies, thus making „the world capable of accommodating His uncreated life”. So, when the world and man are understood as the ultimate reality of existence, it can be said that they are absurd, otherwise, in their depth related to the infinity of the Creator, their existence is revealed as „unfathomable mystery, but at the same time a breast endless meanings”. From this perspective, all creation has been called into existence to be fulfilled in the mysterious Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense, it was not the Son of God who took on the image of the world, but the world was created in His image in order to be able to receive Him „in the fullness of time” and to enjoy His full presence. Therefore, „the creature cannot remain in its normalcy without a connection with God. The profane appears only when man wants to work against this connection with God. The character of a creature is not opposed to God or good, but with a certain conformity with God and with the aspiration for a greater closeness to Him and collaboration with Him”. Moreover, according to the teaching of the Holy Apostle Paul, the Church of the Savior Christ, being „the fulfillment of Him who fulfills all in all”, fulfills creation, both intelligible and sensible. Following the Holy Apostle Paul, St. Maximus the Confessor will say, „God and the Lord always and in all will work the Sacrament of His Incarnation”, which means that the ultimate goal of the world is to become the Church through perpetual and endless acceptance and harmonization of of God’s will „in” and by men.

All these ideas will be analyzed and developed in the following pages. Many of the words and quotations in this work will be intended to present the authentic life and turmoil of the contemporary world, highlighting the saving truth of the Holy Gospels. We ask the Merciful God to bless the readers and to give them all the joy of fulfilling their spiritual desires through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the study of these interviews!”.

† PhD Irineu,

Metropolitan of Oltenia