Imitate the Saints! — Sunday of the Fourth Ecumenical Council
Three times a year our holy Church commemorates our Fathers in the Faith. On the Seventh Sunday after Pascha we commemorate especially the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council; on the First Sunday after the 11th of October we commemorate especially the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council; and today, First Sunday after July 12, we honor the Fathers of the first six Ecumenical Councils, but especially the 630 holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, convened in Chalcedon in the year 451.
The Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council went into great pains to safeguard and preserve the faith of the Church concerning the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Church stayed clear of two heresies: the one maintaining that Christ is merely human (an extolled human being, higher than any other creature, yet nevertheless creature, “unequal” with the Father); the other heresy preaching that the Word of God “appeared as” a human being, although the divinity had absorbed entirely the humanity, annihilating it. In either case salvation would not be possible.
If God did not “assume” our human nature, becoming one of us, then He never reached us, He never saved us, according to the patristic principle, “what is not assumed is not healed”. And if Christ in becoming man did not retain His divine nature then He would not have been able to elevate us beyond our fallen human nature, unite us with God, and deify us. So the Church proclaimed that in Christ both natures are preserved “without confusion and without change, but also without division and without separation”, united in the Person (hypostasis) of Christ.1
The Fathers of the Church are beacons of light. “You are the light of the world!” said the Lord to His Disciples (Mt 5:14). By following them, by imitating them, we are led to Christ, the Light of the world. “Be my imitators, as I am of Christ”, said St. Paul. By imitating the Saints, we imitate Christ.
Read the lives of the Saints and their writings. Reading the holy scripture is good; reading the works of the Fathers and their holy lives is better! Imitating their lives is best!
The Church continues to produce Saints who guide us to Christ. Saint Luke the Surgeon and Fr. Dimitri Gagastathis are two such modern-day luminaries we should follow and imitate.
Through their holy intercessions may our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
- Read about Christ's human nature in Jesus: Fallen: The Human Nature of Christ Examined from an Eastern Orthodox Perspective