By Florence Avakian
By a unanimous vote, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan was elected as vice president of the prestigious international organization, the Society of Oriental Liturgy (SOL), on Saturday, June 14. The election came as part of the academic society’s biennial congress, which convened primarily at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., during the week of June 8. A full day of sessions on Friday, June 13, were held at the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral and Diocesan Center, in New York City.
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June 30, 2014
Society of Oriental Liturgy Gathers at Diocesan Center in Nyc
By Florence Avakian
By a unanimous vote, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan was elected as vice president of the prestigious international organization, the Society of Oriental Liturgy (SOL), on Saturday, June 14.
The election came as part of the academic society’s biennial congress, which convened primarily at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., during the week of June 8. A full day of sessions on Friday, June 13, were held at the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral and Diocesan Center, in New York City.
The Society of Oriental Liturgy is a prestigious, world-wide association of scholars, historians and theologians specializing in the study of the liturgical traditions of the ancient eastern churches—including the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The organization was established by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Robert Taft, one of the world’s leading authorities on early Christian liturgies, who has taught for decades in Rome at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Fr. Findikyan, as well as Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, are both former students of Fr. Taft.
Having been elected as SOL’s vice president, Fr. Findikyan—who directs the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center at the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, and who teaches at Notre Dame University and St. Nersess Armenia Seminary—will automatically ascend to the position of president at the society’s next congress, scheduled for 2016.
At the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the 2016 gathering will be held at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, in the Republic of Armenia.
Special Visit to St. Vartan Cathedral
More than 60 members of the society, hailing from around the world, took part in the congress. On Friday, June 13, at the invitation of Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, the congress delegates visited St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, where they joined in a special prayer service.
At a luncheon hosted by Archbishop Barsamian, Fr. Taft blessed the table in the Slavic language, after which the Primate warmly welcomed the SOL members and extended greetings from Catholicos Karekin II. He paid special tribute to “my former teacher and beloved friend, Fr. Taft,” and thanked Fr. Findikyan “for creating this splendid opportunity to gather together.”
The Primate expressed his gratitude for the scholarship that is ongoing around the world by this “extraordinary group to study the liturgical traditions of the ancient Christian east. “Your important work helps us to understand, in a deeper, more meaningful way, our worship traditions,” he said. “Through your insights into history, theology and interpretation, we are brought closer to those earlier times, and closer to the source of our faith in Jesus Christ.”
Following the luncheon, Fr. Daniel Findikyan delivered an address titled, “The Origins of the Feast of the Ark of the Covenant: Echoes from Armenia.”
Fr. Daniel related that the origins of this “mysterious church feast” are not known; however “only the Armenian Church has preserved the commemoration that once upon a time was common to the entire Christian East.” The Armenians remain the only Christians to have preserved this feast, and they celebrate this unique event every year on the Saturday before “Vartavar”: the Feast of Christ’s Transfiguration, typically falling in late July.
According to Fr. Findikyan, evidence for the celebration can be found amid the archeological ruins of a church at Kiryat Yareem near Jerusalem. In the 5th century, the whole Christian community of Jerusalem would trek to this church on July 2 of every year. “The Armenians have preserved this tradition,” noted Fr. Daniel. “Our sharagans are the translations of hymns composed and sung at the consecration of that church.”
He noted that Armenians were drawn to Jerusalem since at least the 4th century because of their fascination with the holy city in which Christ walked. “If one wants to study ancient Jerusalem, one must study the Armenian Church,” he said.
Scholars from Across the Globe
Most of the weeklong SOL congress focused on presentations of scholarly papers involving all aspects of liturgical study and the traditions of the eastern churches.
Society members came from Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Among those in attendance were the current president, Bert Groen from the Netherlands; the newly-elected president Bryan Spinks from Great Britain; Rev. Fr. Mark Morozowicz, dean of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and Simeon Stig Froyshov from Norway, who became interested in eastern theology after visiting Jerusalem.
Fr. Robert F. Taft, S.J.—who was for 47 years a professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and is fluent in half a dozen languages—formed the society 10 years ago because “the large international societies did not give enough attention to the eastern traditions. When a group gets too large, it excludes the Oriental and Eastern orthodox countries.”
He added that SOL admits as members students working towards doctorates—including several young Armenian clergymen.
“The emphasis of the Society of Oriental Liturgy is the intensity of interest in the hyper-specialized topics we research and publish,” he concluded with pride.