Encountering the Mystery, by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Published by Image, 2008.


Encountering the Mystery by His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew It is a warm work drawn from his personal experience of living the riches our Orthodox Christian faith has to offer.

This very readable book focuses on encountering, which means essentially to meet face to face. The book’s title presents a paradox: How is it that one meets mystery face to face? Furthermore, when one meets mystery face to face, what does one see? What does one do? Rarely does an encounter exist without struggle, a struggle toward understanding – ourselves and others.

Sin, he explains, is not merely making evil choices, but in fact the result of an inability to make rightful – or righteous – choices. It is the state of captivity to compulsions or passions, where one is quite literally passive and not subjective, controlled and not creative, fallen and not free. It is subservience to the force of hardened habit. In response ‘Repentance’ (µετάνοια) ‘literally means seeing things through a different perspective’ and ‘signifies an inner transformation that inevitably involves a change in one’s entire worldview’ to God, to people, and the way we treat the world. Prayerfulness, asceticism and humility underpin this transformation, which requires commitment and courage. He describes the influential role of monastic spirituality and the sacraments, and explains how the cultivation of virtue has both personal and global dimensions.

The Ecumenical Patriarch addresses how God is unknowable and yet is profoundly known; invisible and yet personally accessible; distant and yet intensely present. The infinite God is truly intimate in relating to the world. Rarely does one find such a rich and profound, yet simply written, book that covers the breadth of richness in Orthodoxy and applies it simply and practically to everyday existential issues facing humanity, including contemporary issues such as: freedom and respect for human rights, social justice and globalization, global warming and destruction of the natural environment, world poverty economics, religious fundamentalism, nationalism and war, and our obligation to preserve this earth and leave it better for future generations. The Ecumenical Patriarch elucidates these themes with the humble self-confidence of one who has liturgically lived the Orthodox Church’s dogmas, and found them true to his own experience of the living God.


Source: Lychnos December 2016 / January 2017