Last Friday, the excellent Eastern Christian Books blog posted an interview with Fr. Oliver Herbel, Executive Director of SOCHA. While Fr. Oliver touches on his work in American Orthodox history, the focus of the interview is on his recent book on St. Sarapion of Thmuis. Here’s a snippet:
I first learned of St. Sarapion in a liturgical theology class at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. His euchologion, or collection of prayers, has been studied and I was intrigued by them. For example, in the Eucharist and at Baptism, rather than praying for the Holy Spirit’s descent, the Word of God was asked to descend. I looked into him a little more and learned that St. Antony the Great willed one of his two cloaks to Sarapion. The other he had willed to St. Athanasios the Great. St. Athanasios’ letters to a “Sarapion” were, in fact, written to this same Sarapion and this led me to research whether any of Sarapion’s own writings were still extant. Some are: two complete letters, a treatise against Manichaeans, and a letter partially preserved, written to Antony’s disciples.
The whole interview is really well done, and anyone interested in early Christianity and the Church Fathers should take a few minutes to check it out. CLICK HERE to read it.
Today, December 13, is the New Calendar feast day of St. Herman of Alaska. A year ago on this feast, we reprinted a life of St. Herman written by Vera Johnston and published in 1919. To read (or re-read) that biography, click here.
Today is also the 28th anniversary of the death of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, the longtime dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and arguably the most important writer in American Orthodox history. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a few minutes and check out the Fr. Alexander Schmemann website, www.schmemann.org. There, you’ll find photos of Schmemann, a collection of his writings, and articles written about him by others. Perhaps the best memorial for Schmemann is the sermon given by his son-in-law, Fr. Thomas Hopko, at the memorial Divine Liturgy three days after Schmemann’s death. More recently, in 2008, Bishop Basil Essey gave a wonderful lecture in Schmemann’s honor at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. To listen to it on Ancient Faith Radio, click here.
This 19th century Alaskan Orthodox peg calendar will be auctioned on June 26.
I’m testing out a possible new feature here at OH.org — links to recent articles that might be of interest to readers of our website. Please let me know what you think of this feature, and if you have any suggestions for links to include in future “Friday Links” posts. You can email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com. Please include “Friday Links” in the subject line.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to peruse the list of short papers for our upcoming (and first-ever) symposium. I have to say, I’m really impressed with the diversity of topics that will be covered. I’ve read the abstracts, and they look excellent. I hope as many readers as possible will be able to attend!
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Waterloo, Iowa was honored with a historic preservation award for maintaining its 82-year-old church building. Unfortunately, parish membership has dwindled over the years, dropping from 100+ families to just 35 individual parishioners today.
St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church (OCA) of Edwardsville, PA celebrated its 100th anniversary, although it appears to be one year late — the Edwardsville Times-Leader article says that the parish was founded in 1910, so this year would be anniversary #101. Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and 20+ clergy attended the event.
The folks behind the Antiochian Archdiocesean website interviewed Chris Holwey, chairman of the Antiochian Department of Sacred Music. As part of the interview, they linked to Michael G. Farrow’s history of sacred music in the Archdiocese. Farrow mentioned that the earliest known Antiochian musical works in America were issued by Bishop Emmanual Abo-Hatab, with a surviving manuscript dating to 1926. Farrow notes that there surely were earlier musical arrangements, but “none are presently known to have survived.” We can add at least one to the list: in 1920, Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi published The Paradise, a collection of liturgical hymns in Western musical notation.
Alabama’s unique “Malbis Plantation” and its Greek Orthodox church were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church isn’t home to a parish of the Greek Archdiocese; it’s a memorial church under the direct oversight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was built to memorialize Jason Malbis, a remarkable Greek immigrant who was raised in a monastery and went on to establish a Greek plantation in Alabama. The whole story is really fascinating and too long to tell in a bullet point, so I’d encourage you to read the article. Also, to see photos of the church and to learn more, click here.
Earlier this month, Rose Haddad, who was quite possibly the oldest Orthodox Christian in the world, died at the age of 111. She was born in 1900 and immigrated to America with her family as a child. She was a member of St. John of Damascus Antiochian Orthodox Church in Dedham, MA.
Last weekend, the famed American historian David McCullough was interviewed in the Wall Street Journal. He said a lot of interesting things, including this interesting idea for teaching history to kids: ”I’d take one of those textbooks. I’d clip off all the numbers on the pages. I’d pull out three pages here, two pages there, five pages here—all the way through. I’d put them aside, mix them all up, and give them to you and three other students and say, ‘Put it back in order and tell me what’s missing.’”