Sunday of the Holy Fathers

The Ecumenical Council of Nicea

This day in the calendar of the Church, June 7, 1992 (Sunday) is known as
the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, assembled
in the year 325 AD in the ancient city of Nicea (now a village in Turkey
called Iznik). It was at this council that the leaders of the Church
compiled the Creed that is recited at every Divine Liturgy. Actually, the
Fathers dealt with the first part of the Creed that speaks of the Person of
Christ. The section on the Holy Spirit, to the conclusion, was compiled at
the second Council in the year 381 AD at Constantinople.

The Creed, then, is well over 1,600 years old, and is recited unchanged
through all the centuries of the Faith. It contains the basic statement of
our Christian belief. There were 318 Fathers of the Church at the first
Council in Nicea. There is a beautiful icon that depicts some of them,
holding the Greek version of the Statement of Faith.

The Creed begins with the words "I believe..." This is somewhat unusual,
since invariably in the Church's worship the plural form of "we" is used.
Thus, we pray "Our Father..." and "Let us pray to the Lord..." and "Let us
lay aside all earthly care..." This is so, because we are gathered together
as Christ's family, as the Church, the people of God, the Body of Christ.

But when it comes to the Creed, we say "I Believe..." This is so because
faith is a personal matter. No one can believe for me; I must believe.
What does it mean, to believe? This goes to the heart of religion. We
cannot "prove" the articles of Faith; we cannot see them, touch them, feel
them. But we believe that they are real, that they are true. St, Paul put
it this way, we "walk by faith and not by sight."

Let us, then, honour those Fathers of Nicea today, and let us with fervor
and faith recite the Creed of our Faith:

1. I believe in one (1) God, Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and
Earth and of everything visible and invisable.

2. And in one (1) Lord Jesus Christ, the only-be-gotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all Ages. Light of Light, True God of True
God, begotten not made, co-substantial with the Father, through Whom all
things were made.

3. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and
was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and became Man.

4. Crucified for our salvation under Pontius Pilate, He suffered and
was buried.

5. And was resurrected on the third day according to the Scriptures.

6. And ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father;

7. And He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead;
Whose reign will have no end.

8. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who
proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son, is
worshipped and glorified; Who spoke through the Prophets.

9. I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

10. I acknowledge One Baptism for the remission of sins.

11. I await for the resurrection of the dead.

12. And the life of the Ages to come. Amen.

Amen and Amen.

Around the time of this Ecumenical Council in 325 AD, there was a number of
heresies running around that were causing great confusion. One heresy
among these was known as the Arian Heresy. Basically, the Arian heresy
taught that the Father created the Son with all His like qualities sometime
before the creation took place. But, if this were true, then the Son could
not be fully God and could not share in the completeness of God, and
therefore the Son, losing His eternal nature, would be reduced to being a
manifestation or creation, if you will, of God. Such a simple statement
the Arians made, yet with such far reaching consequences to mislead.

Some would say that theologians just nitpick among the various terms so
that they have some reason to be arguing over points which have no real
effect over the things we believe about God and our Salvation. Those of us
who take that position are not informed about the far reaching nature of a
little blooper in the framework of what we believe.

For instance, if we would take for fact that God created the Son, then it
can be successfully argued that Jesus Christ is not the Lamb of God, and is
not God at all, and therefore our salvation hangs in the balance of the
jaws of hyprocrisy. Holy Scripture however shoots down this Arian Heresy
as false! None but God Himself can open to man the way of union.

Each heresy taken alone undermines some part of the axiom that "Christ must
be fully God and fully man". Either Christ was made less than God
(Arianism); or His manhood was so divided from His Godhead that He became
two persons instead of one (Nestorianism); or He was not presented as truly
man (Monophysitism, Monothelitism). Each Council from the 1st to the 7th
defended this affirmation that Christ must be fully God and fully man.

The first 2 Councils, held in the fourth century, concentrated upon the
earlier part (that Christ must be fully God) and formulated the doctrine of
the Trinity. The next 4 Councils during the fifth, sixth, and seventh
centuries, turned to the second part (the fullness of Christ's manhood) and
also sought to explain how manhood and Godhead could be united in a single
person. The 7th Council, in defense of the Holy Icons, seems at first to
stand somewhat apart, but like the first six, it was ultimately concerned
with the Incarnation and with man's salvation.

The Emperor Constantine, alarmed at the possible divisions forming within
the Church over the heresies of the day, saw the need to convene a Council
of all the Churches in order to do 4 principle things:

1. To Defend the Faith
2. To Instruct the Church
3. To bring unity within the Church
4. To match existing potentially heretical statements with the Truth to
come to accord on these issues (exactly handled as was the issue of
circumcission or uncircumcission). In other words, the search for

Some of the Bishops who came to the 1st Council came at great expense to
their health and well being and some knew that they would never return to
see their congregation again. Yet, even so, these dedicated men considered
it very important to go! We ought to be very thankful to these men,
because they provided to us a heritage of an unbroken Faith which has
withstood the ravages of time, yet is certainly as pure as it was then,
without having suffered from alterations or additions that would make the
Faith impure.

The Emperor Constantine entered the room at the 1st Ecumenical Council, and
assembled there were all the Bishops. Constantine looked around and saw
men without limbs, men with one eye, men crippled, men physically blind and
Constantine, being the MOST POWERFUL man in the then known world could have
required each of them to prostrate themselves before him, but Constantine
did not require that of these men. As a point in fact, Constantine the
Emperor of the Roman Empire, went to each man and kissed each of their

Holy Fathers, thank you for your dedication to the Truth by the Operation
of Holy Spirit of God and the Blessed Councils which you attended with Holy
Spirit in order to quench the firery darts of heresy. Glory to You, Our
Lord God, Glory to You. Amen.

Grace and Peace be with all of you, and each of your family members, now
and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages. Amen.

Love in Christ,
Brother Petros