4th Ecumenical Council-Chalcedon


Fresco depicting the Fourth Ecumenical Council in the narthex of the Church of Saint Athanasius the Athonite
in the Great Lavra on Holy Mount Athos – 

Wednesday July 29, 2020 / July 16, 2020

8th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Hieromartyr Athenogenes, bishop of Heracleopolis, and his ten disciples (311). New Confessor Matrona Belyakova, fool-for-Christ of Anemnyasevo (1936). New Hieromartyr James archbishop of Barnaul and with him Hieromartyrs Peter and John priests, Hieromartyr Theodore and Martyr John (1937). Hieromartyr Ardalion (1938). Martyrs Paul and two sisters, Chionia (Thea) and Alevtina (Valentina), at Caesarea in Palestine (308). Martyr Antiochus, physician of Sebaste (4th c.). Virgin-martyr Julia of Carthage (440). Commemoration of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (451). “Chirsk” (1420) (“Pskovsky”) Icon of the Mother of God

The Scripture Readings

1 Corinthians 10:12-22
Matthew 16:20-24

The Fourth Ecumenical Council

Commemorated on July 16

      The Fourth Ecumenical Council, at which 630 bishops participated, was convened in the year 451 in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian (450-457). Still back in the time of the emperor Theodosius II (408-450), the bishop of Dorileuseia Eusebios in 408 reported to a Council held at Constantinople under the holy Patriarch Flavian (Comm. 18 February), concerning a personage of one of the monasteries of the capital, the archimandrite Eutykhios, who in his undaunted zeal against the soul-destroying heresy of the Nestorius – went to the opposite extreme and began to assert, that within Jesus Christ the human nature under the hypostatic union was completely absorbed by the Divine nature, in consequence of which it lost everything characteristic of human nature, except but for the visible form; wherein, such that after the union in Jesus Christ there remained only one nature (the Divine), which in visible bodily form lived upon the earth, suffered, died, and was resurrected.
      The Constantinople Council condemned this new false-teaching. But the heretic Eutykhios had patronage at court, and was in close connection with the heretic Dioskoros, the successor to Sainted Cyril (Comm. 18 January) upon the patriarchal cathedra-seat at Alexandria. Eutykhios turned to the emperor with a complaint against the injustice of the condemnation against him, and he demanded the judgement of an Ecumenical Council against his opponents, whom he accused of Nestorianism. Wanting to restore peace in the Church, Theodosius had decided to convene a Fourth Ecumenical Council in the year 449 at Ephesus. But this Council became branded in the chronicles of the Church as the “Robbers Council”. Dioskoros, appointed by the emperor to preside as president of the Council, ran it like a dictator, making use of threats and outright coercion. Eutykhios was exonerated, and Saint Flavian condemned. But in the year 450 the emperor Theodosius died. The new emperor Marcian raised up onto the throne with him the sister of Theodosius, Pulcheria.


Fresco depicting the Fourth Ecumenical Council in the narthex of the Church of Saint Athanasius the Athonite
in the Great Lavra on Holy Mount Athos – 

 

 Restoring peace to the Church was a matter of prime importance. An Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 451 at Chalcedon. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Anatolios (Comm. 3 July) presided over the Council. Dioskoros at the first session was deprived of his place among those present, and at the third session he was condemned with all his partisans. The Sessions of the Council were 16 in all. The Chalcedon holy fathers pronounced anathemas against the heresy of Eutykhios. On the basis of Letters Saint Cyril of Alexandria and Pope Saint Leo the Great, the fathers of the Council resolved: “Following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach to confess as one and the same the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in Divinity and perfect in humanity, truly God, truly man, of Whom is a reasoned soul and a body, One in Essence with the Father through Divinity and that Same-One one-in-essence with us through humanity, in all things like unto us except for sin, begotten before the ages from the Father in Divinity, but in these latter days born for us and our salvation from Mary the Virgin Mother of God in humanity. This self-same Christ, Son and Lord, the Only-Begotten, is in two natures perceived without mingling, without change, without division, without separation [Greek: “asugkhutos, atreptos, adiairetos, akhoristos”; Slavic: “neslitno, neizmenno, nerazdel’no, nerazluchno”], such that by conjoining there be not infringement of the distinctions of the two natures, and by which is preserved the uniqueness of each nature conjoined in one Person and One Hypostasis, – not split nor separated into two persons, but rather the One and Self-same Son, the Only-Begotten, the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, as in antiquity the prophets taught of Him and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us, and as the Creed-Symbol of the fathers has passed down to us”.
      In the two final Sessions of the Council, 30 Canon-rules were promulgated concerning ecclesial hierarchies and disciplines. Beyond this, the Council affirmed the decrees not only of the three preceding Ecumenical Councils, but also of the Local Councils of: Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Gangra, Antioch and Laodiceia, which had occurred during the IV Century.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MARTYR JULIA THE VIRGIN

The martyr Julia

Was crucified for her Christ.

The power of Christ, she called upon,

The power of the Honorable Tree.

Blood poured from six wounds,

And blood stained the earth,

For, in Christ, she believed,

And her faith she did not conceal.

Nor did Christ conceal her,

But to the world, proclaimed her,

And in the Kingdom Immortal,

In heaven, He glorified her.

When Julia breathed her last,

Her spirit, pure and holy,

Flew from her mouth–a white dove

To the heights soaring!

When men saw this

All, in fear, cried out:

“Woe to the evil judges–

That righteous blood, they have shed!”

REFLECTION


The Ecumenical Councils are the greatest duels between Orthodoxy and heretics. Today the Church jointly commemorates the first Six Ecumenical Councils(*):

1. The First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 A.D., with 318 Holy Fathers participating. It is commemorated separately on May 29 and on the Seventh Sunday of Pascha. This Council refuted the heresy of Arius against the Son of God.

2. The Second Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople in 381 A.D., with 150 Holy Fathers participating. It is commemorated separately on May 22. This Council refuted the heresy of Macedonius against God the Holy Spirit.

3. The Third Ecumenical Council was held at Ephesus in 431 A.D., with 200 Holy Fathers participating. It is commemorated separately on September 9. This Council refuted the heresy of Nestorius against the Mother of God.

4. The Fourth Ecumenical Council was held at Chalcedon in 451 A.D., with 630 Holy Fathers participating. It is commemorated separately on July 16. This Council refuted the Monophysite heresy.

5. The Fifth Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople in 553 A.D., with 160 Holy Fathers participating. It  is commemorated separately on July 25. This Council refuted the heresy of Origen.

6. The Sixth Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople in 680-81 A.D., with 170 Holy Fathers participating. It is commemorated separately on January 23. This Council refuted the Monothelite heresy.

7. The Seventh Ecumenical Council which was convened at Nicaea in 787 A.D., with 367 Holy Fathers participating. It is not commemorated on this occasion, but is commemorated separately on October 11. This Council refuted the heresy of Iconoclasm.

Through the operation of the Holy Spirit, the Councils condemned all these heresies, and the Faith of Orthodoxy was defined and confirmed for all time.
(*) In some Orthodox traditions, this Sunday commemorates the 4th Ecumenical Council only.

CONTEMPLATION


To contemplate the miraculous bringing forth of water from the rock in Kadesh (Numbers 20):

1. How Moses, at God’s command, struck the rock with his rod, but without faith; and how, through the will of God, water flowed forth;

2. How God punished Moses and Aaron for their little faith by not permitting them to enter the Promised Land;

3. How this shows that even a great righteous one like Moses is prone to sin, and that no mortal should be carried away into pride by his virtues.

HOMILY


About the participation of the faithful in God’s nature

“That by these you might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Brethren, how can a mortal man have a part in God’s nature? How can the eternal join with temporal, the glorious with the inglorious, the incorruptible with the corruptible, the pure with the impure? It is impossible without particular conditions, and the Apostle Peter tells us what they are: one condition on the part of God and one on the part of men. As the condition on the part of God, the apostle states: According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). And as the condition on the part of man: Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:4). God has fulfilled His condition and has given us His power, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3). Now it is man’s turn to fulfill his condition, i.e., in order to know Christ the Lord, to escape from the bodily desires of this world. The Lord Christ opened heaven and all the treasures of heaven; then He called people to draw near and to receive these treasures. How did He invite them? Did He invite them only by words? By words, but not only by words, but by glory and virtue. By glory, i.e., by His glorious Resurrection; by virtue, i.e., by His miraculous service and suffering. In this way, He invited us to receive the exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4), that by them we may partake in God’s nature. But in order to know Christ and hear His invitation, we must first escape the physical desires of this world. If we do not escape them, we will remain blind before Him–before His glory and virtue–and deaf to His invitation!

O brethren, how enormous is the mercy of God toward us! According to this great mercy, God offers to us mortals adoption by the Immortal One; to us sinners He offers us to be built up into the glorified Body of the Lord Jesus, but only under this condition, which is neither a great yoke nor a heavy cross.

O Lord Jesus, the Fulfillment of all promises and the Source of all good, heal us from our blindness and deafness, and grant us power to escape the physical desires of this world.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.