Sunday, February 24, 2008

Zizioulas in Volos

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On Saturday afternoon, I drove down to Volos (about 2.5 hours south, in between Thessaloniki and Athens) with some friends to attend a lecture by Metropolitan of Pergamon John (Zizioulas), one of the most famous living Orthodox theologians. It was the second in a series of open lectures sponsored by the Academy for Theological Studies of the Metropolis in Volos on the theme of "Eucharist, Church, and the World." I work for the Academy doing some English translations—one of the Academy’s goals is to make theology more accessible to the laity. Metropolitan John’s talk was entitled “Eucharist and the World.” He was followed by another paper by a French Catholic priest, Fr. Herve Legrand, who is involved in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue with Metropolitan John. I was able to briefly introduce myself to Metropolitan John and deliver a present from my bishop, Bishop Maxim.

The talks and the discussion went from about 6:30 PM on Saturday evening until 10:00 or 10:30. Afterwards, I was invited to dinner (yes, this is quite a normal time for dinner in Greece!) with Fr. Legrand, my professor, Dr. Petros Vassileiadis, and others, including many of the people I work with (mainly via the internet) in Volos. I finally got to bed at 1:00 AM! They put me up in a nice hotel right on the waterfront in Volos.

Early the next morning, I walked over to the Metropolitan Cathedral for the Divine Liturgy with Metropolitan Ignatios, the bishop of Volos. He is a very humble, loving and pastoral bishop—I have been very impressed with him. Afterwards, we had “coffee hour” with the bishop and then I went on a walk along the waterfront with some people from the Academy. The weather was absolutely beautiful – sunny and warm. It was a taste of spring, and everyone was out walking or riding their bikes. I worked with the director of the Academy on a book I’m translating for them for about an hour at an outdoor cafĂ©.

Afterwards, we all drove up to a little village called Makrinitsa at the top of the mountain, Mt. Pileo, which overlooks Volos. There, we met Metropolitan Ignatios who treated us to lunch at a little traditional Greek restaurant.

Here, I was fortunate to be able to sit next to my professor and pick his brain about my research during lunch. He is VERY busy, so getting this amount of time with him is a blessing.

All of the photos are from that little village of Makrinitsa. In the top photo, from left to right, we have my professor, Dr. Petros Vassileiadis; me; Dr Vassileiadis’ daughter Anastasia, who works at the Academy in Volos; Fr Legrand; and my Serbian friend Sasha, who is also a student here in Thessaloniki. Behind us, and in the third photograph, is the village’s old church. The second photo is a view of a typical restaurant, like the one we ate at, which has a view of Volos and the bay (see also the bottom photo).

After lunch, we went somewhere else for coffee—this is practically required in Greece. ( ;

Finally, at around 5:30 or 6:00, Sasha and I headed back to Thessaloniki. It was an exhausting weekend, especially as I am still recovering from a bad cold and laryngitis which I have had since returning from Serbia, but it was also very rewarding and productive.

There are a few more photos from Makrinitsa here.

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