Saturday, July 12, 2014

Byzantine: 5th Sunday after Pentecost/Sunday of the Fathers at the Six Ecumenical Councils (7/13/14)

The first question you're probably asking is, "Why does it say 'at the six Ecumenical Councils?'" I'll be honest: I have no idea, and if you don't want semi-scholarly babble, you'll skip to the next section. This title is what the 2006 book gives. The 1995 Byzantine Book of Prayer gives the name as "Sunday of the Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils." To confuse matters even more, the 2014 Typicon gives the name as "Memory of the Fathers at the First Six Ecumenical Councils." However, this is a Bible blog, not a "figuring out why names of feasts are given differently in some books" blog, so I will restrain myself.

Notes for Reading/Hearing

Two Epistle-Gospel sets of readings are given for today, one for the 5th Sunday and one for the Council Fathers. If both sets are taken, the reading prescribed for the 5th Sunday is announced, but there is no pause or announcement for the reading for the Fathers. This can be confusing, so be sure to read the readings beforehand! Also, I was short on time. Family reunion this past weekend, and left Thursday morning for the ByzanTeen Youth Rally (no internet).

Short Reflection on the Readings from the Apostol
(In lieu of my usual step through each reading.)

To understand where we pick up with this week's reading from Romans, I think it would be best if everyone read at least chapter 9, if not everything up to that point.

The end of the Romans reading mentions two actions of man: believing and confessing. Note that it is not only believing that St. Paul mentions. He also stresses confessing the faith. Christianity is not a "private" religion in the sense of being the sort of religion meant to be kept to oneself. It never has been and never will be. Christianity is meant to move from person to person.

However, we need guidance on what to confess. Yes, St. Paul tells us to confess that "Jesus is Lord," but what does that mean? Christianity is a living faith: more questions are bound to come up. So, what can we do? That question is answered by today's feast.

We remember those who spoke the word of God to us (Hebrews 13:7 RSV-CE). Today we commemorate the Fathers at the first six ecumenical councils, through whom Christ led us to the true faith (cf. Troparion of the Council Fathers). Aided by their example, their teachings, and their prayers, we are better able to rightly confess faith in Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.

Liturgical reference based on the text in The Divine Liturgies of Our Holy Fathers John Chrysostom and Basil the Great (Pittsburgh: Byzantine Seminary Press? 2006).

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