This Week in Orthodoxy, March 20, 2015

Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy”, the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church. I’m Emmy Louvaris.

These are some of the stories shaping the Orthodox Community this week:

• This past Sunday marks the mid-point of the Lenten Season, signaling the transition from expressions of personal faith towards personal efforts.
• March 17th marked the celebration of St. Patrick, an often overshadowed Saint who is nevertheless revered in both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.
• Father Thomas Hopko, a prominent Orthodox lecturer and former Dean of St. Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, has reposed in the Lord.

Segment 1: News from Around the Globe

Midpoint of Lenten Fast: Veneration of the Holy Cross

First up, Orthodox Churches mark the midpoint in the Lenten fast with the Feast of the Cross. Known as the Veneration of the Cross, the Feast Day is always held on the 3rd Sunday of Lent and marks the halfway point through the spiritual journey.

According to 1 Corinthians, the Cross holds both the power and wisdom of God and reminds us that we should give Thanksgiving and not be divided among one another. Hymns sung on this day also tell us that the life-giving Cross is equal to the life-giving tree placed at the center of Eden. Thus, the Sunday of the Cross becomes pivotal in the overall meaning of Lent and Pascha, transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New, when Christ’s crucifixion and triumph over death frees humanity from the mortality imposed upon Adam and Eve and opens the doors of eternal life to us.

The Sunday of the Cross asks us to share in the sacrifice and suffering of Christ in preparation for the rejoicing in the Resurrection. A humbling day, it’s a reminder of our humility and status in relation to God. As Saint Peter writes, “For God’s folly is wiser than man; and his weakness more powerful than man.” We look to Christ’s sacrifice to help us in our earthly sacrifice during this Lenten season.

Saint Patrick: Orthodox and Catholic
Saint Patrick, mostly associated with Being Irish and bringing the Irish culture to the forefront in our secular society with parades, bagpipes, Shamrocks, green clothing and often an increase in bar sales, is a canonized Saint in the Catholic Church and is also a recognized Saint in the Orthodox Church.

Born in Roman Britannia to a local Deacon, Saint Patrick was kidnapped by Irish bandits from his town of Kilpatrick, Scotland at the age of 16. But while in captivity, he began his journey in Christ. By the age of 22, he received word from God, urging him to escape, and he wound up in Gaul, a region encompassing modern-day France, Belgium, and parts of surrounding nations. There, Patrick was under the tutelage of Bishop Germanius and later was ordained a Christian Bishop and sent to Ireland around 432 A.D. to preach the word of Christ to the Irish.

Leading a monastic life, Patrick traveled across Ireland, working with local tribal chieftains to bring the Gospel to the Gaelic tribes. The Shamrock was used to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity and has now become synonymous with the Irish and Saint Patrick.

He was so successful that three more Bishops were sent to assist Saint Patrick in his efforts. It is written that by the time of his death in 461, every corner of Ireland was Christian.

This is the real meaning behind the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, and as Orthodox Christians, we honor his life’s work on March 17th along with the Catholics.

Fr. Thomas Hopko Reposes in the Lord
[Note: Fr. Thomas was still alive at the time of filming. He reposed in the Lord shortly thereafter.]
After debilitating congestive heart failure, Fr. Hopko was admitted to the hospital on March 7th. It saddens us to share that he has been moved to a hospice house and is with family and loved ones.

According to the family blog, on Tuesday, Father Hopko was visited by Mother Christophora and two Mothers from the Monastery of the Transfiguration. Bringing with them a decorated cross from the chapel, the Mothers sang hymns and offered prayers.

We ask for your prayers during this time in Father Hopko’s life.

OCN takes a few moments to remember the journey of this well respected theologian.

Father Thomas Hopko was born on March 28th, 1939 in the south-central New York town of Endicott, which is on the border with Pennsylvania. He was of Carpatho-Russian descent. He graduated from Fordham University in 1960 with a degree in Russian Studies and then pursued a Master’s in Divinity at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.

While there, he studied alongside famous Orthodox theologians like Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and three years later, before his ordination, he married Anne Schmemann. Together they have five children.

After being ordained in 1963, the 24-year-old Father Hopko served as pastor for several parishes in Ohio and New York before teaching at Saint Vladimir’s in 1968. He eventually succeeded his teacher, Serge Verkhovskoy, in dogmatic theology.

Father Hopko continued teaching courses in Practical Theology, Homiletics and Spirituality for 24 years until he was appointed Dean of St. Vladimir’s in 1992. He retired in 2002.

Fr. Hopko served as a member of the Faith and Order Commission for the World Council of Churches, earning the respect of Evangelical and Orthodox clergy alike. His writings and thoughts have been featured in various Orthodox publications and media. In all, he has written over 40 works and over two dozen audio-tapes and videos relating to the Orthodox Faith.

From all of us at OCN, our prayers are with Fr. Hopko, his wife and family.

Segment 2. News from OCN

Celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’ve come a long way from producing a 1 hour radio program, and you can be a part of our growth! Last year, OCN experienced a 2500% growth with millions of people being reached worldwide! Join us this year as we expand our reach to even more people! During this Lenten season, our Paschal appeal guarantees your contributions go directly to mission not overhead. For just 10 cents a day, you can comfort, inspire and inform people all over the world. Visit myocn.net to learn how you can be a part of the OCN 10 Cent Movement!

That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” to a close. For everyone here in our studios, I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s go forth in peace.


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Constantine (Dean) Argiris is a lifelong Orthodox Christian from the…
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