I had the blessing of visiting Dr. Cavarnos at his home in Boston before he fled the world and became the monk Constantine. Dr. Cavarnos was a man smitten with love for God and overflowing with love for his brother man…it was a joy to spend time with him.
The following was written by Archpriest Joseph Frawley in his honor:
The noted author and lecturer Schemamonk Constantine (Cavarnos) fell asleep in the Lord on the morning of March 3, 2011 at St Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona, and was buried there the same day.
Dr Cavarnos was born in Boston in 1918, and graduated from Harvard University, where he also received a Doctorate in Philosophy. He taught at several colleges in America, and contributed articles and reviews to various publications through the years. In 1956, he founded the Institute of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies in order to promote interest in Orthodox spirituality, philosophy, and modern Greek culture.
He lectured in schools, seminaries, and parishes in this country and abroad, where his clear, lucid presentations were always well received.
Dr Cavarnos wrote nearly one hundred books including volumes on philosophy, theology, and the very popular series of Modern Orthodox Saints. His first book A DIALOGUE BETWEEN BERGSON, ARISTOTLE, AND PHILOLOGOS was published in 1949. His latest, THE PHILOKALIA, VOL. 2, was released just this year.
Although he began his career with philosophical studies, he progressed to the true philosophy, which is how the Church Fathers describe monasticism. Dr Cavarnos admired the monastic life, and wrote several books on the subject. Even while living and working as a layman, he seemed to be detached from the world. The late Greek Orthodox Archbishop Michael used to call him “a monk living in the world.” Meeting him, one sensed that here was a man of true piety and prayer.
In the course of his career, Dr Cavarnos knew many prominent people. He has written of his long friendship with the Greek iconographer and writer, Photios Kontoglou, who brought about a revival of Byzantine iconography. He also knew some of the Orthodox Church’s great Spiritual Fathers, such as Archimandrite Philotheos Zervakos.
When Dr Cavarnos lost his sight, he embraced the monastic life and was tonsured at St Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ. I believe he always intended to end his life in a monastery, and that this was the fulfillment of his fondest wish.
It was my privilege to know Dr Cavarnos for almost forty years. Whenever my wife and I would travel to the Boston area to visit family, we always tried to make time to visit him at his home in Belmont, MA. He was a major influence in my life through his books, lectures, and paternal counsel. Our conversations at his home were just like his books: uplifting, edifying, and soul-profiting. His books remain as his legacy, and will continue to inspire and instruct future generations of those who seek the heavenly Kingdom.
There was an understandable sadness when I heard that he had completed the course of his earthly life. However, there is also a sense of joy because he is, I believe, with God and with all the saints who ever lived.
May the Lord be merciful to the ever-memorable servant of God, Schemamonk Constantine, and give him rest in Abraham’s bosom, and number him among the just.