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Πέμπτη, 12 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Our Holy Orthodox Church gathers in Holy Synods

  
We Orthodox Christians of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of our Lord Jesus Christ call our assembly of bishops and church officials, convened for solving or resolving specific issues and/or regulating matters of ecclesiastical doctrine and discipline, a synod (σύνοδος), not a council (συμβούλιον). The word “synod” comes from the word σύνοδος (synodos) in Greek, no word in Latin. The word “council” comes from the word συμβούλιον (symvoulion) in Greek, concilium in Latin.

      The meaning of the word “ecumenical” in the phrase “Holy Ecumenical Synod” is having “worldwide scope or applicability;” it does not mean “being involved with forming or working for unity among different denominations or religions.” Simply put, a Holy Ecumenical Synod is a holy synod of the Ecumene where “ecumene” is the entire area of the known inhabited world where the faithful, of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of the Nicene‑Constantinopolitan Creed, live. A Holy Ecumenical Synod is an officially convened gathering of all the hierarchs and church officials of the ecumene of the one Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Further, in order for a holy synod to be termed ecumenical, it must be accepted as being ecumenical by a later holy synod which also is considered to be ecumenical and/or it must be accepted as being ecumenical by a preponderance of the faithful of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of our Creed.
   
  The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church has always gathered and will always gather in holy synod, not council. If hierarchs gather in council and not a holy synod, then we know that these hierarchs are not of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. For example, we celebrate the Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod (Holy 7th Synod of the Ecumene), not the Holy 7th Ecumenical Council. Why? Properly speaking, although both a holy synod and a council are hoped to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, at a holy synod all official members are expected to show up, and they have an equal vote. More importantly, the vote cannot be overruled by anyone except for the preponderance of devout laity of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed or another holy synod that is equal to or greater in authority than the holy synod called.
  
    It is this last fact that some people seem to misinterpret into assuming that a council and a synod are the same. A lesser synod can always be overruled by a greater synod. As an example, an Archdiocesan Synod (lesser synod) can be overruled by a Patriarchal Synod (greater synod). A synod that is not a holy synod of the ecumene (lesser synod) can always be overruled by a holy synod of the ecumene (greater synod). Orthodox Christians hold that when a synod is gathered together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that synod will always eventually be confirmed by an equal or greater synod than itself. The point of confusion arises since a lesser synod seems similar in function to a council in that a lesser synod can be overruled by a greater synod. However, although this is true, a lesser synod cannot be overruled by just one hierarch, whereas only one hierarch can override a council.
    
  At a council, everyone may also have an equal vote, but the council can be overruled by another person who is not present at the council. For example, simply put, the Roman Catholic Church uses a council system, not a synodal system. The Roman Catholic Pope does not meet and vote with his Cardinals as in a synod, but the Cardinals meet in council, and then the Pope tells them whether they are correct or not. This is not the tradition or way of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The only time the Roman Catholic Church uses more of a synodal system is when it votes to replace a Pope who has died. In this case, there is no Pope to tell the Council of Cardinals whether they are right or not, and there is no other redress either.
  
   Many people are familiar with councils in their local parishes and secular forms of government. For example, the decisions of a parish council may be overruled by the parish, the priest, the hierarch, a higher council, or a synod. A city council may have its decisions overruled by the citizens of the city, the mayor, or a court, etc.
    
  For the above reasons, the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church has always gathered and will always gather in holy synod, not council.

How many Holy Ecumenical Synods are there?

Some have tried to persuade the faithful, the true believers, of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ that the last Holy Ecumenical Synod was the Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod in 787. Many think this Holy Synod was the last Holy Ecumenical Synod since for numerous centuries some have been trying to lead Orthodox Christians into a false union with the Roman Catholic Church. Towards this goal, people due to ignorance or their own errors and/or transgressions have been trying to influence Orthodox Christians to accept only seven Holy Ecumenical Synods. This dishonesty has gone on for much too long.

This malaise likewise has led people to proclaim that there are only seven sacraments and then to manipulate this misinformation further to declare untruthfully that there are only seven Holy Mysteries in the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church. Why? If the Roman Catholic Church can dictate what Orthodox Christians can believe, then there is a better chance of being able to lead Orthodox Christians into a false union with the Roman Catholic Church. Everyone who is an Orthodox Christian knows that there are more than seven Holy Mysteries in the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ. Just as there are more than seven Holy Mysteries in the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ, so there are more than seven Holy Ecumenical Synods of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ.

Some of these same people who want a false union with Rome also erroneously state that Saint John of Damascus was the last of the Holy Church Fathers. Why? If Saint John of Damascus was the last Holy Church Father, then by definition there could be no Holy Church Fathers after him—neither Saint Photios the Great, Saint Gregory Palamas, nor Saint Mark of Ephesos, who are known as the Pillars of Orthodoxy, nor others—who spoke of the Roman Catholic Church as not being a part of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ. Consequently, the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ would never be able to declare unequivocally that there have been ten Holy Ecumenical Synods. Why is this so important? When the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ plainly proclaims there have been ten Holy Ecumenical Synods, then to the dismay of those extremely influential and controlling people, who want such a faux union, no false union of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ would ever be able to take place with the Roman Catholic Church. Just as there have not stopped being Holy Church Fathers since Saint John of Damascus lived, so there have not stopped being Holy Ecumenical Synods of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ since 787.

A brief look shows that the 8th–10th Holy Ecumenical Synods actually have the same ecumenical character and qualifications as the 1st–7th Holy Ecumenical Synods. As mentioned in the article above, a Holy Ecumenical Synod is a holy synod of the Ecumene where “ecumene” is the entire area of the known inhabited world where the faithful, of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of the Nicene‑Constantinopolitan Creed, live. A Holy Ecumenical Synod is an officially convened gathering of all the hierarchs and certain church officials of the ecumene of the one Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Further, in order for a holy synod to be termed ecumenical, it must be accepted as being ecumenical by a later holy synod which also is considered to be ecumenical and/or it must be accepted as being ecumenical by a preponderance of the faithful of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of our Creed. It is of noteworthiness that the Pillars of Orthodoxy — our Father among the Saints (Holy ones) and Equal-to-the Apostles Photios, Archbishop of Constantinople, the Confessor, the Great; our Father among the Saints Gregory, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Palamas; and our Father among the Saints Mark, Bishop of Ephesos, Evgenikos, the champion of Orthodoxy — all were connected with a different Holy Ecumenical Synod.

The Holy Synod that confirmed the Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod as being ecumenical was the Holy 8th Ecumenical Synod in Constantinople convened in 879–880. Logically speaking, if this Holy 8th Ecumenical Synod is not to be considered as being ecumenical, then neither can the Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod be considered as being ecumenical. Among other things, at the Holy 8th Ecumenical Synod in Constantinople:

 1. Our Father among the Saints and Equal-to-the-Apostles Photios the Great was restored to the throne in Constantinople, and he and Pope John VIII were reconciled to one another;
2. The Holy Fathers reaffirmed that anyone, both clergy and laity, who altered the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in any way through using inexact words or making additions to or subtractions from this Creed, in any language, including the Filioque, should be anathematized;
3. The Holy Fathers anathematized anyone who did not accept the Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod of 787, and its proclamations concerning icons; and
4. The Holy Fathers condemned the Robber Synod of Constantinople of 869–870.

At the time, the Holy 8th Ecumenical Synod was confirmed by all the Holy Patriarchal Sees of the time — Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Later on, to try to rewrite history and to try to cover its own grave errors, the Roman Catholic Church changed its mind and repudiated this Holy Ecumenical Synod and embraced in its placed the condemned and repudiated above-mentioned Robber Synod of Constantinople of 869–870; otherwise, the Roman Catholic Church would have had no choice but to anathematize all of its members for using the Filioque, etc. In other words, more than 900 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church by reversing itself and rejecting this Holy Ecumenical Synod and embracing said condemned synod of 869-870, self-anathematized itself and excommunicated itself from the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ.

The Holy 9th Ecumenical Synod is comprised of what is known as the “Palamite Synods” or the “Hesychast Synods” in Constantinople convened in the years 1341, 1347, and 1351. Among other things, these series of Holy Synods focused on:

1. The uncreated essence and the uncreated energies of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
2. Orthodox Christians being able to partake of the uncreated energies of God, but not the uncreated essence of God;
3. The uncreated Light of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Holy Transfiguration on Mount Tabor;
4. God as uncreated Light and our being able to partake of God as uncreated Light;
5. Grace not being created, but part of the uncreated energies of God; and
6. Hesychasm and the Jesus Prayer.

What was explicated by our Father among the Saints Gregory, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Palamas throughout the Holy 9th Ecumenical Synod is what the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ believes, proclaims, and defends. For this very reason, in 1368, nine years after the falling asleep of Saint Gregory Palamas in 1359, the Holy Church of Christ replaced the Feast of one of the great and glorious Saints of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, the Holy Hieromartyr Polykarp of Smyrna, whose moveable Feast was previously celebrated on the 2nd Lord’s Day of Holy Lent and focused on his martyrdom, the veneration of holy and precious relics in helping to achieve one’s sanctity, and on the uncreated energies of God radiating from within the sacred relics of the Saints, with the Feast of our Father among the Saints Gregory, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Palamas, which to this day is still celebrated on the 2nd Lord’s Day of Holy Lent. This Feast focuses on the essence and energies of God including the energies of God within the sacred relics of the Saints, the veneration of holy and precious relics in helping to achieve one’s sanctity, the partaking of the uncreated Light through hesychasm and the Jesus Prayer, and the life of Saint Gregory Palamas. Today, if a person disbelieves what Saint Gregory Palamas taught throughout the Holy 9th Ecumenical Synod concerning these matters, then they are not (or are no longer considered to be) Orthodox Christian.

Orthodox Christians also hold that the Holy Synod gathered in Jerusalem in 1443, to undo formally the false reunion attempt at the Ferrara-Florence Council, is properly referred to as the Holy 10th Ecumenical Synod. Naturally, those who want a faux union with the Roman Catholic Church are against it, as well as, some who incorrectly proclaim that the Patriarch of Constantinople of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church is like the Pope of Rome of the Roman Catholic Church.  Such people are still trying to eradicate all memory of this Holy Ecumenical Synod since they do not want others to be reminded that a Holy Ecumenical Synod excommunicated the Patriarch (Archbishop) of Constantinople in 1443, and likewise, a Holy Ecumenical Synod excommunicated the Patriarch (Archbishop) of Constantinople in 431. Further, this is the first Holy Ecumenical Synod that was held outside of Constantinople and Asia Minor. What our Father among the Saints Mark, Bishop of Ephesos, Evgenikos, the champion of Orthodoxy repudiated at the Ferrara-Florence false-reunion Council with the Roman Catholic Church was also promptly renounced beginning about 1439–1440, by a preponderance of the faithful of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of the Nicene‑Constantinopolitan Creed; however, this repudiation was not officially affirmed by a Holy Synod until the Holy Ecumenical Synod in Jerusalem in 1443. This Holy 10th Ecumenical Synod, with the Patriarch of Alexandria, Philotheos; the Patriarch of Antioch, Dorotheos II; and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Joachim in attendance, officially condemned the false union of Ferrara-Florence and excommunicated the then current Patriarch of Constantinople, Metrophanes as being guilty of matricide and of being a heretic for his actions while he was Bishop of Kyzikos at Ferrara-Florence.  The pronouncements of this Holy 10th Ecumenical Synod were accepted by a preponderance of the faithful of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” of the Nicene‑Constantinopolitan Creed both before and after this Holy Synod was convened, and they still are accepted to this day!

It is important to realize that local Holy Synods of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church are usually held at least on an annual basis throughout the world.  For this reason, Holy Ecumenical Synods are often named in a special way as follows:

The Ten Holy Ecumenical Synods of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church
Name (Year(s))
Holy1st Ecumenical Synod, the first gathering in Nicaea (325)
Holy 2nd Ecumenical Synod, the first gathering in Constantinople  (381)
Holy 3rd Ecumenical Synod, in Ephesos (431)
Holy 4th Ecumenical Synod, in Chalcedon  (451)
Holy 5th Ecumenical Synod, the second gathering in Constantinople (553, 692)
Holy 6th Ecumenical Synod, the third gathering in Constantinople (680–681, 692)
Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod, the second gathering in Nicaea (787)
Holy 8th Ecumenical Synod, the fourth gathering in Constantinople (879–880)
Holy 9th Ecumenical Synod, the fifth gathering in Constantinople  (1341, 1347, 1351)
Holy 10th Ecumenical Synod, in Jerusalem (1443)
Holy 11th Ecumenical Synod (????)

Will there be more Holy Ecumenical Synods? We will have to wait and see, as their number is not fixed, just as the number of Holy Fathers of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church is not fixed. Glory be to God for His Holy Ecumenical Synods throughout this age!


source : Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church

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