On the road up to St Basil of Ostrog Monastery, Montenegro.
Simple village folk who saw the Uncreated Light!
An excerpt from the homily by Fr. Nicholas Loudovikos
delivered on the 15-03-2008 at the Diakideios School
Once, I happened to witness an event that I will tell you
about in closing. I was a young officiating presbyter at
the time, and I was serving at some village churches
just outside Thessaloniki. At the same time, I was the
assistant to a very important theologian at the school of
theology. What I was going through, while writing for
my diatribe at the school of theology at the same time,
was one, huge contrast: On the one hand, at the school
of theology I was in contact with everything grand and
strange and incomprehensible that theology holds with
its profound meanings etc., and on the other, I was a
village priest to ten different villages that my bishop had
assigned me to at the time, and also another three or
four villages, where I would act as sermon preacher.
That’s what I did at the time. I felt desperately lonely
because I felt that nobody understood me, either that,
or I must have been responsible for their inability to
So, I would say four or five things to them, I would
notice how the people sort of listened, then they would
lower their heads and, well, they would just go back to
their routines, as though nothing had happened. That
sense of loneliness was a crushing one. I kept asking
myself, “what on earth am I doing here as a priest,
What is the meaning of going back there on Sunday to
speak to that village, if the people don’t……..” Yes, I
just couldn’t handle it. I’m not saying it’s an easy thing,
but as I said to you earlier, I have chosen to speak of
something difficult. I believe you are an audience which
is capable of perceiving such matters.
Anyway, from that day on, I learnt many things, despite
the difficulties encountered.
The miraculous event that I witnessed in that village was
as though God conceded many different lessons to me.
One of those Sundays, after the Divine Liturgy was over,
the priest – a simple person – and two equally simple,
very simple vestry-men - illiterate people – invited me to
the village caffe for a cup of coffee with them, before
going back. “Come on, don’t leave like that”, they insisted.
So, after the Divine Liturgy, and myself still feeling very
sad in my loneliness etc. etc., we went over to the café.
Just as we were sipping our coffee, one of the vestry-men
suddenly turned towards me, looked at me directly, and
says to me:
“Well, father, me and Mr.John here (John was the
other illiterate vestryman) have a query. Our temple here
was never consecrated – they never did the necessary
“things” – and we were wondering, since it was not
consecrated by a bishop, are the sacraments and the
Divine Liturgy that are performed in it not canonical?”
Wow! I thought to myself – what have we got here? Such
a query! I was impressed! But he continued:
“So, you know what we did? We all decided to fast for
three weeks in the hope that God would show us the
answer. So, we did fast. And in fact, one Sunday, before
the Bishop arrived to do the necessary “things”, we again
saw that light during the Divine Liturgy.
I began to freak out: “That light? What light?”
“That light – you know, the ever-shining one – when you
look at the Sun afterwards and you think it’s darkness –
a light that comes down and you see all sorts of things –
many, many things, situations, the present, the past, the
future etc, all in there…”
I began to shake… I was dealing with people here who had
the same experience as Saint Gregory Palamas and Saint
Simeon the new Theologian!
And the priest who was giving his blessings etc. was also
concurring – yes, yes… and it was as if everyone there was
inside the same ‘conspiracy’! This experience was
earth-shaking for me… Of course, things didn’t end there;
I now began an in-depth questioning of that simple person.
“Tell me, how do you live?” I asked him. (after the initial
shock that would accompany me for years thereafter)
“How do you live?”
“How do I live? Well. Frugally.”
“What do you do, how exactly does your day go by, what
exactly do you do during the day?”
“I don’t do absolutely anything” (he replied). “I don’t have
any special ‘things’ – I just love God, but I do practice a
little patience. I practice patience.”
That person had patience! Do you know what “patience”
means? “Patience” is that crucifix of freedom by which
we embrace others. It is in there, that God reveals
And that was the majestic lesson here: that Hesychasm
is an experienced physiology. Do not think – you
theologians – that it is an individual’s accomplishment
(as professed by Hinduists), or something like those who
abolish their will in anticipation of spectacles.
It is all about that “opening up” of one’s self towards
society, through which major revelations are given to
mankind… which I, as a candidate Doctor, was not
honored with – nor have I ever been honored with.
Thank you for your patience.
Father Nicholas Loudovikos has studied Psychology,
Pedagogics, Theology and Philosophy, in Athens,
Thessaloniki, Paris and Cambridge. He has a
Doctorate in Theology of the University of Thessaloniki,
and has also worked at the “Research center for
Primeval Christianity”, Tyndale House, Cambridge.
He has taught at the Cambridge University’s School of
Theology as well as the University of Durham. He is a
Professor of Dogmatics and Philosophy at the Higher
Ecclesiastic School of Thessaloniki; a scientific associate
at the post-graduate Theological program of the Open
Hellenic University and also a part-time lector at the
Orthodox Institute of the University of Cambridge.
For more concerning Fr. Nicholas go here.