Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fr. Thomas Hopko and The Orthodox Faith

Dear Parish Faithful,
I am a few days behind, but last Friday, March 18, was the one-year anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko. After one year, many of us, at least, now realize how much we miss Fr. Hopko's presence among us as a teacher and guide.  That is certainly my experience, since I have known Fr. Hopko since the mid-70's.  We talked on the phone frequently, and I always appreciated his insights into the most contemporary of issues that we are dealing with today. 

In an obvious attempt to co-ordinate two events, St. Vladimir's Press (SVS Press) has re-issued in a new format and with a significant expansion of some of the material, Fr. Hopko's famous "Rainbow Series" of books.  This was a four-volume introduction to the Orthodox Faith, with each separate volume printed with a particular cover color:  Vol. I Doctrine (blue); Vol. II Worship (purple); Vol. III (Bible & Church History (orange); and Vol. IV Spirituality (green). Hence, the "Rainbow Series." 

I have used these book extensively over the years; and some in the parish who were catechized by me will remember them, especially Vol. I.  The new books are now much more attractively-formatted, and the text is accompanied with a series of beautiful pen-and-ink icons by Fr. Andrew Tregubov.

The Preface has been written by Metropolitan Tikhon.  His Beatitude writes very appreciatively:

"It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the series The Orthodox Faith, one of the earlier publications written by Fr. Tom, the first volume of which came out in 1971.  This deceptively labeled "elementary handbook" on the Orthodox Church has been used by thousands, from casual enquirers to catechumens to lifelong Church members, as both a catechesis and basic reference tool on Orthodox Christianity."  (p. 11-12)

His Beatitude then adds:

"And so, it is more than fitting that these books be given an update in design and content after so many years of faithful service.  Fr. Tom had plans to revise and update all four volumes of this series.  But alas, with his final illness and death in March, 2015, this was not to be." (p. 12)

And concluding his Preface, His Beatitude writes:

"My hope is that these volumes will continue to inspire those who have made use of them over the years and will serve as an introduction to the Orthodox Faith for a new generation of seekers and learners who are willing to enter into the experience of God following the example provided by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko and his words." (p. 13)

As just one of innumerable examples of Fr. Hopko's clear, direct and insightful style, here is his short description of what the Divine Liturgy actually is:

The Divine Liturgy is not an act of personal piety.  It is not a prayer service. It is not merely one of the sacraments.  The Divine Liturgy is the one common sacrament of the very being of the Church itself. It is the one sacramental manifestation of the essence of the Church as the Community of God in heaven and on earth. It is the one unique sacramental revelation of the Church as the mystical Body and Bride of Christ.

Since this is an excellent introduction to the Orthodox Faith; and since these volumes can be read repeatedly and serve as reference volumes; I would highly recommend them for any personal Orthodox library.  (We will have a set in our own parish library).  The volumes will eventually be made available for download in digital formats. And a question and discussion forum with points of reflection is being created on the OCA website.  Please visit:

Memory Eternal to the Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko!

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In addition to this welcome news of the new edition of The Orthodox Faith Series, Ancient Faith Radio has made available its 2015 special edition of Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen:

In this touching two-hour remembrance, Kevin Allen welcomes three friends who knew Fr. Thomas Hopko as a friend, a colleague, and a priest. You'll also hear tributes from his listeners from all around the world. Our thanks to Dr. Al Rossi, Dr. Peter Bouteneff, and Mother Christophora for sharing on the program.

Remembering Fr. Thomas Hopko (available to download or play in browser)

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