Monday, June 14, 2021

Homily on the Sunday of the 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered May 25, 1947)

On the Sunday before the great day of Pentecost, the Holy Church celebrates the memory of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod.

We need to know what an Ecumenical Synod is and what the significance of the First Ecumenical Synod was.

The holy apostles told the bishops to hold an Ecclesiastical Synod, that is, a conference of bishops, who together had to decide on the affairs of the Church. It was decided that such Synods should be convened frequently, twice a year. This is how it was done, and such local Synods were convened to resolve not very important issues.

On the Sunday of the 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Neophytos the Recluse)

 Catechesis 15

On the Holy Fathers of the Synod of Nicaea and
On the Orthodox Faith Which They Dogmatized and
That Right Faith is Needed as Well as Right Life

By St. Neophytos the Recluse

Today is a feast between two bright and saving feasts [the Ascension and Pentecost]. Today, between two great festivals that reach to heaven, the multi-luminous stars make their appearance. Today, between the two chariots whose path leads to heaven, three hundred and eighteen charioteers have appeared, not of course to direct these two steered chariots, but to direct those who do not believe and have mounted the chariots, to lead them towards faith, since the one chariot lifted from earth towards the heavenly arches with the flesh-bearing God the Word from the earth to the bosom of the Father, while the other chariot is the "the other Comforter" (Jn. 14:16) instead of Christ who ascended, which He sent down from heaven "like the blowing of a violent wind" (Acts 2:2), that the words of Christ may be fulfilled when He said "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (Jn. 16:7-8).

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (Fr. George Florovsky)


By Fr. George Florovsky 

The city of Nicaea was selected as the city to host the First Ecumenical Council. Constantinople was to be officially inaugurated only in 330 and hence at the time of the convening of the Council of Nicaea the imperial residence was in Nicomedia, very close to Nicaea. Nicaea — its name comes from the Greek for "victory" — was easily accessible by sea and land from all parts of the empire. The imperial letter convening the council is no longer extant. Eusebius informs us that the emperor sent letters of invitation to the bishops of all countries and instructed them to come quickly — σπευδειν άπανταχόθεν τους επισκόπους γπάμμασι τιμητικοίς πpoκaλoυμevoς. All expenses were to be paid from the imperial treasury. The number of bishops present has come down to us as 318 — so states Athanasius, Socrates, and Theodoret. An element of mystical symbolism became attached to this number of 318, some seeing in the Greek abbreviation a reference to the cross and a reference to the "holy name of Jesus." St. Ambrose in his De fide (i, 18) connected the number of 318 with the number of servants of Abraham in Genesis 14:14. The number differs in other accounts. For example, Eusebius gives the number as two-hundred and fifty — πεντηκοντα και διακοσίων αριθμόν. But Eusebius does not include the number of priests and deacons. Arabic accounts from a later period give the number of more than two-thousand bishops. The extant Latin lists of signatures contain no more than two-hundred and twenty-four bishops. There appears to be no reason why the number of 318 is not in fact accurate. If one includes the number of priests, deacons, and others, then the number may have reached two thousand.

Reflection for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

Arius began to deny the divinity of the Son of God and His oneness in essence with God the Father. The entire Church rose up against him; all believers, from all ends of the earth, unanimously confessed that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God, true God of true God; begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father. One would think that this unanimity was purely coincidental, but this faith was then tried by fire when the authorities and powerful of this world began to side with the Arians. Neither fire, nor sword, nor persecution could extinguish this faith, and it was immediately found everywhere among everyone, as soon as the pressure from external powers ceased. This means that it makes up the heart of the Church and the essence of her confession. Glory be to the Lord, Who preserves this faith within us! For, as long as it exists, we are still Christians, though we may not live as such. If it ceases to exist, Christianity will end.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

How Saint Onouphrios Became the Patron Saint of Munich

According to historical sources (Anton Mayer, Münchner Sonntagsblatt, 1863), the founder of the city of Munich, Heinrich der Löwe, Duke of Bavaria, traveled to Jerusalem in 1172 where he visited a monastery containing the relics of Saint Onouphrios. When the monks told him about the life and holiness of the great hermit of the desert, the Duke begged to be given a portion of his sacred relics. As soon as he received the holy relic, he immediately proclaimed Saint Onouphrios the patron saint of his army for their safe return to Munich. When he arrived in Munich, he proclaimed Saint Onouphrios the patron saint of Munich and placed his relic in a special reliquary in the chapel of Munich Palace.

In the year 1416 Heinrich Primat, a native of Munich, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For a safe return to Munich he vowed to donate a large iconographic representation of Saint Onouphrios to the main gate of the wall that led to the center of Munich. He made his vow by placing a large statue of Saint Onouphrios next to the gate, in front of his house, in the central square of Munich, which was also the commercial center of Bavaria.

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