Dean Speaks at Annual International Orthodox Conference in Italy
4–7 September 2013 • Off–Campus
The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean and professor of Patristics of St. Vladimir's Seminary, journeyed to the Monastero di Bose in the province of Biella, Italy, to participate in the XXI International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality. The monastery at Bose, founded in the mid–1960s, is composed of men and women from all major Christian traditions; it has hosted the Orthodox Spirituality conferences for about twenty years. The gatherings are open to the public, and are characterized by intense dialogue between senior Orthodox theologians and monastics, and Protestant and Catholic scholars from around the world.
Themed "The Ages of the Spiritual Life," this year's conference addressed the question: What is the relation between youth and spiritual fervor, between middle age and service to one's neighbor, between old age and Christian hope in sickness and in death? As such, Fr. John returned to a theme he has emphasized in recent years in his talk, "The Christian Art of Dying." (Read more about this in his new SVS Press book, Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image.)
Speaking about "living the Christian death," reported the Monastery's Website, Fr. John "showed
how, for the Christian, life is born from the decision to die to oneself, as a result of baptism, living no longer for oneself, but for others. This donation of oneself transforms one's own concrete dying into a manifestation of the paschal mystery."
The packed daily schedule was supplemented by roundtable discussions and conversations lasting late into the evening. "Our informal discussions that went on alongside the formal sessions were just as important," noted Fr. John.
The prior of the Monastero di Bose, Enzo Bianchi, concluded the conference by thanking the participants and issuing a call to prayer and fasting for peace in the Middle East. The theme of peace has been suggested as a possible topic for the 22nd International Ecumenical Conference, scheduled to be held during the same week of September in 2014.