Welcome to the House of Studies. Here is Father Michel Najem addressing the students at the orientation session of the residency program August 28th, 2023. Dear Brethren in Christ. On behalf of our beloved metropolitan Sabah and our spiritual overseer, Bishop Thomas, the Antiochian House of Studies, Board of Directors, the Dean, faculty and staff. I extend a warm welcome to all of you who have joined our House of Studies Residency Program. We are grateful to have you here as a community of individuals seeking to deepen your faith and discover the limitless love of God. Today we gather in this sacred place with joy and gratitude, embracing the spirit of selfless love that brings us together. Our goal is to strengthen our relationship with God and build a supportive and loving community. As you embark on this journey, it is important to remember that our faith is not merely a destination, but an ongoing process of growth and transformation. Let us begin by exploring the foundations of our faith in the apostolic and patristic tradition of the Patriarchate of Antioch. In the 66th letter of Saint Basil of Caesarea, written to Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, he speaks of the significance of Antioch to the churches across the inhabited world. He stated, What part is more vital to the churches throughout the inhabited world than Antioch? During the time of the passing of malicious of Antioch, the President of the second Ecumenical Synod, the funeral oration on Saint Melissus of Antioch, was delivered by Saint Gregory of Nyssa. In his eulogy, he expresses sorrow for the loss of the patriarch of Antioch and laments the loss of the city’s beauty and prosperity. He stated to you the city of Antioch. I address my words. I pity you for the sudden reversal. How has your beauty been? Despoiled. How have you been robbed of your ornaments? How suddenly has the flower faded? With the grace of God? The beauty of Antioch resumed through his successors and the fathers and the saints. In his homily 25 on the acts of the Apostles, John Chrysostom said the disciples were appointed to be called Christians because Paul spent so much time in Antioch and it came to pass that for a whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. This is no small matter of praise for that city. This alone is enough to make it stand out against all others that for such a long time it had the privilege of Paul’s presence being the first and before all others. This is why it was in that very place that people were deemed worthy of that name. Do you notice the benefit that Paul brought to that city? See how that name like a standard was elevated, where 3000 were 5000 believed and where there was such a great multitude, nothing of the sort took place. Instead, they were called followers of the way. But here in Antioch, they were called Christians. During his recent visit to the City of God, Antioch, his Beatitude patriarch John the 10th, celebrated the Feast of Pascha in Antioch. Standing upon the ruins of the Saints. Peter and Paul Cathedral, destroyed by the earthquake, affirmed the teachings of the fathers, saying Antioch is one scale pan and all the other churches are the other scale pan. On June 29th, every year we commemorate the Holy Glorious, all laudable and foremost, apostles Peter and Paul, the founders of the Patriarchate of Antioch. They are both the patrons and protectors of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Peter the Apostle, initially served as the bishop of Antioch for eight years. Afterward, he entrusted the Episcopal office to Evodius as his successor and journeyed to Upper Asia to preach the gospel among the dispersed Jews. Later he reached Rome and became its first bishop. Since Antioch was the first city where Peter held the bishopric, it should rightfully hold seniority over Rome. Peter was the bishop of Antioch before assuming the bishopric of Rome, with which his legacy became associated due to his crucifixion in Rome. Subsequently, his resting place was venerated, forming the foundation for the bishop of Rome’s authority. The second founder of the Antiochene see is Saint Paul. He underwent baptism by the apostle Ananias in Damascus and was subsequently ordained, becoming one of the apostles. With fervent zeal. He preached the gospel extensively, spanning from the borders of Arabia to Spain and ministering to both Jews and Gentiles. When we delve into the acts of the Apostles, we encounter a scenario where the apostles in Jerusalem observing the rapid expansion of the nascent Christian community in Antioch, took the initiative to dispatch Barnabas to oversee proceedings. Barnabas remarkable success introduced a new challenge. The growing church had outgrown his individual management. Consequently, he reached out to the nearby city of Tarsus, summoning the apostle Paul, who had undergone a profound conversion in Damascus through the divine revelation several years prior. Working in tandem. Barnabas and Paul orchestrated the establishment of a diverse Jewish gentile congregation in Antioch, which swiftly ascended in size and significance, becoming a peer to Jerusalem in these regards. Remarkably, Antioch stands as the second most frequently cited city in the Book of Acts, second only to Jerusalem. The lineage of the ruling Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch traces its roots to both Peter and Paul, inheriting and embodying their ethos across countless spiritual and physical tribulations endured over two millennia. Their theological foundation rests upon the encounters of Saint Peter, who was deemed worthy to witness Christ’s transfiguration on Mount Tabor, an experience that granted him vision of Christ’s uncreated energies. Simultaneously their teachings find root in the Apostle Paul’s proclamation of an illuminating light that enveloped him, surpassing the brilliance of the sun. Acts 26, verse 13 during his journey to Damascus. This occurred at midday and Paul beheld two distinct lights. One material perceived by his physical eyes and the other ethereal, perceived by the eyes of his soul. His noose. Following the Antiochian Saints. Our task at the Antiochian House of Studies is to prepare your hearts to receive the spirit of Antioch and to adhere to the teachings of saints. Peter and Paul. This is why you will be taught to emulate the experiences of those chief apostles and find comfort in the spirit of Antioch. The mission of our school is to help students embody the spirit of its founders, a soul that soars to embrace the truth. It is evident from the rich tradition of Antioch that to be a student of the Antiochian House of Studies, one must follow the teachings of Saint Peter and Paul, and all the fathers and the saints emulate their way of life. Otherwise, instead of grasping the empirical life of the Apostles, students might stray from the spirit of Antioch expressing themselves in isolation. One of our PhD students wrote in his dissertation. Today, it is very difficult to find an educational structure supportive and determined to honor the high ideals of authentic Christianity. However, I am heartfelt thankful for the Antiochian House of Studies and their serious effort to make the true teachings of the mysteries of Christ available to many souls. My work is to share common ground with the very purpose of our dear Lord’s incarnation through his mission. All are called to help him restore the image of God in man and lead them back to truly know the archetype of humanity, the most holy Trinity. The consequence of this dedication to serve the actual mission of Christ himself. Introducing the higher mind of the noetic faculty. The noose elevates the Antiochian House of Studies of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in America to what can be known as the first institution of higher education. Introducing and initiating the higher mind of the noetic faculty. The noose into what can now authentically be called the higher education of authentic Christianity. Once again, I extend a warm welcome to all of you and encourage you to embrace this journey of faith and growth. Together. Let us strive to deepen our understanding of our rich, orthodox tradition and build a strong and supportive community. On this occasion, I implore God to bless you, always seeking the best way to guide you on the path of both saints Peter and Paul. You entered the house of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Theophilus of Antioch, Ephraim and Isaac, the Syrians, John Chrysostom, Basil, the Great Romanos, the Melodist Sophronius, Andrew Bishop of Crete Maximus, the Confessor John of Damascus, Theodore Abu Kura, Abdullah bin Al-fadl Al-antaki and Raphael Bishop of New York. You entered the house of myriads of saints and ascetics for struggling to survive in Antioch, the great city of God and all the fathers and the saints of Pentarchy. I take this opportunity to thank the dean and all the faculty members and staff for their sincere love and active cooperation, which they show in their teaching and conformity to the aspirations of the Holy Fathers and the uniqueness of our school. This is done in an atmosphere of loving consultation and openness to what the spirit inspires in them through prayer and devotion to what they have received from the Saints. In conclusion, I must express my immense joy in you and my confidence in your cooperation with your professors who were summoned by the Spirit to teach and guide you.
Congratulations to AHOS families for the 2023 Residency at Antiochian Village….Very well wishes to all ..Enjoy pictures from this morning’s breakfast and Orientation session….
Training the MDiv students on preparing the Proskomide (the Oblation)