Upcoming 1700th

Pope Francis Patriarch Bartholomew anointing stone
Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew arriving at the Holy Sepulchre, May 2014.  They agreed that they/their successors should meet in Iznik in 2025.

At Holy Mass, we remember the death of the hero* of the Nicene Creed, St. Athanasius, 1,643 years ago today.

Now, some of us will live to see the summer of 2025.  The 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea.

Not too many meetings bear commemorating after 1700 years.  I think we can say, even before it happens, that the Republican convention of summer 2016 (memorable as it may turn out to be) will not live in anyone’s memory in AD 3716.

Lake-İznik Turkey Nicaea
The place where the bishops met in AD 325, currently under the waters of Lake Iznik

We might even wonder if the Synods on the Family, conducted these past two autumns in Rome, will bear remembering in the years 2184 and 2185.

But the Council of Nicaea will demand solemn commemoration until the end of time.  Even in AD 170,325 (if we reach such a year ) Holy Church will remember the ecumenical Council of Nicaea.

But Father!  We already recall the Council of Nicaea every Sunday!  When we recite the Creed.

Good point.  But it just makes my point.

Namely, that the summer of 2025 will offer us an extremely important occasion for commemoration.  In the immortal words of Warren Carroll, at Nicaea the Church took “her first great step to define revealed doctrine more precisely in response to a challenge from a heretical theology.”  Bishops came from as far as India and France.  They also decided that Easter must fall after the spring equinox, no matter what the Jewish calendar said.

If you paid close attention at Mass yesterday, you heard Lord Jesus say, “The Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)  And you probably wondered, isn’t that Arius’ very position?

Negative.  The Father is greater than the Son in two ways.  1) The Father, God, infinitely transcends the Son, in the Son’s human nature.  2) The eternal Father alone is innascible–unbegotten, not born.  The divine Son, perfectly equal to the Father, is begotten–eternally begotten.  Which is to say:  the eternal relationship of the Father with the Son means that the Son can say of His unbegotten Father, ‘He is greater,’ even though, as eternal God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are perfectly equal.

Nicaea w arius
icon of the Council, with Arius defeated

Anyway, it’s not too early to start thinking about appropriate ways to commemorate the 1700th of Nicaea.


*The villian’s name was Arius, who taught that there was a time when the divine Son was not.

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