8 September 2011 • Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
At the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, our seminary community was honored to have three hierarchs serving: His Beatitude The Most Blessed Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, presiding; and His Eminence The Most Rev. Justinian, archbishop of Naro-Fominsk and administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in the U.S.A., and His Eminence The Most Rev. Kallistos, bishop of Diokleia, concelebrating. Especially, we were privileged to hear the homily by Metropolitan Kallistos, widely renowned author, teacher, and churchman, who is visiting the campus as part of his participation in the North Am erican Conference of the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius being hosted here this week.
Reflecting on the hymns of the feast day, related to the life of the Virgin Mary, Metropolitan Kallistos centered his preaching on the unique and personal vocation of each human being.
"The Theotokos was 'preordained' to be the Mother of God," he began. "Her vocation was accepted freely; nevertheless God had picked her out and chosen her before the creation of the world. And, what is true of her is true of each one of us: we have been chosen to fulfill a particular vocation. Human beings are not stereotypes; everyone is different, as the Book of Revelation emphasizes: each person shall be given a new name written on a white stone; that name is known only to God and the person who receives it.
"In each person is a hidden treasure, not to be found in someone else," he stressed. "The world has need of every single person. Each one has a unique vocation and special task not given to another. Through prayer and ascetic struggle we discover our vocation and become what we are."
Metropolitan Kallistos, who was born "Timothy Ware" in Bath, England, embraced the Orthodox Christian faith at the age of 24 (having been raised an Anglican). He has served as Co-chair of Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue from 2008 to the present, and thus, appropriately, will deliver the keynote to commence this week's conference of Orthodox Christian and Anglican participants. His most well known writings are The Orthodox Church, published when he was a layman in 1963; in 1979 he produced a companion volume, The Orthodox Way, published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.