ARCHIMANDRITE VASILEIOS (Gontikakis) is the head of the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos (see here). Previously, he was Abbot of the Stavronikita monastery.
He is the author of a well-known book translated into English under the title Hymn Of Entry (SVS Press).
Vasileios is sometimes numbered amongst a new generation of Orthodox theologians such as Metropolitan John Zizioulas, Christos Yannaras, Panagiotis Nellas etc..
But perhaps a more enlightening grouping finds him alongside Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi and others who have continued a revival among the monasteries of Mount Athos begun by such as Joseph the Hesychast (1898-1959) and St Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938).
Hymn Of Entry is remarkable in many ways, but perhaps for two prominent themes above all.
One is that “theology” is liturgical, and incarnational, that is to say, that theology is about living people at prayer, not abstract ideas.
Today, by contrast, we often take theology out of the theanthropic mystery of the Church in which it was sung by the Fathers. We transfer it to the field of mere academic discussions, where each person, remaining an individual, an isolated authority, states his opinion and goes his way. The resultant “theology”, however, is not the very theology of the Church. If we disincarnate theology and transfer it, as a mere opinion, to a round table for discussion, it is wrong and untenable to say that this is “the truth”. (p. 32)
The notable other theme (intimately connected with the first) is that the true monk – and by extension the true Christian – is a person from whom a heavenly peace and spiritual fragrance constantly radiates out to his fellow men.
HE is a day of sunshine and of calm; a well of purity and fruitful virginity. His whole body, as it were, forms a laugh of silent joy. Gentleness and radiance flow from him. Like a cool and clear day in spring when the breeze is full of the scents of new life, so his words are full of the fragrance which comes from the flower-covered valleys of his heart, the slopes of his sacred and light-bearing reflections.
We understand, then, that every true theologian studies not in order to know more, but in order to love better. Such “theology” takes place not in a seminar room, but in the Body of Christ and in the house of the Lord. It does not draw attention to him, as an expert, but to those around him, as his joy.