Who were the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council?

We refuse to take on the idea that any of the Church’ canons are obsolete or subject to review…

To think otherwise, it means to place yourself above the Church and to oppose with your own limited experience, the eternal and infallible experience of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.  Never had any Holy Ecumenical Council claimed that the previous canons of the Church were obsolete!

Some are seeking to substitute the tradition of the Church to their personal experience, instead of submitting their experience to the Church’ teachings, thus placing themselves outside it, they ceased to participate in the life of the Church.” (by Blessed Titus Smedrea)

(The First Ecumenical Council was held in 325 A. D. in the city of Nicaea. This Council condemned the heresy of Arius, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and was teaching that our Lord was a God’s creature. This heresy provoked much unrest in the Church. Besides proclaiming true teaching concerning God Father and God Son, Jesus Christ, as it is presented in the first seven articles of the Creed, the Council made some canons, regulating the life of the Church).

„We believe in one God, the Father Almighty (all powerful), Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten begotten from the Father, that is from the substance [Gr. ousias, Lat. substantia] of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten [Gr. gennethenta, Lat. natum] not made [Gr. poethenta, Lat. factum], CONSUBSTANTIAL [Gr. homoousion, Lat. unius substantiae (quod Graeci dicunt homousion)] with the Father, through Whom all things came to be, both those in heaven and those in earth; for us humans and for our salvation he came down and became incarnate, became man, suffered and rose up on the third day, went up (ascended) into the heavens, is coming to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit.

And those who say that: “there once was (a time) when He was not”, and “before He was begotten He was not”, and that:  He came to be from things that were not, or from another hypostasis [Gr. hypostaseos] or substance [Gr. ousias, Lat. substantia], affirming that the Son of God is subject to change or alteration; these the Catholic and Apostolic church anathematises”.

During the time of the Ecumenical Councils many pious Bishops were recognized as great teachers and defenders of the faith and were glorified by the Church as saints.

St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Licea, was known for his zeal, wisdom, humbleness and charity. He assisted the poor, quickly protected unjustly condemned or any one suffering from abuses of the rulers of those days. His noblest act, the conviction of Arius at the first Ecumenical Council, brought him an eternal glory and was marked by special acknowl­edgement of the fathers of the Council. He died December 6, 343 A. D. When the Saratzins were threatening the city of Myra, his relics were removed to Italy, where they repose to the present time in the city of Bahr.

St. Athanasius the Great, of Alexandria, belongs to the school of the Apologets of the Church. When a deacon on the First Ecumenical Council, St. Athanasius was superior in his defence of the true faith against Arius’ heresy and as Archbishop of Alexandria during 46 years, proved to be steadfast pillar of the Church. He was accused by the heretics then in all kinds of crimes, including a treason, was exiled five times from Alexandria and only the last six years of his life he spent in the Cathedral city, arduously working for the peace and glory of the Church. He wrote many apologetics on behalf of the Church and died peacefully in 373 A. D., being 75 years old, and was given by the Church the title of “The Great.”

In the fourth century a most trying time for the Church, lived and worked the other three Ecumenical hierarchs and teachers – Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom.

St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cesaria of Capadocia (330-­379 A. D.) was a native of that city. He was brought up in a very pious Christian family, his mother, grandmother; sisters and brother are among the saints of the Church. His father was a very prominent attorney and teacher of rhetoric. He received the best education of his time, finishing it in Athens. He was high in theology, philosophy and history, but highest in the faith and charity. As Church orator he gave to the Church the glorious “homilies on six days” of the creation where he appears to be a great scientist also. St. Basil is almost glorified for his defence of the Church against Arians. Heavy labor and religious disturbances of the time, many deprivations and ascetic life broke his health and he died in the fiftieth year of his life. He wrote Divine Liturgy that bears his name.

St. Gregory the Theologian, (326-389 A. D.) is known by this name in the Church as the greatest interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, especially on the personality of God, and his five sermons on God the Word, brought him this glorious title. He received his instructions from his mother, St. Nonna, and considered her instructions as the most valuable he had for his future.

St. Gregory was a friend of St. Basil; was in schools together with him, after in the monastery, and was consecrated as Bishop by his friend. He was elected archbishop of Constantinople when practically all Churches were taken there by the Arians, but he accepted the call and started the services in a little room and suc­ceeded so much that the Arians were expelled from all the churches and the Orthodox Christians were admitted to the use of them. He took very prominent part at the Second Ecumenical Council against the heresy of Macedonius. After accomplishing this work St. Gregory retired to his native city of Nazians, where he spent his last years in ascetic life.

St. John Chrysostom (the Golden Mouth) is the most eloquent teacher of the Christian Church and at the same time most ardent defender of the rights and privileges of the Church. He lost his father when a child and was brought up by his pious mother Anfusa. He was a brilliant student and when his teacher, philosopher Licineus, was asked as to whom he would like to succeed him, he answered “of course John, if the Christians will not steal him from us.” About Anfusa, St. John’s mother, Licineus said: “What dignified women there are among the Christians.” After his mother’s death, St. John spent six years in seclusion and then came to the city of Antioch where he served for twelve years as a priest. Against his wish and under some pretense he was taken from Antioch and was consecrated as the Archbishop of Constantinople. First year of the service there was of much success and benefit to the Church. Nevertheless, his zeal and endeavors to correct the evils of the life among high officials and in the palace brought upon St. John dis­pleasure and wrath of the Empress Evdoksia, and his enemies from the clergy succeeded in depriving him of his See and he was exiled.

When he left the capital city, the earthquake of that night made the Empress to repent and to ask St. John to return, but her repentance were not sincere; in about two months St. John was exiled again for preaching to correct morals.

 “The Church of Christ did not begin with me and will not end without me,” said the great teacher before going to his exile, which was a very severe one. On his way from Armenian city of Kukuza to Abkhazian city of Pitziunt on the north-eastern shores of the Black Sea, St. John stopped in a little village of Komani, being very weak and sick. Here in a dream appeared to him St. Vasilisk, whose relics were in this place reposing, and told him “Do not be discouraged, Brother John, tomorrow we will be together.” St. John in the morning took Holy Communion and peacefully died with the words as his last: “Glory be to God for everything.” St. John wrote Divine Liturgy that retains his name, and was anxious to bring to Christianity the people who lived then in Skiphia or present Southern Russia. He lived from 347 to 407 A.D. and is always looked upon as one of the famous fathers of our Orthodox Church_ His writings have even now a high value to the Church and serve to prove its dogmatical and historical truth.

We should be mindful of many equally saintly fathers, who rendered most useful service to the defence and expansion of the Church like Irineus of Lyon, Cyprian of Carthage, Blessed Augustin, Ambrose of Mediolan, Heronimus, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nissa, Gregory of Neocesaria and others, whose names even if we wished only to list would take many chap­ters of this brief historical account. But their lives, their work, their writings are most helpful for Christians to form their conceptions on different subjects related to the faith and teaching of the Church and we wish we could present them to our readers more fully but as it is, we desire very much that they study “the Fathers of the Church” with every possible opportunity.

Source: http://www.sthermansoca.org/page/christian-persecution