Today the Church commemorates the Holy Fathers of the first six œcumenical councils: the Council of Nicæa, A.D. 325; the 1st Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381; the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431; the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451; the 2nd Council of Constantinople, A.D. 553; and the 3rd Council of Constantinople, A.D. 680–81.
This feast is always celebrated on the Sunday nearest 16 July, i.e., falling on the 13th to the 19th inclusive.
Despite the anathematizing of the monophysite heresy by the Council of Chalcedon, the Church continued to be racked by controversy until the reign of the Emperor Justin I (518–527). The feast began as the Synaxis of the Council of Chalcedon on 16 July 518, when the Council of Chalcedon was at last restored to the diptychs. The Sunday nearest it was later celebrated as the feast of the first six councils on the recommendation of St Nicodemus the Hagiorite (1749–1809), whose feast falls on 14 July.
The readings in the Liturgy this Sunday are appropriate.
The Epistle is St Paul’s words to Titus, first bishop of Crete: ‘This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself …’ (Titus 3: 8–15 in part).
The Gospel is our Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5: 14–19)
Occasional comments by a convert to Orthodoxy.