“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
The Church today honours and presents the 630 Holy and God-bearing Fathers, who in the year 451 A.D. participated in the Fourth Ecumenical Synod, which took place in Chalcedon, near Constantinople. This Synod’s task was to face the heresy of Monophysitism and was convened by the Emperors Marcian and Poulcheria.
Promoters, teachers and supporters of this teaching were Archimandrite Eftychios, who belonged to the Church of Constantinople and Dioskoros, Patriarch of Alexandria. These two persons claimed that the two natures in the Person of Jesus Christ no longer existed as two but that the human one was absorbed by the divine one. That is why their followers were called Monophysites.
The Church did not approve of this decision and teaching. On the contrary the Synod of Chalcedon in her teaching which she composed, taught that in the Person of Jesus Christ the two natures co-exist united inseparably, undivided, unchanged, unalterable, identical. Christ is perfect God and perfect man, without sin. The divine nature allows the human to meet her needs and express itself.
The Orthodox and the Monophysites, wrote their confession separately and placed them in the casket where the relics of St Euphemia the Great Martyr were kept. Next day, after prayer, they opened the casket and found the teaching of the Orthodox lying on the bosom of the Saint, whereas the teaching of the Monophysites were at her feet. This was considered as the answer of the Saint to their request. The relics of St Euphemia are kept in the Patriarchal Church of St George at Fanar.
This year, the present Sunday coincides with the commemoration of St Marina the Great Martyr. Further, let us say that in accordance with the opinion of others, this very Sunday is dedicated to the honour and commemoration of all the Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
The First Ecumenical Council took place in Nicea of Bethany in the year 325 A.D. against the wrong teachings of Arianism with the participation of 318 Fathers. This Synod was convened by the Emperor Constantine the Great. The Second Council took place in Constantinople in the year 381A.D. with the participation of the 150 Holy Fathers against those who rejected the divinity of the Person of the Holy Spirit and had as their leader Macedonios.
The Third Council took place in the year 431 A.D. at Ephesus and was against Nestorianism. The followers of Nestorios, Patriarch of Constantinople called our Lady Christotokos, that is, they claimed that she gave birth to an ordinary man. We are indebted to this Synod for the term Theotokos. Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria, presided at this Synod. Regarding the Fourth Council we have already mentioned above.
The Fifth Synod took place in the year 553 A.D. in the presence of 165 Fathers, who were against the followers of Origen. The Sixth Council took place in Constantinople in the year 680 A.D. in the presence of 170 Fathers, who resisted Monothelitism. This Synod proclaimed that in the person of Jesus Christ co-exist two natures, two wills and two energies.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council took place in the year 781 A.D. in Nicea of Bethany, in the presence of 367 Fathers, who faced the iconoclasts. This Synod was convened by Empress Irene the Athenean, who at that time was carrying out the guardianship for her son, Constantine VI, who was a minor. This Synod adopted as her decision the teaching of St John the Damascene. The Synod claimed that the faithful do not worship the icons but honour the persons depicted on them as our older brothers and sisters. The honour, on the other hand, refers to the prototype, that is the Triune God.
We will conclude this sermon with the Dismissal Hymn (apolytikion) which refers to the two thousand Holy and God-bearing Fathers, who participated in the Ecumenical Councils. “Let us honour the group of the Seven Ecumenical Synods, through which the good tradition we enriched intact; for Christ joined them as seven pillars to the Church, whose dogmas safeguards as a secure anchor, singing always: Glory be to Him Who has illumined you; glory be to Him Who has magnified you; glory be to Him Who confirms through you the Orthodox Faith.” Amen!
C O M M U N I T Y N E W S
MEALS FOR THE ELDERLY: We would like to inform all the friends and supporters of our respected elderly that the meals offered to them have now ceased for the summer-time. They will resume again in September 2011. We take this opportunity to thank all who supported this worthy cause in any way and we look forward to your continued contribution in September 2011.
PANTANASSA MEETING: On Wednesday, 27th July 2011 the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society of PANTANASSA will be having a meeting to discuss among other matters, the organisation of the Panegyri which will take place on Monday, 15th August 2011.
SCHOOL CONCERT: On Sunday, 3rd July 2011, the Greek Schools of Saint Barnabas held their end-of-year concert, with the theme “The Sea”. The concert began with songs by the children from the school, followed by a brief account of the school year by His Grace, Athanasios, Bishop of Tropaeou. There were also poems, plays and dances relating to the theme “The Sea”. The hall was packed with parents, relatives and friends of the children who came to watch and admire
their offspring. We extend our many thanks and much appreciation to all the pupils and staff who worked very hard to make this concert a great success.
ANNUAL SCHOOL RAFFLE: We would like to express our sincere gratitude and manifold thanks to all those who supported the sale of the school raffle tickets. The final amount raised was £10,000.00. The draw was held on Sunday, 3rd July 2011, at the end-of-term School concert. The lucky nos. are as follows: 6454, 4802, 6008, 8874, 8042, 4710, 1173, 9513.
PANTANASSA’S EVENING – A SUCCESS: On Thursday, 7th July 2011, the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society of PANTANASSA organised a social evening in the Church hall. The barbecue was very tasty, the desserts were mouth-watering and the water melon was refreshing. After the warm welcome, His Grace, Athanasios, Bishop of Tropaeou, blessed the food and the evening began. During the meal one of the school teachers, Mr Panayiotis Tofis, a maestro violinist, played melodically and expertly. He was assisted by Constantina Nicolaou, one of the pupils from St Barnabas School, and Rebecca Theophanous, a medical student visiting us from America. At the end of the meal His Grace addressed those present, thanked and congratulated all who helped to make the evening a success, either through offering their time, purchasing raffle tickets or offering gifts for the raffle prizes.
PARACLESES DURING AUGUST: During the first twelve days in August, our Church sings the Paracleses, large and small alternatively. The Paracleses are prayers to Theotokos, the mother of our Lord. These services will be held at 6.00 p.m. each week-day evening and Sundays. The service will take place from the 1st August until and including the 12th August 2011 at St Mary’s Cathedral.
FEAST OF THE DORMITION OF OUR LADY: On Monday, 15th August 2011, the Community of St Barnabas will be celebrating the Feast of the Dormition of our Lady. The services will take place at our Cathedral as follows:
a 14th August 6.30 p.m. The Panegyric Vespers and Artoklasia (blessing and cutting of the bread)
b. 15th August 8.45 a.m.–12.30 p.m. The Divine Liturgy will be held. His Eminence, Gregorios, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain will preside. The Panegyri will follow on our premises.