Eastern Church: February 2009 Archives

Abp Demetrios.jpgThe President of Fordham University, Fr. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. announced Tuesday Feb. 17, a Jaharis Family Foundation gift establishing the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture as part of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program of this renowned Roman-Catholic Jesuit University.


The announcement came at the conclusion of the Sixth Annual Orthodoxy in America Lecture given this year by Fr. Stanley Harakas, ThD, who is the Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology Emeritus at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Harakas' topic "The Future of Orthodox Christianity in America: A Normative Approach" captivated his diverse audience of academics, clergymen, students and laymen. He outlined the threats and pitfalls but also the opportunities of the social and cultural reality in America and suggested ways of what we need to do and ought to do, as Orthodox.


Following the lecture President McShane announced the establishment of the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture through a generous donation of two million dollars by the Jaharis Family Foundation. Fr. McShane welcomed Michael and Mary Jaharis as he expressed his great joy and gratitude. He further said that naming the chair after Archbishop Demetrios is a most deserving honor and that the University was "thrilled that his name (the Archbishop's) and the name of the Jaharis family will forever be associated with Fordham."


The new Syrian Patriarch, Ignace Joseph III Younan, elected on January 22nd was  enthroned on February 15th in Beirut. The story of the event is here and here. It is interesting to note the theological and liturgical differences between Western & Eastern Catholics. The Patriarch was enthroned, not installed. The proper term is enthroned; one installs computer software and a new dishwasher, not a bishop. To enthrone a bishop means that he is led to his chair and seated. Of course there's more to the rite but that's it essentially. Worldwide the Syrian Catholics number about 200, 000.

Lori Cathedra.jpgThe point of this note isn't the size of a bishop's chair as it was to draw attention to a new Eastern Catholic Patriarch. That said, for some, parsing the difference between enthronement vs. installation may be overly picky. The liturgical theology of the Church says that bishops sit on cathedras (substantial looking chairs), not thrones even if some look more like thrones than mere a big chair. That some bishops may look like plenipotentiaries, even act like them, they're not. But to say that a bishop is led to a choir stall, like an abbot is upon his election, is not quiet correct either. How long has the word "installation" been used to denote the act of inaugurating a bishop's ministry? I think some people who claim to be liturgists tend to force a new agenda on the Church using inaccurate jargon. But I defer to a great authority.

Saints Cyril and Methodius

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Saints Cyril and Methodius.JPGAfter this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come. And He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.


Father, You brought the light of the Gospel to the Slavic nations through Saint Cyril and his brother Saint Methodius. Open our hearts to understanding Your teaching and help us to become one in faith and praise.



Writing about today's saints Pope John Paul II said:


[Saints Cyril and Methodius made a] generous decision to identify themselves with those peoples' life and traditions, once having purified and enlightened them by Revelation, make Cyril and Methodius true models for all the missionaries who in every period have accepted Saint Paul's invitation to become all things to all people in order to redeem all. And in particular for the missionaries who, from ancient times until the present day, from Europe to Asia and today in every continent, have labored to translate the Bible and the texts of the liturgy into the living languages of the various peoples, so as to bring them the one word of God, thus made accessible in each civilization's own forms of expression.


Perfect communion in love preserves the Church from all forms of particularism, ethnic exclusivism or racial prejudice, and from any nationalistic arrogance. This communion must elevate and sublimate every purely natural legitimate sentiment of the human heart. (Slavorum apostoli, 11, 1985)

Saint Maron

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Saint Maron.jpgA song of ascents. I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. (Ps. 121:1-2)


February 9th the Maronite Church in Lebanon (and in the diaspora) celebrated the liturgical feast of the founder their Church, Saint Maron. It is commonly known that Saint Maron was a 4th/5th century Syriac Christian monk. Maron moved to the mountains of ancient Syria to what is known today as Lebanon. His spirituality, as would be expected of a monk, was penitential and centered on the sacred Liturgy. Studying the liturgical texts you would notice the influence of semitic forms of thinking, praying and discipline. There is a keen appreciation for Old Testament typology in Maronite theology, spirituality and Liturgy. One clear acknowledgement needs to be made: the monks (indeed, all the disciples of Saint Maron) held to the truth taught by the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). They even suffered for their orthodox Christian faith.


This is already too much information to introduce you to the fact that in Rome there is a Maronite College founded in the 16th century. Here seminarians and priests of the worldwide Maronite Church come to study the sacred sciences at the heart of the Catholic Church.


In the autumn of 2008 the Diocese of Rome and the Holy See established a parish for the Maronites living in Rome centered at the Maronite College. This news video gives a brief introduction to this new work of the Maronite Church.


ALSO, if you are interested in knowing more about Eastern Christianity, the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus published a brand new booklet on what the Eastern Christian Churches are, and the place they hold in Christianity. Read Jesuit Father Steven Hawkes-Teeples' work Eastern Christians and Their Churches.


In the USA there are two eparchies (dioceses) of Maronites, The Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brookkyn and Our Lady of Lebanon. Between the two eparches, the Maronite Voice is published.

Robert Taft.jpgMany are familiar with the name of the great liturgical scholar the Right Reverend Archimandrite Robert Francis Taft because they actually know him (and thus love him), or know his very extensive list of publications (more than 850) on matters pertaining to liturgical history or because of an experience him in the classroom or merely because they heard of him. Whatever the case may be this blog entry is not panegyric of Father Robert Taft but a way of encouraging you to listen to his keynote address on the point of liturgy AND the enduring influence of the late Father Alexander Schmemann at the symposium noted below: it will shape anew your thinking on the Church's liturgical life.

Alexander Schmemann.jpgSaint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary held an international liturgical symposium honoring one of the best of liturgical scholars to walk the earth 29-31 January 2009: "The Past and Future of Liturgical Theology: Celebrating the Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann."


The talks are thus far available in podcasts noted here.

The other speakers at the conference:

His Grace the Rt. Rev. Maxim [Vasiljevic], Bishop of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America; "Opening Episcopal Remarks"

Dr. Michael Aune, Dean of the Faculty, Dean of the Chapel, Professor of Liturgical and Historical Studies at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, and Core Doctoral Faculty in Liturgical Studies at General Theological Union; "The Current State of Liturgical Theology: A Plurality of Particularities"

The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Job [Getcha], former Dean of St. Sergius Theological Institute, Paris; "From Master to Disciple: The Notion of 'Liturgical Theology' in Father Kiprian Kern and Father Alexander Schmemann"

Keynote by The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ; "The Liturgical Enterprise Twenty-five Years after Alexander Schmemann [1921-1983]: The Man and His Heritage"

Dr. Bryan D. Spinks, Professor of Liturgical Studies, Yale Divinity School; "From Liturgical Theology to Liturgical Theologies: Schmemann's Legacy in Western Churches"

The Rev. Dr. Stephanos Alexopoulos, Professor at the International Center for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies, Athens, Greece; "Did the Work of Father Alexander Schmemann Influence Modern Greek Theological Thought? A Preliminary Assessment"

Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin, nun of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad; currently teaching Liturgical Studies at the University of Vienna; "Father Alexander Schmemann and Monasticism"

Dr. David W. Fagerberg, Associate Professor in the Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame; "The Cost of Understanding Schmemann, in the West"

The Most Blessed Jonah [Paffhausen], Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Orthodox Church in America; "Closing Episcopal Remarks."

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Eastern Church category from February 2009.

Eastern Church: January 2009 is the previous archive.

Eastern Church: April 2009 is the next archive.

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