Who Were Those Men of the Great Councils?

From the Parish PriestFr. Romey Rosco

In all, there were only seven Ecumenical councils of the Christian Church, and they were held from the 4th to the 8th century (by that time, the widening gap between east and west was obvious and there was no hope for another council that could include the whole Church).

Today, we commemorate the Holy Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Council, held in 451 A.D.  That great council decided exactly 30 more canons (or rules) for the Church to be governed by (in addition to the canons of previous Councils).  These were rules pertaining to the proper conduct of bishops, priests, monastics, and laity, especially in light of the controversy of that time: the Monophysite Controversy over the dual natures of Christ.

What kind of men were those bishops of the Church who attended the Ecumenical Councils?  After all, to decide the rules that would guide the Church throughout the centuries was a great task.  How did they do it?  How could they do it?

Bishops of the Church (like priests and everybody else) are men of passion, men of varied strengths and weaknesses.  But when they met together in Ecumenical Council, their greatest strength was their humility.  They were not “rulers” of the Church, but “servants.”  When they came together, they first of all prayed and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead them in their common work.

The issues they discussed were difficult ones, and it was, no doubt, hard to remain humble, patient and considerate of one another when they disagreed (as they did!).  Angry and harsh words must have been readily at hand.  But, in humility, they demonstrated that “all things are possible with God.”

Humility is, in reality, strength.  Each of those men added their strengths to those Councils as they humbly proposed (and accepted) what is acceptable to God.

Not all of those who participated in the Ecumenical Councils were later declared to be “saints” of the Church.  But certainly what they were able to do together for the good of the Church and Faith demonstrates the power of God among all those who, in humility, will accept His Holy guidance and direction.

From The Weekly Bulletin, Vol. XXXIII No. 29, 16 July 2006
Sts. Peter & Paul Romanian Orthodox Church, Dearborn Heights MI

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