February 5, 2011 • Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
“The icon is a silent but eloquent preacher of Orthodoxy, not only within the Church but also outside of it,” observed His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) , as he presented the 28th annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, entitled “The Meaning of ‘Icon’ in the Orthodox Church," to a packed auditorium on our campus. The lecture is now available as a Podcast  on Ancient Faith Radio.
Metropolitan Hilarion’s inspiring and informative presentation touched upon the dogmatic, anthropological, ascetic, cosmic, liturgical, evangelical, and moral function of icons within the Orthodox Christian tradition. The attentive and appreciative audience readily peppered His Eminence with questions following his talk and gave him a standing ovation at the close.
Metropolitan Hilarion, who is Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, is associated with St. Vladimir’s Seminary through both personal and organizational ties. In introducing His Eminence, our seminary Dean, Archpriest John Behr, recalled their friendship that began after their graduation from the Univerity of Oxford, where they both earned doctoral degrees, and he expressed his gratitude for His Eminence’s service on the seminary’s Board of Trustees.
Father John noted that His Eminence had been selected as this year’s “Schmemann Lecturer" because of his scholarship and engagement with the wider world and contemporary issues. “Our former dean, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, had the seminary at the center of his heart, and his person and work shaped St. Vladimir’s. But he also spoke to the wider church and culture at-large,” said Fr. John. “Likewise, His Eminence holds the conviction that the Orthodox Church does indeed have something to say to the modern world, and he has a passionate willingness to address contemporary issues.”
Following the lecture, Metropolitan Hilarion presented the seminary with an exquisite icon of the Theotokos and Christ Child, and then celebrated Great Vespers with the seminary community in Three Hierarchs Chapel.
His Eminence will be visiting the New York Metro area this entire weekend. He will do a book signing at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral,  15 East 97th St., New York, NY, on Sunday after Divine Liturgy, 10 a.m., February 6th. He will be signing two of the books he published with St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent into Hades from an Orthodox Perspective (2009) and Orthodox Christianity: Volume I: The History and Canonical Structure of the Orthodox Church. 
He also will attend the U.S. English-language premiere of his opus St. Matthew Passion  on Monday, February 7th, 7:30 p.m. at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle,  on Columbus Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets, New York City. The concert is being hosted by St. Vladimir's Seminary, in cooperation with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Tickets are still available online  or at the door the evening of the concert, but they are selling out quickly.
View a gallery of photos  of the 28th annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, by Tatiana Hoff.