“Ed Day” Celebrates Grace of Martyrdom

7 October 2017 • On-campus Event
View a photo gallery

Hundreds of friends and alumni attended our annual open house, Orthodox Education Day, which this year had the timely theme, “Modern Martyrs: Christians of the Middle East and North Africa.” Explicating the theme in an informative keynote address was the Reverend Dr. George Parsenios, associate professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary, and sessional professor of New Testament at St. Vladimir’s.

In his presentation titled, “Dying, and Behold, We Live: Martyrdom in the New Testament,” Fr. George focused on texts of St. Paul and the Gospel of St. John that connect suffering to being in Christ. Father George emphasized how the actions of both ancient and modern martyrs continue to teach us that “the meaning of life is death,” and that living the Resurrection requires carrying the Cross. He gave his presentation in front of an impressive and emotionally evocative photo wall that displayed images of newly martyred Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.

“It’s a great tragedy in contemporary Christianity,” Fr. George noted, “that so many people are taken away by the prosperity gospel in which they’re promised that God wants to put you in a mansion and make you happy and make you never suffer anything.

“It’s a great tragedy because when life brings its inevitable suffering, that faith falls apart,” he observed. “That faith can’t sustain you in the depths of life’s difficulties.

“But our faith begins in the pit of hell, when Christ descended into Hades and brings up all the dead,” he continued. “That’s where our faith begins, and when our faith begins there—when your faith begins in the pit of hell—you understand that the Light shines in the darkness, and so when the darkness comes, we know where the Light is. Only by understanding this, can we begin to contemplate that the meaning of life is death."

Several other activities connected to the day's theme included: two workshops, one led by seminary alumnus Father Abraham Wassef, speaking about recent slayings of Christians in North Africa and the resulting effects on Coptic parishes in North America, and another led by the nuns from All Saints Monastery, talking about their healing ministry for victims of human trafficking; a book signing by Dr. Christine Chaillot of her latest work, The Dialogue between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches; a kid-friendly activity area led by Matushka Jenny Mosher, and teen talks and activities led by Fr. John Hopko; and liturgical services with special prayers for contemporary martyrs.

Listen to the keynote, "Dying, and Behold, We Live," by Fr. George Parsenios, here.