In them there is not one heresy: all is mercy, forgiveness and love

The Sunday on or next after October 11 (so this year falling on Sunday October 16) commemorates the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, held at Nicaea in 787.

At this Council, belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation was reaffirmed, and the veneration of holy icons was restored.

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AS the Fathers devoutly taught, we faithfully confess a virgin womb, which gave birth without pangs unto the Fleshless in flesh; and we depict and venerate his likeness, and greet it with honour.

Theotokion, Canon of the Saints (Ode 1), at Matins on the Feast of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. My non-expert translation, from Analogion.

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An icon of Christ in the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

An icon of Christ in the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

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THE way in which the faithful act, move and dance liturgically is trinitarian.

This is why they acquire “likeness in character” to God,1  “the color of God,”2 and a fragrance which is His own.

They live according to the truth and in them there is “not one heresy.”3

In the liturgical life there is no room for hatred.

All is mercy, forgiveness and love.

And this love is blended with truth.

Archimandrite Vasileios (Gontikakis), “Hymn of Entry” p. 30.

1 St Ignatius, Magn. 6:2; P.G. 5:668B.
2 St Ignatius, Eph. 4:2; P.G. 5:648B; Eph. 6:2; P.G. 5:649B.
3 St Ignatius, Smyrn. 6:1; P.G. 5:712B.

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O YE fathers, heavenly minded, gathered together at the Seventh Synod, set forth thy earnest prayer to the Trinity, that we who raise our hymns unto your divine assembly might be rescued from every heresy and from eternal condemnation, and reach the Kingdom of heaven.

Theotokion

BY the intercessions of thy mother, O surpassingly good Lord, and of the fathers gathered together in the Seven Synods, confirm thy Church, and strengthen the Faith, and shew all to be sharers in the Kingdom of heaven, when thou shalt come to earth to execute judgment on all creation.

Matins on the Feast of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. My non-expert translation, from Analogion.

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Archimandrite Vasileios Gontikakis (centre)

“One is not truly Orthodox simply by virtue of persecuting heresies, any more than one is in Paradise if one simply curses hell. Orthodox life is of great importance.” Abbot Vasileios Gontikakis (centre).

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But what should we actually do about heresy?

Elder Vasileios says that we should live a life of such Christian love and prayer that heresy flees of its own accord.

THE faithful do not have a mission to persecute heresies, irrespective of the way they themselves live, for this only creates a climate congenial to the tares of heresy.

“Because of you My name is blasphemed among the gentiles” (cf. Is 52:5), the Lord would say in such a case.

One is not truly Orthodox simply by virtue of persecuting heresies, any more than one is in Paradise if one simply curses hell.

Orthodox life is of great importance.

It is “what is perfected before God,” in the words of St Ignatius. It is fulness and divine self-sufficiency: it is a confession, the persecution of falsehood, and the salvation of man.

“For the clear knowledge of that which is, serves as a purification of notions about that which has no real existence.”1

Orthodoxy does not have the fire of the holy inquisition.

It lights an incorporeal flame which cools the holy but burns the impious.

This fiery pillar of uncreated grace and life gives the path of the faithful shade by day and light by night.

“Hymn of Entry” p. 98.

1 St Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses 2:22; S.C. 1 bis, p. 38.

Elder Vasileios adds a little later on:

IF we want to ask the Lord, as the Apostles did, why we cannot remove by our theological meetings and efforts the one obstacle closing the road to Christian unity, He will certainly give us the same answer he gave then:

“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

“Hymn of Entry” p. 99.

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O VIRGIN Theotokos, thou art surpassingly blessed!

For by him that took flesh from thee, Hades hath been taken captive, Adam hath been recalled, the curse hath been made quite dead, Eve hath been set at liberty, death hath been put to death, and we have been made alive.

Thus we cry as we raise our hymns to thee: Blessed art thou, Christ our God, who hast been pleased so to do. Glory be to thee!

Matins on the Feast of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. My non-expert translation, from Analogion.

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