New York.- By Catherine Tsounis
“One wants an intimacy with God made possible by face to face confession with a priest,” said Dr.Aristotle Papanikolaou of Fordham University. “Confession is in a decline. A person believes oneʼs sins are erased in confession, enabling one to go to heaven. Our Orthodox tradition believes that one accepts what one is through confession. Our sins give us moments to become closer to God.”
This analytic approach to Confession and Fasting was explained by theologian Papanikolaou at the Tenth Annual Zoullas Lenten Retreat of Kimisis tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton, Long Island from March 20th -22nd weekend. The retreatʼs theme focused on: Fasting and Confession. Whatʼs the Point? The church was filled with residents from the North and South Fork of Long Islandʼs East End. Lenten luncheons and dinners were served over the weekend to adults and youth participating in the Retreat. Dr. Papanikolaouʼs Byzantine chanting was unique for an American born theologian.
“Fasting makes us a better kind of person,” he continued. “Our goal is not one of distance. It is a personal relationship with God in Christ. Truth telling can bring two people together in intimacy. Saying the truth can be risky. It is not easy to confront truth to ourselves and others. Truth telling is linked to emotions, fear and anxiety.” Dr. Papanikolaouʼs viewpoint can be further studied in his landmark book, “Being with God: Trinity, Apophaticism and Divine-Human Communion.”
Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou is an Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University. He is a Co-Founding Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Theology at Lincoln Center. According to Dr. Papanikolaou, “the mission of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program at Fordham University is to provide a venue for the academic study of Eastern Orthodox Christianity that is enriching not only for students and faculty, but for the Orthodox and Non-Orthodox communities in New York and around the country.” On February 19th, 2009, the Jaharis Family Foundation announced the establishment of the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture at Fordham University through a generous donation of two million dollars.
Dr. Peter Michalos, renowned physician/Greek Orthodox activist, said he spoke with “Nicholas Zoullas who is pleased with the 10th Annual Lenten Retreat.” This unique lecture series was created by Nick Zoullas in memory of his parents, Socrates and Louisa. The Zoullasʼ, who are now deceased, were philanthropists in Athens during the German occupation of WWII. They opened soup kitchens to save their starving compatriots. They worked behind the scenes in their Southampton community, helping the hospital and Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church.
Nick Zoullas is commended for bringing culture and intellectual brilliance to the East End through his lecture series. In a time of deep suffering over the economic and political future of the United States, this retreat was offered free to the public. The Tenth Annual Zoullas Lenten Retreat uplifted the spirit of Long Islandʼs East End communities by giving them what they are thirsting for: Orthodox tradition, Hellenism and remembrance of the Modern Greek language. The President of the Parish Council is Dimitrios Hatgistavrou. Rev. Alexander Karloutsos is the protopresbyter.
– Information on Zoullas Lecture.
3#- “Being with God: Trinity, Apophanticism and Divine-Human Communion” book.
http://www.goarch.org/news/fordham-ad-chair-02-19-2009 – Fordham University Announces Archbishop Demetrios Chair.
http://www.fordham.edu/academics/programs_at_fordham_/ theology/faculty/aristotle_papanikola_26156.asp- Dr. Papanikolaouʼs biography.