Augustine Sokolovski

On June 4, May 22 according to the Julian calendar, the Orthodox liturgical calendar commemorates the Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council. Unfortunately, often this celebration does not meet with sufficient understanding. Therefore, the memory of the Fathers is limited is limited to mentioning them during a short prayer of blessing at the end of the Liturgy.

At the same time, the memory of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils is an exclusive feature of the Eastern Orthodox Tradition. Theologians of other confessions drew attention to this and devoted special studies to the subject. This means that the solemn commemoration of the Fathers of the Councils is for Orthodox Christians not just a tribute to tradition, but a confession of their belonging to the true, ancient, great, and infallible Church in Christ Jesus.

In accordance with the liturgical calendar, each of the Seven Ecumenical Councils is separately celebrated on a separate day throughout the year. In addition, there is a joint celebration in honor of the first six Ecumenical Councils, as well as the day of memory of the Fathers of all Seven Ecumenical Councils at the same time.

It is noteworthy that a church in the Moscow St. Danilov Monastery is dedicated to the Memory of the Fathers of the Seven Councils. In this large church, the monastic brethren perform divine services on weekdays.

The dates of the commemorations of the Ecumenical Councils do not change throughout the year. They are placed on certain days and belong to the yearly cycle of fixed celebrations. With one exception: the memory of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 depends on the celebration of Easter. As part of the Paschal liturgical cycle, it relies on the Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost.

Obviously, for the Ancient Church, it was the First Ecumenical Council that had exceptional significance. Therefore, the celebration of his memory was supposed to be in the context of the most important events in the History of Salvation. In other words, such an exceptional position of the Council of Nicaea is a consequence of the special attitude of the Ancient Church towards it. At that time, many believed that the First Council finally and completely set forth the dogmas of faith, and therefore, in the history of the Church, according to its plan, it should have been the last.

When celebrating the memory of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, it is important to understand that we are not talking about the nominal feast of those of the Fathers who are canonized by the Church as saints. This is a collective remembrance of an event that is organized in the history of the Church and the Universe by the Holy Spirit. Such a celebration of the Fathers is undoubtedly unique in its archaism. After all, holiness once could mean not personal veneration, signs, and miracles, but belonging to the Communion of Saints.

The Ecumenical Council, as an assembly of bishops of the Roman Empire, which called itself Ecumene, that is, the Universe, transmitted the proper formulation of faith, once, according to the word of Scripture, transmitted to the saints (cf. Jude 1:3). In this, the participants of the Council were likened to the Forefather Abraham. Scripture calls Him "the father of those who believe" (Rom. 4:17). By analogy with him, the participants in the Ecumenical Councils are also called Fathers.

This tradition owes its origin to the Bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius (295-373). For contemporaries and followers, he was the true "Nicaean Banner." Scripture and Tradition do not provide any other context for calling shepherds "fathers". The Christians of that time well remembered the commandment of the Lord not to call anyone on earth father (cf. Matt. 23:9).

The Fathers of the Councils preserved the faith, freed it from human delusions. They passed it on to subsequent generations of believers, and in their person to the entire Church and the Universe. Therefore, a pastor who does not teach faith and theology cannot be called a "father."

Grace is communication. Grace in Christ Jesus is the gift of freedom. Dogma brings liberation from error. Life is only one, it must be free from everything too human. These are, perhaps, the most important consequences of the Ecumenical Councils, as non-random accidental, truly "saving incidents".

The Second Ecumenical Council took place in the summer of 381 in Constantinople. 150 bishops took part in it, at the invitation of Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395). Among them were Meletius of Antioch, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Amphilochius of Iconium, and many other great Fathers. Summarizing, we can say that the decisions of the Council were devoted to the unification of the episcopate on the basis of the Council of Nicaea in 325 in Nicaea. New, in relation to Nicaea, in the theology of the Fathers of the Council, was the understanding of divinity of the Holy Spirit.

By an amazing coincidence, the feast day of the Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council this year 2023 falls on the Day of Holy Pentecost. This happens due to the fact that on this day the moving Easter and the fixed annual cycle of celebrations come into contact. This truly biblical coincidence, by the will of the Lord of the Times Jesus, in these last times becomes a genuine indication that the true unity of the Church and the Universe is not built on human aspirations but comes exclusively from God by the Holy Spirit.