On the 7th Ecumenical Council

[be sure to watch the video linked below]

Why is the Seventh Ecumenical Council important to Christians? Is the consideration of the Council relevant to us today? This council was held in Nicaea, Asia Minor in AD 787 under the presidency of Empress Irene and history tells us that 367 bishops were present. It is also called Second Council of Nicaea.

The Iconoclast Controversy: The very heated debated centered around the use of icons in the Church and the controversy between the iconoclasts and iconophiles. The Iconoclasts (“icon-smashers”), started by the Emperor Leo III, were suspicious of religious art especially sacred art that depicted Trinity, saints, biblical acts, and humans; they demanded that the Church rid itself of such art and that it be destroyed or broken (as the term “iconoclast” implies). Philosophically, the Iconoclasts were very likely influenced by the Jewish and Muslim thinking that prohibits the creation and use of sacred images. For them, the fear was idolatry —the worship of things over the worship of God. And we ought to avoid wrong and false worship.

The controversy over images spilled over into matters concerning what it means to say (1) that Jesus is the “image of the Father,” the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity,” and that we are redeemed. we are “persons”; and (2) that man and woman are persons (not mere individuals). Curiously, we are still fighting many of these issues in 2017.

The Church’s response: The people who love icons (“iconophilles”) believed that icons served to preserve the doctrinal teachings of the Church; they considered icons to be man’s dynamic way of expressing the divine through art and beauty. Iconophilles remind us that idolatry is wrong, and false. The veneration of icons is not false worship but images are not the problem. There is a difference between worship and veneration. We worship God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) the creator of all things. We venerate (give honor to) the Cross, the saints, the Bible because these things and people are connected to Jesus Christ.

The Iconoclast controversy was a form of Monophysitism: distrust and downgrading of the human side of the Son of God.

Saint John of Damascus taught in his First Treatise on the Divine Images: “I do not worship matter, I worship the fashioner of matter, who became matter for my sake and accepted to dwell in matter and through matter worked my salvation, and I will not cease from reverencing matter, through which my salvation was worked.”

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Luke 5:1-11

On this Sunday, we begin to read the Gospel of St. Luke, which will be the Word of God proclaimed to us in the Church Year from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross to the coming Great Fast. It is fitting that this Sunday’s Gospel tells us what is involved in being a Christian. We all want to be called after Christ, but do we truly grasp what this will mean. One certain meaning of the Christian faith is that it is unexpected, that it brings great blessing out of the desert of the world: “After Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon said in reply, ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. (Luke 5:4-6)” This is the power of faith, which was again reaffirmed after Jesus’ resurrection: “When it was already dawn, [the risen] Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you caught anything to eat?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ So he said to them, ‘Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.’ So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. (John 21:4-6)”

The risen Christ is with us, filling all corners of our life. St. Paul in today’s epistle, expresses this Christian paradox very forcefully, “We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 6:8-10)” St. Paul warns that the true believer must suffer “afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts, (2 Corinthians 6:4-5), but that “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)” St. Peter is reduced to humility at the miraculous catch of fish and begs, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. (Luke 5:8)” Jesus does not accept this, just as he did not accept Peter’s refusal to have his feet washed at the Last Supper, ““Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me. (John 13:8)” Instead, he makes him a fisher of men. Beloved in Christ, Jesus will also not accept our refusal to follow him, to love God with our whole heart and mind and soul, to love our neighbor as ourselves, as St. Paul exhorts us, “Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.’” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

The Lucan Jump

We make the Lucan jump today. That is, we move from reading the Gospel of Matthew to the Gospel of Luke.

We gain another view of our Salvation; we see Jesus and unfolding of God’s Kingdom.

St Luke, pray for us.

St Michael the Archangel and all holy angels

st-michaelToday, is the feast day of St Michael the Archangel, and all holy angels according to the Byzantine liturgical calendar (as a point of comparison, the Latin Church in her Novus Ordo liturgy, honors St Michael on September 29).

“Angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, virtues, powers, and the many-eyed cherubim praise you. You are surrounded by the six-winged seraphim; two wings cover their face, two their feet, and with two they fly, and they call one to another with never-ending and never-silent hymns of praise.” [Liturgy of St. Basil the Great]

“Princes of the heavenly hosts, we, though unworthy, beg you to encircle us through your prayers under the shelter of the wings of your spiritual glory. Guard us as we come to you and sincerely cry: Deliver us from dangers, O princes of the powers on high!”

Catechesis

The Church’s teaching on St. Michael is that he is the leader of the good angels, thus holding the title of “Archangel.” Angels are non-corporeal beings created by God. As spirits without bodies they’re invisible to the human eye. By definition, angels bring to us messages because this is one of the ways God communicates with us. Additionally, the “messengers of God” are the guardians of human persons, and their work is to be constantly singing the praise to God.

One commentator said, “God out of love created the angels and wanted to test them if they too really loved Him. God gave them a command to follow. The good angels readily and gladly obeyed. But some refused to obey and were cast out of heaven to live no longer with Him. Suffering and torment were theirs. The bad angels, also called ‘evil spirits, demons, or devils,’ tempt us, the children of God, to do evil – not listen to God nor to do the good God calls us to do.”

2016 Eastern Catholic Bible Conference

“A Holy Nation The Church in God’s Plan of Salvation”

St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral – Munhall, PA
November 4 – 5th, 2016, Friday 6:30 – 9pm and Saturday 8:30am-4:30pm ($30 per participant – See link to register below!)

The Church as God’s Holy People is at the heart of His unfolding plan of salvation that is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. The Bible relates how this plan for a universal covenant kingdom and a temple made of living stones for all the nations unfolds through particular stages in the history of God’s People.

Talks Include:
– Are Eastern Catholics “Bible Christians”?
– Reading the Bible in the Heart of the Church
– The Seven Ages of the Kingdom in the Bible
– Biblical Images of the Church
– Sacred Reading: How to Pray the Scriptures
– The Bible and the Domestic Church
– The Bible and the New Evangelization

Snacks and light lunch included!

REGISTER WITH THE LINK BELOW!!

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/eastern-catholic-bible-conferen…

Recommended Accommodations:

Hampton Inn
301 West Waterfront Dr.
West Homestead, PA 15120.
412-462-4226.
Rooms start at $124 for a King and $144 for 2 Queens.

Courtyard Marriott
401 West Waterfront Dr.
West Homestead, PA 15120.
412-462-7301.
Rooms start at $132 for a King or 2 Queens.

Adult Faith Formation

adult-faith-logoOnline Faith Formation classes – Open to All!

Starting September 20, 2016, the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix Department of Evangelization and Religious Education is hosting a series of online adult education classes.

There will be a series of talks on Tuesdays and standalone courses on some Thursdays. Anyone with a computer, phone or tablet can attend via online conference technology.

Click the link here to register for the event so you can receive connection details and reminders.

Courses are completely free!