2/7/15 – St Catherine’s Vision
His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia delivered the Divine Compassion Distinguished Lecture at Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology on Saturday June 20th,, 2015. He spoke on Divine Compassion and the Restoration of the Human Icon. This Lectureship was presented by Saint Catherine’s Vision (SCV), and co-sponsored with Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston.
SCV is an international, Pan-Orthodox fellowship of women theologians and other lay servant-leaders engaging contemporary issues within the life of the Orthodox Church, blessed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.
Greetings and introductions were offered by: Dr. James Skedros, Dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston and Dr. Kyriaki FitzGerald, Adjunct Professor in Theology at Holy Cross and SCV Executive Director. HCHC President-elect, Rev. Dr. Christopher Metropulos served as Master of Ceremonies on behalf of Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou, President of HCHC.
Over 200 participants attended this event. Metropolitan Kallistos movingly spoke on the centrality of Divine Compassion to which all human persons are called, created “in the image of God”. He elaborated how this “image” is in the image of Christ the Logos of God and simultaneously in the image of the Holy Trinity. The Divine Compassion Distinguished Lectureship also marked SCV’s official roll-out of their first public service ministry or “diakonima” engaging the issue of Divine Compassion and Human Trafficking. Presvytera Maria Drossos, member of the SCV Advisory Board, offered a brief presentation on the severity of human trafficking, “the elephant in the room” both locally and globally in contemporary society. An elegant brunch was served after the program, where audience participants were invited to an additional forum on “Divine Compassion and Human Trafficking” facilitated by Matushka Vera Proctor (M.Div., SVS), Director of FOCUS, Minneapolis, MN.
In his description of humanity’s creation in the image of Christ, Metropolitan Kallistos introduced four fundamental qualities of the mystery of human personhood: 1) all human persons are endowed with “logiki” and the “royal dignity” of their heavenly Father, God the King; 2) all are endowed with freedom. This is a heavy burden as it requires the “cross of choice and conflict.” When we fail to choose responsibly “we reject the divine image within us, we become less than human…” And consequently, “if we deny others their freedom, we dehumanize them…” From this perspective, Metropolitan Kallistos stressed the importance of SCV’s new diakonima on: Divine Compassion and Human Trafficking, “It is precisely here that we discern the wickedness, the grievous and shocking sinfulness of all human trafficking, of all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. We are treating human beings in such cases not as subjects (of our Heavenly King and Father) endowed with freedom, but as commodities to be manipulated as we wish. We are now treating them not as persons in the image (of God), but as objects. We lose all reverence in this way for the Divine Image and so we lose all sense of relationship with the O/other. That is why human trafficking is so disgraceful. . . ”
Metropolitan Kallistos’ third point focused on how all-human persons are called to be “creators”. Reflecting the human ability to have both self-awareness and God-awareness “We give creation a voice. . . . We render it articulate in praise of God.” This serves as a foundation to his fourth point: all human persons are capable of offering back to God praise, doxology and thanksgiving. That which most distinguishes the human from the other animals “in his privilege as priest of the creation is the ability to bless God”.
Metropolitan Kallistos also identified how each human person is created in the divine Trinitarian image of God. On the level of creation, “all that has been affirmed of God as Trinity, is to be affirmed also to the human being in God’s Trinitarian image . . . All of this makes clear the central value of compassion for any undertaking of the human icon made in the image of God… It is only through compassion that we become totally human, through our ability to suffer with and for others in loving and generous companionship.” He concluded his presentation by reflecting on the icon depicting three angels at table, known as “Rublev’s Trinity”. This scene, adopted from the Old Testament account of the three angelic strangers visiting Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1-15), has become an image pointing to the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the Orthodox Church. In the icon he noted how the Trinity is in dialogue and engaged in mutual intimacy, stressing “we too, are somehow included in the mutual love among the members of the Trinity.” He reflected on how the three “are engaged in dialogue and what is the subject of their communication? They are saying to each other, ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son’ (John 3:16). They are speaking of the act of self-emptying compassionate Love, whereby Christ Jesus died in sacrifice upon the cross.” The Metropolitan asserted that the icon known as “Rublev’s Trinity” bears witness as a supreme expression of the Divine Compassion…. “It is this same Divine Compassion that is the inspiration of the whole program of diakonima of Saint Catherine’s Vision.” The Metropolitan concluded his lecture by stressing how compassion is costly, how the exercise of Divine Compassion for us “is both costly and luminous…. both sacrificial and intensely joyful”.
To listen to the presentations and for further information, please visit SCV’s website, www.saintcatherinesvision.org., and co-sponsors: Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, www.hchc.edu and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, www.boston.goarch.org
For further information about SCV’s initiative Divine Compassion and Human Trafficking: http://saintcatherinesvision.com/collaborative-work/divine-compassion-and-human-trafficking
The complete video of this Divine Compassion Distinguished Lectureship: http://saintcatherinesvision.com/media/video-gallery