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Spiritual Guidance on Mount Athos

Edited By Graham Speake and Kallistos Ware

Spiritual guidance is the serious business of Mount Athos, the principal service that the Fathers offer to each other and to the world. Athonites have been purveyors of spiritual guidance for more than a thousand years in a tradition that goes back to the fourth-century desert fathers. The recent monastic renewal on the Mountain is testimony to the Fathers’ continuing power to attract disciples and pilgrims to listen to what they have to say. The papers included in this volume examine some of the many aspects of this venerable tradition, as it has developed on Mount Athos, and as it has devolved upon monks and nuns, spiritual fathers and confessors, lay men and women, in other parts of Greece and in the world. Most of the papers were originally delivered at a conference convened by the Friends of Mount Athos at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, in 2013.
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The Challenges of Spiritual Guidance in Modern Greece

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The title of this presentation refers to spiritual guidance in modern Greece, but I would like to explain something about it before I proceed. First, it is offered at a gathering of the Friends of Mount Athos, because it is impossible to speak about spirituality in modern Greece without including Mount Athos. It would have been possible to give a very similar presentation under the title ‘The Contribution of Mount Athos to Spiritual Guidance in Modern Greece’. Nevertheless, I preferred to take a wider look at this issue, both in terms of the geographical area covered, and also because in this presentation I would like to take a broader view of spiritual guidance and how we can approach it beyond its first level of meaning. Therefore, by ‘spiritual guidance’ here I will not primarily refer to private talks and consultations with an elder – although this is certainly part of it – but foremost to a wider form of sensitization on spiritual matters, privately, also within the Church, and also within the wider social context. In addition, I would like to approach spiritual guidance in terms of the bonds of love, trust, and mercy that define a community and its devotion to the loving, faithful, and merciful God, rather than in terms of a vertical structure of authority.

Mount Athos and Greece

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