John Behr

Read more: John BehrLearning Spiritual Discernment

John Behr was born in the U.K. in 1966. His father was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, his maternal grandfather was a Lutheran pastor.
After completing his first degree in Philosophy in London in 1987, John Behr spent a year studying in Greece. He finished an M.Phil. in Eastern Christian Studies at Oxford University. While working on his doctorate, he was invited to be a Visiting Lecturer at St Vladimir’s Seminary in 1993, where he has been a permanent faculty member since 1995. From 2007 to 2017 he has been the dean of the Seminary. He still edits the Popular Patristics Series for SVS Press.
His early work was on issues of asceticism and anthropology, focusing on St. Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. After spending almost a decade in the second century, Fr John began the publication of a series on the Formation of Christian Theology, and has now reached the fifth and sixth centuries. He has recently completed an edition and translation of, and introduction to, the remaining texts of Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia. He has also published a synthetic presentation of the theology of the early centuries, focused on the mystery of Christ. His most recent project is a patristic-exegetic study on the Gospel of John.


Hervé Legrand

Read more: Hervé LegrandWhat is a Synodal Process of Discernment?

Born in Langolen (France) in 1935, Hervé Legrand entered the order of the Dominicans, completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest. His research interests focus on ecumenism and ecclesiology. He is an honorary professor at the Institut catholique in Paris, where he has taught extensively. Member of numerous commissions of ecumenical dialogue at national and international level (in particular with the Lutheran World Federation), he is a consulter to the Council of European episcopal conferences and councilor of the International Academy of Religious Sciences. Among his publications: Face à l’unité (avec Harding Meyer, 1986); Les Conférences épiscopales (avec Antonio Garcia and Garcia and Julio Manzanares, 1988); Les Évêques d’Europe and the nouvelle évangélisation (avec Carlo Maria Martini, 1991); Église et Société, 1998; Le Ministère des évêques au concile Vatican II et depuis (avec Christoph Theobald, 2001); L’œuvre d’orient (avec Giuseppe Maria Croce, 2010). He is a member of the scientific committee of the International Congress of Orthodox Spirituality which takes place every year at the Bose monastery.


John Chryssavgis

Read more: John ChryssavgisJohn Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was born in Australia in 1958. He received his degree in Theology from the University of Athens in 1980, a diploma in Byzantine Music from the Greek Conservatory of Music in 1979 and was awarded a research scholarship to St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in 1982. He completed his doctoral studies in Patristics at the University of Oxford in 1983. His teaching has covered wide-ranging topics, such as theological, political, and social developments, themes and personalities of the Middle Ages, including cultural and religious relations and tensions between East and West. He was co-founder of St Andrew’s Theological College in Sydney, where he was Sub-Dean and taught Patristics and Church History (1986–95). He was also Lecturer in the Divinity School (1986–90) and the School of Studies in Religion (1990–95) at the University of Sydney. In 1995, he moved to Boston, where he was appointed Professor of Theology at Holy Cross School of Theology and directed the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College until 2002. He established the Environment Office at the same School in 2001. He has also taught as professor of Patristics at the University of Balamand in Lebanon.
In recent years, he has published several books and countless articles in international journals and encyclopedias in the area of religion and ecology, social justice and peace. He currently serves as theological advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch on environmental issues.

The Way of Awareness and Authenticity in the Church Today


The two sixth-century elders of Gaza, Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet, were unequivocally renowned among their own contemporaries and acquired unparalleled reputation through the centuries for their unique leadership and spiritual ministry of discernment. Barsanuphius and John do not simply elaborate on and emphasize the preeminent gift of discernment in their contacts and correspondence; they literally epitomize and exemplify this unique faculty in their experiences and exchanges. How these exceptional elders perceive and practice discernment arguably provides extraordinary insight into the understanding and utterance of what is promulgated as divine will in the life of the church today?


Theodosios Martzouchos

Read more: Theodosios MartzouchosFr. Theodosios Marzouchos was born in 1958 in Northern Evia, in the village of Gialtra Edipsou. He graduated from high school in Edipsos and then studied theology at the University of Athens. He met during the period of his studies a magnificent clergyman, Father Meletios Kalamaras, and followed him in Preveza, when he was elected bishop of Preveza in 1980, becoming monk and clergyman, along with several others, scholars of various disciplines. In 1986, he was encharged by the late Bishop Meletios of the ministry of protosynkellos (vicar) of the Metropolis, which he carried on until the death of the bishop (2012). And during this period, until now he is a priest of the small parish of Saint John Chrysostom in the city of Preveza. He in very active in the field of liturgical renovation of the Church of Greece, and gives regularly lectures in church gatherings and theological conferences throughout Greece. He is the owner of the blog, where he publishes his texts and interventions on different topics regarding the faith and life of the Church.

The Spiritual Father Today: Strength and Limits of Discernment


The goal and purpose of every spiritual guide is that indicated by Christ to Peter: 'And you, once converted, confirm your brothers' (Lk 22:32). Today this task has been distorted and many contemporary spiritual fathers have become 'elders' (gherontes) who indoctrinate Christians and keep them in a continuous relationship of dependence. Without assumption of responsibility. Without separations. In a perennial sleep 'at the feet ... of Gamaliel' (Acts 22.3). And so we become a sleeping church. Without the dynamism of doubt. Without Thomas. Without prominent personalities, who have been levelled by so-called elders for 'spiritual reasons'. We become a church that has nothing to say to contemporary people, nothing that really matters for their existence. A church of frightened people, who think that everyone is plotting against them. A church of respectable people who confuse the ethics of Christ with good manners. A church that is scandalised by the cruelty of the young without trying to discern elements of authenticity in such cruelty. A church that believes its purpose to regulate the length of hair, cassock, beard and sleeve! A church that fears speaking of the sacraments celebrated above and before the altar (Eucharist and marriage, the sacraments of the sacrificial crucifixion for the love of the other) and which strives to impose behaviours in the social and institutional sphere, again contradicting Christ, who poses as a condition: 'If someone wants to come after me ...'. Instead of a church full of dynamism, filling the daily life of men with meaning, providing a purification of passions and and showing a loving concern for all.


Irina Paert

Read more: Irina PaertElders and “Young Elders” in the Russian Orthodox Church

Irina Paert is a graduate of Ural State University in Yekaterinburg (BA in Social Science and History, 1992) and Central European University in Budapest, Hungary (MA in Central European History, 1994). She obtained her PhD in Social History from Essex University (UK). She held postdoctoral fellowships and a lectureship in the Universities of Manchester and Bangor. In 2005 she moved to Tallinn where she first worked as researcher at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies before taking the senior researcher position at the School of Theology and Religious Studies, Univesity of Tartu.
Paert specializes in Russian religious studies, focusing particularly on the history and culture of Old Believers and the Russian Orthodox Church. She is author of two monographs: Old Believers, Religious Dissent and Gender in Russia 1760-1850 (Manchester UP, 2003), and Spiritual Elders: Charisma and Tradition in Russian Orthodoxy (DeKalb, 2010) as well as several articles and book chapters on cultural history. Currently, her research interests are in the history of Orthodoxy (including Old Believers) in Estonia, religious education, and in the role of religion in the contemporary Russian Diaspora in the Baltics.