Sunday (the 31st May) marked the feast of the ‘Holy Fathers,’ of the First Ecumenical Council, 325AD. This important meeting or ‘synod,’ was comprised of 318 fathers who gathered in Nicaea at the request of the Emperor St Constantine the Great (306-337) in order to address the teachings of Arius, a priest of Alexandria, Egypt. In opposition to Orthodox teaching, Arius taught that Christ was not God, but a created being.
With his concern for unity and the desire to express the Church’s truth concerning the person of Jesus Christ, the Emperor Constantine summoned this first great meeting of the Church. With ‘one voice and one heart’ the Council declared that Christ, the Word and Son of God, is indeed, true God.
This ‘synodality,’ the meeting or gathering of the Church, is not only an expression of Her unity but also a reminder that the Church is indeed, to this day, alive. Following the Lord’s Ascension into Heaven, ‘uniting the earthly with the heavenly’ (Kontakion) assuring us that He is indeed ‘the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world,’ (Apolytikion) the Holy Spirit descended on Christ’s Apostles (on the day of Pentecost) making them ‘fishers of men.’ (Mk 1:17) The same Holy Spirit continues to guide the Lord’s body, His Church, on earth, today, continuing the work and teachings of the Apostles. Dear friends, to this day, the Church, through Her Bishops from all around the world, gathers in ‘synod,’ expressing the truth of Christ and our faith in Him; the faith that He taught, that the Apostles preached and that the Fathers kept.
Let us keep this faith alive in our hearts as we commence a new week and a new month. Let us rejoice and be grateful for the glorious weather, for His creation, as we take our daily walks and exercise. St Porphyrios writes: ‘Nature is the mystical Gospel. It requires of us an inner grace… otherwise, it does not induce us to Heaven. The spiritual person, who possesses the divine spirit, becomes all eyes, all scent. All senses come alive with the Spirit of God. The spiritual person hears and sees things differently: the birds, the rocks, and the butterflies … Grace renders the spiritual person attentive, yearning to be one with all things.’
Prayer for the Week:
Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fisherman all-wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them, drawing all the world into Your net. O Loving One, glory be to You.
-Hymn of Pentecost
You may want to read the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ regarding:
- The First Apostolic Council, held in Jerusalem, 50AD: Acts 15:19-21
- The Ascension of our Lord: Acts 1:9
- Pentecost: Acts 2:1-31