Theology

Synodality and Primacy in the Orthodox Church

From the Keynote Address by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware of Diokleia) at the IOTA Inaugural Conference, 9-12 January 2019 in Iasi, Romania

Synodality

Turning now to synodality, we can see at once the way in which a Church council is to be regarded as a Eucharistic event. Most councils have been concerned with the restoration of Eucharistic communion when this has been broken, with the question who may or may not be admitted to receive the sacrament; and most (if not all) councils have concluded with a concelebrated Liturgy, embracing all the members.

The Holy Protomartyr Stephen the Archdeacon

Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in the Hellenic provinces. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. For this, he is called the archdeacon.

By the power of his faith, Stephen worked great miracles among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but they were always defeated by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit, Who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, accustomed to calumnies and slander, incited the people and the elders of the people against the innocent Stephen, slandering him as though he had blasphemed against God and against Moses. False witnesses were quickly found who confirmed this. Stephen then stood before the people, and all saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6:15), that is, his face was illumined with the light of grace as was once the face of Moses when he spoke with God. Stephen opened his mouth and enumerated the many good works and miracles that God had performed in the past for the people of Israel, as well as the many crimes and opposition to God on the part of this people. He especially rebuked them for the killing of Christ the Lord, calling them betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:52). And while they gnashed their teeth, Stephen beheld and saw the heavens open and the glory of God. That which he saw, he declared to the Jews: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God! (Acts 7:56). Then the malicious men took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Among his persecutors was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul.

Holy New Martyrs Paisius and Avakum, in Trnava near Cacak, Serbia

After the collapse of Karageorge’s revolt in 1813, the Turks began a reign of terror against the Serbs. Disease also swept the area because of the many bodies left unburied. The people attempted another revolt under Hadj-Prodan Gligorijevic, and the monks of Trnava became involved in it. The rebellion took place on the Feast of the Cross (September 14), but it was crushed by the Turks. Many people were captured, and some were executed on the spot as a warning to others.

Some of the prisoners were sent to Suleiman Pasha in Belgrade, among whom were Sts Paisius and Avakum. The holy deacon Avakum sang “God is with us” (from Compline) in the prison cell, while St Paisius prayed. The Turks offered to free anyone who would convert to Islam. Some of the prisoners agreed to this, but the majority refused to deny Christ, and so they were put to death.

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God.

He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.

Saint John Damascene

John was first the chief minister to Caliph Abdul-Malik and later a monk in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified.

Because of his ardent defense of the veneration of icons during the reign of the iconoclastic Emperor Leo the Isaurian, John was maligned by the emperor to the Caliph, who cut off his right hand. John fell down in prayer before the icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, and his hand was rejoined and miraculously healed.

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311).

Her father, the pagan Dioscorus, was a rich and illustrious man in the Syrian city of Heliopolis. After the death of his wife, he devoted himself to his only daughter.

Saint Joannicius of Devic

Joannicius was a Serb from Zeta. As a young man he was overhelmed with love for Christ.

He left his home and family and withdrew to the region of Ibar at the mouth of the Black River into a narrow cave in which, according to tradition, before him, St. Peter of Korish lived a life of ascetism. When his fame began to spread among the people, he fled to Drenica and hid in the thick forest of Devich. Here St. Joannicius spent years of solitude, in silence and in prayer.