Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sunday of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea

Today, the Sunday following the Ascension of our Lord, we commemorate the 318 holy fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 A.D., which was convened by the Emperor, St. Constantine, to deal with the heresies of Arius once and for all.  How fitting that this commemoration should be right after the Ascension as it was Jesus Christ, the Theanthropos (God-Man) Who ascended into heaven, not some created being as Arius thought.

The hymnography for this feast is great on so many levels.  Though we contemplate the reality of our life in Christ from what He has worked for us and what has been given to us through His saints, we do not contemplate the embellishments of the Byzantine hymnographers.  Here's a prime example from the stichera at Psalm 140 at Great Vespers.

Keeping his eyes shut that he may not see light, into sin's deep pit Arius fell headlong.  His bowels were torn by a divine hook that he give up violently all his substance and his soul; and become in this wise, through his most evil purpose and his manner another Judas.  But the Council gathered in Nicae, proclaimed that Thou, O Lord, art truly the Son of God, one with the Father and the Spirit in rank.
Great, huh?  By the prayers of the fathers of the First Council of Nicaea, may we continue to be true to the Orthodox faith and fight off the heirs to Arius' heresy and may we assume eternal life.

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