HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM CELEBRATES THE DIVINE LITURGY AT THE COMMUNITY TUR’AN OF GALILEE
On Sunday, May 23/ June 5, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the Feast of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in Nice, under the order of Constantine the Great, where they refuted Arius and established the doctrine of the One Essence of the Son with the Father as read in the Creed.
This feast was celebrated in all the Churches of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate and at the Holy Church of Saint George the Trophy Bearer in the Community Tur’an of Galilee, near the town of Cana. The Liturgy was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with the co-celebration of their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Dean Priest of the Community Fr Spyridon, Fr Simeon and other Arab-speaking and Russian Priests. The chanting was delivered by Archimandrite Artemios, the Hegoumen of Haifa, in Greek and the parish choir in Arabic. The Liturgy was attended by the Orthodox congregation of this parish which the Hagiotaphite Archimandrites Timotheos and Hilarion served in the past.
Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon in Greek and in Arabic and offered an icon to be kept in the Church:
“Making careful inquiry, with the Divine Spirit’s guidance, and joining together all knowledge of things spiritual, as the scribes of God, the august Fathers wrote that most blessed Symbol, the august Creed of our holy faith, wherein they clearly teach that, with His Begetter, the Word of God is also co-beginningless and is consubstantial with Him in truth. For these godly-minded all-glorious, and truly blessed Saints openly followed with fervent faith all that the Apostles taught” (Matins, Troparion 1 of the Fathers, Praises) the hymnographer of the Church proclaims.
Beloved Brethren in Christ,
The Grace of the All-holy Spirit has guided our footsteps to your town Tur’an of Galilee, to co-celebrate today, on the seventh Sunday after Pascha the First Ecumenical Council of Nice, of the three-hundred and eighteen God-bearing Fathers in AD 325.
These God-bearing Fathers, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and through the hands of the Apostles, who bore the Spirit, became genuine descendants of Christ’s Disciples and Apostles and Shepherds and Teachers of the Church as the most genuine servants of Christ, and followers of the Apostle’s teachings, as the hymnographer says.
Today’s Gospel narrative according to the Evangelist John refers to the Episcopal prayer that the Lord prays to God the Father for His disciples, saying: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:11-13).
In His prayer, our Lord Jesus Christ asks God the Father that His disciples may remain united in Him as well as with each other in the bond of love according to the prototype of the union of Christ the Son and Word of God with His Father. On the other hand, He asks His Father that the Disciples may have in them the perfect joy that He feels, as He returns to God the Father. Interpreting the Lord’s word, “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), Saint Cyril of Alexandria wonders: “what is that fulfilled joy? To know and believe not only that Christ was human for us, but that He was human in everything among us except sin, and that He is the true God”.
The Holy Church of Christ honours especially the God-bearing and Spirit-bearing Fathers because they fought like the Apostles of Christ for the unity of the faith, namely the steadfastness of the faith, and of course, for the unity of the Church, whose the whole institution is composed by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Fathers of the Church, my dear brethren, are those who set the doctrine of the one Triune God, one Trinity, of the same essence and divinity, and gave to the Church the mystery of Theology, which is the Holy Trinity, as the hymnographer of the Church says: “Let us acclaim today those mystical trumpets of the Spirit, namely the God-bearing Fathers, who, in the midst of the Church, sang a harmonious song of Theology, teaching that the Trinity is one, identical in essence and Godhead; they are the refuters of Arius and the foremost warriors of the Orthodox. And they ever intercede with the Lord that our souls find mercy” (Glory of Vespers).
The Fathers that convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nice in AD 325 refuted, as it is known, the heretic Arius, because along with those who had the same beliefs as him, he “erred concerning the truth” (ref. 2 Tim. 2:18). Therefore, we, my dear ones, are called to the same thing as the Holy Fathers, according to Saint Paul, so that we carefully follow his God-inspired words to his disciple: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker” (2 Tim. 2:15-17).
Indeed, my brethren, it is just like a canker that the irreverent messages of the “so-called” New Order are brought forth, the messages of the Globalization. The aim of the New Order is the denial of the principles and redeeming morals of the Gospel, namely the denial of Christ and His Name. “God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). However, we should not be afraid, because our Lord Jesus Christ promised His Disciples before departing from them and ascending into the heavens: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). I will not leave you alone, I will come in a short while to you through the other Comforter, namely the Spirit of Truth, which will abide in you and unite you with me as members of mine.
Behold, therefore, why the Lord asks God the Father “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). Christ is the joy of the Church and also the joy of those who love Him and commune with His precious Body and Blood. That is why He says, “enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:23). And according to Saint Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22).
This joy of the Holy Spirit did the Most Blessed Mother of God enjoy when the Saviour fulfilled the mystery that had been hidden for centuries at His Ascension in the Heavens, as the hymnographer says: “for it was meet that she who, as should also partake of the surpassing joy of the glorification of Thy flesh, O Master, whereof we also have partaken through Thine Ascension to the Heavens, and we glorify Thy great mercy toward us” (Both Now, Aposticha Vespers). Moreover, “following the divine doctrines (of the Fathers) and believing with assurance, we worship, in one Godhead, the Father, Son and All-holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence” (Glory, Aposticha of Vespers). Amen! Many happy returns.”
At the meal His Beatitude again addressed all present as follows:
“Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 10: 2021), the Holy Bible writes.
Honourable President and Respected members of the Ecclesiastical Committee,
Reverend Holy Fathers and Brothers,
Today’s celebration of the Holy Fathers who convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nice in AD 325, which was under the order of the pious Emperor of the Rum Orthodox Christians Constantine the Great, has special importance for us Christians who live in the Holy Land and for the wider Middle East.
We say this because indeed the historical and great event of the First Ecumenical Council of the Church signified the precision of the Orthodox faith on the one hand, and on the other, it shaped the cultural and national-religious identity of the faithful members of the Church.
The First Ecumenical Council in Nice is the one that handed over to the Orthodox Church the name “Roumiye” and to the citizens of the Empire the title “Rum”. And this is because the Church is the body of Christ and bears His name, “which is above all other name” (Phil. 2:9), and it had a super national character according to Saint Paul’s teaching: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28).
This very unadulterated apostolic tradition of the faith which was kept by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, as well as the spiritual grandeur of the cultural heritage of Romiosyni is carried out by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of all Churches.
The unceasing and living historical presence of the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem throughout the centuries is the irrefutable witness of the Christian presence in the Holy Land and of the sacred institution of the Church which has been founded by the redeeming blood of Christ.
The God-bearing Fathers who gathered from all parts of the earth in Nice gave the doctrine of our Orthodox faith and Theology, namely the doctrine of the Holy Trinity through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and not through contemplative reasonings and philosophical inventions, as Saint Gregory the Theologian says: “we theologise with the simplicity of the fishermen’s faith”.
Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, my dear brethren, is not only the point of reference for us Christians, but also the guarantee of our existence according to the Lord’s word: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Let our boast then be the God of our Fathers and the Church of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who was Ascended into the Heavens and has not been separated from us. Many happy and blessed returns. Amen!”
At noon the Community hosted a meal for His Beatitude and the members of His Entourage.
After the meal the couple Abu Rami and Im-Rami honoured at their house the Patriarchal Entourage with a variety of delicacies.