While serving as a French soldier in World War I, Lev Gillet was taken prisoner and spent three years among mostly Russian POWs. Through this experience he was deeply drawn to Orthodox spirituality. After the war he entered a Benedictine monastery in Luxembourg but then moved to a monastery in Galicia (now Ukraine) affiliated with the Greek Catholic Church. Still restless in 1928, he entered the Orthodox Church in Paris and was ordained a priest.
Relatively little of Gillet’s life was spent in an actual monastery, but he continued to think of himself as “a Monk of the Eastern Church,” the name under which he published his many books. Apart from serving as rector of the first French-language Orthodox parish in Paris, he also lived in Lebanon and London, endeavoring to open dialogue between the Churches of the East and West.
Gillet wrote widely on prayer, striving to overcome walls of separation and entering into dialogue with those who felt excluded from the Church or conventional religious faith. Jesus himself, he noted, was a man drawn to the margins. To those for whom the very word “God” had become empty, he tried to substitute a new name: “You ask what my name is,” he wrote in the voice of this God. “I am Being . . . I am the Gift that never ceases to give itself . . . I am Limitless Love.”
Gillet died in London on March 29, 1980.
“My beloved ones, I am ‘Boundless Love,’ ‘Love without limits.’ ”
—From Love without Limits by Lev Gillet