His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon made his first archpastoral visit of the new academic year to Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [SVOTS] here on Sunday, September 24, 2017—the Synaxis of All Saints of Alaska.
In addition to the seminary faculty, staff, student body, and area faithful, participants in a three-day conference organized by the recently established Orthodox Vision Foundation [OVF] on the seminary campus gathered for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at which Metropolitan Tikhon presided in Three Hierarchs Chapel. See related story.
Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, together with Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA, are the two graduate schools of theology under the direction of Metropolitan Tikhon. A third school—Saint Herman’s Seminary, Kodiak, AK—also faithfully serves the needs of the faithful, particularly in the Diocese of Alaska. SVOTS’ 2017 incoming class numbers 25 men and women desiring to devote their lives to the Church. Defying most trends in theological education, the OCA’s seminaries continue to experience a steady influx of students from the OCA and other jurisdictions in North America and abroad.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon addressed the student body and their families and participants in the OVF conference.
“I would like to offer one final exhortation to both the seminarians and their families as they begin this new year, and to the participants of this week’s conference,” Metropolitan Tikhon said. “Often in the business and administrative world, forward progress is measured by aggressive attempts to forge ahead against the waves of difficulties. In the Church, we also know that we are navigating the ‘sea of life,’ as we hear in our liturgical hymnography and in the writings of the Fathers. One of the great desert fathers, Abba Dorotheos, offers Christians a helpful image for passing through these temptations of life, by drawing a contrast between a good swimmer and a bad swimmer. A bad swimmer, says Abba Dorotheos, will try to make his way forward by swimming over the waves. Unfortunately, anyone who has gone swimming in the ocean knows well how powerful the waves can be, and the tactic of trying to fight through the waves by going over them not only does not provide any forward movement, but actually pushes the swimmer even further back. A good swimmer knows that, to make forward progress, the best approach is to swim under the waves. This movement under the waves is, for Abba Dorotheos, an image of the humility required to pass through the temptations of life. Only with Christ-like humility can we safely pass through the temptations and difficulties of life.
“All of us, whether we are laboring in the world and preparing ourselves through seminary training, will face temptations and struggles,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “I encourage you to follow the advice of Abba Dorotheos and to strive to attain the humility and the love needed to fulfill the work that the Lord has placed on your shoulders.”