|Introduction to the conferences|
Page 1 of 5
In Search of Shared Spiritual Sources:
International Ecumenical Conferences
on Orthodox Spirituality
Since 1993 for more than twenty years now, the Monastery of Bose in Italy, has been a meeting place for Christians from East and West wishing to discuss aspects of Christian spirituality. They are Christians belonging to the Orthodox, Reformed, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, and these encounters have been and will continue to be essentially an occasion for listening to each other. “You have seen your brother, you have seen God” is a frequently quoted saying of the desert Fathers. One could paraphrase it and say “You have heard your brother (i.e. you are able to listen to him), you have heard God (i.e. you are then able to make room in your life for the word of God)”, for indeed, how can we say we love (and therefore we listen to, serve and follow) God whom we do not see, if we do not love our brother whom we do see? (1 Jn 5:20).
It is precisely this wish to listen to one’s neighbour – a foremost prerequisite for any dialogue – that motivates and drives these conferences on the history of Christian spirituality. They are intended as a service to all churches, as an occasion for joint study and mutual encounters, for investigating the spiritual wealth of the Eastern Church, those “authentic theological traditions of the Eastern Christians” which, as the II Vatican Council authoritatively notes, are “rooted in the Holy Scriptures … expressed in liturgical life … nourished by the living Apostolic tradition, by the writings of Fathers and ascetics from the East … aspiring to a correct approach to life , indeed to the full contemplation of Christian truth”.
The participation in these conferences of Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Reformed Christians underscores the precise practice of these encounters: let the other define himself and bring testimony of what he holds most dear. What lies at the heart of each specific Christian tradition is its own history of holiness, where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are manifest and become incarnate in a concrete manner and in a particular path, and through Grace come to bring sense and hope to all churches and to all mankind.