Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND SHALL EVER BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Απολυτίκιον (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Macarius of Egypt. First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an Angel in the flesh, and wonderworker, O Macarius, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Απολυτίκιον (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Arsenius. Forth Tone
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Arsenius, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Απολυτίκιον (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Mark Eugenicus. Third Tone
O all-laudable and most divine Mark, in thee the Church found a great zealot by thy confession of the holy and sacred Faith; for thou didst champion the doctrines which the Fathers taught and didst cast down darkness' boastful pride. Wherefore pray thou to Christ God for them that honor thee, that we be granted the forgiveness of sins.
OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHERS MACARIUS THE GREAT OF EGYPT AND MACARIUS OF ALEXANDRIA. OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS ARSENIUS OF CORFU. OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS MARK EVGENICUS, METROPOLITAN OF EPHESUS.
SAINT MACARIUS THE GREAT was from the Thebaϊd of Egypt, a disciple, as some say, of Saint Anthony the Great. He was born about 331 A.D. and struggled in asceticism in the desert at Scete. Although young, he was called "the child elder" because of his great wisdom and austere manner of life. He was ordained presbyter and reposed in 391 A.D., at the age of sixty. There are fifty homilies ascribed to him. It is said of Saint Macarius that he became as a God upon earth, for even as God protects the whole world, so did he cover the faults he saw as if he did not see them. Once he came back to his cell to find a thief taking his things and loading them on a camel. Saint Macarius' non-possessiveness was so great that he helped the thief load the camel. When they came refused to rise, Saint Macarius returned to his cell and brought a small hoe, said that the camel wanted the hoe also, loaded it on, and kicked the camel telling it to get up. The camel obeyed Saint Macarius' command, but soon lay down again, and would not move until everything had been returned to Saint Macarius. His contemporary, Saint Macarius of Alexandria, was so called because he came from Alexandria and was therefore of the Greek-speaking colony; while Saint Macarius the Great is also called "of Egypt", that is, he belonged to the ancient race native to Egypt, the Copts. Whenever Saint Macarius of Alexandria heard of a virtue practiced by any man, he strove to practice it even more fully himself. When he was already old, he visited the community of Saint Pachomius in Tabennisi and, without revealing who he was, asked admittance. Saint Pachomius, on account of Macarius' age, was reluctant to receive him, but afterwards yielded to his entreaties. Shortly thereafter Great Lent began, and Saint Macarius followed such a severe rule of fasting and prayer that many in the brotherhood complained to Saint Pachomius, asking if he had brought this old man to put them shame. Learning Saint Macarius' identity in a revelation, Saint Pachomius thanked him for breaking the pride of his monks, and sent him away in peace.
SAINT ARSENIUS, who had Palestine as his homeland, was born in 876 A.D., the son of devout parents. From childhood he was consecrated to God and assumed the monastic habit. He studied in Seleucia, where he also received the dignity of the priesthood. After he had moved from thence to Constantinople, he was appointed Metropolitan of Corfu. He adorned the throne there by his virtue and instruction. When advanced in age, returned to Constantinople and appeared the unjust rage of Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus against the leaders of Corfu. Finally, during his journey back to his see, he fell ill at Corinth and reposed in the Lord about the middle of tenth century.
SAINT MARK EVGENICUS, METROPOLITAN OF EPHESUS. The great teacher and invincible defender of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Saint Mark, was the offspring and scion of the imperial city, Constantinople. Reared by most pious parents, and instructed in secular and spiritual wisdom, he became pre-eminent in both. Saint Mark lived as an ascetic on the Princes' Islands and later in the Monastery of Saint George Magana in Constantinople. He passed through all the degrees of the priesthood, and was finally advanced to the dignity of Archbishop and the lofty throne of the Metropolis of Ephesus. At the insistence of Emperor John Paleologus, the Saint was sent to the council of the Latins (Roman Catholics) in Florance, to unite the Churches that had been divided for so many years. He astounded the Papal teachers with the divine wisdom of his words, and was the only one who did not sign the blasphemous decree of that false council. Because of this, the Holy Church of Christ has ever honored this great Father as a benefactor, teacher, sole defender, and invincible champion of the Apostolic Confession. He reposed in 1443 A.D. His address at the council against the Latin doctrines of purgatory and the filioque remain a model of Orthodox teaching, and his epistles after the council were instrumental in causing the Orthodox Church to reject the union.
The Council of Florance (1438-9) is regarded by the Latin (Roman Catholic church) as having ecumenical significance; but when the Orthodox delegates returned home to Byzantium the general sentiment of the Orthodox Christians rejected their proclamation of union with Rome, and so this council is not listed as authentic in the annuals of Orthodoxy.
St. Mark of Ephesus and the False Union of Florance
Part III of His Life
by Archimandrite Amvrossy Pogodin
VI. THE CONCLUSION OF THE UNION
To the other afflictions which the Orthodox delegation suffered in Florence was added the death of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch was found dead in his room.
And so the Greek Orthodox delegation lost its Patriarch. Although the Patriarch was no pillar of Orthodoxy, and though one may reproach him in much, still one cannot deny that with his whole soul he grieved for Orthodoxy and never allowed himself or anyone else to injure Saint Mark. Being already in deep old age, he lacked the energy to defend the Church of which he was head, but history cannot reproach him for betraying the Church. Death spared him from the many and grievous humiliations which the Orthodox Church subsequently had to endure. And on the other hand the absence of his signature on the Act of Union later gave occasion for the defenders of Orthodoxy to contest the pretension of the Council of Florance to the significance and title of "Ecumenical Council", because the Act of every Ecumenical Council must be signed first of all by the Patriarchs.
After the death of the Patriarch, as Syropoulos informs us, Emperor John Paleologos took the direction of the Church into his own hands. This anticanonical situation, although often encountered in Byzantine history, as well in a positive as in a negative manifestation, was strictly condemned by Saint Mark of Ephesus in one of his epistles, where he says: "Let no one dominate in our faith: neither emperor, nor hierarch, nor false council, nor anyone else, but only the one God, Who both Himself and through His Disciples has handed it down to us."
Let us set forth in brief the further history of the negotiations between Orthodox and the Latins--or, to speak more truly, the history of the capitulation of the Orthodox. The Orthodox were obliged to accept the Latin teaching of the filioque and acknowledge the Latin dogma of the procession of the Holy Spirit, in the sense of His existence, from the two hypostases. Then the Orthodox were obliged to declare that the filioque, as an addition with the Symbol of Faith (creed), had always been a canonical and blessed act. By this alone there were reduced to naught all the objections of the Greeks from the time of Patriarch Photios, as well as the works of Saint Mark of Ephesus and the interdictions for changing the Symbol of Faith which had been made a the Third and Fourth Ecumenical Councils. One should also note that not all the Roman Popes had approved of the filioque, and several had considered its introduction into the Symbol of Faith (Creed) completely uncanonical. But now all this was forgotten. Everything was sacrificed to the demands of Pope Eugenius and his cardinals.
Further, it was demanded of the Orthodox to accept the Latin teaching concerning the consecration of the Holy Gifts and renounce their own as expressed in the performance of the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Church. Besides, this was expressed by the Latins in disdainful declarations concerning the Liturgical practice of the Orthodox Church.
Finally, the Orthodox were obliged to sign and acknowledge a confession of Papism, expressed thus: "We decree that the Holy Apostolic Throne and Roman Pontiff possess a primacy over the whole earth, and that this Roman Pontiff is the successor of the Blessed Peter, the prince of the Apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, pastor and teacher of all Christians; and that our Lord Jesus Christ in the person of Saint Peter has given him full authority to shepherd, direct and rule the whole Church, as is likewise contained in the acts of the Ecumenical Councils and in the Holy Canons." The Orthodox were likewise forced to acknowledge purgatory.
And so Orthodoxy was to cease to exist. Something even more painful was the fact that Orthodoxy had been sold, and not merely betrayed. For when a majority of the Orthodox delegates had found that the Vatican's demands were completely unacceptable, certain warm partisans of the Union had asked the Pope to inform them openly what advantages Byzantium would derive from the Union. The Pope grasped the "business" side of the question and offered the following: (1) The Vatican would provide the means to send the Greeks back to Constantinople. (2) 300 soldiers would be maintained at Papal expense in Constantinople for the defense of the Capital against the Turks (3) Two ships would be maintained on the Bosphorus for defense of the city. (4) A crusade would go through Constantinople (5) The Pope would summon the Western sovereigns to the aid of Byzantium. The last two promises were purely theoretical. However, when the negotiations came to a dead end, and the Emperor himself was ready to break off further negotiations, the whole affair was settled by four Metropolitans, partisans of the union, and the affair was concluded with a lavish entertainment given by the Pope; theological disputes concerning the privileges of the See of Rome were conducted over wineglasses.
Administratively speaking, the whole Orthodox Church signed: Emperor John, the Metropolitans and representatives of the Easter Patriarchs, the Metropolitan of Kiev Isidore, and the Russian Bishop Abraham. Only one hierarch did not sign. It would be superfluous to mention his name: Saint Mark of Ephesus. But no one paid the least attention to him. What was one man, and he humiliated and fatally ill, in comparison with the whole powerful Vatican, headed by the might Pope Eugenius IV? What was this one Greek in comparison with the whole multitude of Greek dignitaries headed by Emperor John, and the Greek Metropolitans? There is a Russian proverb: "One alone on the field is no warrior." However, in this one man was represented the whole might of the Orthodox Church. The one man represented in himself the whole Orthodox Church. He was a giant of giants, bearing in himself all the sanctity of Orthodox and all its might! And this is why, when Pope Eugenius was solemnly shown by his cardinals the Act of Union, signed by all the Greek delegates, he said, not finding on it the signature of Saint Mark: "And so we have accomplished nothing." All the success of the Vatican was illusory and short-lived. The Pope attempted by every means to compel Saint Mark to sign the Union, a fact that is attested both by Andrew of Rodes and Syropoulos. The Pope demanded that Saint Mark be deprived of his rank then and there for his refusal to sign the Act of Union. But Emperor John did not allow him to be harmed, because in the depths of his heart he respected Saint Mark.
Personal note: There is much more that I would like to bring to your attention at this time but some of you might find it cumbersome. It is extremely important that we all know Our Church History for obvious reasons.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God