Ecumenical Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS PHOTIOS THE GREAT, PATRIARCH OF CONTANTINOPLE (February 6th)

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

Since thou wast of like ways with the Apostles, and a teacher of the world, O Photius, entreat the Master of all, that peace be granted unto the world and great mercy to our souls.

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Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone

Let that resplendent and far-shining star of Christ God's Church, let that divinely-given guide of all the Orthodox, be now crowned with comely garlands of songs and praises; the Good Comforter's divinely-sounding harp of truth and the steadfast adversary of all heresy: Let us cry to him: Rejoice, O Photius most venerable.

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SAINT PHOTIOS I (Greek: Φώτιος; 810-893 A.D.) THE GREAT, PATRIACH OF CONSTANTINOPLE. The thrice-blessed Photios, the Great and most resplendent Father and teacher of the Church, the Confessor of the Faith and Equal to the Apostles, he lived during the years of the Emperors Michael (the son of Theophilos), Basil the Macedonian, and Leo his son. He was the son of pious parents, Sergius and Irene, who suffered for the Faith under the Iconoclast Emperor Theophilos; he was also a nephew of Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ February 25). He was born in Constantinople, where he excelled in the foremost imperial ministries, while ever practicing a virtuous and godly life. And upright and honorable man of singular learning and erudition, he was raised to the Apostolic, Ecumenical, and Patriarchal throne of Constantinople in the year 857 A.D.

The many struggles that this thrice-blessed one undertook for the Orthodox Christian Faith against the Manichaeans, the Iconoclasts, and other heretics, and the attacks and assaults that he endured from Nicholas 1st, the haughty and ambitious Pope of Rome, and the great persecutions and distresses he suffered, are beyond number. Contending against the Latin error (heresy) of the Filioque, that is, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, he demonstrated clearly with his Mystagogy on the Holy Spirit how the Filioque destroys the unity and equality of the Holy Trinity. He has left us many theological writings, panegyric homilies, and epistles, including one to Boris, the Sovereign of Bulgaria, in which he set forth for him the history and teachings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Having tended the Church of Christ in holiness and in an evangelical manner, and with fervent zeal having rooted out all the tares of every alien teaching, he departed to the Lord in the Monastery of the Armenians on February 6, 891 A.D. (Source: The Great Horologion)

MORE ON THE LIFE OF SAINT PHOTIOS:

Saint and Patriarch Photios was a well-educated man from a notable Constantinopolitan family and that his uncle St. Tarasios had been the Patriarch of Constantinople from 784-806 A.D. under both Empress Irene (797-802 A.D.) and Emperor Nikephoros I (802-811 A.D.) During the Second Iconoclasm, his family suffered persecution since his father, Sergios, was a prominent iconophile. Sergio's family returned to favor only after the restoration of the Holy Icons in 842 A.D. The famous library he possessed attests to his enormous erudition (theology, philosophy, grammar, law, the natural sciences, and medicine). He intended to be a monk, but chose to be a scholar and statesman instead. In 858 A.D., Emperor Michael III deposed Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Photios, still a layman, was appointed in his place. Amid power struggles between the Pope of Rome and the Emperor, Ignatius was reinstated. Photios resumed the position when Ignatius died (877 A.D.), by order of the Emperor.

"In 863 A.D. at a synod in Rome the Pope "deposed" Saint Photios, and "reappointed" Ignatius as the rightful Patriarch. Four years later, Saint Photios was to respond on his own part by calling a Council and excommunicating the Pope on grounds of heresy--over the question of the double procession of the Holy Spirit. The situation was additionally complicated by the question of Papal authority over the entire Church and by disputed jurisdiction over newly-converted Bulgaria. As Saint Photios had been targeted by Pope Nicholas to be removed from his position and to be subjected to unjust vitriolic attacks with charges of ambition for power" (Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburg).

"For the Eastern Orthodox, St. Photios was long the standard-bearer of the Church in its disagreements with the Pope of Rome; to Latins, he was a proud and ambitious schismatic: the relevant work of scholars over the past generation has somewhat modified partisan judgments. All agree on the virtue of his personal life and his remarkable talents, even genius, and the wide range of his intellectual aptitudes. Pope Nicholas himself referred to his "great virtues and universal knowledge." It may be noted, however, that some anti-Papal writings attributed to Saint Photios were apparently composed by other writers about the time of the East-West Schism of 1054 A.D."

"Pope John VIII, who knew St. Photios personally, declared through his envoys that the former Papal decisions about St. Photios were annulled. The Council acknowledged the unalterable character of the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed, rejecting the Latin distortion ("filioque"), and acknowledging the independence and equality of both thrones and both Churches (Western and Eastern). The Council decided to abolish Latin usages and rituals in the Bulgarian Church introduced by the Latin clergy, who ended their activities there."

The Holy Orthodox Church venerates Saint Photios the Great as a "pillar and foundation of the Church," an "inspired guide of the Orthodox." and a wise theologian. He left behind several works, exposing the errors of the Latins, refuting soul-destroying heresies, explicating Holy Scripture, and exposing many aspects of the Faith.

WRITINGS:

The most important of the works of Saint Photios is his renowned Bibliotheca or Myriovivlon, a collection of extracts and abridgments of 280 volumes of classical authors (usually cited as Codices), the originals of which are now to a great extent lost. The work is especially rich in extracts from historical writers.

His most important theological work is the Amphilochia, a collection of some 300 questions and answers on difficult points in Holy Scripture, addressed to Amphilochios, Archbishop of Cyzicus. Other similar works after his treatise in four books against the Manichaeans and Paulicians, and his controversy with the Latins on the Procession of the Holy Spirit.

He also did much for the conversion of the Slavs, sending the mission of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. He wrote on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, against the Pualicians (a new Manichaean sect), dogmatic works, sermons, letters; he made an important collection of the Church's canons, in his Library made an excellent critical compilation of a number of both Christian and pagan works.

"The ancient Orthodox teaching of the personal attributes of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was distorted in the Latin Church by the creation of a teaching of the procession, outside of time and from all eternity, of the Holy Spirit from the Father "and the Son"--the Filioque. The idea that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son originated in certain expressions of Augustine. It became established in the Latin West as obligatory in the 9th century, and when Latin missionaries came to the Bulgarians in the middle of the 9th century, the Filioque was in their Symbol of Faith."

"In the 9th century the Filioque was not yet obligatory in Rome. However, the Germans had already inserted it into their Creed, and, with the approval of Pope Nicholas 1st, they made it obligatory among the Bulgarians they were evangelizing. This was until 870 A.D., when the Bulgarian Church as assigned to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the German missionaries were expelled from Bulgaria. (See Timothy (Metropolitan Kallistos] Ware. The Orthodox Church, pp. 54-56).

As differences between the papacy and the Orthodox East became sharper, the Latin dogma became more and more strengthened in the West: finally it was acknowledged in the West as a universally obligatory dogma. Protestantism inherited this teaching from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Latin dogma of the Filioque is a substantial and important deviation from Orthodox truth. This dogma was subjected to a detailed examination and accusation, especially by Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople (9th century) and Michael Cerularius (11th century), and likewise by Saint Mark of Ephesus, who took part in the Council of Florence (1439).

Out of "missionary" aims, the Roman Church has, in more recent times, disguised the difference (or rather, the importance of the difference) between the Orthodox teaching on the Holy Spirit and the Roman teaching. With this in mind, the Popes have kept the ancient Orthodox text of the Symbol of Faith, without the words "and from the Son," for the Uniates and the "Eastern Rite." But this cannot be regarded as a kind of half-rejection by Rome of its own dogma. As best, it is only a disguise for the Roman view that the Orthodox East is backward in dogmatic development, that one must be condescending to this backwardness, and that the dogma expressed in the West in a developed form (explicite, in accordance with the Roman theory of the "development of dogmas") is concealed in the Orthodox dogma in a still undeveloped form (implicite). But in Latin dogmatic works which are intended for internal use, we encounter a definite treatment of the Orthodox dogma of the procession of the Holy Spirit as a "heresy."

However, the Latin dogma agrees neither with Sacred Scripture nor with the universal Sacred Tradition of the Church; and it does not even agree with the most ancient tradition of the Local Church or Rome." (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky).

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George