Orthodox Christian Student Society


TT Week 7 – Vigen Guroian on Marriage

This coming Thursday, Prof. Vigen Guroian (University of Virginia; see his interesting biography below), who is visiting Oxford this week, will be speaking on the intriguing and timely topic, “The Meaning of Marriage: Challenges for Christian Love in a Confused Age” (note that the title has been changed from the one on the term card and earlier messages, which was inaccurate; apologies for this!).

Prof. Guroian’s talk will begin at 8pm on 7 June (Thursday of 7th Week), in the Catholic Chaplaincy, St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1RD (opposite Christ Church, by Café Loco), with a meal kindly cooked by our friends from Catholic Society beginning at 7pm. All are most welcome to attend!

Vigen Guroian is retired Professor of Religious Studies in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Virginia. There and at Loyola University in Maryland he introduced generations of students to the Eastern Christianity and the broader Christian ethical tradition. His works of theology include Incarnate Love: Essays in Orthodox ChristianityEthics After Christendom: Toward an Ecclesial Christian Ethic; and The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key. Prof. Guroian boasts one of the most impressive gardens in central Virginia, which has fed not only his family and students but also such theological explorations as Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening. A frequent consultant and speaker for classical schools in the US, Prof. Guroian is currently completing a revised edition of his Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination, as well as book on marriage in the Orthodox tradition for Oxford University Press.

TT Week 3 – Talk on St Frideswide

This Thursday, Father Robin (Robert) Gibbons, an Oxford scholar, Melkite Catholic priest, and Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church, will be speaking to Orthodox Society on the life and times of our patron saint, St Frideswide, who is also the Heavenly Protectress of Oxford University and the city of Oxford. It has every promise of being a fascinating talk, as well as an excellent opportunity to hear, in an informal setting, from a leading scholar of both the Christian East and the early Christian heritage of our own city and country.

Father Robin’s lecture will begin at 7.30pm, this Thursday (of 3rd Week), 10th May 2018, in the House of Saint Gregory and Saint Macrina, 1 Canterbury Road, OX2 6LU. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as can come!

We will not be having a formal meal, but do feel free to join us from a bit earlier (7pm or so) and bring along some snacks or drinks to share.

TT Week 2 – Brandon Gallaher and Patristics


Our big event this week, on Thursday, May 3rd, is a lecture on Orthodox-Catholic Ecumenical Relations in the 20th Century by Dr Brandon Gallaher of Exeter University, a long-time friend of our Society and of the Oxford Orthodox community, to be given to a joint meeting of the Oxford Orthodox Student and Newman Catholic Societies. The event will be taking place in the Catholic Chaplaincy, St Aldate’s, OX1 1RD. (N.B. not our usual venue!) The lecture itself will begin at 8pm but in keeping with the usual structure of the Newman Society’s Thursday evening meetings, it will be preceded by a meal at 7pm. You are warmly invited to attend both.


The second Orthodox Society & Newman Society joint Patristics Reading Group will take place next Saturday, 5 May, and will be held (almost certainly– though N.B.subject to confirmation!) at Saint Theosevia’s House, 2 Canterbury Road, OX2 6LU. Come for 9.30am and the discussion will begin for 10am. Breakfast foods and refreshments will be provided.

This time we will be looking at the way the holy fathers read Scripture, by studying portions of two of the most foundational texts, Origen’s De Principiis (Gk.Peri Archon; ‘On First Principles’), IV.2, and St Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana (‘On Christian Teaching’) II.6.7-10.15 and III.11.17-12.20.

A Google Drive link containing PDFs with modern translations of these is here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IFgbjXNc2lo2agi2CJ-Cy0YUXk6tN-5w, and it contains as well as an excellent introductory article by Fr Brian Daley on Patristic Exegesis, for those interested in delving deeper. A note: the Origen text contains two columns, one from the Latin edition and one from the Greek– I would recommend reading the column from the Latin as it is generally the more complete text, if perhaps slightly less reliable at points.

Let us be moved to study by what St Benedict teaches: ‘What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life? What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?’ (Regula Benedicti 73.4-5)’

We’ll also be aiming to meet on at least one further occasion this term.

HT Week 7 – Talk by Dimitri Conomos

In collaboration with the Graduate Christian Forum (GCF), we are very glad to announce a talk next Monday, 26 February (7th Week of term and the Second Monday in Lent), by Dr Dimitri Conomos, an esteemed scholar of Byzantine and Early Slavic musicology, whom many of you will know as a long-time friend of our Society and the Oxford Orthodox community at large. He will be speaking to us on “Orthodoxy, Ecology, and the Eucharist”. You can find a description of his talk below. The event will be taking place at the Mitre Pub at the corner of Turl Street and High Street, Central Oxford, at 7.30pm. Our friends at the GCF Forum have generously agreed to host us there with fasting snacks and drinks available from 7pm.

Brief Description of Topic

The growing ecological crisis on this planet is a cause of concern for many today. In his talk on “Orthodoxy, Ecology, and the Eucharist”, Dimitri Conomos develops an Orthodox Christian perspective on how we can cope with and overcome contemporary problems of ecology. How ought we as Christians to relate to nature and the material reality around us? In what sense is the world we inhabit sacred? How did the Church Fathers view the created world and our position in it? And how can we define a Eucharistic model of living, in which our relationship to Creation extends beyond mere consumption and self-satisfaction, and through which we remain in communion with our Creator as “priests of Creation”? Dimitri will be exploring these and other topics in the hope of finding answers that may help us as Christians to find healthy ways to rethink and renew our relationship to the natural environment.

About Dimitri Conomos

Dimitri Conomos is a musicologist specializing in medieval and contemporary Byzantine, Russian, Romanian and Serbian chant traditions. Born in Sydney, Australia, he went to Oxford where he completed doctoral studies in musicology under Egon Wellesz. Following this, he was awarded research fellowships at the Patristic Institute in Thessaloniki and at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, as a Visiting Scholar. A recipient of grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Dr Conomos conducted research in early music manuscripts at the Badia Library in Grottaferrata, in Moscow, St Petersburg as well as in the libraries of the monasteries on Mount Athos. He has served in various capacities at several institutions across Europe and North America, including St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts, University of British Colombia, University of Hannover, Sydney University, University of London, and Ss Kirill and Mefody Theological Institute in Moscow. Conomos has published hundreds of articles on medieval and contemporary Orthodox Church music over the past several decades, including entries for dictionaries such as the New Grove History of Music and Musicians, The Harvard Dictionary of Music and The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity Online. Pertinently to the topic of his talk, he has also served as the chair of the international Orthodox youth fellowship Syndesmos, in which capacity he has led yearly ‘spiritual ecology’ programmes in the monasteries of Mount Athos (he is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Friends of Mount Athos), and as Orthodox representative to the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).



Launch of Patristics Reading Group

Beginning in the second half of this term (Hilary 2018), Oxford Orthodox Society and the Catholic Newman Society will be joining forces to organize Patristics reading sessions. We will be gathering together at least twice monthly during term-time to discuss some select texts from the Holy Fathers, arranged thematically.

The first of these will take place in the Catholic Chaplaincy (St Aldate’s, opposite Christ Church and near Campion Hall) at 9.30am, Saturday of 6th Week (February 24th). Tea and some Lenten breakfast foods (toast!) will be provided. All are very warmly invited to attend. Seeing as it is the end of the First Week in Lent, this is to be recommended highly as an opportunity to share in Christian fellowship and engage in spiritual reading that will deepen our observances of the Fast.

The theme for this session is ‘God and Man‘. We will be considering four texts giving a panorama of the Patristic vision of God, man, creation, and redemption, which will guide our discussion when we meet:

  1. St Cyril of Alexandria‘s Commentary on St John’s Gospel, 1.11-1.14
  2. St Basil the Great’s Homily 9, ‘Explaining that God is Not the Cause of Evil’
  3. St Gregory of Nyssa’s Homily 6, on the Beatitudes
  4. St Augustine’s Soliloquies, I.1

They are all available in PDF form in a public Google Drive folder.

Read as many as you can! Many thanks to Joshua Caminiti (Newman Society President) for the texts, and in general to him and all our friends Catholic Chaplaincy for making this happen — looking forward to seeing you there!

Pancake Party 2018 – HT Week 5

As we prepare to enter into the season of Lent, for all of your enjoyment we have planned a pancake party. This will be taking place next Thursday, 15th February (Cheesefare Week/Week 5), at 7:30pm, in the House of St Gregory and St Macrina, 1 Canterbury Road, OX2 6LU. According to the Russian tradition of Maslenitsa (Масленица), we will be making a sizeable batch of pancakes (блины/bliný), but you are welcome (in fact, encouraged!) to contribute something of your own. Please bring especially national dishes from your respective countries so that we can all share in one another’s traditions! It will be nice to see you there!

HT Week 3 – Talk by Dr Elena Vasilescu

This week, Dr Elena Ene-Draghici Vasilescu will speak to us on her paper “Pseudo-Dionysius, a Statue, and a Concept of Beauty”. She is a scholar at the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, the author of a number of publications in the area of patristics and iconography, and a long-standing friend of our society. She is also Tutor in Theology in the Department of Continuing Education.

Elena’s talk will begin at 7.30pm this Thursday, February 1, in our usual venue, 1 Canterbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6LU – but you are welcome to come along earlier, as we will be there setting up from 7pm or so, and there will probably be a bite to eat and something to drink. No RSVP is required, and please pass on this invitation to any friends you know with an interest in Theology, Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, History of Art, and Eastern Christianity.

Events to celebrate Theophany 2018

Dear friends,

Welcome back! Wishing you a Happy New Year and all the best for the start of term.

We have a couple events planned to mark the start of term and the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism (according to the Old Calendar – Happy Feast to all those who have already celebrated it!).

The first is an informal dinner this Friday, January 19th, at 7.30pm. It will be a bring-and-share meal in the dining room of Saint Theosevia’s House, 2 Canterbury Road, OX2 6LU. For various reasons it would be helpful if you let us know of your intention to come (ouorthosoc@gmail.com), but there is no formal RSVP, so please come along whenever you can.

Next week, on Monday, January 22nd, Magdalen College has very kindly agreed to host us for a celebration of the Great Blessing of the Waters at 7.15pm. The service will be taking place in the Chapel there; please let your friends know about it, especially if they aren’t themselves Orthodox, as the service will also be for the Week of Christian Unity!

We also need to get a choir together to sing at this service, so if you think you can sing, please write to us ASAP at ouorthosoc@gmail.com.

You can find our whole plan of events for this term here: https://oxfordorthsoc.org/hilary-2018/. We’ll also shortly be sending around an e-mail via our mailing list with this and other information, including a schedule of services over the next two weeks. There’s also a possibility that we may plan one or two more events (a talk/and or film screening) towards the end of term, so please be on the lookout for further updates!

In Christ,

Your OrthSoc Committee


Screening of Andrei Rublev (7th Week)

This week OrthSoc will be screening Tarkovsky’s famous 1966 film Andrei Rublev, this Thursday, November 23. It is commonly regarded as one of the greatest works in 20th century cinema and it will also be of interest to believers because of its themes of Russian monasticism and iconography.

It’s a long film, so we’ll be starting a little bit earlier this time, at 6:30pm and be having our bring-and-share meal before the screening. The meal was a great success last time, so please bring along your favourite dishes again this week!

As usual, our venue is the meeting room at the House of St. Gregory and St. Macrina, 1 Canterbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6LU. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Week 5: Talk on Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue

Together with Campion Hall, we are having an event this week on Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue with Rev. Hyacinthe Destivelle OP and Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). In his talk, Fr. Hyacinthe will cover such topics as Pope Francis’s approach to relations with the Orthodox and the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill in Havana (which he had an instrumental role in organizing). Metropolitan Kallistos will close the event by responding to Fr. Hyacinthe’s remarks.

The event will be taking place at Campion Hall (Brewer St, OX1 1QS), this Friday, November 10, 2017, at 5:30pm. While the formal RSVP date has already passed, please still feel free to write to Pavlo Smytsnyuk (pavlo.smytsnyuk@campion.ox.ac.uk) about attending, as there is still plenty of space.

Look forward to seeing you there!