On Monday, January 30, 2017—the Feast of the Three Hierarchs—His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and His Grace, Bishop Irinej of the Eastern Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary’s Three Hierarchs Chapel.
Metropolitan Tikhon, who serves as Chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, warmly welcomed Bishop Irinej to his “alma mater” for the first time since his appointment to the Eastern Diocese. For several years, he had served in Australia.
During the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon tonsured Basil Russin, Lecturer in Liturgical Music at SVOTS, to the order of Reader. He also presided at the celebration of a Memorial for the newly departed Matushka Juliana Schmemann, wife of the late SVOTS Dean, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, who fell asleep in the Lord one day earlier.
Metropolitan Tikhon held a reception for members of the student body, during which he reflected on the life of the Orthodox Church in America and fielded a variety of questions from the seminarians.
That evening, Metropolitan Tikhon and Bishop Irinej attended the 34th annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, delivered by Dr. Lewis Patsavos, titled “Reflections of a Canonist.” Dr. Patsavos, who earned his Doctorate in Theology from the University of Athens, Greece in 1974, taught at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA for 40 years. In his lecture, he urged both a holistic approach to the study of the Church’s canons and a living application of them. Theology, he reminded his audience, cannot be isolated from spirituality, from Church life, or from service to and communion with others. Likewise, he advised, proper interpretation of the canons requires not only intense personal prayer, but also acute awareness of ecclesiastical consciousness — “the mind of the Church.”
“It is the task of the canonist to interpret the spirit of the canons in a way which conforms to that revelation [of God] as experienced in the twenty-first century,” Dr. Patsavos reminded his audience. “It is not one’s personal theology or predilection that matters, but the theology which reflects the mind of the believing community, that is, the mind of the Church,” adding that the canons should not be looked upon “as sacred texts to be followed assiduously, but as living directives which speak to the human condition.”
At the academic convocation that preceded the lecture, the SVOTS Board of Trustees and faculty conferred a Doctorate of Canon Law honoris causa upon Dr. Patsavos, who was deeply moved by the honor and most grateful that two Holy Cross Deans—Dr. James Skedros and Priest Alkiviadis Calivas, as well as many friends—were in attendance.
Metropolitan Tikhon closed the convocation and lecture by graciously thanking Dr. Patsavos while remembering, with both solemnity and the victorious joy found in the risen Christ, the repose of Father Alexander on December 13, 1983, and his newly departed Matushka Juliana. He especially noted that Father Alexander and Matushka Juliana would have marked their 74th wedding anniversary on the day of this year’s patronal feast and lecture.
Photo Credits: Alexandru Popovici, Mary Honoré