Your Eminence, Cardinal Dulles,Your Excellency, Archbishop Migliore, Very Reverend Father Joseph McShane, President of this renowned University, Reverend Clergy, dear professors, deans,beloved students, distinguished guests, ladies, gentlemen, friends, I thank you so much for this handsome opportunity and honor to be here tonight and to deliver this lecture, the first in a promising series.
I express my sincere thanks to the Very Reverend Father Joseph McShane, S.J., the President of this University, for this invitation and for the creation of such a prestigious series of lectures under the title "Orthodoxy in America."
We have been on this campus for half an hour, having been received by the good President, and we have already enjoyed the hospitality, the cordiality, and the joy of being in this place. So my thanks extend beyond the lecture hall and encompass the whole campus. I also express my thanks to two young professors and scholars who were assigned the responsibility to organize the present lecture series, Dr. George Demacopoulos, whom I thank for the gracious introduction, and Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou, who was one of my prominent students of theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts in the late 1980's.
I feel also the honor of the presence of Cardinal Dulles, whom I remember for an important theological article that he wrote back in the 1960's. At that time, I could not even imagine that the author of that article would be present, forty years later, at an initial lecture on Orthodoxy as a distinguished Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
This lecture falls within the annual timeframe during which we celebrate the feast of the Three Hierarchs, the three great Fathers of the Church, namely, Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom; in fact, it continues and concludes these celebrations. This constitutes not only a handsome coincidence, but also a blessed beginning to this new lecture series.
The title of my presentation is "The Dynamics of the Orthodox Faith in Contemporary America." This title has been purposely selected in order to indicate from the very outset that in the case of the Orthodox faith, i.e., the faith of the Orthodox Church, we do not deal with an inert, passive, ossified entity, but with something that is dynamic, full of inexhaustible energy, something involved in action and reaction, something that is an expression of vibrant life.
As such, the Orthodox faith has been fully involved in the long past as well as in the present in continuous life situations, challenges, provocations, persecutions of all kinds, disputes, debates, missionary actions, in all geographical areas. It has been involved in developmental processes in new lands and countries, and in efforts to maintain its identity under any circumstances, old or new. The above mentioned challenges, actions, and life conditions in general became ways and means of the manifestations of the dynamic character of the Orthodox faith and Church, a dynamic character revealed throughout the twenty centuries of her existence, and being visible and active in contemporary America.
So then, by the title "The Dynamics of the Orthodox Faith (or Church) in Contemporary
America" we mean the expression of a dynamism which produces events and conditions within the life situations and environment of contemporary America. We mean a dynamism which is in direct and uninterrupted continuity and absolute identity with the dynamism of the Orthodox faith and Church throughout the two millennia of her life.
Obviously, there is no way for an adequate and, all the more, an exhaustive presentation of the dynamics of the Orthodox faith in contemporary America. Let me therefore be selective and, by necessity, limited, and offer to you the gracious "fellow listeners," "ομομακοειν," to use a nice Pythagorean word, repeated also by Clement of Alexandria and meaning "co-listeners" or "fellow listeners," some characteristic expressions of the dynamics of the Orthodox faith as we experience them today.