Sunday of the Holy Fathers of First Ecumenical Council

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.

ON MAY 28TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL AND THE 318 GODBEARING HOLY FATHERS WHO PARTICIPATED

Introduction

The Seventh Sunday after the Great Feast of All-Holy Pascha is observed by the Orthodox Church as the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. This day commemorates the 318 God-bearing Fathers who gathered in the city of Nicaea in 325 A.D. at the request of the Emperor, Saint Constantine the Great, to address the heresy of Arianism together with other issues that concerned the unity of the Church.

Arius was a protopresbyter of the Church of Alexandria, and in 315 A.D., he began to blaspheme against the Son of God saying that He was not the True God, consubstantial (of one essence) with the Father, but rather a work or creation of God and different from the essence and glory of the Father. He also taught that the Son of God had a beginning. These teachings shook the faithful at Alexandria. The Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander, attempted to correct Arius through admonitions, cut him from communion, and finally deposed him in 321 A.D. through a local council. Arius continued with his heretical teachings, creating controversy and division in the Churches of other cities, which led to a theological and ecclesiastical crisis throughout the Christian Church.

Moved with divine zeal and concern for unity, the Emperor Constantine the Great, equal to the Apostles, summoned the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, a city of Bithynia. It was in this place that the bishops of the Church gathered in 325 A.D. All of them, with one mouth and one voice, declared that the Son and Logos/Word of God is one in essence with the Father, True God of True God. The Holy Fathers composed the holy symbol of Faith, the Nicene creed:

"We believe in one God. The Father Almighty. Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; True God of True God; begotten not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end."

The Holy Fathers also anathematized Arius for his heretical beliefs and teachings, cutting him off from the Church. Recognizing the divine Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council as heralds of the Faith after the divine Apostles, the Church of Christ has appointed this present Sunday for their annual commemoration, in thanksgiving and unto the glory of God, unto their praise and honor, and unto the strengthening of the True Faith.

Hymns of The Feast

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of the Fourth Tone

You are greatly glorified, O Christ our God, Who established our Fathers as luminaries upon the earth, and through them led us all to the true Faith. O Most compassionate, glory to You.

Kontakion Hymn of the Feast. Plagal of the Fourth Tone

The Church was strengthened into one faith through the preaching of the Apostles and the doctrines of the Fathers. The Church is robed in truth woven of the word of God from above. It teaches truth, and glorifies the great mystery of faith.

(Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

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THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS and the Heresies That Have Attacked the Church's Teachings
Compiled by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

The First Ecumenical Council (the first of Nicaea). Called in 325 over the Arian heresy; under Saint Metrophanes, Archbishop of Constantinople; Saint Sylvester, Pope of Rome; and Emperor Saint Constantine the Great. Number of Holy Fathers (Bishops): 318.

THE HERESIES WHICH DISTURBED THE CHURCH IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM

(according to The History of the Christian Church)
by Eugraph Smirnov)

"Even the briefest survey of the heretical movements in Christianity form the first days of the Church's existence is profitable in that it shows, side by side with the common teaching of the Universal Church, the "the rule of faith," how various were the deviations from the truth and how very often they assumed a sharply aggressive character and evoked a bitter battle within the Church. In the first three centuries of Christianity the heresies spread their influence over a comparatively small territory; but from the 4th century certain heresies seized about half the (Roman) Empire and caused an immense exertion of the Church's strength do battle with them; and at the same time, when certain heresies gradually died down, others arose in their place. And if the Church had remained indifferent to these deviations from the truth, what--speaking according to human reasoning--would have happened to Christian truth? But the Church---with the help of the epistles of bishops, the exhortations and excommunications of local and regional councils (and, beginning with the 4th century, of Ecumenical Councils), sometimes with the cooperation and sometimes with the opposition of the governmental authorities--brought the "rule of faith" unshaken out of the battle and preserved Orthodoxy unharmed. Thus it was in the first thousand years.

The second millennium has not changed this situation. In these years the deviations from Christian truth, the divisions and sects, have been many more than in the first millennium. Certain currents hostile to Orthodoxy are no less passionate in their proselytism and hostility to Orthodoxy than was the case in the epoch of the Ecumenical Councils. This means that it is essential to be vigilant in preserving Orthodoxy. A special vigilance in defending dogmas is required." (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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

+Father George