The Place of the Presence of God

Archbishop Alexander Golitzin speaks at Seminary Lecture

His Eminence Alexander [Golitzin], Archbishop of Dallas, the South, and the Bulgarian Diocese and a popular speaker and gifted teacher, was the keynote speaker at the 18th annual SS. Cyril and Methodius Lecture of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary May 16 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa.

Archbishop Alexander spoke on “The Place of the Presence of God: Aphrahat of Persia’s Portrait of the Christian Holy Man.” The entire lecture can be viewed at the Seminary website:, under “Latest News.”

This year’s lecture was attended by almost 90 people, including Archbishop William Skurla, faculty, staff, seminarians, graduates and members of the Board of Directors of the Seminary.

Aphrahat the Persian sage is the earliest writer in Christian Syriac of whom we have proof. Writing in the 330s and 340s in the vicinity of modern Iraqi Kurdistan, his works are notable for their relative freedom from the lexicon and thought world of Greek philosophy; neither does he appear to know any prominent, pre-Nicene Church Fathers.

Although unacquainted with Greek and Latin patristic literature, Aphrahat clearly possessed considerable authority in the Church of the Persian Empire. Archbishop Alexander examined the portrait Aphrahat painted of the holy man in his fourteenth Demonstration. The idea of transformation, of becoming divine, is clearly central to Aphrahat. While the language of the Greek Fathers’ theosis is absent, he phrases it in an idiom much more akin to that of Second Temple apocalypses, and of the later Jewish Ezekial chariot-throne mystics of whom he was a likely contemporary.

The annual lecture series is sponsored by the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius, a community of mentors, teachers, and students forming leaders for the Church in an environment of Christian unity, integrity, and missionary spirit, with a commitment to ecumenism. This year’s lecture was followed by a question and answer period. A reception followed the lecture.

Founded in 1950, the Seminary is a free-standing, English speaking theological seminary, welcoming all those seeking the knowledge possessed by the Eastern ecclesial traditions. The Seminary is authorized to grant graduates the Master of Arts in Theology and Master of Divinity degrees by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological